After 35 Years Together, The Olapojus Share Their Challenges, Triumphs And Why Marriages Are Collapsing Like A Pack Of Cards
Pade Olapoju, a journalist, and wife, Bolade, a schoolteacher, got married 35 years ago, on January 24, 1987.
The pair started their relationship on a note of casual acquaintance. But later, it snowballed into marriage.
Pade who hails from Ile-Ife, Osun State, is a pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), while his wife, a caterer and event planner, is an Assistant Pastor with the same church. Together, their marriage is blessed with three children: two girls and one boy.
In a chat with DailySun, the couple narrated the story of their marital journey as well as its challenges and triumphs.
How did it start?
Pade: We attended the same secondary school: Christ’s School, Ado Ekiti. She was a year my junior but she was a friend to my friend. I saw her then as my ‘aburo’ (little sister).
Years after I passed out from Christ’s School, I did my A Level at Olivet Baptist High School, Oyo. About the same time, her father, a priest was transferred to Oyo as the archdeacon (he later became the Bishop of Remo Diocese at Sagamu). We met again through my cousin and kicked it off from there.
What was her reaction when you proposed?
Pade: She resisted it then, reminding me that I was her ‘egbon’ (elder brother). I asked what her surname was and where the family came from. When she answered that she was Ogundana from Iluomoba Ekiti, I asked how Ile Ife and Iluomoba Ekiti were related. Thank God the two cities are well knitted now through this union.
Then through peer influence, I was smoking and drinking as well as doing other things. These she did not like a bit, with her background as a priest’s daughter. But the greatest influence on her was my mother who happened to bear Bola too. The two of them clicked as soon as they set sighted each other. Then, I knew there was no going back on her.
Did anyone oppose the marriage?
Pade: Of course! There was opposition from her side. My reputation in Oyo then as a player went before me. Their church members who knew me and my friends warned her parents against our union. I was, in a way, that boy that mothers warned their daughters about.
But my mother (God bless her soul) did a marvellous job on her, encouraging her, and all that. Even some people were sceptical in my family too, saying that the marriage won’t last two years. They said this to my hearing, but God proved them wrong.
Bolade: Yes. My parents initially did, especially my mum. We were new in Oyo but news about what guys did those days filtered to them and, of course, they opposed my going out with him. But my dad changed his mind when he really got to know him. My mum adopted the let’s-wait-and-see attitude until some years into our marriage when she later took him as her son.
Any early marriage challenges and how did you overcome them?
Pade: At first, it was tough and rough. At a point, we had to squat with my mother and other people in the early stage of the marriage. When our first child came, it was a trying time for us as she was kept in the intensive care of the University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, for three months.
Every week, we had to get an injection worth N1000 for her. N1000 was a lot of money in 1987, especially for young couples who were not really working. Even when I eventually got a steady job at National Concord newspaper, the person that facilitated the job ensured that I left the place for reasons best known to him.
I then moved on to the The Mail at Orile Iganmu and the Daily Times. This was the glorious period of the DTN when Dr Ogunbiyi was the MD. But politics soon set in at DTN which led to the organisation owing staff salaries and it took a great toll on our growing family.
At a time, staffs were owed close to two years salaries. It was during this time that we had our second child. We started defaulting in payment of house rent which led to our squatting with friends again. Initially, my wife would cook dinner and wait for me to come back from work.
She never reckoned that a journalist works late nights. Eventually, she adjusted. She left her career to take care of our growing family. And when the children were old enough, she went back to work and I too got a stable employment. But in all these, God was with us. And I thank God for an understanding wife who used the little I brought home to take care of the family.
Bolade: No romance succeeds without finance as the saying goes. Initially, we had the problem of finance for the young family. Before things normalized, my husband did not have a stable job. I had to do odd jobs to augment the family’s finances. At different times, we have had to squat with friends and family.
Training the children was another challenge. We agreed that one of us would have to stop work and see to the proper upbringing of the children. Today, we thank God that, that the sacrifice paid off as the three of them are able to stand on their feet and are doing well. One good thing that we do as a family is, that we pray together and God answers our prayers.
What has kept this marriage going?
Pade: I thank God I married a friend. As individuals from different backgrounds, there were bound to be clashes and quarrels. But if you ask our children or family, they had never seen us quarrel in public. We don’t keep malice and our quarrels don’t last till the following day.
I learnt early in the marriage to be quick to say ‘Sorry’ and ‘Thank you’. I also learnt then to remember important days like birthdays and anniversaries. Nobody has a blueprint for a happy marriage but when God is involved, the Holy Spirit will always guide the couple.
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Describe your wife?
Pade: She’s first my good friend, then my lover, my wife and mother of my children. She’s the best woman any man can pray for. She’s the definition of a virtuous woman. She’s a marvellous cook and a shrewd businesswoman. Though she’s the quiet and patient type, she never spared the cane for the children while they were growing up.
The Bible says in Proverbs 18:22 that “he who finds a wife has got a good thing and obtains favour from the Lord.” I believe that God Almighty has continued to show me favour through this wonderful Ekiti woman. And I thank my late mum for seeing all these virtues I did not see then in her.
What is so special about your husband?
Bolade: He’s a proactive person. He’s also a very sensitive person. He has this eerie talent of guessing correctly who is a good person or a bad one, even at first meeting. That is why he made friends with all our children’s friends and would correct those of them he feels are trying to derail.
He’s so good at solving problems. He would give so many solutions to any particular problem, making it easy to solve problems as they come. I must tell you this: he’s romantic too.
Can you recall your happiest moments in this marriage?
Bolade: There are so many happy moments in the marriage. First, the birth of our first child brought with it some mixed feelings. I was happy at being a mother but sad at not being able to cuddle her until months after birth.
My happy moments include when they graduated from university and when the girls got married and they changed our nomenclatures again to grandpa and grandma. I cherish every moments our grandchildren spend with us. They make us feel young again. You can imagine one of them saying grandpa is a good boy.
Tell us more about your children?
Bolade: By the grace of God, we are blessed with three lovely children: two daughters and a boy. The two girls, like I said, are married and have given us four grandchildren: three boys and a girl.
How were you able to cope when the kids were growing?
Bolade: I had to give up my career to make sure they were trained the old fashioned way. The girls didn’t give much problem. But you know, boys will want to be boys. But now, each time I see him, I thank God for the gentleman he has grown into.
Any regrets in marriage?
Pade: No. I have no regret. We got married when I was 26. Even family members said it was too early. Today, our children are like our siblings. We discuss like friends.
Have you ever thought of quitting this relationship for any reason?
Pade: No. Not for one moment have I thought of quitting. We courted for more than five years during which we got to know each other and each other’s families well. I can almost read her thoughts and she, mine. So, I’m always careful not to tell her lies because she’s bound to find out. That perhaps may be because I’m not a good liar.
Bolade: No, never.
Why do you think marriages crash these days?
Pade: Family or friends’ influence, impatience, arrogance, love of money, infidelity, nagging, domestic violence, etc. The list is endless. But the main one I can identify is if the family does not have God as its cornerstone.
Bolade: Deceit, misunderstanding, inability to endure, especially ladies who cannot endure poor husbands.
How do you know when your spouse is angry, and how do you handle it?
Pade: Her countenance tells tales. She has a friendly countenance, so it is not difficult to know when she’s angry. It also shows in the way she moves and in her body language.
Bolade: He has a smiling face. So it’s easy for one to know when he’s angry. Whenever he’s angry, that smiling face disappears, but it may be in a flash. But I’ve learnt to apologise whenever I’m wrong.
How do you resolve your differences?
Pade: As friends, we talk a lot. There’s no topic we cannot discuss. If we have not seen each other for days, whenever we see, we spend time updating each other. So, if there’s anything she did that I didn’t like or anything I do that she hates, we discuss it. For example, I had to stop smoking when the children started coming. She asked me whether I’ll want our children to smoke as we are their mirror and that hit me like a sledgehammer. I stopped smoking not quite long afterwards.
What is your advice to young men who want to go into marriage?
Pade: From the benefit of hindsight, I will advise that they involve God in choosing their partners. Marriage is supposed to be a lifelong union, so they need to go into it with somebody they can spend their whole life with. As soon as you identify a woman who you can live your life with, please don’t waste time again.
Use the period of courtship to see whether the two of you and your families are compatible. If a man chooses a devil as a wife, he is finished. The same thing applies to a woman. That is why intending couples should be careful and be prayerful. As soon as you discover that you are compatible, get married. Don’t use your wife as girlfriend.
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What’s your advice to married men?
Pade: Please, stay married to your wives. Do not commit adultery or keep strange women outside. Most strange women have their own agenda. Spend money and time on your wives and family. Make sure you improve their lives. Don’t be stingy with your wife. Know that your money or whatever you own belongs to your wife and the family. God normally blesses any man who takes care of his wife and family. Most importantly, learn to pray together.
What is your advice to married women?
Bolade: Married women should be patient and be tolerant of their husbands. Learn to trust them. Respect them, pray for them. Treat them as kings and they will treat you as their queens. Respect is reciprocal.
What message do you have for intending couples?
Bolade: Marriage is a life-long thing. Intending couples should study each other to be sure they are compatible. They should first, be friends before being lovers. After marriage, their love should not go to sleep. They should always find something to ignite the flame of their love. They should always remember that a home without Christ is like living in a graveyard.