‘I thank God for my wife, she is a gift from Him to me’

Recently, veteran broadcaster, Dr Tom Adaba turned 75 and also celebrated his 50th wedding anniversary. He spoke to NKECHI ONYEDIKA-UGOEZE in Abuja, on the secret of a successful marriage, the love of his life and what Valentine’s Day means to him

You just marked your 75th birthday and 50 years of marriage, how has it been so far and what has kept you together as a married couple?
God who brought us together, kept us together. We dedicated ourselves to Him and placed God at the centre of our marriage. We were both resolutely determined to make our marriage succeed. We did not marry for the fun of it, we married in order to procreate and take care of the children to the glory of His Name and God was with us to guide us. It is not to say that it has been all bed of roses, there have been some difficult times, but God has been seeing us through and whenever we had such times, what we do is to go on our knees and ask God to give us direction and that has kept us going.

We have had lots and lots of trials here and there, but one of the things we held tenaciously right from the time we got married in 1966 was that under no circumstance would we report each other to our parents or anybody. We wouldn’t need the intervention of a third party. Whatever is between us will be sorted out between us and from there we forged ahead. It was only through that that we matured.  Marriage requires a lot of patience, I moved around a lot within and outside the country and my wife has been the rear commander.

I must confess she has done a mighty good job. That is why I say anywhere I go that she is the one who has managed me for the past 50 years and that is the truth. The Lord has blessed her with patience and understanding. The spirit of give and take has helped a great deal to keep us going. There was a very clear understanding from the onset that entering into this was entering into a life of sacrifice, sacrifice for each other because there are no two people that are the same.

There are individual differences and those differences must be resolved. What are the things I like that she doesn’t like? What are the things she likes that I don’t like? This has fostered better understanding and it has helped both of us. When it came to a point where the Lord started blessing us with children, incidentally, our first child came just exactly 10 months after our marriage, our concentration was now focused on the little one. We had to give-off on ourselves in order to make sure the child grows up in a way that God Himself will be pleased with us and The Lord continued to increase us to the extent that we had six biological children and two adopted ones.

Also by God’s grace, we have 16 grand- children.  So whatever misunderstanding or quarrels that came up between us, there has not been a reason for us to bring in the third party. We let tempers cool and ask a few questions to each other, there is apology and we move on.

However, the young ones of this time, I am not too sure are quite prepared for a thing like that, so many couples today don’t care about surmounting their challenges. So I thank and praise God for my wife because she is a gift from Him to me.

What attracted her to you?
It may interest you to know that I was a teacher and a headmaster back home. She was in school then and I knew her very well. Strangely, it was my mother that chose her and said, “this is the girl that you are going to marry,” because she and my dad knew her parents very well. They were part of our family, they knew themselves very well and my parents said that the offspring of such a family will be good.

I accepted and we continued until we had the marriage done and she moved over to Kano where I was in the Advanced Teachers College. After the three years in the school, I was fortunate to get a scholarship from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and I couldn’t take her along. This is the element of perseverance I talked about. She had to stay with my parents. Fortunately I was supposed to be there for three years, but I did the First Degree in one year and 10 months. Immediately when I finished, I came back and we continued and in 1977, I had to go to the US again for my Masters Degree, but that level of patience and understanding of a situation has helped us a great deal.

What do you like most about her?
I don’t even call it attitude. I call it gift from God, her patience, resilience, understanding and the flow in her. She has all the attributes that make a home. She is a homebuilder and she has succeeded in doing that all through. That is more than enough for me to like her; don’t you think so?

Were there low moments and how were you able to overcome them?
Of course there were, but we surmounted them through understanding and prayers. When we are faced with difficulties or challenges, we let time pass, but one good thing is that I can’t remember if there was any time we had a quarrel and it went overnight, no, whatever it is, we get it sorted out, apologise to each other and we move on.

Who were your role models as far as marital affairs is concerned?
My parents, my guardians and virtually everybody around me married just one wife because it is a Roman Catholic community back home. Remember that then everybody had an influence over your grooming and over you. If they see you doing wrong, they will be the ones, who will tell you. They won’t tell your parents, they will correct you, so all of them who were around me were role models in their special way.

What do you think is responsible for the breakdown of marriages in our society today and how can it be avoided?
One of the factors is our primitive approach to acquiring wealth and looking at wealth as a major factor in marriage. It is not the best. The most important thing is to know if you have seen what you want in the person you intend to marry. Have you seen the inner workings of the individual before deciding that this is the person I want to marry?

When what you are considering is only the beauty, height and other physical appearance, it is infatuation. These are not the things to consider. Let there be a very clear understanding of what and who you want and believe that without God it cannot work. Let there be a genuine determination to have God at the centre of your marriage for it to work and both of must make it work. What we see these days where a man brutalises his wife makes me wonder the way we think these days.

You have a wife, she offends you and you beat her up, strip her naked before people, the question I ask is; when they resolve the issue, are they still going to sleep together? How can you humiliate your wife in the public and drag her back home and you are ready to sleep with her and people who have seen her nakedness are out there, who has been drawn down? It is not the woman, but you. We are so quick to raise our hands these days, you don’t command respect by beating you wife. What we need is a clear understanding at the very beginning. Once there is that, don’t look at the beauty, don’t look at height, look at the inner personality of the individual you want to live with.

Marriage is not a contract of one or five years, it is a contract of a lifetime. When marriages break down the children are the ones that suffer it most.

How can younger couples sustain their marriage?
They should pray to God and must resolve to make their marriage work.  How much home work was done between the man and the woman before they decided to get married? You must know your partner well enough before going into marriage.

When you marry and discover that some traits of your spouse are not compatible with yours, it creates a problem unless you are ready to accept it, live with it and pray about it. It won’t work especially these times when we are so materialistic. It doesn’t go too far, when you are looking for a ready-made husband who has cars, houses, this and that.

What does Valentine’s Day means to you as a married couple?
It doesn’t mean anything.

What do you think is the best way for couples to celebrate themselves?
My wife has a birthday, I have a birthday, we have our anniversary; there are so many ways of celebrating one another. Honestly, we have so commercialised and bastardised this thing called Valentine. It has no meaning to me, the meaning it has is what the Church teaches.

The man we are talking about celebrated love for humanity, not the erotic love, but that is what we all work on these days. “Oh be my Valentine”, you carry her out and then after that go and sleep with her. That can be done any day, it does not have to be on a Valentine’s Day, so I don’t subscribe to it

At 75 you still look young and strong, what is the secret?
It is God, He is my maker and I give Him all the praise and He has given me a very virtuous wife who manages me including giving me good food and what is best for me, what else can I ask God? I bless God for what he has done and I thank my wife for being such a wonderful manager.

In this article:
Tom AdabaValentines Day
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