A Model In Building Lasting Marriage

A Model In Building Lasting Marriage

PATIENCE UMO ENO is natural, black and beautiful. She is emblematic of an African woman’s true portrait. She loves being natural, notwithstanding her wide travel opportunities; connecting with friends overseas. And except in a worship place where she covers her head, she goes about with low natural cut, even to public functions.

Coming closer, you’ll find a simple approachable lady who freely interacts with people. But this is a sharp departure from her growing-up days when she cut a picture of a tough person who never had time for light-hearted tete-a-tete even among her peers. She was such a reserved girl, hardworking and forthright, such that even the man who sought her hand in marriage couldn’t get to her face to face though both worshipped in the same assembly.

But time has moderated all that. Today, she is fondly called Kemi by her loving husband, Pastor Umo Bassey Eno. Kemi (in full – Oluwakemi, meaning God has comforted me). The name was circumstantial; it came at a time Pastor Umo Eno needed a human comforter. Having faced life’s challenges all alone as a young person, especially when his father, a police superintendent, was transferred to Kaduna and his siblings all relocated with the father, leaving him alone in Lagos, he decided to marry. He saw the qualities of a good wife in Kemi, and went for her. Today, Pastor Patience Eno, still plays her role so effectively, working hard to ensure that the home front and the church, in which she co-pastors, run successfully. She narrated part of the story of her husband’s success and her marriage in this interview with IMA NKANTA in 2014 when Pastor Umo Eno was marking his 50th birthday anniversary. The narration is as fresh and engaging as it was then (with very minor update on dates).


We’ve been married for 37 years now (then 28 years). He was 22 and I was 19 when we got married. And the Lord has seen us through all these years. He is one man that believes in excellence in all he does and he makes people around him to do so. He does not do anything half measure. He is a pastor, he is my husband. He is a man that is highly focused. He knows what he wants and how to get it. He knows how to go about his daily duties and how to discharge his duties accordingly and appropriately.

I can go on and on about him. He is an exceptional man. He is a very good father to my children, a good family man, a good pastor to his congregation. He is loved by so many, as far as I know, and with what I can see. He’s been like that, and he will continue to be like that.

Today, I seize the opportunity of his 50th birthday to wish him long life, good health, continued grace and excellence in what he does and what he enjoys doing. And I pray that God will spare his life to see yet another 50 more years from now.

How do you cope with his neck-breaking busy schedules and speed?

Everybody asks me this, and I have answered the question too many times. But like I said earlier, he’s a man that is focused, who knows how to separate these three things: he is a bi-vocational pastor; he knows how to do his work, as Governor/CEO of Royalty Group and he knows how to pastor his congregation. He knows how to be my husband in the house, a father, a family man. He believes in separating all that you do, but then give it the firm focus, attention and commitment that it needs.

That’s what my husband represents, and that’s what has made him succeed at these three areas of his life. He has balanced them very well. He believes in the concept that says: “Busy, But balanced!” He is very busy as you have observed, but he is very balanced. He knows how to be focused; he is so organized and will not leave anything to chance.

Is he a loving husband?

Oh, yes! Very loving; and that’s why I said that he is a good husband to me, a good father to my children, he’s always there. Busy, but always there, he gives us our own time. He makes out time for me and all of us. He balances everything.

I could recall Pastor E. A. Adeboye saying sometimes ago that one of those painful decisions he took was locking himself inside a room for two weeks; without seeing the face of his wife because he was preparing his Master’s Degree thesis, and didn’t want any distraction. Have you had any such experiences in your own case?

Pastor Adeboye’s case was just for two weeks, mine has been more than that, and on many occasions. But primarily, it was when we started the construction work of Royalty Hotels; money got finished, and it was as if we have come to a standstill. Workers were to just pack up their working tools at the site and go home. We tried to raise money from everywhere, and it was like the doors were closed against us. But God used Fidelity Merchant Bank to give him a facility.

During that time, it was so difficult that even to feed in the house was something else. He kept himself away from everybody. He even told me to take care of myself and kids the way I knew best, and that I should just leave him alone at that time, and forget about him like two months to three months.

The whole thing was just like that until God helped us out. But then I understood with him – the need for him to be alone at that time. So, even though we were still seeing, it was like; he was there, he was not there at the same time because of the difficult moment he was having putting up the project together.

I have also observed that even when you go to visit him in the office, you have to go through protocol  before seeing him. Why do you have to do that?

Good! Having been married to a man for 37 years (then 28 good years), I should know a lot about him. I know that my husband is an organized man. He takes his job diligently and would not just want anything to happen anyhow around him, and so I have been there all the while. I have learnt this man’s ways, I know what he likes, and I know what he doesn’t like. Therefore, I have to do it because my husband loves people going through protocol.

And I have chosen to do it like that to show a good example, so that nobody should come and just feel that he or she should just see him. So if they don’t get to see him, they should know that may be they didn’t know the right thing which was supposed to be done. That’s just it! And I enjoy doing it.

How do you miss him most?

I miss him most when I desire him to be at home and he’s not there. I miss him when he comes home from work by 2am, when I would have needed to have him at home may be by 10pm. Those are the moments I still cannot accept up until now (laughter). But then I learned how to just tolerate and endure it. His job gives him joy, he’s happy at the work he does, and I have to respect that. It is not easy to accept it, but I have learned to accept it. And it is okay with me.

He has said it before in an interview that the strength behind all he’s been able to do is his wife. Now I can really understand. So, what are your expectations from him tomorrow?

Yes, he’s always saying that I have been the strength behind him, but it’s been God. Yes, I know he’s very conscious of that and also that God uses me to help him accomplish all he has done. What I have done, which is not anything special, is to be there for him, to support him, to understand him, to help him which is my primary duty as a wife to him. And this is what the Bible says; ‘I am to be a helper suitable for him,’ and I have been fitted into that role ever since. And I hope to continue to do that.

I see him succeeding more than he is today, because he’s a man that is not going to stop where he is today. He said some six to seven years back that he was going to retire after ten years. I believed him back then, even though I had a little doubt. But as it stands today, the way he works today with hundreds of staff; it’s like as if he has just started newly.

He works as if there is nobody to do the job him. So, I am asking him now, ‘Are you sure you will still retire because you have just three years to go, three years to leave work, and the way you are going, are you sure you’re really going to retire? I don’t see him retiring in the next twenty years by the rate he is working. And because he’s still working hard; he’s still committed to what he is doing, I see him having more successes, achievements and accomplishments. At whatever level God wants to take him to; he’s not stopping. He’s not leaving, and will not give up. I see him succeeding more than he has succeeded today.

How did you react over his approach to seeking your hand in marriage? I mean how did he propose? 

(Laughter) He really did not come out to propose the way I see young guys do these days. He sent me a Christmas card, and he wrote a note on a yellow page he inserted into the card and gave it to someone to deliver to me. There was a neighbour of mine that my parents had chosen to be the only boy they may see around me. The boy would always escort me back to the house from the choir practice before he would return to his own home.

People in the church knew that the boy and I were close neighbours. So he (my husband) went and asked him to deliver the card to me. I just took the card home, believing it was a Christmas card from the boy, not until when I opened and read it that I discovered that it was from someone else – my husband.

I didn’t even know who he was then. I didn’t even know his name. But I began to wonder who bore that name, and later I recalled that it was the church interpreter (back then). And I was like, ‘Why did he send me that card and with a note that bore such a message?’ That was it! I don’t want to tell you the detail on the note because that has been the basis for my successful marriage to him today.

Don’t you think the younger generation would like to know the content of this note in particular so that they can learn and re-align the foundation of their marriages for success?

Well, if you put it that way then I would not be selfish. The Christmas card was sent to a loved one. It came to me as a surprise because I didn’t know him. He had never talked to me; we had never come together before for any reason whatever, therefore for a card to come to me from such a person, it was a big surprise to me.

My mum had to ask me: Who is this man to you? I told her, I have never known him from anywhere. Being inquisitive, she asked again, “So, how could he have given you a card?” I explained to her, it was my neighbor who handed me the card; it’s only now that I am seeing the name of the real person who sent it.

While still confused about the card, I glanced at the note inserted into the card, it read: “I know right now, you will be confused about the card and the message on the card, especially for sending you a card like this, not knowing you before; but then I want you to know that all that card has said is what I feel for you. And I am hoping that by this note that it will bring us to an everlasting relationship together.”

I was lost and asked myself: ‘Who is this man? Where is he from that will propose to a girl this way?’ But that has been very unique and remarkable, if you ask me.

But today, I see young men kneel down to propose; there are so many ways. I have seen a guy go on top of a horse’s back and then come down before the girl and proposed.

Others go to restaurant; anyhow they propose is still good enough. Whichever way the man will propose to his wife to be, they girls should just accept it. The important thing is for man to propose. Nowadays, we see girls or women proposing to men. I don’t believe it should be so. It is the man that should propose to the woman; it brings more honour and dignity to the woman.

Quest News 24

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