At a time when some pastors' homes are breaking up, gospel music star, Aity Dennis celebrated 24 years of wedded bliss to her husband and presiding pastor, Sure Word Assembly, Dr. Dennis Inyang, at a colourful ceremony held at the Lagos headquarters of the church recently. In this chat with The Entertainer, the broadcaster, singer, pastor and mother of two shares the secrets of her successful marriage and how her hubby popped the question 24 years ago among other issues.
You recently celebrated 24 years of marriage; can you recount the journey so far?
It amazes me that we've done 24 years already. How time flies! It's just like yesterday. Of course, we have had our fair share of challenges just like any other couple would but so far, it's been wonderful and blissful being married to my best friend and partner these last 24 years.
How did you meet your husband?
I met my husband on campus at the University of Calabar. We became friends towards the end of our days on campus and got married some years after our graduation.
How did he pop the question?
My husband by nature is a very dramatic person. The day he proposed to me was quite eventful. He started by telling me stories about his background; how he was from a very remote village, how his family was very poor and how we were likely going to live in the village if we got married. He painted a very funny picture and then asked me if I would marry him. Personally, I had already known that he would propose to me that day; trust women with our feminine intuition. I had been praying about it and had this peace in my heart that it was God's will for me to get married to him, so I wasn't deterred by the very scary picture he painted. As far as I was concerned, he was deliberately exaggerating to see whether I loved him enough to marry him. I knew I loved him enough to withstand any odds so I just said yes.
What actually attracted you to him?
My husband is a very cultured gentleman, he is well bred and very intelligent. You can't relate with him and not like him. While on campus he used to act a lot of plays and since I was also a stage person, it was easy to relate with him.
Twenty four years is a long time to stay married, what has been the secret of your successful marriage?
The secret is that we are friends; very close friends. We made up our minds right from the beginning to remain friends and that has helped us. Secondly, we are both from broken homes and having had the traumatic experience of growing up in broken homes, we promised ourselves that we'll do everything to make our marriage work so that our children would not go through what we went through in our childhood.
Today, some pastors' marriages are breaking up, what do you think is responsible?
Pastoring is a very challenging and complicated job. As a pastor, you are constantly looking out for the welfare of others so it is very easy for a pastor to be neck deep in his pastoral work and probably get lost. In the Bible it is written 'other people's vineyard I have kept but my vineyard I have kept not.' It is like the proverbial carpenter who got so busy making doors for other people's houses while his own house had no doors because he never got around to it. As soon as you start taking your spouse for granted, just know that it is a question of time before your marriage hits the rocks. Any pastor that is not watchful can easily fall into that trap.
A while ago, you unveiled your NGO, Aity Music Foundation. What are the objectives and what have you achieved?
Aity Music Foundation is out to empower our artistes such that they could be the best in their chosen careers. Having gone through the University of Hard Knocks to get to where I am today, I am fully aware of how rough this terrain is. Without proper and adequate motivation, many promising artistes will fall by the way side. Another objective is to encourage indigenous music in Nigeria and build a network between local musicians and their international counterparts. We have started running our Excel in Music Workshops and we intend to take it around the nation.
What are your challenges working as a mother, pastor and artiste? How do you create time for the home front?
I think God naturally crafted the woman to multitask. No matter how busy I am, my home is my priority so I make time to build my home because at the end of the day, whatever it is you have achieved, if your home is in shambles, wahala dey! Another major factor is that I have a very understanding husband who helps me to balance my sometimes very crazy schedule. As for my children, they are one of the greatest gifts that God has blessed me with. They help me to appreciate what it means to have God as a father who is constantly nurturing and watching over us. Grooming my children helps me to appreciate my mother a lot; motherhood is a very demanding but it's worth it.
You and your husband radiate so much happiness, do you ever quarrel? And when you do, how do you resolve such quarrels?
We have come to know that in life, living happily is a choice. Life is short and you can't afford to live it depressed and quarrelling all through. I think having lived with each other these last 24 years, we have come to understand each other so much so that we hardly quarrel. And whenever we do, we don't allow it to last overnight. We endeavour to keep the Biblical injunction that says 'let the sun not go down on your anger.'
Could you share the most challenging moment in your marriage?
I recall the days when things were so hard that I wondered when the hard times would end. But God helped us and we weathered it. Today, we use our testimony to encourage others to hold on through whatever storms they are going through because no storm will last forever.
Has there been anytime you were frustrated and felt like quitting?
What project are you working on now?
I'm seriously working on the release of my Unstoppable videos. Some tracks were shot on location in the USA and Nigeria. It promises to be a masterpiece.
Can you share your happiest moment?
I've got several of them. You know, I am naturally a happy go-lucky-person; I don't even know where to start from.