Recently, the publisher of Genevieve magazine, Betty Irabor celebrated her 60th birthday and in one of her posts on the day on Instagram, she revealed her father had walked out on her mother and their children, when she, Betty was less than 8 years.
Today, Betty has been married for over 30 years to her husband, Soni Irabor, so, obviously, the fact that she didn’t witness a perfect marriage with her parents’ didn’t stop her from having a great one.
Away from the celebrity scene, there are many examples around me, and I’m pretty sure you can find them around you too, of couples who come from less than ideal homes, but yet have managed to have a great marriage, even becoming role models to others, when it comes to marriage matters. And it has a lot to do with their decision to do things right when it came to their turn.
Bose and her husband, Tony, are one of such couples. Bose comes from a family where, her mother was physically and emotionally violated for donkey years, until she decided to leave when her children were teenagers, after a particularly bad case of been beaten, that even her sons were ready to fight their own father for her sake.
Not wanting such an “abominable” act to occur, she moved to her own mother’s house and her children followed her. Not one of her six children stayed back. Not even when their dad vowed to disown them. They all called his bluff.
Not long after Bose’s mother left, their father married a younger woman and started another family. Bose’s mom was really hurt by this development. She cried herself to sleep a few times, lamenting how she had left her matrimonial bed for a strange woman.
Not even her children reminding her of the horror she experienced at his hands, did she stop moping. As they say, time heals all wounds. It didn’t heal her wound, but it dulled the accompanying ache.
It was from that kind of background of seeing her mother pine after a man who had turned her into a punching bag, watching her mother struggle to put teenagers through tertiary institutions, and even getting married in a ceremony in which her father was absent, that Bose had come.
On her husband’s part, his parents had separated when he was 10 years old, and never saw eye to eye again on any matter. So, even at his young age, he was forever playing referee between his parents.
Truthfully, both Bose and her husband hadn’t bargained on falling in love and getting married so young, as they were both less than 30 when they got married. But life happens, and they found their life partner early in life.
They have been married for 20 years, have had their share of drama, overcome them and are still going strong.
So, how have they been able to maintain their relationship? They both admit to a deep seated aversion to repeating the mistakes of their parents, for the sakes of their children.
Interestingly, on Tony’s side of the family, he is the only one still happily married. All his siblings have become single parents. And he confessed to the fact that, if he hadn’t gotten married young, he would probably be a single dad now too.
For another couple, Ayoola and Bolu, they had all the recipe for a divorce but somehow, the heavens decreed they would stay married.
Ayoola was a single mom when she met Bolu, a charming young man, who swept her off her feet, made her forget her name too, or the fact that she was a mom. Bolu made her feel so alive…and still does.
Before he came into her life, she had been in two long term relationships, that resulted in her girls. So, even though she was madly in love, a part of her was hesitant.
And it was made worse when his mother, who was a single mom too, vehemently stated her opposition to their relationship, never mind that they hadn’t broached the subject of marriage with her.
Bolu’s mom is whom you will refer to as Sisi Eko or Ayounge Mama. She dresses trendy, and even till she died, used make up and maintained her youth and vitality. At the time Bolu met her, she was actually dating a man with two wives. Perhaps it was as a result of her own life experience or escapades as a single mom, who depended on men to support her children, but she kept saying her son wouldn’t marry a single mom.
As for Bolu’s father, he would come loaded with promises into his life for a season, and go off the radar for years. It was exhausting to keep up, so Bolu stopped caring. His older brother filled that role excellently.
When the issue of marriage between them came up, his mom went on the offensive, and it took the intervention of her oldest son for her to grudgingly accept. And for many years after they got married, she still behaved as though there was a cold war between her and Ayoola. She didn’t like seeing Ayoola’s older children in her son’s house. She didn’t want Ayoola’s mom to come for omugwo, she had many don’ts and they accommodated her as much as they could, but their main victory over her was the love and care that was present between them.
By the time of her death, Ayoola and her mother-in-law were almost buddies, a situation which was welcomed by all parties involved. The older woman died a happy woman, knowing her favourite son was in good hands.
This year will make it 25 years since Ayoola and her tall and handsome man, Bolu, exchanged their vows and there’s really no difference in their behaviour towards each other. There is no differential treatment between the children they had together and the ones she brought into their marriage. Bolu makes it happen for all their children, without discrimination.
They had no ideal examples, but Ayoola and Bolu have followed the leading of love and it has brought them to a good place.
Away from these couples, we all have things we wouldn’t like to replicate from our parents’ marriage, not necessarily because they are not good, but because they might not necessarily work for us and our partner.
A great marriage involves two independent people, who desire to make their marriage work, regardless of whether they come from an ideal family or not.
So, the responsibility of having a great marriage rests squarely on the shoulders of the parties involved, not their parents, who have more than enough on their own hands, working their own marriage.
Work your marriage and stay in love.
Kristine is a member of The Lovelint team. She is a down to earth person, who says it as it is. Having given relationship advice for years in a national daily, she has found out that fear is one of the main reasons holding people back from enjoying a healthy, happy relationship. She is married with kids and is willing to listen to you and help as much as you let her to.