By Ifeoma Ezenyilimba
On the first day of the first month of the year 1970, when the Nigeria Civil War raged on through the country and men lived in fear, a young couple sneaked their way on foot to the church, to be joined in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. They called it their first wedding. There were no DJs and live bands, no camera men and paparazzi, no flashy cars and decorations, no foods and drinks. All they had was themselves and the love they both shared for each other – a true lasting love.
When 25 years later in the year 1995, when they were privileged to celebrate what they termed their second wedding, the silver jubilee anniversary of their marriage, they had so much to thank GOD for. And then, beyond themselves, they had their children with them sharing in their love and togetherness.
Exactly 50 years after their first wedding, Mr and Mrs Joseph Nwolisa, the Golden Couple are set to celebrate their third wedding, the golden jubilee anniversary of their marriage. And now, surrounded by not just their children, but numerous grand children, they consider themselves very privileged to enjoy such a blessing from GOD.
In a chat with Fides Inspiration, the Golden Couple shares the story of their love, their admirations, struggles, fulfilments and words of advice to new and intending couples.
May we know you please?
I am Mr. Joseph Nwolisa by name. I am from Ichida. Well currently, I am a retired civil servant. So I am a pensioner. I worked at State Education Commission during my civil service days. It's my pleasure to be here today with my wife Cecilia for this interview.
My name is Cecilia Nwolisa, I am from Ichida. I am also a retired civil servant. I was a primary school teacher before my retirement. After my retirement, I felt there was no point staying idle at home when there is so much work to be done in the house of GOD, so I took up the position of a Catechist at St. Andrew's Catholic Church, Adazi-Nnukwu.
Can you tell us how you met your wife?
Joseph - Well, you know in the olden days, parents in a family were the ones who took most decisions concerning their household. So back in those days, when I was ready to get married, I informed my parents about my decision to settle down and they made enquiries and discovered this lovely woman I have now spent 50 years with. It was so because I believed my parents understood life more than I did and they knew families with good backgrounds. So I trusted their judgement and I am glad I did.
Cecilia - As my husband rightly said, they were the ones that came looking for me. He asked for my hands in marriage and after several discussions, things worked out and we got married.
What major factor contributed to the success of your marriage through these years?
Joseph - It is important to understand that whenever you invite GOD into your affairs, you will surely succeed. Prayer is something we don't joke with. We pray in and out of season. We pray together always, so that GOD will keep leading us in life.
Another factor that contributed to our steadfastness in marriage is our parents who were in themselves good and supported us with good advices all through their lives. Their words of encouragement led us on through the difficult moments of our lives.
Also, our decision to genuinely love each other and fully commit to our marriage contributed to our marital success.
Cecilia - Just to add to what my husband said, holding unto GOD is very important in every aspect of our lives. We always depend on GOD in every situation and HE never failed us.
Having the spirit of forgiveness is a must in every marriage. When couples begin to hold on to each other's faults or mistakes, then that marriage is headed for a collapse.
Did you ever at any point in your marital journey feel like breaking up or regret ever getting married to each other?
Joseph - Never! We never thought of that. Granted we had misunderstandings as humans. No one is perfect you know. There were times we quarrelled, but divorce was never an option.
What gives you the most fulfilment in marriage?
Joseph - The fact GOD gave me my right wife and that we are still living together as one is enough fulfilment for me. Some couples do separate few years after getting married due to irreconcilable differences or misunderstandings. But we are still standing strong.
Another one is that I never for once laid my hands on my wife, neither did she lay her hands on me all through these years we have been together.
Cecilia - Well, I take pleasure in the fact that my husband is truly a father. He understands the family and strives to provide for everyone to the best of his capability.
He always seeks for my advice whenever the going gets tough. He knows I am always there to support him and together we pull through each challenge.
What are the virtues you admire in each other?
Cecilia - I admire his truthfulness and sincere lifestyle. I admire the fact that he always tells me the truth no matter the outcome.
His upright life also makes me happy. I appreciate the fact that he does not involve himself in a dirty and regrettable kind of living. He keeps his hands clean in all his endeavours, so I have no reason to grow some suspicions over him.
Joseph – There are many virtues I really admire in my wife. One is that since we got married, I have never seen her exchanging words with anyone in public. She always carries herself with dignity.
Another virtue of hers that melts my heart is her caring and motherly nature. When my own mum grew old and weak, my wife requested that she should come and stay with us. And for 22 years, she kept on, patiently caring for my ailing mother. I admire her greatly for that.
We understand that you are preparing for your Golden Jubilee Celebration in few weeks time, how do you feel about the celebration?
Joseph – I am very happy and grateful to God for this rare privilege. We wouldn't have come this far if not for the Grace of God. I am happy that we have been united all through these years pushing through the ups and downs of life. I am also happy that united as one, we were able to raise all our children responsibly. We are all alive today to witness this milestone blessing in our family.
It is also an opportunity to thank GOD again for the life and good health He has bestowed on us and for the lovely children He blessed our union with.
Cecilia – My heart cannot contain the joy that is flowing therein. It is indeed a great blessing from GOD to be given the opportunity to witness the Golden Jubilee Anniversary of our marriage. Sincerely, our children are the ones planning the celebration. I do tell them always to do for me now whatever good deed they plan for me and not wait till when I die. Even if they don't kill as much as a fowl when I die, I wouldn't care, so long as they kill the fowl for me now to eat while I am still alive. So I am happy that they are putting in so much effort to celebrate us on this golden jubilee anniversary.
What marital advice do you have for young couples or intending couples preparing for the Sacrament of Matrimony?
Joseph – Well, I think part of the reasons most marriages fail is because the younger generations are becoming too materialistic. A guy comes to ask for your hand in marriage and the first thing you do is to consider the type of car he drives or if he even has any. It's so wrong. Some don't even care to investigate the family background of their partners. I rode in a bicycle when I went to marry my wife and she accepted wholeheartedly. So new and intending couples should learn to stop chasing shadows and follow the substance.
Cecilia – I will advise the young generations going into marriage to have the virtue of patience. When we got married, we had nothing so to say. It was even during the war that we did our first wedding. We had to sneak our way to and from the church on foot for the wedding. By the time we did our “second wedding” during our Silver Jubilee, things were beginning to improve for the better. With our “third wedding” or golden jubilee coming up, I can say that we are living fine. Of course after this “third wedding”, we hope that there will be a lot of entertainments for everyone who attends, which wasn't there during our “first wedding”.
I will also advise young couples to be sincere to each other. Sincerity is a virtue everyone must imbibe.
What is your opinion is the cause of high rate of divorce prevalent in the society today?
Cecilia – I think it's because people no longer tell themselves the truth. Couples are not sincere to each other and it's breaking many homes today. You see some young men lying to their partners about their financial status. They keep showing off affluence to deceive their partners and at the end, the union cannot stand. Some ladies also lie to their partners and it never ends well.
So in my opinion, lack of sincerity, patience and true love on many unions today is what fuels the high rate of divorce we witness today.
Thank you for your time.
You are welcome