Love Life is a Zikoko weekly series about love, relationships, situationships, entanglements and everything in between.
Peter (54) and Joy (47) have been married for 22 years. In this episode of Zikoko’s Love Life, they tell us what it’s like to fall in love at second sight, court a woman with a strict dad, and how they dealt with their tribalistic fathers through prayer before getting married.
Tell me about the first time you met
Peter: In 1994, when sinking boreholes was not a popular thing back in Port Harcourt, I lived in a house where the tap always rushed. So I got an influx of people searching for water for their homes.
Joy: My sister and I, in our search for water, landed in his house. When we got in, we heard their dogs and ran out. He heard our shouting and came outside, so I asked him to please do something about the dogs. He did and I was able to fetch water.
Peter: After they finished fetching water, I allowed myself to look at them and when I laid my eyes on her, I was like, wow, this is a really beautiful woman. I asked her for her name and she told me her name was “Gold”. I later found out that wasn’t her real name.
Joy: I gave him a fake name because I had a very strict father who didn’t allow my sisters and me to talk to men like that.
How did you find out the name was fake?
Peter: I was determined to see her again. The following Sunday, I dressed and went to different streets looking for her. The people I asked on the way told me nobody called Gold lived close by, but based on my description, they thought I was referring to Joy and pointed me in the direction of her house.
She wasn’t around, but I knew I needed to see her, so I went to her house every day hoping I’d get a chance to.
Peter: Yes. month after. It wasn’t easy and it took the help of her sisters, but I saw her.
What do you mean by the help of her sisters?
Peter: For the month I came to her house, she kept hiding from me. She’d send her sisters to tell me she wasn’t around. So, I got a chance to talk to her sisters. They thought I was funny and decided to help plan an avenue for us to meet.
The next time I came to her house, she was there. In fact, now that you’ve asked me about this, I feel like a young man again. Seeing her was so precious to me. We talked a lot about religion, life, and dreams. That’s how I ended up visiting her house every single day for a year.
How did you manage that?
Peter: Her house was about three streets away from mine, so I’d pass that route to work. On my way back from work, I’d go to her house before I went to mine. Seeing her became the highlight of my day. I was in love.
Joy: I knew I liked him, but whenever I wanted to engage in anything, I always asked God to direct me. He asked me out whenever he had the chance, but I knew I wouldn’t go out with him until I got confirmation from God. Unluckily for him, I didn’t get that answer from God until a year later.
Peter: I knew I would marry her from the time I spent with her because something drew me to her, but I decided I’d wait for whatever confirmation she needed.
What was dating like?
Peter: Amazing. There were no mobile phones so the only time we saw each other was when I visited her. She never came to mine because I was always at work.
Whenever she did choose to come and see me, we’d talk and talk for hours. We discussed our future, our lives, our plans, everything. When it was time for her to go home, I’d escort her to her house, and when we got to her house, she’d escort me to mine. After escorting like three times and it starts getting dark, we give up. At a point, the whole community knew us.
Peter: This was how it was for us throughout the six years of our relationship.
Six years? Why so long?
Peter: While we were dating, I already knew I was going to marry her. . I remember randomly telling her “Girl, I’m going to marry you. Prepare.” I was serious about her.
Joy: The main problem was our parents. My dad is not only strict, he was prejudiced against Delta or Benin men. He said they were fetish and didn’t want us to have anything to do with them.
Ah. How did that play out??
Peter: In 2000, my elder brother got married. When I returned from the wedding, I told her that since my elder brother has gotten married, it was my turn next and she should talk to her dad.
Joy: I loved Peter, but I really didn’t know how I was going to approach my dad on the issue.
Peter: That’s when I told her to approach her stepmother first, so she’d help Joy talk to her dad.
Joy: I mentioned it to her, and she told me to pray, and she’d handle bringing it up with my father.
Two days after, she told me she had spoken to him, but he wasn’t sounding very convinced. I should keep praying.
One Wednesday evening during church service, while I was praying, a man walked up to me and told me there was something about my relationship that was bothering me. He said the man I was praying to God about was my husband, and if I didn’t marry him, I’ll look for a husband and have issues.
I went back to my stepmother to tell her of the revelation. Then I told my dad, and he gave his permission.
Peter: Unfortunately, we couldn’t still proceed with the marriage because my own parents had to agree as well. My father had warned all his children that he didn’t want to hear we were moving around with Igbo people. I knew it would be difficult to convince him. He even sent a word to me from the village in Delta state that he heard I was following a Port Harcourt girl around, and I should forget about it if I thought I would marry her.
My dad was a disciplinarian and nobody had ever dared to challenge him whenever he said something, but I knew I was going to marry her. I also knew it was not going to work out if God was not involved, so we fasted and prayed for this marriage to become a possibility.
When I finally convinced them, I told Joy about it and we got married.
Did you propose?
Peter: Well, if you mean did I do it the way the children do these days, where they go down on one knee and bring out a ring, I didn’t. I knew I wanted to marry her since the first month we started dating. We just needed to get past the fathers. When that was done, we got married in 2000.
I don’t think there was a need to propose because we’d had the conversations. We’d talked about the life we had and what we were going to live. It seemed unnecessary.
What’s being married like?
Peter: Amazing. Marriage has taught me about trust, love and forgiveness. I’ve been blessed with five beautiful children, and I love them very dearly.
Joy: Great. I think it’s so great because God is a very important factor in this marriage because we wouldn’t be here without him.
On a scale of 1-10, rate your love life
Peter: If I was to take a pencil and mark this assignment you’ve given to me, I’ll score myself a 9 and a half or even a full ten. It has been from Glory to Glory.
Joy: I’ll start by saying I give God all the glory, honour and adoration to God. I’ll give it a 9 and a half over 10. This entire relationship has been by the wisdom, the mercy, the strength and the Grace of God. Right now, it’s awesome and I’m grateful to God for this.
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