Hello guys, welcome to another edition of ‘How we met’. I got the opportunity to chat with the beautiful, bubbly and lovely Fitness coach – Oge Akinola on a double whopper 😉. Some of you will be familiar with her and her husband- Tomiwa Akinola as they are the couple behind ‘Body Praise’. Body praise online is a 30 mins online Christian workout.
I got to know this lovely couple a few years ago as we attend the same church. We would usually bump into ourselves at both church and other activities relating to other church members. A few years ago, the Akinola’s ran a quarterly family work-out which I got to attend once with my family. It was a brilliant initiative, members of the same family got to exercise together whilst praising God and with a little socialising. Oge and Tomiwa have a praise exercise session on their youtube channel and still work together, encouraging couples to exercise together.
I had a chat with Oge on how their beautiful journey started;
How we met
I met my husband’s elder brother and his wife at church and we became friends. I had known his elder brother and his wife for five years at the church, and I never met my husband that whole time! His elder brother was such an amazing guy. At the time I met his brother, I had to make some major decisions regarding my work/career, I had so many things going on and he was just a rock! His wife and I became, really close – it also helped that we studied similar courses in school. My cousin was also quite close to her and we so we had a nice, tightly knit, relationship going on.
It was my cousin’s birthday and we had planned a surprise birthday party for her. The day before the party she had one for herself, so I had gone over with my sisters. By the end of that night, there was this whole thing going on about me having a secret admirer. I had actually just come out of a really ridiculous relationship, it was quite painful as it was my first major relationship. I had therefore made a decision to stay away from relationships at that time. I’m a social being, I had friends, I had male friends but I was just never interested. At the time, I was not ready for anything, I’ve always been someone that if I’m in, I’m in for the whole haul.
That night, as the girls went on about a secret admirer I was like, ‘Oh, please!’ They were all giggling about it but I was just not interested in all their teasing. Tomiwa (my husband) came in that night but I didn’t notice him because I had never met him. There were other people in the room that I knew. So of course, I was interacting with the people that I knew, we went home and the girls were still laughing about the secret admirer and I thought It had ended there.
Now the next day was my cousin’s surprise birthday party and I was one of the planners. We got there, and then this guy walks up to me when I’m running around, and says, hello. I was actually really busy and I was not in the mood at all and I mumbled an hello in return, he was nice but I was not in that space at all, plus I had something to do, so I carried on.
My auntie was at the party as was his sister (Tomiwa) whom I didn’t know was his sister at that point. I thought she was a lovely lady who was at the party. She was talking to my auntie and so I joined the conversation. She was so nice. I’m like, Oh, this lady, she’s so lovely. I went over to tell my sister about this lovely lady, who is a doctor – my sister’s also a doctor then I carried on doing my thing.
A few minutes later, Tomiwa came over to chat and then his sister also comes over and introduced him as her younger brother I looked at her and looked at him, ‘no’ that’s not your brother I said, that’s my younger brother she explained. She’s quite, petite and Tomiwa is tall. I’m thinking Hmm, okay. I’m not quite sure what’s going on. But I didn’t think too deeply into it. Since she was very nice, I decided to be nice to him. So I introduced myself, shook his hand and that was it. She left and then he comes again. Oh, can I get your number? I’m just not one of those girls that give wrong numbers but, I did give him the wrong number! He tried it immediately and it didn’t work 😁 so I gave him my number and he promised to call. I thought to myself, I’m actually not going to wait for this call.
My sisters were in the corner, watching and smiling. On our way home, something my eldest sister said was so profound. She goes, ‘why don’t you give that guy a chance, that might just be your husband, “Oh, please don’t start with me’ I retorted. But because she knew about the relationship that I had come out from, she kind of went on.
The next day on my way to work subconsciously in my head, I’m like, Okay, let me see if this guy’s going to call. I waited and waited – I don’t even know why I was waiting! He, eventually called when I was on the train. I’m like, Oh, my gosh, it took a while. But I took the call and we started talking. Obviously, I was a bit more civil. So we spoke, he told me he was going off to Nigeria for a month, (in my head am thinking, why are you pestering my life then if you’re going away for a whole month) he added that he just really wanted to speak to me before going.
A few days on, we kept talking, and then I started to realize we were actually talking for a long time. When he went away, the talk continued, I felt relaxed, I felt different. Obviously, I had also been praying but didn’t want to allow myself, because I’m a lover, once I’m in, I’m in. So, I was just, trying to be careful. However, I was quite weak trying to be careful. I had not told my mum anything, but she felt it and she was very happy. Normally, whenever mom approves anything, (my mother can pray for the world) then you know it’s okay. Dad was also cool and my sisters had already even approved it before. So like, we knew.
Tomiwa also proved himself, we took our time, we prayed. That one month that he was away was also good as I wasn’t carried away by the fact that, I’m seeing this guy every day. So I had time to really get back to me, think through what was happening. By the time he came back, it had blown into a full-blown relationship. I spoke to his mum, my aunt knew his family so my mother in law had already asked questions – he told his mom when he saw me and because my auntie is very close to my mother in law (I love her to bits she’s amazing) they had already started asking questions. So of course, my sister in law speaking to my auntie at the party that day, they kind of all knew, I was the only one who didn’t know what was going on.
A match made in heaven
When he saw me at the party, that was it, it was sealed. There was no ‘let’s try and see if it’s going to work, it was final. It was sort of like everybody was waiting for me to catch up with it, It was lovely. A couple of months later, he proposed Oh, it was something else, the proposal. You know, when you’re dating somebody and you can tell where it’s going. I mean, we were not playing, we talked about family we talked about life we talked about children. So I’m thinking, Okay, we’re still talking, when is it happening! We had been dating for six months and we knew it was serious and had been talking about the future so I was just expecting him to propose.
Not your everyday proposal…
Tomiwa went to work on this day, I think it was the day before the proposal and got back from work late. He calls me at a particular time so I always know when he was going to call, but He didn’t call, and I was wondering what was going on, I was a bit worried. Very late that day he called and I asked where he’d been, what’s happened? He told me there was an incident, he got into a situation in London. “What happened, with who what happened in London” I rambled. He told me there was a robbery in some jewellery shop and he was around the area when it happened. He said the police came and took some people for questioning and that he needs to get to the police station the next day and he asked if I would go with him. I was confused and worried but I believed him, hook line and sinker!
The next day, he picks me up to go to the police station, I think it was in North London. I was praying as we drove, and his friend called (who is meant to be the lawyer) but I didn’t know. I didn’t know it was his friend. So his lawyer (friend) was giving him instructions on what to do on getting to the police station, it was so real. He even got a call from the station to confirm that he was coming. All this time my whole body was shaking.
We got there and just as we were trying to park, this guy rushed out of the station. he was holding a baton and handcuffs, the moment we parked, the guy rushes towards the car and pulled him out of the car to my side. I opened the door, I was begging, weeping and praying. He pulled Tomiwa out, shouting (in my head I’m thinking we’re in the UK, this shouldn’t be allowed). It was so real, he put Tomiwa in handcuffs and he was on bended knees, then the man shouted “say it, say it, do it”, then Tomiwa goes “will you marry me”. I could do a movie on this you know 😀, people stood on the road, I had cried my eyes out. praying and calling on Jesus, I cried. I was so confused, it was by the grace of God that I remembered to say yes. He and his friend laughed, and shook hands.
When we got back into the car, I was still shaking – the proposals that I know, people go for dinner and it’s so romantic, he gets me all the time! I didn’t speak for a couple of minutes because I was trying to recover, I was asking myself, what just happened, did we really just do this! Now when we got in the car, everybody started calling, they all knew! Everybody, my parents, his parents, my siblings his friends. They all wanted to know how it went. Tomiwa never does things the normal way, never!
He already booked dinner that night so after that, we still went out for dinner in the evening. Every time I see proposal videos on TV, I remember mine and just smile. It was different and I suppose that’s why I just can’t forget it. He knew that I was expecting the proposal so he wasn’t going to do it in a way that I’ll know. I had been expecting it, he had the ring made, he had taken my finger measurements, so I knew it was coming and anytime I asked he just told me it wasn’t ready yet.
It was pretty quick, we got married six months after the proposal. Prior to that time, I had started – not planning my wedding per se, but I had this auntie that really helped me in terms of my faith. We would go to bridal shops and try out wedding dresses. I said to God, I’m ready and I’m going do something to push your hand. We started were going to bridal shops to try wedding dresses every time they ask us when is the wedding, we would say it’s December, we always said December 😚. So I was already trying my dresses before I met my husband and it was just beautiful. When the man finally came, I was ready, even up till now, I’m just in awe of the man that I married and even the fact that I’m actually married.
Marriage is a beautiful thing, I believe in it. I suppose the way that I’ve been brought up has also helped my view on marriage. I say to people, whatever you want to see, you’ve got to do it for people around you to see it, especially with children. My parents have a beautiful marriage, that’s what I saw, that’s what I’ve always known. Marriage, you stay there, you work it, you pray, you commit to it. So when I walked into this, that was the first thing I said to my mother in law ‘I have come to stay’. There has never been a time where my husband and I had a misunderstanding that we don’t come out of, we are in it, so we figure it out. Then as you grow, you know, you learn, It gets easier.,you understand it. It comes with a few complications, but you learn how to rise above it.
On their Inter-tribal Marriage
My parents were not surprised at all. If you asked my dad, he would tell you he actually thought that I would have come home with a foreigner because that’s, the way I am. My parents are not tribalistic, my younger sister is also married to a Yoruba man. My mother in-love, (she is the most amazing thing that’s happened to me) she is very accepting. Sometimes she would want me to do the traditional things, like wearing Iro and buba, she knows that I don’t like those things and sometimes I am excited to do it for her, it makes her happy but I’m like ‘Okay, mom, if I’m going to wear this I want it done a certain way, so we understand each other. Whenever she’s making stuff for me, she checks with me to make sure I’m happy with it.
It has never been an issue and with my husband, Tomiwa speaks Yoruba to the kids and I speak Igbo to them. He makes it clear to whoever questions him that he wants them to learn both languages. He also makes sure I don’t have to explain a lot of things, he just says this is how we do things.
Advise for people struggling with their marriage
When I got into marriage, just like everything else, it was new. We’re two separate individuals who have been brought up in different ways. Obviously, the one common ground is that we have come, and grown from a Christian family. So the values and those principles were there. But as individuals, we are different. I remember initially, of course, there was the issue, of each party wanting things done in a particular way. I remember one thing my mum always said to us, she said, “your first year of marriage is going to be a testing ground, just have that at the back of your mind but how you navigate through that is what would help you. She goes, you would need to allow a lot of God into this. It’s not about you, It’s not about him, but it’s about the main person in this relationship.
My husband is one that doesn’t talk too much. He doesn’t like arguments, but me! Oh, Jesus. thank God for Jesus, I would give you a piece of my mind. But I had it in the back of my mind that I want my marriage to work, I love marriage, I love my husband, and I want to build my home. So it was either I became a woman who wanted to build a home, or that woman who wanted to tear it down. Of course, I knew what I wanted. So allowing yourself to actually grow in the process is essential. It’s a beautiful thing.
Also, communication. Yes, I had my moments of Oh, babe, are you okay? ‘Yes’ Do you want to talk? ‘No’. It was so difficult for him to tell when I’m in that mood and because I wasn’t saying much he will leave me and when I’m done, I’d come out. I think these days, people are not patient enough anymore. You know, they don’t want to, I don’t want to say tolerate, but the word is forbearance. There should be a mindset of ‘I know that there might be the possibility that something might go wrong but I have decided to forbear and just accept this person’s excesses and we can walk through it. I mean,Tomiwa and I have our days – Mondays – where we would talk, let it out, we talk. That particular day is just for pouring out, and then we can trash it.
Communication is a huge thing. I think because we talk too much about communication, people have actually underestimated it, but it’s so important in marriage. Your spouse can’t actually even tell what you’re thinking, which makes that process difficult on its own, but making the decision to be open with each other helps.
Advise for single ladies
As a young person who is probably wanting to get into marriage and enjoy it, it’s not about the wedding day. I think there’s a confusion that comes with this, it’s not about that. It’s important that you are ready to grow with that person. It’s a decision you have to make. At every phase in your married life, there is a new challenge, there’s a new thing. When children come, it’s a different ballgame. So from the beginning, making that decision to make it work and always going back to that decision, now I’m telling you what works for me.
Sometimes it feels like ‘oh my God’, but I remember the decision that I made, it’s my choice, I made the choice to stay, I made the choice to marry him. Again, it’s not just about the choice you have made, It’s not just about the man. It’s also my commitment to God. There’s an oath, so I want my husband to experience the God in me, so that he’s marrying into that God in me, because me as an individual, trust me, Oh, geez. You just never know what you can do. But it’s God that makes a difference. So leave this whole ‘I love you, I die for you’. You better have God inside that I love you, I die for you, that’s the main factor.
Marriage is a beautiful thing and you don’t base your marriage on someone else’s. You’ve got to create and work your own journal. You might be thinking, Oh, it hasn’t worked for my sister and so maybe because of that, it’s not going to work for me. No, you make the decision to play your own part. Father, I am doing my bit, I hold you to your bit, it is a prayer that I make every day. You just never know what’s going to happen. I can’t tell you what’s going to happen tomorrow. I can’t tell you, if my husband is going to hug me tomorrow, I can’t tell you. But based on, the decisions, the choices that we’ve committed to, I can tell you that tomorrow will be better.
That’s my advice, as a young person, keep putting in the prayer and also invest in yourself. ‘I want a man who is fit, I want a man who is this’ but you better start working on yourself because that man may also want a woman that is fit or whatever else. Invest in yourself. When that time comes, God is never late as long as you desire it, he will make it come to pass
More nuggets for struggling marriages.
For those already in it and the juice has run out, or there’s a lack of understanding, hey girlfriend, do your own! Whatever it is that is lacking, it’s a two way streak, it’s not always the fault of one person. Personally I do my ‘Come to Jesus meeting’ where if my husband has expressed displeasure about something, I address myself! I look in the mirror and ask myself questions and I tell myself the truth. Even in my moments of ‘No, that’s not true,’ I still pray about it and address myself. If you want to see change in someone else you have to start with yourself.
Speak, create the marriage you want, whatever it is that is lacking, make it happen. It’s a two way thing. Believe you’re in your marriage and it’s beautiful, then decide to try your best. When your spouse notices you’re making an effort then they’ll also make the necessary changes. If the fire is no longer there, reignite it. Speak what you want into your marriage, I believe strongly in affirmations. If you’re tearing down and he is tearing down, there’s nothing to hold both of you to the centre. Find out if God has left the space, better pull him back in, prayer is a real thing. I believe we all have everything it takes to make it work. You have to allow yourself to be able to learn and grow. Find out what’s not tickling his fancy and do it. You’ll find out he’ll also try to do the same. Work on yourself, take care of yourself.
Whao, was that insightful or what! There’s actually more, so please look out for my first podcast. It covers my full chat with Oge including the second part which will be my next ‘Passion to Profession’ story.
Thank you Oge, you know I love you girl 🙌🏽.