Mr. and Mrs. Olayinka have been married for 53 years and counting. The couple whose love has not waned through the years are sharing their insights on love, marriage, and the forever journey with The Ever After Series.
If there is one thing that is peculiar to marriages, it is that it is filled with so many obstacles that, at some point, seem insurmountable. Still, when you have conversations with couples, they tell you it is the best thing to have happened to them, and yes, they will do it all over again.
This willingness to stick with a particular person through thick and thin is a reflection of the wholesomeness that love is and brings.
An attestation that love, like flowers planted by the riverside, will always bloom and metamorphose into something beautiful. Something deathless. Something that can birth generations and build a nation of awesome humans whose hearts are full, whose arms are welcoming, and whose bosoms are warm.
53 years in marriage, 5 children, and many grandchildren, Mr. and Mrs. Olayinka’s love has definitely birthed nations. Blushing, Mrs. Olayinka talks about how their relationship started.
“He was a banker, so I used to save in his bank. That day I went to that bank and he asked me if I’m related to my brother. I said “no, I don’t know him,” he mentioned my daddy’s name and I still said I don’t know him.
Then he said “but you look like him,” still, I insisted I didn’t know him. Even when I left the bank, he came after me and was asking me the same question and I still told him I don’t know the person he’s asking.
Later, I saw him and my brother in my own place. I don’t know how they got connected. I didn’t even know I’d get married to him because I wasn’t interested at that time. There was a time my brother came to Iwo for something and asked me to come and meet him at a particular place – not knowing it was his (her now husband) own place.
That was when I knew where he lived. Shortly after that, they transferred him to Zaria, and I thought that was the end. His sister, the last born of my mother-in-law, was in primary 3 at that time and they had a problem of who would look after her, I think because of her schooling.
So I offered to help him by letting her come to stay with me. That was how we got connected and she was with me until he came to get her. During that time, my mother-in-law was telling me that her son was pressuring her to come and know my family.
He also has a cousin whom I was really close to. A lot of people thought his cousin was my husband because he was in the North and wasn’t around most of the time. On my wedding day, people were going to meet his cousin, thinking he was the groom.”
Unlike Mrs. Olayinka, Mr. Olayinka knew exactly what he wanted, and he didn’t hesitate to shoot his shot.
“Many of her brothers attended my alma-mater – Ibadan Grammar School, so that relationship really got us close to each other. At that time, I was very desperate about marrying her. Finally, we agreed and got married on the 22nd of June, 1968, and the marriage has been really wonderful.”
Storms are normal in marriages, but not everyone has the bandwidth to sail their ship smoothly when the waters are raving.
The first few years are tumultuous and many stop sailing and let their ship sink. But for couples to have been married for 53 years? They must have pressed certain buttons correctly.
“It wasn’t easy,” Mrs. Olayinka says.
“When you get into marriage, you see a lot of things that are not going well and you begin to blame yourself for getting married. I used to report my husband to my big sister, but one day she said, ‘look, I don’t tell anyone what goes on in my home, why are you telling me what goes on in yours?’”
For marriages to last longer, Mr. Olayinka just has two tips: tolerance and the willingness to make your marriage work.
“Every marriage requires a lot of tolerance. You have to be tolerant; you can’t win it all. But when you make up your mind that your marriage will be a success and you will enjoy it, you will make it work. Problems will always come but both parties have to agree that this thing must work. Our marriage has been made successful because God is really here. He is our strength.
We are happy about our marriage and our children are all doing fine. We have 5 children – 3 girls, and 2 boys. All of them are graduates, well-read, and they are happy in their own separate homes. It has been God. But everyone has to be willing to make it succeed.”
What sinks a ‘marriage ship’ faster is the presence of icebergs in the water. These icebergs could be anything: differences in eating habits, finance, parenting method, sleeping patterns, even the weather. For the Olayinkas, money was never a problem. To Mrs. Olayinka, money wasn’t a “big deal” for her.
“I grew up seeing my mum helping my dad, although she was the third wife. But she’ll be the one to cook for him, buy him clothes, do everything. But she was the favourite.
Because of her, money wasn’t a big deal for me, before I got married, I’d been spending my money. Even when he gave me envelopes of money, I refused to collect it because I had a good job and didn’t need his money.
It’s important to help your husband financially, even though most of them won’t show appreciation. I had a sister whose husband married another wife; he complained that she was using her own money to cook food for the family. And she loves cooking with her money for her husband.
So me, I learnt from her – when I have to cook food, I get money from my husband, and if I have to help him financially, I will lend him and collect my money back. I always make sure to cover for him whenever he’s not financially buoyant – but I will take my money back.”
In his prime, Mr. Olayinka was a sinzu spender, and Mrs. Olayinka’s shakara got nothing on him.
“I was a banker, so I had plenty of money at my disposal. I was spending my money particularly for my children, I went out of my way to satisfy them, and I made sure they got enough money. I thought it was my priority to give my children the best of everything.”
Mrs. Olayinka agrees with him.
“My husband doesn’t mind spending his last penny on the children. And I don’t bother because I have my own money. He cares so much for the children that, if not because of me, he almost spoiled them.
At times when I’m in the kitchen cooking, he’ll tell the children to leave me and come watch the TV. So I’ll leave the kitchen too and go watch TV with them. When he says ‘are we not going to eat today?’ I tell him, ‘I can’t be in the kitchen alone, let everybody kukuma watch the TV.’ All my boys know how to cook.”
Money may have never been a problem for the Olayinkas, but there was a ‘test’ greater than finance problems: Mr. Olayinka’s seemingly non-platonic friendships with other women was a problem. But like a G, Mrs. Olayinka “owned her territory.”
“A lot of men are always involved with the other woman. I’m so bold that I don’t even care if I have to go meet the other woman. I won’t let her know I’m the wife, but I’ll make sure somebody takes me to the woman. The woman will be calling everyday, ‘ehn, dinner is ready,’ I’ll tell her we have dinner in our house. He can’t go for dinner, he’ll stay here.”
He was the manager in a branch in Ibadan so I’ll always get a lot of information. Even when I take his car out, they will be shouting ‘manager, manager,’ I’ll tell them ‘it’s not manager o, it is his wife.’ When I get back home, it will be fire on the mountain.
When they (men) have money as bank managers, many would subdue their wives. That didn’t happen with me. We were in the US for 10 years and I know the kind of work that I did. Now that it is rosey, someone thinks she can just come in like that, no way!”
Mr. Olayinka is now born again and has no room for anyone but his wife. Today, he is thankful for the kind of wife God has given him and the sweetness that keeps filling their home.
“I thank God for the kind of wife I have. If she had probably been insensitive to my movement and activities, perhaps something else would have happened.
“But I knew she was very careful protecting her interest and the interest of the home, and that is, to me, an advantage. It has worked. When I became born-again Christian, I stayed away from all those things. Thank God for Jesus Christ.”
For Mrs. Olayinka, what also seemed to be a hurdle was Mr. Olayinka’s resistance to her working at UCH, Oyo.
“There was a time when we travelled to US and I wanted to further my course. If you do teaching over there in US, it’s free. When I came back from the US, I wanted to work in UCH, and the Oyo State Government offered me a job, but he didn’t allow me to do it. When I asked why, he said I should go and teach.
I said “I don’t like teaching. They don’t have money in teaching.” But he insisted that that what he wants for me. Then I said, “If you love me, why don’t you allow me do teaching over there, now that I came back, you’re saying no.”
I know how much my mates were earning in UCH and at the Health Management Board at Oyo. I had a friend who got a car and a quarter. So I was mad he didn’t allow me do it.
But years later when I retired from teaching services, I started my own school. He was the one who gave me his house downstairs to start my school and I used it for 10 years before I could get my permanent site I worked for 30 years with the government and I did not buy a land.
When I started my own business, within six years, I built a big house. So I forgot all the past and thanked God for where I am. Maybe if I had not listened to him, I wouldn’t be here today. Those friends I as envying then are now envying me; they want to be in my shoes. Then, I thought he was a wicked man.”
Mr. Olayinka comes to his defense.
“I wanted her to take absolute care of my children. And she did that. I didn’t say she shouldn’t work. She worked for several years. So far, so good, we have no regrets.”
Mrs. Olayinka has more to say concerning her professional life.
“When we got married, by the time I had my first baby, he asked me not to work. Even before I got married, he asked me not to work. I told my mum and sisters and they said ‘Ehn? And you agreed?’
By the time I had my first baby, I had to be asking him for everything and I don’t like that. So I told him I had to work. He didn’t answer me so I looked for the job myself.
I left him at Ilorin and came down to Ibadan with my 4-months-old baby to look for a job. Later, he looked for transfer and also came down to Ibadan. He also got a job for me. The job he got was even better than what I got for myself.
I tell every woman, especially my children, you have to work o, if your husband says you should not work, don’t answer him.”
If you are currently going through trials in your marriage, Mr. Olayinka believes it can be resolved. “Hang in there,” he says, “God cannot fail you. Love, and worship him.”
He also says that determination to make your marriage work also helps. Pay less attention to your problems and focus more on God.
Communication is also important in marriages. Mrs. Olayinka says that “it’s good to communicate, you don’t keep silent. Me o, I’m not the type to keep quiet, if there’s any fire on the mountain, I will make sure I quench that fire.”
Beyond communication, Mr. Olayinka says that working with God is key, “Whenever we have a problem, we pray over it and God shows us the right way.”
Then there’s forgiveness too.
“We need to have the mind of forgiveness, Mrs Olayinka says, there’s no home that will not have problems, it is forgiveness that makes it stand. When the other partner accepts what he has done wrong and apologises, what else do you do? You have to move forward and forge ahead.”
For Mr. and Mrs. Olayinka. It’s 53 years down and the ever after to go.
“Be grateful for who you are and what you have, there are a lot of people that want to be in your position, so be thankful.”