Gospel artiste, Bolaji Olarewaju, aka Big Bolaji, has been married to his wife, Tolulope, for 11 years. They tell BUKOLA BAKARE some of the things that make their marriage tick
Do you recall how you met?
Bolaji: We met in one of the educational institutions I passed through in the process of acquiring more education. I studied Estate Management and qualified as a certified estate surveyor but I am a full-time music minister.
What was the attraction for you?
Bolaji: For me, I was captivated by her smile and her soft-spoken nature got me immediately I saw her. More so, her simplicity was quite commendable; she had no pretence and airs around her as well.
Tolulope: On my part, I liked his boldness and open nature.
What was your response when he wooed you for the first time?
Tolulope: I wasn’t sure what he was up to or rather, I didn’t know what his intentions were at the time. I was wondering, ‘What’s wrong with this aje butter boy?’ as said in common parlance. Those were the thoughts that crossed my mind when he approached me.
How did you propose?
Bolaji: I am still working on my proposal as I have yet to do so.
Are you saying there was no proposal before your marriage?
Bolaji: There was a proposal but it was devoid of the drama of ‘going down on one’s knees and asking her to marry me’ stuff.
Tolulope: I have yet to react to his proposal because he didn’t propose. I am still waiting.
When did you tie the nuptial knot?
Bolaji: We got married in August, 2005.
Eleven years down the line in marriage, how would you describe the marital journey so far?
Bolaji: The journey has been very interesting and we have taken a lot of turns; some good, some very bad, but the good thing is that my wife and I are great friends; that helps a great deal. It’s been 11 years of God’s mercy and favour and we remain eternally grateful to God.
Tolulope: Our marriage has been a very interesting one and we have grown and learnt in the process. We are thankful to God for that.
How have you been able to overcome challenges in your marriage?
Bolaji: There is no marriage without its challenges. Our case is not different. Couples have one story or the other to tell about their marriages. However, in our own case, we have been able to surmount our challenges through no power of ours. It’s been God all the way because he has brought us this far and He remains our only source and resource as far as our marriage is concerned.
Whenever there are disagreements in the home, who apologises first and why?
Bolaji: When it comes to disagreements, we both apologise appropriately. The thing is that once we are able to admit an error, apologising comes easy to both of us.
Tolulope: Just like he said, we admit faults easily and apologise to each other accordingly because we don’t bear grudges.
What was your first disagreement about?
Bolaji: There is no way that we can remember that actually, but I do know that as a couple, we haven’t had any major outbursts or rather, we are yet to have a major disagreement .
How would you describe yourselves?
Bolaji: I would say that I am very real, easy going and a lover of God to the core. That sums up my personality.
Tolulope: I am a very calm person. Another attribute that I have is that I listen more than I talk because it pays to do that. Above all, I love Jesus.
Do you have pet names for each other?
Tolulope: Yes, we do actually. My husband calls me Elle and I call him Paddy e.
Many marriages are crumbling these days. What do you think are responsible for such development?
Bolaji: In my view, there are many factors surrounding marital breakups but whatever these problems are, they can be traced to the works and tricks of the devil . I always say that the ability to apologise, overlook one’s spouse’s faults as well as the ability to persevere all come from God. He is the only one who can help couples to keep their homes. They should always be mindful of that.
Do you think money plays a pivotal role in home sustenance?
Bolaji: Finance is very important in every home and you must remember that even the holy book says, “Money is a defence and a man who doesn’t provide for his home is worse than an infidel.” The ability to be able to balance things when the man runs into a bad season financially is also very important.
What is the role of women in the home and society?
Bolaji: I think I’ll leave that to my wife to answer.
Tolulope: Women create the much needed balance for men in the society. As a woman, I firmly believe that anything that doesn’t have the woman effect would be tantamount to someone struggling to survive. In other words, the place of a woman in a marriage is one that has been ordained and clearly spelt out by God. She is to complement the work of the man. If the man was a perfect being, God would have left the man alone without any helpmate. We need to realise that women are not second class, baby-making machines. Women have been wired to input positive changes into their men and society at large. It would be a good thing if they are allowed to offload these things.
How would both of you describe parenting?
Bolaji: Parenting is another phase of life and it has made us appreciate our own individual upbringing the more.
Tolulope: Parenting is quite an interesting journey.
Are there special ways you celebrate your wedding anniversary?
Bolaji: That is not something for public consumption but we do remember our wedding anniversary and all other important dates in our lives; from the first time we went on a date to others.
What are the key ingredients couples need to sustain their marriages?
Bolaji: First of all, couples need God to sustain their home and they just can’t get enough of Him if they want to succeed. This is a fact. Then, they must love one another and effectively communicate too.
How do you unwind?
Bolaji: As a couple, we love to relax and discuss over a movie. I must add that we cherish our privacy a lot.
What is your husband’s favourite meal?
Tolulope: My husband doesn’t have a favourite meal; he likes bits and pieces of food, all mixed up. I can’t say there is one specific meal that is his favourite.
Share some fun times in your marriage.
Bolaji: Every day is a good day for us and each comes with different memories. For instance, we chase each other around the house in an atmosphere of love and warmth. Oftentimes, I would trouble her just to make her laugh and smile. There are many memorable moments.
What is your philosophy of life and how does it help to sustain your marriage?
Bolaji: For me, I strive to always enjoy God’s creation and I despise no one.
Tolulope: God is the source of all we do and we never forget that.
Do you buy gifts for each other?
Tolulope: Yes, we do but my husband buys gifts more often than me.
Since you both do different jobs, how do you complement each other?
Bolaji: The wisdom of God is profitable to direct all that you do. Once you lean on Him. He will give you knowledge through books and readings and His counsel on how and what to do.
What is your advice to young ones about to get married?
Bolaji: They should love one another without pretence. As we grow older in our own marriage, we desire to know God the more and still be as handsome and beautiful as we both look at the moment.
What are your likes and dislikes?
Bolaji: There are several things that put us off. We abhor hypocrites and pretenders.