By Funke Egbemode

NEWSDAILYNIGERIA: I don’t like parties. I don’t attend many and I find it very stressful organizing one. However, over the years, I have thought long and hard and concluded that there is one party that must hold every year. Wedding anniversaries. Yes, couples must celebrate themselves and God’s favour each year their marriage remains intact.

The most fun part of a marriage is the beginning, the wedding ceremony. Right from when you step out of the venue, the challenges start. And there are a dozen of them. Some years are easier than others and there are times you are battling one demon or the other for a full decade. From fertility to prosperity issues; in-law hostilities to difficult children matters, there is usually no year without its marital challenges. For those who have been married for a while, there are times you think the waters would overwhelm you and then just on the brink of giving up, your marriage comes up for air and stays afloat.

After a while, the challenges become less challenging. Each bad patch leaves you stronger. That is why the Yoruba say that when a woman has been married for a long time, she becomes a ‘witch’. It is not that she joins a coven of red-wrapper-wearing blood-sucking demons, she simply becomes stronger by the year. When you throw stones at a wife for years, her palms get used to handling hard stuff and soon she can sing, cook and tie her ‘gele’ while juggling and dodging fiery darts.

The things couples go through. The pains they cover with a smile, a smart bow tie, perfect make-up. Marriage is serious business, major business. Forget all those books about how to make a marriage work, the manual that works for Jamila won’t work for Ebele. And every wife, every husband can write a new one. Check out the rate at which marriages are failing, the way couples separate, fight dirty right after staging 18-carat wedding parties and you’ll see why 365 days is a long time to still be wearing your wedding bands.

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Egbemode

Girl, if you know how many older women want your husband and the number of desperate young girls who have taken his photographs to spiritual homes, you will not take your ‘Mrs’ title for granted.

Guys, if you know the number of richer and more powerful men who have moved for your impeachment as the husbands of your wives, you will hold the gavel better and celebrate the fact that you are not former husbands of your fine wives. The conspiracies are on-going concerns, trust me. Why do you think the divorce market is in bloom and marriages are in the doom zone?

So? My stand is let us celebrate wedding anniversaries every year. No, I don’t mean shut down the street every year but give each other a treat, spend a fun week or weekend away from all prying eyes and phone calls. Have fun, praise God for another year of His goodness.

Check out these three scenarios.

Our-wife-is-a-witch

Jamal was ordinarily a very healthy man. He rarely fell ill save for the occasional malaria and ‘appolo’ (conjunctivitis). But he woke up one morning feeling very weak. And then he slumped as he was getting into the car. He barely made it to the hospital. The hospital ran tests and more tests, from full blood count to MRI and CT scan. They found nothing. Joke, his wife of five years wept until she ran out of tears. Joke and Jamal had a good marriage but no children after five years of conscientious hard word behind closed doors. So, of course, all kinds of thoughts ran through her head. Was this the end? Who would love her like her Jamal?

She called him MJ (My Jamal). Who would give her the little Jamals she had always longed for since their NYSC days? They moved from hospital to hospital but all the tests and the doctors could not find anything beyond malaria parasites. Joke watched as her six-footer husband shrank and faded before her eyes.

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But that was just the beginning of Joke’s pain. The real troubles started when Jamal’s family decided that Joke was the witch who wanted Jamal for dinner.

What do you expect from a barren wife? What has she got to lose?

Exactly, she is a witch and since there is no child to donate at their evil meetings, Jamal is now her only option.

Well, that means she has no option. The only one who will die is this evil wife.

She doesn’t know who we are. We will show her where we are from.

And so on and so forth.

If Jamal died, Joke would die. Jamal got worse. Jamal’s family got more vicious. Joke’s family rallied round her, flew Jamal abroad for further treatment. Eight weeks later, Jamal returned to Nigeria. On his feet. While in the hospital in America, the couple discovered that Joke was pregnant. She’d missed her period just before Jamal fell ill and thought she was just late. And then the weeks of shuttling between hospitals and diagnostic centres and raising money for hospital bills blotted out all thoughts of her menstrual cycle from her head until she passed out in her husband’s ward in the US. The results showed she was 12 weeks gone. The concerned siblings of Jamal noticed Joke’s thickening waist and heavier breasts….

In one year, Joke was threatened with widowhood, accused of witchcraft, frightened beyond words, moved from being a ‘barren wife’ to being the mother of JJ (Jamal Jnr).

Isn’t that a year to celebrate, really celebrate? Why should a wedding anniversary like that go without some partying?

The ‘sonless’ wife

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All Mena wanted were two children. She had hoped that she would get a boy and a girl and get on with her cosmetology business which she was hoping to put on hold for the children’s early years. Mena had two beautiful girls in quick succession. She was happy and sad. She decided to ‘accidentally’ let a third one happen. She prayed, fasted, went to prayer mountains, had vigils for the third to be a boy. But it was another pretty little girl. Her husband had never minced words about having a son. To cut a long story short, Jude impregnated two other women in a desperate search for a male child but his production line seemed only capable of churning out only female babies. Each outside match Jude played threatened the marriage in many ways.

Mena was totally stressed and had resigned herself to fate, waiting for the day she would be promoted to first wife when Jude knocked her up again. It was the longest nine months of the couple’s lives. Mena refused to have a scan. The day she was delivered of her twin boys, she cried and cried. The doctor had to sedate her.

STOLEN HUSBAND

Banke had a closer shave with divorce. Her husband was actually ‘stolen’ for three years by a richer big babe who wanted to marry by-fire-by force. For those three long years, Banke didn’t know if she was Miss, Ms or Mrs. One day, Tunji strolled back home from his sabbatical, with only the shirt on his back. Big babe was done with him. That was 10 years ago. Today, Banke and Tunji value their marriage more than ever.

These three instances illustrate some of the rough patches that put marriages asunder. And if yours is still standing, celebrate it, celebrate yourselves

This is dedicated to all marriages and couples that are still standing, against all odds.

(First published in 2016)

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