We ignored negative comments to protect our marriage – Couple married for 66 years.

A couple, Mr Moses and Mrs Hanive Teghtegh, from Benue State, who recently celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary, tell TEMITOPE ADETUNJI the secret behind the marriage

What was growing up like for you?

Husband: My growing up as I recall was very adventurous and interesting. My father was a wealthy farmer and so had several relatives and strangers as guests. One thing I remember vividly was my father’s benevolence which was a major attraction to our home. As a young man, I always accompanied my father wherever he went. That exposed me to several things that helped me later in life. The only unfavourable part of my childhood experience was not receiving formal education. My wife and I didn’t have any formal education. When I started working as a surveyor at that time, formal education was not needed. I only worked with white men.

Wife: Growing up was quite difficult, it wasn’t easy. I lost my father at an early age and grew up with my mother barely managing to take care of me and my four siblings. We left our home and settled in my mother’s village in Abwa but had to relocate to a palace known as Yandev in Gboko. That was where I met and married my husband. The life of an orphan can be very challenging. Not having a father meant we were vulnerable to different unpleasant situations. For instance, I had to be married off at an early age to a man who was a terror to my life. Early marriage denied me several privileges. We had to do menial jobs to feed the family; these included working on people’s farms for a paltry sum of money. We could not attend school as no one was there to stand for us. Above all, the pain of not seeing our father’s corpse, because he drowned, was a pain we all lived with. We hoped to see him one day but that day never came. Without a father, we lost a great deal.

Where did you work?

Husband: I worked under the Ministry of Lands and Survey. I retired in 1984 at an old age.

What are the challenges you faced as a child while growing up?

Husband: One major challenge I faced was the lack of awareness about the importance of education. However, as children from a royal home and having an affluent father, I can say we enjoyed life. In those days, my father bought a horse and traditionally it was a sign of wealth and greatness. Apart from the lack of education, life was quite fine.

Where did you grow up?

Husband: I grew up in Adi-Etulo village in the Buruku Local Government Area of Benue State.

How old are you now?

Husband: I am currently 103 years old and it is a blessing to still be alive at this moment.

As one who has been married for over 60 years, is it true that a man and his wife can live together for that long without disagreements?

Husband: It is not possible for couples not to have issues. There will always be disagreements. We’ve had issues but not to the extent of separation. It is necessary to address issues as couples and let them end there. Disagreements are okay in marriage.

What are the other challenges you have had to deal with in your marriage?

Wife: Our marriage, as calculated by our children, has lasted about 66 years. When I married my husband, we had to wait for five years before God gave us our first daughter. The waiting period was quite difficult; my in-laws made a jest of my husband that he married a barren woman. In his character, he turned a deaf ear to their complaints. In fact, coming from the Tiv tribe and my husband, an Etulo man, brought real challenges for me to be accepted by the family. My husband always stood by me and admonished me to remain resolute and ignore his siblings. But despite being told many times that I would never conceive, God gave me my first child and four other children. I will never face that persecution again. I appreciate God for giving us good children and grandchildren; we are grateful.

How did you meet your wife?

Husband: I travelled to her place called Yandev in Gboko. I saw her, liked her and approached her. She was on a motorcycle when I saw her. She smiled at me and what I found attractive in her was her set of fine teeth and her beauty. That is all I can say. I loved her appearance from the first day I saw her, so I made up my mind that I was going to marry her. When I asked her out, before we got married, amid our conversation, I discovered that she was responsible and respectful, and she had a good attitude and that encouraged me.

At what age did you get married?

Husband: At that time, it wasn’t easy to know our ages, so I can’t remember how old we were when we got married, but I think I should have been 30.

What is the secret behind your successful marriage and whenever you have disagreements how exactly do you go about it?

Husband: The secret behind my marriage is the knowledge of God and the blessings of children. Disagreements are normal in marriage but we don’t dwell on them, rather we discuss and let things die down on their own. It has helped us survive challenges experienced in marriage. Love has also kept us. Love has to do with productivity in marriage. You’ve married your wife and she has given birth to children. The children are there and you loved all of them. Children make marriage sweeter.

Wife: The secret behind my marriage can first be attributed to God and love. I must tell you that my husband can be very annoying but he is a nice man. When we have a misunderstanding, we usually talk about it. If a third party must know, we involve our children who usually caution us. We know each other, so we have not had a disagreement that was so serious that it created an adverse action.

Are you saying couples cannot have a happy marriage without children?

Husband: If I didn’t have children with my wife, the marriage would not have lasted this long. Children are the fruit of marriage, if they are not there, the marriage may not last long.

What was your experience during the Civil War?

Husband: My wife and I married before independence. We got married in 1957. The war was fierce and a lot of people died. (The late Chief Obafemi) Awolowo helped and did what he could do. There was nothing significant that I can recall, except that many people suffered. We were in a place where the fighting did not extend to.

Wife: At that time, it was difficult. We heard that many people died but we were not affected directly because we were far from the war. There were times we saw planes flying in the sky and hid but we were not attacked.

To stay fit, what type of foods do you eat or avoid?

Husband: For the food aspect, the mother of the house (my wife) controls the food in the house. My wife controls what everyone eats. I have the privilege of eating healthily due to the menu carefully created by my wife. My wife naturally has an allergy to red meat, so we eat what she eats so that she will be happy. When I married her, she informed me of her allergy to beef, a species of chicken, and other types of meat. However, we eat fish as often as possible. Also, we do not eat processed food like other people. The only thing a doctor ever had a reason to stop me from taking is alcohol. I have not taken it for over 40 years. Once in a while, I take fruit wine as refreshment. Currently, we are not on any diet. We are not diabetic or hypertensive and do not have any terminal illness. We are not on any medication as well.

Wife: The thing is that I am naturally not a food person. I like eating lightly. From birth, there are particular foods I do not like. These include fresh meat like beef and a type of chicken. However, my preference is bushmeat when I can afford it, or mostly dry fish. I also snack on fruits like oranges, mango, coconut and banana. I am not a heavy eater. Perhaps, this has helped me as a person. My family respects my concern and I think I influenced their diet too.

Benue has recorded a lot of bloodshed in recent times. As a resident, what are your thoughts about the killings in the state?

Husband: The governors, the President and other politicians have not spoken out rightly against the killings. Internally, people are being robbed, and we hear a lot of things happening in Benue. The government has not done enough to stop the killings. The killings are also a result of the attitude of people; if you don’t do the right thing, it may lead to a war and some people may lose their lives in the process. The killings in Benue State are quite disturbing. Life was beautiful in those days due to honesty and love for one another. Today, people are betraying one another due to a lack of money, and as a result, several people are dying, which is a bad situation. Governance has a lot to do with what’s going on in Benue and other states. People have been disenfranchised. The system has become so poor. Many people are afraid. People are living in fear.

Wife: I feel very sad about the killings. Many people have died and are still dying. I believe the government has not done enough and has no sincerity in the matter. The Federal Government has also not helped the people of Benue. This is not good. Let the government step in and stop the killings.

I recall that life was very good in those days. We used to travel through the northern part of Nigeria. We lived like brothers and sisters. My husband’s job took us to places like Kaduna, Lokoja (in Kogi State), Ilorin (in Kwara State), Niger, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa and Ogoja, where we had our first daughter, who is now deceased. Now, we have divisions; political officeholders do not treat people well. Poverty has increased and life is miserable.

Are you in any way affected by the killings in Benue?

Husband: No, but indirectly, we have heard about people who lost their lives.

What are the things you are most grateful for?

Husband: We have faced moments of lack but somehow we got out of those moments. Sometimes, sickness comes but we thank God for always healing us. Sometimes, family members test our love by making inflammatory comments but we have lived with these for a long period. I am the only surviving child of my father. I had seven siblings. I am the second child, and the other six are all dead. I buried my last sister, the last child of my parents, who died this year at 89 years. My wife and I are happy to be alive and to see our family expand greatly. We want to thank Punch newspaper for identifying with us. May God bless you and also give you a long and fulfilling life.

What are the morals you instilled in your children?

Husband: I taught my children to be honest and not to be troublesome, not to look at what other people do. Living a moral life is very important. I have maintained that Children should remain focused and should be guided by the principles of God. My wish was to give my sons and daughters good partners and He did that. The results of the morals we have instilled in our children are glaring for us. It is a joyous thing. While I was raising my children, my wife and I warned them against bad friends. Bad friends can influence children’s lives. I always tell them to own up and speak the truth, no matter what the situation is. You should tell the truth rather than tell a lie. Although I am not educated because my parents did not know the importance of education and I didn’t attend school, I made sure my children were educated. My wife also tried her best in instilling good morals in the children. She was a petty trader. She sold akara (bean cake), moi moi, and later sold food in a public space before old age set in.

Wife: To the glory of God, we are blessed with four children. Initially, there were five but we lost one. We raised our children in love and instilled good morals in them. Our children are educated and that is a blessing from God

What will you advise young couples to do to strengthen their marriage?

Husband: There is a lot of infidelity in marriages. Couples are no longer faithful to one another, and when that happens, anything can happen; separation or divorce can set in, and it can even lead to death. People need to be faithful to their marriages if you are not cooperating with your partner, the marriage will not last long. Young couples must love God and tolerate one another. Most marriages; are failing because couples are not satisfied with one partner; this brings bad luck and separation.

Wife: I advise new-generation couples to put God first and love one another. Most couples are still looking for fun outside their marriage; this brings about division among them. The virtue of chastity in my generation was a factor every woman desired. This helped us defend our marriage and decide to keep it. Today, our patience has paid off. We thank God for keeping us alive to see this day.

Source: Punch Newspapers