H-alive Magazine Spotlight… The “Honourarium”
Hi, Friends! My name is Abimbola Onwuchekwa. I will be taking you on a tour of H-alive Magazine Spotlight on successful marriages of 25years and above on this platform tagged: “The Honourarium”. I will be working in consort with our able Business Consultant - Rockyfella Eshiet Nsudoh of FM Akwa Ibom.
Here, we will be mostly out to establish that marriage can be beautiful and your home happy and alive. This is not to say there will be no trials but be encouraged over the fact that, if you stick together, with patience and resolute determination, you can make it work.
I’m delighted to present our first guest on this platform and we’re very honoured to have Major Gen & Mrs. John Sabo Kwabe (Rtd.), who have weathered the storm together for 33years and the marriage blessed with four, very intelligent and highly responsible children. Gen. John is currently a Redeemed Church Pastor at Abuja.
Read on with rapt attention and see what lessons you can learn from their story. Do you have your own story to tell or enquiries to make? Write to: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; cc: firstname.lastname@example.org.
33 YEARS OF ENDLESS LOVE
My wife and I are excited to share the journey of our marriage of 33 glorious years with everyday seemingly refreshing. We hope that this piece of writing will encourage someone reading it and the name of the Lord God Almighty will be glorified. My dear reader, it would be deceptive to claim that the journey was a smooth ride throughout. It had lots of rugged paths and marital potholes.
It all started when I was a Cadet Officer at the Nigerian Defence Academy (NDA), Kaduna Nigeria in 1978. The nature of the training was such that every opportunity to breathe some air of freedom was highly treasured. One of such opportunities was to get out of the NDA either visiting families or going to recreational areas within the time permissible. At that time, I had just two reasons for going out, either to the Church (Kaduna Christian Assembly) or to Sgt. Luka Tumba Tuwave’s (LTT) house because he hails from my village - Michika in Adamawa State. My wife, Victoria is his first daughter. That was how I met her, among other LTT’s daughters. Thereafter, she and her step sister, Christy, began to exchange visits with me without any strings attached.
One day, a roommate of mine, Cadet Danjuma Musa, said to me: ‘this dark girl, Victoria is going to be your wife’. I screamed at him and queried how he could talk that way. At that point in time, no such thought ever crossed my mind because we live as close neighbours in the village; moreover, she was too young for me to wait for her. He laughed and insisted on his ‘prophetic’ declaration. I changed the topic of discussion as I believed he was cracking a silly joke.
One Friday night after many months, a sudden emotional yearning for Vicky came over me when I just woke up that morning. This experience continued to increase like water flowing from a shower over one’s head down to the rest of the body and within a very short time; I was deeply sunk in love with Vicky.
I could barely wait for the morning before I rushed out from NDA Kawo to Barnawa where Vicky was and declared my love for her, without telling my friend Danjuma.
At the age of 22years, I had graduated from NDA and got commissioned into the Nigerian Army as Second Lieutenant. Vicky was in Year 3 in Secondary School and we agreed to wed. Girls from the area we come from were allowed to get married while in secondary school and continue their school from their husband’s house. She was 18 years when we got married in Ekkilisian Yankin Nigeria (Church of the brethren) Church on 18th December 1982.
As at the time, I was serving at Apapa - Lagos and had a few things to start life with. I had no mobility of any kind; Bicycle, Motor Bike or Car. In the house, I had a #1 Wire Spring Bed, #2 Burners Kerosene Stove, #3 Wooden Chairs with Upholstery and a few other house items. So, you imagine two persons, an early stage teenager and an early stage adult coming together as husband and wife. One would have thought that the chances of survival for this marriage were too slim but as young as we were, God granted us favour by teaching us things that many older adults could not accept with each other; things that would destroy their marriages.
One of such is TOLERANCE and ABILITY TO APOLOGISE, whether you are wrong or not. Whether we like it or not, a husband and a wife must disagree severally throughout their life together. I sat down one day and imagined in my heart that I am the bread winner while my wife only sits in the house, yet she will be fighting me to the point of saying “If I had known, I would not have married you; after all, many others wanted me”! A voice spoke to me strongly, “that is pride”. A question followed: “Is it not God that gave you the work?” It then dawned on me that my thoughts were evil. At the early stage of our marriage, there was nothing like apology from my wife. God humbled me to be doing it on her behalf and my behalf each time we had a quarrel. So, whether my wife was wrong or not, I would go down on my knees and apologise. This price went a long way to subduing conflicts that would have led to separation
Another key of successful marriage that preserved us for these 33 years of glorious marriage is TRUST. One afternoon, we had a ‘Get Together’ function at the Officers’ Mess. The Mess was located in such a way that any visitor would have to pass our residential quarters to get there. As we were deep into the function, a colleague of mine requested for my car to go and pick an item he forgot at his house. I gave him the car, unknown to me was the fact that he was going to pick a girlfriend. He knew that if I knew his intention, I would not give him the car because I hated such immoral behaviour. While returning, a neighbour’s wife sighted my car passing to the Mess with a girl inside but she did not observe if I was the one or not; she quickly went to my wife and reported what she saw. She also advised that both of them should come to the Mess and cause a scenario by beating up the girl. My wife replied her thus: “If we do that and my husband and I separate, you will remain in your marriage and I would be a divorcee. Do not bother, when he comes home, he remains my husband. The time he has with that girl is temporary and would definitely expire”. It was later that night when I returned home, my wife told me the issue after a nice dinner and also got to know the truth.
I came to Lagos from Ibadan on a weekend with my family and on a Saturday afternoon, I was in the sitting room while my wife was in the kitchen preparing lunch for us; the land phone rang and I picked, a man asked, “where is Vicky”? I asked who he was and why he was asking for her. He replied and said that he was a Custom Officer and a friend from Tin Can Port, that I should please give her the phone. I called my wife and she came and took the phone. When she heard the voice, she dropped it and walked back to the kitchen. I did not ask a single question to know who the person was and what was between the two of them. I trusted that she had nothing to do with him and that it must be someone she might have met while accompanying her friends who were selling food at the Port. Trust is priceless and once imbibed by both parties, many unnecessary tensions due to suspicion and pains that could lead to many psychological traumas would be avoided.
I must be quick to mention that another very strong key that sustained us in this 33 years’ journey of glorious marriage is FAITHFULNESS and FORGIVENESS. The nature of the Army work is such that, as young and middle class officers, one could hardly stay in a location for more than two years; only few would have to stay more than that. This led to my children changing up to 4 to 6 schools before graduating from Secondary levels.
Additionally, the temptation to be involved in immorality was intense. When I was a Major, I was posted to Kano and my family was in Lagos. I was in the midst of colleagues who took pleasure in being far away from their family as this gave them licenses to carry as many girls as possible freely. To the glory of God I hated such acts. Unfortunately, I became a victim of immorality and since I did not know how to play safe, my marriage was almost ruined. I was in my room at the Commanders Guest House when a very young lady knocked at my door and I welcomed her in. I later got to know that we attended the same Church at the barracks. She came in Bum Shorts twice and the third time; I could not resist the temptation, I went to bed with her and after she left, I called my wife that night and told her what had happened. She cried, of course! I immediately requested for my annual leave of 21 days; went to Lagos and spent 20 days, just to keep away from that girl which I never invited or befriended in the first place. When I got to Lagos I knelt down and wept before my wife and she forgave me.
On my return to Kano, the girl and her father entered my office and claimed that she was pregnant and that I was responsible. She was looking pale and the pregnancy looked like 3 months old and I made the father take cognizance of that fact but he rejected my assumption, insisting that I was responsible. From the time we had sex till when they entered my office was only 23 days; so how could a woman get pregnant and the symptoms manifest like that was a question the father could not answer. I admitted the claim on the condition that I will train the child myself which the father refused and insisted that the child could only be visiting me till he turns 18 years. And on that note, my wife and I agreed together to challenge the fatherhood of that pregnancy and any one throughout our marriage.
When the child clocked eighteen years and came visiting, we did DNA test and the result clearly showed that I was NOT the biological father. I was vindicated! During this period, my wife stood by me all through. She received a lot of insults from the girls around and bore them all. Despite this unfaithful attitude of mine, my wife forgave me and it helped in cementing our relationship.
Finally, I wish to say that so many waters have passed under the bridge while sailing in this journey together but one major key that must be mentioned is the key of PROTECTING ONE ANOTHER AGAINST INTRUDERS; they could be friends, neighbours, family members or colleagues. My siblings used to say that you can offend John (me) so many times and be forgiven but if you accuse his wife to him, he will never forgive you. My wife was also told at some point in our marriage by her then close friends, that she is not wise because she refused their advice to open an account and be stealing money from me for her future use since men cannot be trusted. If she had done that and I got to know, the devil would have used it to cause havoc in the marriage. It could, perhaps, be in just the same way as that her friend who has been separated from her husband for over 25 years now.
Today, we are waxing stronger and the bond gets tighter and tighter with God helping us every single day.
May His Name alone be forever praised!