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HOW TO MAKE MARRIAGE WORK

By NBF NEWS
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Victoria Ekhomu is the Managing Director, Trans-World Security, a security consulting outfit while her husband is the Chairman. Mrs. Ekhomu attended the University of Pittsburgh, USA and the University of Lagos. She is also a Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Industrial Security.

Running the day to day activities of the company with her husband is not without its difficulties. Having done in America where they started the outfit together, she said that it is a different ball game from the Nigerian environment.

In an interview with Saturday Sun recently in her Lagos office, Victoria Ekhomu maintained that in overseas, where there are a lot of couples working together, the women are seen as partners but in Nigeria, the women are seen as jobless people who are merely being accommodated by the husband.

According to her, 'people don't pay much attention to the woman as a serious part of the company. The person they see as the professional is the husband while you are just the wife'.

Mrs. Ekhomu, an international security expert, has been married for over 25 years and now a grandmother. Walking down memory lane, she recalled what it was to have her husband in the labour room while giving birth to one of her children. She also gave a recipe for a successful marriage and spoke of her experiences as a grand mother.

She spoke on other issues
Here are excerpts
What does it mean to be a grandmother?
It is a beautiful experience that you cannot really express. There are lot of things you couldn't do with your children, you'd find out that you will be able to do it with them because you have more time. I know that I am very busy but because of the excitement, I try to create quality time for myself and grandson .

Everything he does excites me unlike when I was young, the stress of making money didn't allow me relax as I should have like to be. As a grandma, one enjoys little things that she doesn't normally have time to enjoy.

Secret of a successful marriage
Both parties have to be determined to make that marriage work because there are a lot of distractions especially in the Nigerian situation. If you are not determined it will be very easy to fall apart. People will try to break you up but you both have that sense of commitment that what ever it takes, you are going to overcome the problem.

At times I see young ladies, get married and looking gorgeous but after a while, they will relax. What I used to tell such people is to remember what the man fell in love with likes. If he is in love with you because you look lovely, don't deviate too much from that. I know after when women start having babies, they tend to put on weight and due to the pressures, they relax and don't even have time to make up again. You don't have to over make up. Just look nice and presentable as the presentations is also part of it. If you don't look good anymore, of course, he would be attracted to those who are outside, those who don't have any chores or children. He will start losing interest.

You must look good. Although, it is not everybody that is beautiful but we must make effort to look attractive. Another thing is good food, which they say is the way to a man's heart. Take care about what he eats. Even at my age, I do care for what my husband eats. Don't encourage your house help serve your husband's food. Making out time to serve him shows you still have a good sense of service, he will appreciate it. It doesn't matter the level you get to, endeavour to go the kitchen, prepare his food because it is important that you see the quality of food he is to be served. Let him see that you care enough to give serve his meals.

Sense of fulfilment
It means the world to me because at times, you can decide to move on, get another job, a kind of standard of living. You have your children. But I was raised in a home where I had a mother and father together and I know the balance.

I say that one of them is not enough. You need the two to complement each other for the child to come out right. I have always tried to make sure that I instill family values in my children. I feel fulfilled knowing that my family is healthy and intact.

Challenges of joint partnership
It is quite challenging especially in the Nigerian environment. In America, we have a lot of couples working together and that was where we started. Over there, people see you as partners but in Nigeria, you are seen as someone who is merely being accommodated by the husband since she is jobless.

So, coming back, it was a different thing for me. People don't pay much attention to you. The person they see as the professional is the husband. You are just the wife. Over time, I started getting used to that but I had to do what I could and just got adopted. In the office, I remain the Managing Director while at home, I am his wife.

I forced him into the labour room
For the first and second baby, my husband was not there, he was in Nigeria while I was in America. It was just some black American friends who assisted me. My third child was the one I forced him to stay.

I just told him that if he wasn't there with me in the delivery room, I wasn't going to push. He had to be there and it was a different experience. Today, his attachment to the child is very different. He enjoys a very close relationship with the child. He actually carried the baby before I did after his birth. And one could instantly sense the attachment. His presence at the labour room with me was a memorable experience.

Mother's sacred advice
Among all the bits and pieces of advice we were given before the marriage was contracted, the one I would say that helped us most was 'keep your problems secret'.

They said to me, whenever you have a quarrel, do not tell a third party. Try and resolve it between yourselves. I think it has been very helpful because when you tell another person who is envious about your marriage, she would ill advise you and that will further break up the union. We try to keep our problems between ourselves and that has helped us to manage our temperaments and work together.

Regrets in marriage
Marriage is not always sweet. Sure, there will be bad times just as there will be good times. If you are able to overcome the rough and bad times, it will strengthen your marriage. In our own case, we have had our share of rough times. But because our sole aim is for the marriage to work, I have had to go down at times and make everything work out even when it appeared as if it won't work, we still found a way around it and it worked out. In every marriage, there are different digrees of distractions and problems, but you just have to be determined enough to make a success of the union. You have to push on for the sake of love.

Women and children, most vulnerable
The rights of women are not protected in Nigeria that is the reason they will always be the victims whenever there is crisis. They are the vulnerable part of the equation because there is no specific protection for them.

If you take a critical look at what happened to women and children in the recent Jos crisis, you'd understand that the men escaped and left their wives behind who were left to ensure the safety of their children and that was how they got them slaughtered. It is high time women stood up and be more security-conscious like their counterparts in the developed world.

The federal and state governments on their parts should come together and find solution to the problem of security in these troubled areas. I was disappointed when Governor Jang of Plateau State said that he was helpless about the situation. How could he claim to be helpless?

Fashola and Amechi are not helpless. If they are helpless, it will be difficult for them to start all over again to deal with militants in their respective states. I felt scandalized to hear him say that he was helpless. He can't just be sitting down and waiting for them. If he cannot handle governorship of that state, then, let him step down. It is as simple as that. Lagos is not an easy place to govern yet Fashola has done wonders. The criminals have relocated because they know that Lagos is no longer safe for them.

Secret of looking good
I don't do much in that wise. First, one needs peace of mind. No matter what one tries to do, if you don't have peace of mind, your make-up will come out bad. It is quite natural. The inner joy also has a way of redirecting your outward appearance. Look natural and good.

When I was younger, people liked to say that I am beautiful. God has blessed me with looking okay. All I have done is a little bit of keeping up. You can just look good and if you don't take care of yourself, the beauty will disappear. That is why most women have problems at home, they tend to forget that their beauty was one of the features that attracted their husbands to them. They allow themselves to look bad and so unkempt, thereby pushing their husbands away. Women should try and create time for themselves, no matter the responsibilities on the ground.

I don't follow the fashion trend
I have my own style. I don't follow the trend easily. If I like the fashion in vogue, I put it on. I am more on the classy side. Last mothering Sunday, there was this pink lace that I wore and everybody was liked it and said it was very good. They were surprised to hear that I brought the lace material 10 years ago. Whenever I wear it, it still appears as new and good as ever. I do not follow fashion blindly. I wear what suits me. If I like it and it suits me, I wear it.

Turai, an aberration
If I was in Turai shoes, the life of my husband would be more important than power and money. So, I would let him go and rest properly.

As a woman, I am not quite impressed with what she is doing with the health of her husband. Her focus should be more on the life of the man. Her behaviour towards her husband's health is an aberration because her focus is on her own power. Personally, I think Yar'Adua is not aware of what is happening around him. Let him get the proper treatment even if it means taking him back to the hospital. As a woman and mother, I am scandalized.

The politics she is playing with her husband's health, is not in the nature of women, women nurture. Even, when there is a quarrel in the family, you see a woman stepping down, so as to make peace. She refused the mother of the man to see him because his condition is so bad. I feel sorry for him. President Yar'Adua appears to be a more decent person than the picture being painted of him. Turai is just messing up the Yar'adua family name. It is a Turai agenda.