30 Years of Love, Mutual Respect and Understanding, By Bamidele Ademola-Olateju

September 12, 1992 – ‘Demola and I took the vow to be together in sickness and in health, for better, for worse. Our marriage has been a reflection of the vows we took. We have been in graduate school together, faced financial turbulence together, held fast together during life-threatening health issues, braved childlessness, endured pain, weathered disappointments and celebrated the triumphs. Through the tears, laughter and joy these past 30 years, not for once did we argue, insult or shout on one another. Each time we have faced adversity, the words of my father rang in my ears… “let your home be temperate, let your marriage rest on love, mutual respect and understanding.”

As we got into middle age, our marriage has taught me, that, marriage is about companionship and the value of companionship is best understood in middle to old age. Who would have accompanied me on those hospital visits? Who would have held my hands through several hell I have gone through? How sweet would the celebrations have been without someone to reminisce with, about the road to joy? How would I have navigated those rocky patches, treat the blisters and apply the balm without you ‘Demola?

My dearest Demi, we had planned to be in Hawaii for this milestone anniversary but you yielded me to the service of my people, the good people of Ondo state. I write this in the belly of KLM enroute New York, in search of global opportunities for my state. May God whose support is everything, support you every second of your life. I thank you for being my backbone right from NYSC camp in Maiduguri to this day. I bless the day you were born and the day I walked up to you at Station Kano and asked you to haul my luggage to the camp (haven’t I always been that bold, audacious girl). I no dey fear.

I thank you for your sacrifice, tolerance, respect, dedication, loyalty, care, understanding and unconditional love. Thank you for being a wonderful husband and a doting, loving and dutiful father to our daughter. You have wished for a daughter before she was born and you have loved and cared for her in every way, a father could. From sending us to Nigeria for her, to have her early childhood education, to securing spaces for her to do well. May God grant her a husband like you.

We have come a long way ‘Demola, haven’t we? We have gone through tough times and good times. God has been kind to us despite all the challenges. We are alive, healthy and prosperous. We have achieved more than we thought we could. May our creator be praised for authoring our lives and joining us together.

Thank you for keeping the girl and letting the woman roam free. Each time I take a bold step, you are always there, urging me to keep putting one foot in front of another. Each time I climb the ladder, I hear the cheers, the claps and your urging to keep climbing. Thank you. By His Infinite Grace, I look forward to the next 30 years with you, with faith, hope and love.

So much has changed in 30 years. At the time, we used palm fronds as canopy at Epinmi for the engagement. Today, we use elaborately decorated halls. I had silky long hair and I was told not to look at the mirror while dressing up (glad I managed to look good). Today, we hire a makeup artist for those things. Women in the family often do the catering at the time, with several cuts of beef developing legs.

So much to write, but I I’m mindful of oversharing. Thank you my dearest husband. Thank you for being a good man to me and everyone whom you have come across. I thank all those who have been part of our journey. I pray for all who are praying for a good spouse, may their prayers be answered and may they find the bone of their bones and flesh of their flesh. I also pray for troubled homes, where couples are trying hard to make things work. May they come to understanding and may peace find space in such homes. Many thanks to my parents and my dear father, a devout Christian, a Knight of John Wesley, an Apostle of free marriage who gave my hand to a Muslim. Finally, I give glory to God for this day, for our lives, our daughter, for all He has done, for everything. May His name be exalted!

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