By Francis Ewherido
Growing up, one of the many sayings I heard was, Odada r’igho be karo. Literally, it means that it is very difficult to carve the arrow of money. But the real meaning is that it is difficult to be a rich man. A rich man in this case is one who has accumulated, sustained and protected his wealth over a reasonable period of time. As we say in Warri: “I get am before no be property.” To be a rich man is a marathon, not a sprint. You cannot be awash with cash today and be flat broke tomorrow and you say you are a rich man in the real sense. Of course, we have those who are cash rich and asset poor and vice versa.
Having been married for 18 years, having been teaching couples preparing for marriage in the past 14 years and having been writing this column since 2013, I have taken more than a passing interest in the marital institution. I have spent a lot of time reflecting on which is more difficult to carve, the arrow of money or the arrow of marriage.
Many people are struggling financially, just as many are struggling in their marriages. But money has an advantage over marriage here. In money making, you can do it solo, but only one spouse cannot make a marriage work. Money and marriage are, however, similar in that accumulating, sustaining and protecting wealth is just as difficult as deciding to get married to a person, sustaining the marriage and protecting it from death or coma. Both marriage and money also require constant attention or nourishment, lest they slip away.
Money also has another advantage over marriage. I cannot imagine Bill Gates, Warren Buffet or Aliko Dangote becoming poor. Even if you take away all they have today, they will become incredibly rich again with time, because their wealth incubates within and manifests without. But just about any marriage can go down irretrievably in a twinkle of an eye if care is not taken. About three weeks ago, a 38-year-old marriage collapsed in Ibadan. A few years ago, a 99-year-old Italian man filed for divorce from his 96-year-old wife after 77 years of marriage!
That is why that title,
“marriage expert” scares me; I run far away from it. Like anybody who is interested in any area of human endeavour, I have accumulated a body of knowledge on marriage. That much I acknowledge, but having the knowledge, applying the knowledge, how you apply it and your spouse’s reaction to the application of the knowledge are different issues entirely. Like many other married people, my marriage is work in progress and I am working very hard to make it a success. I am acutely aware that no matter how tall you are, you are never far away from the ground. In fact that is where you are, at least your feet. That is why St. Paul admonished us that those who think they are firmly rooted should be careful, lest they fall (I Corinthians 10:12). That is marriage for you; it is not theory, it is practical, it is applied social science.
In marriage, as in financial matters, sometimes small matters are the real issues. The Baptist pastor, who preached at the wedding of Onajite, the daughter of APC Chieftain, Olorogun Otega Emerhor, two weeks ago, tickled me with the way he handled the little but important matters in marriage. He took his reading from the Songs of Solomon, 2:15 – “Catch the foxes, the little foxes, before they ruin our vineyard in bloom.” The foxes are those little, but important, issues in marriage we neglect ( or do to the detriment of our marriages), which ultimately strain or destroy our marriages: ingratitude, not apologizing when you err, forgetting birthdays and anniversaries, sarcasm, snide remarks, taking our spouses for granted, etc. The “vineyard in bloom” is our happy marriages. We allow these little foxes in and marriages deteriorate until sometimes only the carcass is left. Unfortunately, sometimes those involved do not realise until the devourers have ravaged the vineyard.
Back to the beginning, the arrow of money and the arrow of marriage, which is easier to carve? Honestly, I do not know. But I do know that some people are good at carving the arrow of money, while some are good at carving the arrow of marriage. A few are good at both, while many have failed in both. This minute, I want to say money. Then something happens and the next minute, I want to say marriage. It is my anniversary and while I am still looking for the answer, let me catch this little fox in my vineyard before it wrecks havoc: Happy wedding anniversary to my peacock, the one and only Florence Oghenerume EseOghene Ewherido.