By Chinelo Nwangene
Mrs Judith Chidinma Obi, a photographer, ace-broadcaster and Igbo language promoter, does not consider public confrontation or assaults as solution to marital infidelity or crisis. Mrs Obi who has enjoyed over 22 years of stable marriage speaks with Orient Feminine Corner on the current rising cases of violent attacks on cheating spouses and other issues affecting women in Nigeria.
You have been married for 22 years and seem to have enjoyed every bit of your married life. What is it about your relationship with your partner that people need to learn from?
I have married for 22 years and, to be sincere, life is what you make of it. Firstly, for your marriage to last you don’t have to be angry with your partner for long, just like the bible admonishes that we don’t have to go to bed with our anger. No matter what your spouse does to you, you don’t have to chastise him/her in the public. You ought to respect and shield your partner. Don’t make your partner an object of discussion with your family and friends.
Recently, we are witnessing a new wave of violent attacks on husbands suspected to be cheating on their wives with some of them resulting in deaths. What’s your take on this violent reaction from women?
When I see women stabbing their husband, pouring harmful substances on them because of cheating, I laugh because they don’t understand the word ‘marriage’. Marriage is never a bed of roses and nobody promises you it is going to be full of bliss. My dad once told me that I should use the sweet part of my marriage to cover the bitter part.
What do you think will be the likely implications if more women resort to this method in dealing with marital infidelity?
If women should resort to this, there will low turnout on marriage because every woman will be afraid of their lives because they don’t know who they are married to. Remember you are marrying a stranger, somebody who doesn’t have the same blood trait with you. People have problem with brothers who have the same blood trait talk more of a stranger with whom they are brought together by love. Women have to understand that both partners are different persons and so should marry them with their differences in order to make a happy home.
Have you ever found yourself in such situations where your hubby is a suspect and how did you handle it?
My husband believes that marriage is holy; he calls it holy matrimony. I have found myself in a situation where I suspected my husband and I looked inwardly to myself and asked myself if I’m the cause of it, if I’m still the same person he married to? If I deviated in any way that made him to act that way? After checking myself, I found out that there were places I deviated, I corrected, myself and asked him for forgiveness. I told him if he was doing what he’s doing because I deviated that he should have called me to order.
What do you think is the best way to handle marital infidelity?
It’s better to be addressed as a divorcee than to be addressed as murderer. If I can no longer take it, the best thing is to walk away to hold my head high to be able to tell my story.
What’s your take on the issue of side chick and the African tradition that tolerates the practice?
I will advise married women to always remember that they are the only people their husbands are married to. Once you start thinking negatively about your husband’s activities outside, you will die of heartbreak. Some people will just come up with the speculations about side chick just to break your home. The whole thing depends on you as the wife, whether to allow them penetrate your home or not. Once you do your job as a devoted wife in the bedroom, don’t worry yourself about side chick. It’s when you fail in your duty that side chick can take over what is yours.
Are you satisfied with the property inheritance custom in Igbo land as it concerns women and their side-lining in community development efforts?
I will not say that we are being treated badly because there are so many men who gave their daughters their landed properties. You don’t expect your father to give you what he doesn’t have. If your father has so many sons and he doesn’t have many lands, you don’t expect him to divide the lands between you and your brothers. I believe we need to be wise at times when we think about our traditions and customs.
You are an Igbo language broadcaster. Apart from language, what other essential Igbo customs and traditions do you consider in danger of dying?
It is not only our customs and traditions that are dying; our Igbo language is too. The masquerade we entertain ourselves with, people now said they are demon whereas white people came to Nigeria and bought our artefacts and use them in their places for fanfare in their cultural displays, occasions which we Nigerians pay a lot of money just to watch.
What’s your secret of keeping your bedroom alive and sustaining his interest in you throughout the period of child bearing till date?
I have no secret of looking younger than my age. I always put smile on my face. I don’t take hurts to heart or bear grudges. Whenever people offend me, I will tell them and wave it off after sorting it with that person. Frowning put wrinkle on people’s faces. I advise people to smile at all times. It makes someone to look younger and it erases so many things in the heart.
Child bearing remains critical to feminine issues. What were your most challenging moments in this area of life?
When bringing children into the world, there are so many challenges. Things you love; maybe food that you crave for; you no longer eat them, you are no longer yourself, having sleepless nights; thinking of the comfort of the baby in your womb and their future as well. Thinking about how to make life better for them and you deprive yourself so many things because you want to see smile on the face of your children.
Many view pregnancy in this part of the world as passing through the valley of the death, with many women often relying on prayers to pull through. Did you, at any point, feel you could not make it and how did you weather the storm?
For me, I do not see pregnancy as passing through death. I see it as beautiful thing, if truly you understand what it means bringing a fellow human being into the world. Once you start seeing it as a beautiful thing, you will scale through it.
Though there are stages you will get to and you will be asking if you can truly make it. One thing you need to do once you notice you are pregnant is to be strong, not only for yourself but the child as well.
Training children to become useful is equally seen as the hardest job for mothers. How many kids did you have and how did you manage to raise them alongside your career?
I had only one child in my 22 years of marriage and I lost her August 14, 2019. It was a very heart-breaking moment for me losing an only child and my mother in a week interval. I really want to tell people who have passed through the loss of a child that it’s not usually that easy but, with God, we will always get by.
Most young ladies of nowadays have different orientation and opinion about choice of marriage partner. In your time, what were the most important factors women looked for in marriage partners which you consider relevant till date?
One thing you have to look after in someone you want to get married to is how compatible you are. Like myself, I got married at my early stage and people were asking what was really attracting me to my husband but I knew what I was looking for at that tender age. I needed someone who understood my flair for education; someone who would support my dream of being a public figure and I found it in my husband. I do not regret marrying him at my tender age. If there is reincarnation, I will always to say ‘yes’ to his proposal a million times again.
Nowadays, some parents want rich suitors for their daughters without considering the source of the wealth. As a mother, what do you consider as most essential factor in a son-in-law?
The most important factor in a son in-law is someone who will respect and cherish my daughter. It is better my daughter is happy with the husband and that they eat once a day rather than eating and wining on a gold-plated table but, within her, she’s not respected and relegated to the background. Happiness, respect and love, not money, are the key words.
Do you think that being curvy and looking sexy at all times sustains a woman’s attractiveness to her partner?
Apart from looking sexy, you have to be an enduring type, someone who has prospect in life; someone who can be confideThese days, women are so fixated on make-ups that even older generations are not left out of the cosmetic beauty.
What’s your definition of a beautiful woman?
I will describe a beautiful woman as a woman with a beautiful soul not a beautiful face. Someone can have a beautiful face with an ugly heart. Once someone has a beautiful soul, that person can be described as a beautiful woman. Women need to look good, clean and humble to sustain their attractiveness to their partners. Marriage has no formula. The way I sustain my partner in the bedroom might not be the way another person sustains her partner. My advice is whatever goes for you, stick to it and don’t compare your partner with another person. Comparison kills relationship faster than any other thing one can imagine.
We are witnessing the crises of teenage pregnancy and sale of babies. What do you consider as solution?
Coming to teenage pregnancy and sale of babies, I wouldn’t say it is due to poverty, rather, it is lack of home training. Peer pressure also contributes to it. Sometimes, over zealousness on the part of these teenagers, lures them to having unprotected sex which turns into pregnancy and deadly diseases. Honestly, we need education for these teenagers, orientation and to educate them on sex from the right age. We, as parents, don’t need our children to learn sex education from their peers. Home is the first school of learning. Let them know the consequences and don’t mince words while teaching them.
The issue surrounding the sale of babies is infertility, an issue which, probably sustains and makes it viable. I beg anyone who’s going through infertility to go through the right channel and adopt a child. It is provided by the government to help people alleviate their pains. Don’t put another person in pain to be happy.
What’s your top 10 essential qualities or attributes every young woman should have to add value to a man’s life in a marriage apart from looking sexy?
We have to be human, an enterprising young woman, hardworking, manage your words, carry yourself. Remember, the way you carry yourself is the way you will be addressed.
The international Women Day of the women is celebrated every March 8. What issues concerning women do you think need more attention in Nigeria, especially Igboland?
In Igbo land, I believe that the marginalisation of women has already been relegated to the background before this time. In the olden days, women didn’t talk but these days, they do and their views are taken more seriously than before. However, we still agitate for more rights. We still ask for equity and equality. Give us what’s due to us especially in politics. At least if women can be given 45% in politics, I believe Nigeria will be a better place.