Mr. Ifeanyi Enwere and his wife, Kate, are from Ezinihitte-Mbaise Local Government Area of Imo State. Ifeanyi, an engineer and his wife, a businesswoman have been married for 30 years. Together, they are blessed with five children.
In this interview with DailySun in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, they share their marital experiences and some pieces of advice for intending and newly married couples.
How and where did you meet your wife?
Husband: Before we got married, we lived in the same compound in Port Harcourt. Her father was our caretaker and her elder brother was my friend. We lived as brothers and sisters in the compound because we are from the same Mbaise, though not the same local government. As time went on, we became born-again Christians. And God led me through dreams although initially I was sceptical.
Even that time, I didn’t know how to approach her because we stayed like brothers and sisters as I earlier said. We ate together; we did things together. Even other tenants in the compound did not know that we were not from the same village. So, as the issue of marriage came up, I didn’t know how to approach her. So, I went to my pastor and he told me what to do.
The first day I talked to her, she started crying as if she is going to report me to her elder brother, which she did. But, her elder brother advised her to pray and find out if it was God’s will. He said coming from the same place or living in the same compound would not stop us from marrying if it was the will of God. That was how the process started.
Do you have anything to add?
Wife: He has rightly said it all but I want to add one or two things. He packed into our compound when I was in Primary 6. Then I was still living with my parents. We used to run errands for him. We took him like an elder brother. When the issue of marriage came up, being the only son, his parents wanted him to marry early. In fact, I was helping him to look for who to marry.
I took him to some of my classmates that were old enough to marry. But it did not work out. When I finished secondary school, I had a suitor that came to my parents. Each time I saw him, I would be scared. I wasn’t flowing well with him. At a time, he was the person that asked my parents to forget about it. He said if it is God’s will, it would come to pass.
That time, I had a small job I was doing. One day, when I returned from work, one of his in-laws and his wife were around. When he left for work, the man called me and asked me who I was. I told him and he said, don’t I think that his in-law would marry me? I said: “God forbid”! I told him that he is just like a brother to us. It was after few days, one morning, one of our reverends invited me.
He said Brother Ifeanyi said he wants to get married to me. I said: “God forbid”. I said how would I marry him? We live like brothers and sisters in the compound. Tenants in the compound see us as being from the same family because we eat together. The reverend said I should go and pray. I became confused. I ran to my elder brother crying. My brother told me to calm down and pray. Then, I went into prayer.
How did you propose to her?
Husband: By the Assemblies of God Church custom, we didn’t have this pattern of kneeling down to propose to a lady. The church invited us. They asked me to approach her in their presence, which I did. And she responded. That was how it happened.
What was your response when he proposed to you?
Wife: When he proposed the first time, I welcomed it. But, I told him that I would go and pray, which I did.
Why did you choose your wife in spite of all the other young girls out there?
Husband: You see I am a Christian. I was born again. We believed in dreams and visions. We don’t pick any girl by status, beauty or any other quality. I was convinced through dreams. One of our sisters from the Deeper Life Bible Church came from Ogbunabali and ascertained my dreams.
Another sister from a Greater Evangelism World Crusade told me that he saw us in the dream. In fact, I had four proofs before I went into engagement. We don’t just see a girl and go in. You must have a dream and vision and that has to be confirmed by one or two persons.
Ma’am, as a young lady that time, you must have had handsome and rich suitors that approached you for marriage. Why did you agree to marry him?
Wife: My prayer from the beginning is to marry a born-again Christian. I did not want a mere marriage because I have lived under my parents and I saw that marriage is something good. It is not just anyhow. I learnt a great deal from my parents. My parents were a very good couple.
Throughout my stay with my parents, I did not see my father raise hands on my mother, or bully her. So, with what I saw in my parents’ marriage and relationship, I prayed God to give me a man that fears Him; in fact, a prayer warrior, somebody that can pray very well. That was what I looked at for accepting him.
What is that thing you cannot forget on the day of your traditional or church wedding?
Husband: One thing I cannot forget about my traditional marriage was that I didn’t eat at the venue because I was annoyed. My wife ‘palmed’ her hair. So, when I came to the traditional marriage, I was shocked that the person I wanted to marry has palmed her hair. It is not now that palming of hair is rampant and Assemblies of God has started welcoming it.
I told my brethren I came with that I won’t continue with the marriage any more. They said no, I should not spoil the day. People started begging me saying she is still born again and also a teenager that she wants to look beautiful for me. Because of that, I didn’t eat anything there. But I had the most beautiful wedding because friends rallied around me.
Agape Band came from Aba (Abia State) and played free of charge because of my contributions to Christian music. The CFAO regional manager sponsored partially the drinks. My wedding card was free. Everything about the wedding was totally free. It was to God’s glory. I was so happy.
Wife: It was on the traditional wedding as he rightly said. He refused to eat because I ‘palmed’ my hair. The thing surprised me. I looked at the palming as an ordinary thing. I didn’t know that it would be like that. That incident made me feel unhappy. As he said, the white (church) wedding went successfully as planned.
How did you settle your first misunderstanding in marriage?
Husband: Initially, when we got married newly, I didn›t want my wife to work. She was the assistant cook at Cidal Palace Hotel. When I told her to stop work, she said no. The chief cook was my brother. She was assisting my brother. I left her and walked behind her. I fought tooth and nail to see that she was removed from the hotel. And she did not know.
It was about 10 years later I told her that I was the brain behind her sack. What I did was, I told them to fix her to the bar. I knew that as a born-again, she would not want to work in that section. She refused and the management served her with letter of insubordination. She didn›t know what happened behind her. I tried to make sure I got what I wanted.
I opened a shop for her which she is managing till date. In fact, I was the jealous type. I don›t like office women and their work. I wanted my wife to be an independent fellow. I don›t think we have got any matter that we cannot settle because number one, I came out from a polygamous family.
I vowed that I would not repeat the mistake my father did. So, any time a matter comes up, I go back to what I had earlier said. And I don›t want anything that would make me make the mistake my father made. Since 30 years of marriage, nobody has entered into our marriage to settle an issue.
Wife: I was the stubborn type when I got married newly. That time, my husband would always want me to do things the way he wanted. But, I would oppose that. Maybe he had forgotten; we had a little problem that led us to church. Since after that incident, I don’t have friends. I told my friend everything about us.
We were just four year in marriage then. But, instead of her to say it the way it was, she added salt and pepper to suit her own way. We told the church the truth. We were suspended. The church said since we have said the truth we were reinstated within a month.
That was when I sat up. I realised that friends would mess up my marriage. I cut them off. Before I came into marriage, my husband had three friends and they called themselves Hebrew Brothers. So, we, the three wives, called ourselves the Hebrew Sisters.
But, along the line, the one who lied against me to the church was the sycophant among us. She betrayed me. I want to thank God that today, I have learnt my lesson. Since that time, no one has come between me and my husband. Even if we have slight misunderstanding, we don’t allow it to last.
I have told my children not to keep friends. If you want to choose a friend, choose somebody that is God-fearing. My parents made a remarkable marriage and I want mine to be like theirs. Today, I stand as a role model to other women.
In this period of rampant marriage crisis and divorce, what advice can you give a bachelor before venturing into marriage?
Husband: What I will say is what I also preach to my children. I have two boys. I have told them that there is no perfect woman on earth. And there is no worst woman on earth. What I was taught is that, you build that woman to your taste. That is what marriage is supposed to be.
We talk of groom and bridegroom. It means training the person till the stage or height you want. But, children of these days do not know what grooming is all about. I encourage every man that there is no angel.
You just pray; even God’s will may not determine the best marriage at first instance. When God gives you your partner, He knows that you can build her to your standard.
Marriage is where you are supposed to have peace and joy. Before you marry, pray. Even if you are not prayerful, seek advice and know that what you see outside as a woman may not be what you would see inside.
What advice do you have for spinsters?
Wife: Spinsters should know that marriage is not about age. It is for mature mind. If you know that you are not ready for marriage, it is better you wait, until when you are prepared. Marriage is different from when you are living with your parents, when you feel you can go out and come in, or do things as you like. So, when you are going into marriage, you must prepare your mind on what you are going to see.
You must be tolerant, if you want to build your home. You must be prepared to study your partner. You must be submissive. If you are not humble, you will use your hand and destroy your marriage. You should know that marriage is not something you enter today, and come out tomorrow.
If you have the mind to make it, you will succeed. Don’t have double mind. Marriage should be enjoyable and not endurable. If you are submissive, your husband will love you. Very importantly, you must be prayerful and God will see you through.
What advice do you have for couples, so that they can have a peaceful and enjoyable marriage like yours?
Husband: You should know that marriage is till death. That is the covenant you made before God and man. Apart from that, I have vowed not to be a partaker of divorce. As God said He hates divorce, so I hate it too.
If my mother did not divorce my father for the suffering and humiliation she suffered and my father went and married another wife, she stayed and trained five of us, I won’t advocate divorce.
Don’t also forget about evil landmark, which divorce will bring. So, as a married man or woman, behave like a married person. There should be a separation between married and unmarried person.
Wife: Couples, particularly my fellow women should guard their homes and marriages jealously. Divorce should not be mentioned at all because it would affect the children negatively. It is the children that will suffer it most. It creates fear in the children. Please, say no to divorce and be prayerful.