By Pat Amobi Chukwuma

For the first time in their life, Ifeanyi and Ifeoma accidentally came in contact with each other at a birthday party. Love mysteriously entered into their eyeballs as they sat opposite each other at the party. They shook hands and fell in love immediately. Ifeanyi exclaimed, “My baby, your hand is very captivating. Your face is as beautiful as an angel. What a lucky guy I am!” Ifeoma smiled and replied, “Ifeanyi my darling, your handsomeness is killing my heart. Indeed I have met the man I have been longing for. I love you.” Ifeanyi embraced her and asserted, “I love you too. In fact you are my missing rib I have been searching for.” Then they exchanged phone numbers and departed happily at the end of the party.

On the night of that lovely day, Ifeanyi and Ifeoma scarcely slept because they were exchanging pleasantries through the phone from dusk to dawn. Ifeanyi said to her, “Baby, since I met you at the birthday party, I am mad in love for you. I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I am satisfied with the lovely thought of you. Your eyes are charming. Your figure 8 is one in town. Do you know that since I was born I have never seen any girl as beautiful as you? If I am asked to choose between you and heaven, I will surely choose you. I cannot wait. I am coming this night to ask for your hand in marriage before any other man snatches you. It will be fantastic on our wedding day with the inscription: Ify weds Ify.” From the other end, Ifeoma in a shrill voice replied, “My lovely darling, my tomato Jos, the sugar in my tea, do you know that immediately I met you at the birthday party few hours ago, I saw love dancing between me and you? When you shook my hand my heart melted in love. You are handsomeness personified. When you hugged me and bade me goodbye, my entire body was soaked with love. I love you so much that I cannot sleep without you by my side. I miss you! In fact I cannot wait for the dowry to be paid. You are my forever!”

After two days, the lover boy went with his people to make a formal proposal of marriage to the family of his heartthrob. The girl consented speedily. Her parents blessed the proposed marriage there and then. On the next day, the bride price was paid. The two lovers became engaged in marriage. Hurriedly, they exchanged marital vow at the Altar of God within six weeks. Ifeanyi wedded Ifeoma. A new family began happily.

If you are in Russia, then you must rush at everything. Any couple who rushes into marriage crashes in no distant time. Just after two months of marriage between Mr. Ifeanyi and Mrs. Ifeoma, things fell apart and the centre could no longer hold. Love turned into hatred. They quarreled with each other almost on daily basis to the extent that their neighbours became restless. An Igbo proverb says that anyone who becomes the in-law of the lizard must be ready to answer emergency call from time to time that the lizard has fallen from a tree. Ifeoma’s first pregnancy was accidentally terminated during a fierce fight with her husband Ifeanyi. Ifeoma fell down and was wreathing in great pains. She was rushed to a nearby hospital where a doctor treated her and confirmed that the developing fetus in her womb was lifeless as a result of the fight.

When she recovered she took in again. Due to the unhappy marriage, Ifeoma intentionally aborted the baby as a punishment to her wicked husband. As time went by, the husband and wife were no longer in speaking terms. They lived under the same roof but doing things differently. Unfortunately, the ill-fated marriage finally crashed after one year. They separated with no hope of reconciliation. Oh, what a marriage drama!

Another drama happened somewhere else. It was during a church wedding before the altar of God. Before the joining of hands, the officiating priest asked the bride and bridegroom, “Are you willing to accept and love each other as husband and wife for the rest of your lives?” The bridegroom answered, “Yes I do. But if she becomes unbearable, I will divorce her without looking back because life has no duplicate.” The minister frowned at him and asked, “I am not here for a joke. So, what do you mean?” He replied, “I am conscious of my words and I mean what I said.” There were noisy reactions and murmurings from the congregation. Next the minister asked the bride, “Are you willing to love and accept each other as husband and wife for the rest of your lives?” She answered, “I will try my best. But if he becomes wayward, that will be the end of the marriage. I am not ready to share my husband with any other woman.”

The congregants murmured and shouted. The priest calmed down the tensed situation and exclaimed, “My dear people, from the evidence before me and you today and in the presence of God, I cannot in good faith join this man and this woman in marriage. If I do, the result will be disastrous. Therefore, go in peace the marriage is hereby suspended.” Confusion and pandemonium broke out. Some were laughing while some were crying.

In another place before the Altar of God, the officiating priest called up the intending couple to exchange their marital vows. Before proceeding, the priest asked the couple, “Alex and Precious, have you come here freely and without any reservation to give yourselves to each other in marriage?” The bridegroom smiled and answered, “From the depth of my heart, yes I have.” There was applause from the anxious congregation. Then it was the turn of the bride to answer. She cleared her throat, sighed and replied, “From the bottom of my heart, no I haven’t. I am no more interested.” The congregants murmured and shouted in surprise. The bridegroom’s eyes turned red instantly. He pulled of his suit and slapped the bride on both cheeks and angrily shouted, “Idiot! What a disappointment after I have wasted my hard earned resources!” The bride’s cheeks captured his fists. She cried regrettably. The congregation broke into two. There was altercation between the families of the bride and the bridegroom. The priest disappeared from the back door after putting out the lighted candles.

Somewhere else, on the appointed day, a couple joyfully exchanged marital vows before a priest and in the presence of the Holy of Holies. After taking series of photographs within the church premises, they proceeded to a hotel for the wedding reception. The families of both the bride and the bridegroom were well to do. During the wedding dance, the couple danced upon a large heap of money. They received assorted material gifts and fat envelops during the presentation of gifts. At the end of the reception ceremony the happy couple retired home with a long vehicular entourage. By this time it was almost dark.

After a sumptuous supper on that night, the newly wedded wife was exchanging pleasantries with their guests. The husband sneaked into the store room and began to arrange the wedding gifts and counting the money loaded in big sack. During the process he was sweating like a joyful pig. When the wife looked around, she didn’t see her darling. She was worried.

She anxiously searched for him in their bedroom but he was not there. Then she went from room to room but all to no avail. At last she found him in the store room arranging the material items and counting the money alone. Sadness overtook her. Angrily she asked him, “Darling, why are you secretly counting our money and arranging our material gifts alone without my knowledge?” The husband replied, “What do you mean? Am I not the head of this new family? I am in-charge. I paid your dowry. Did you pay mine? Please do not disturb me. Go and wait for me in the bedroom for honeymoon.” The wife retorted, “What do you mean? This bag of money and these precious gift items belong to two of us. I must stay here and count the money with you. Our honeymoon begins here.” The husband rudely said, “You must be a fool. Get away from here before I lose my temper.” It seems this marriage will end this night.” They started fighting over the huge sum of money and other precious gifts. Exchange of words and blows followed. Real fight ensued. On hearing the unpleasant noise and commotion, the resting guests rushed in to separate the honeymoon fight. Their intervention was late. The wife has already lost tree front teeth while the husband was bleeding from the head. They were rushed to a nearby hospital. And the marriage ended that night without consummation.

In conclusion, marriage is not a drama. It is rather a life-long covenant between a man and a woman. It is also a vocation. Everyone must not marry. Love binds a man and a woman in marriage. It is for better and for worse. Therefore, there is need to prepare well for marriage. The couple who rushes into marriage crashes sooner or later. Christian marriage is a Sacrament for that matter. What God has joined together nobody must put asunder (Mtt. 19:6). Marriage has no definite formula. Hence each couple should embrace the formula that works for them. Prayer, Patience and Perseverance (PPP) are sine qua non for a successful marriage.