Marriage is a beautiful thing, we are grateful for the opportunity to highlight the love and dedication of Innoncent and Tammie Otukwu for their 20th Anniversary.
Innocent and Tammie Otukwu have been married for 20 years. When they met and started dating they both loved God, family, music, cooking and staying physically fit. They bonded and grew very close and learned a lot about their cultures.
Innocent is a Nigerian musical entertainer and former professional boxer and currently works for FedEx. He plays the flute and African Traditional drums and has performed for audiences overseas and in the U.S. Tammie is an Author, U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Retiree, Certified Life Coach who currently works for the Veteran’s Administration as a Legal Administrative Specialist.
Tammie wrote about her military 26 year journey in her book “War after the Military”. She speaks very affectionally about her husband who is still very supportive of her.
They have traveled with the military throughout the United States until Tammie retired in 2013. Together they have a 16 year old son and they all enjoy spending family time together. Tammie has a grown daughter and son in law and 2 grandsons. This loving blended family have and share a lot wonderful times together. Their goals are to continue to raise and support their son and grandsons and leave a legacy of serving God, supporting family, working hard and always striving for success.
Can you remember the moment you first realized you wanted to spend the rest of your life together?
Tammie: I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him due to the kind acts that he always showed me
Innocent: I realized it when I witnessed my wife give birth to our son
Wedding Planning: Twenty years ago the average wedding cost 22,000 according to the wedding report, can you tell us about your wedding day, what was the experience like?
Tammie: I was serving on Active Duty when we got married. We went to the courthouse because I had recently been transferred to Minnesota and I didn’t have a lot of leave days nor a lot of money. We also did not have family that lived close to us.
Marriage Life: What was the adjustment like going from dating to marriage, what tips do you have to navigate the early days of marriage?
Tammie: the adjustment from dating to marriage was only minimal because we both continued to work out together, travel, and attend African Events together. Marriage should not change the way that couples enjoy each other and spend time.
The early days in our marriage were spent learning more about our cultures. The great thing is that our love for each other and our family created an unbreakable bond.
Innocent: In my culture marriage is permanent and it is spiritual
Tip: never let anyone define your relationship or marriage. Let God be your Counselor
Careers: What did you both do for a living? How did you support one another’s careers, and how has it changed over the years?
Tammie: I work for the VA as a Legal Administrative Specialist and my husband works for FedEx and is a musician. Before I retired from the Army in 2013 we traveled quite a bit. My husband’s “Love Language” is the act of service. When I got pregnant with our son he went out in below-zero weather in Minnesota to get me some “ lime sherbet” and “spicy goat meat” which I craved throughout my pregnancy. I am the nurturer in our relationship. Now we support each other by sharing in family quality time, taking turns cooking, and traveling with our son.
Family Life: Together you have a 16-year-old son, can you share what family life is like? How do you balance entrepreneurship, music, and career life while parenting? Have you run into any obstacles in the process?
Tammie: I also have a daughter and son-in-law who live in Virginia and they have 2 growing boys so family life has been great because we have seen our son and the grandsons grow up and mature over the years. My husband spends time teaching our son about the Nigerian culture by taking him to African Events and speaking the Igbo language. I spend a lot of time on the phone speaking with my daughter about my grandsons. We have more time now to spend time traveling to see family and that has helped to give our son time to build his relationship with his grandmother, his nephews, and other relatives.
Some would say after 20 years, what possibly could be next? What plans do you have for the next 20 years of marriage and love?
In the next 20 years as we grow older, we definitely will be spending time with our grandkids, traveling, and retiring, again.
What advice do you have for newlyweds looking to experience longevity in their marriages?
My advice would be to always express love, exercise patience, and tolerance, stay in prayer and also show many acts of kindness.
What is your definition of a Boss Couple?
A Boss Couple is on the same level as far as their love for each other and living life for a better tomorrow
Wedding Song: Hear and Now by Luther
Favorite Memory: the birth of our son
Favorite Date Night Idea: attending an African event
Favorite Song currently: Candy
Favorite Meal to have together: Rice Stew
A tribute to the one I love:
THE PERSONAL TRAINER
I remember the first day I saw him. He was so visually remarkable. I don’t think I would have missed seeing him, even if I was blind in both eyes. He was tall, brown skinned, had almond shaped eyes, and a very welcoming smile that exposed a gap in his front teeth. He had a very exotic look about him. I could tell he was not from the states.
The second time I saw him, I was on my way to class. My phone battery had died, and I was very concerned about reaching my mom. When he saw me, I guess he noticed how distressed I looked.
“Can I help you?” When he spoke to me, I was mesmerized by his strong accent. I appreciated his sincerity and willingness to help me.
“Yes. Can I use your phone? My battery is dead, and I really need to contact my mother”.
He was very kind. I could tell by the way he stared that he was attracted to me.
After reaching my mother, I was so relieved and thankful, I gave him a big hug. Well, maybe I wanted to wrap my arms around him regardless of the phone, but this was the perfect opportunity. He smelled like delicious pound cake.
“Thank you so much. You’re a life saver. What’s your name?”
“My name is Innocent.” He said with that blazing smile.
“Innocent. Really?” I asked. I figured he was joking with me.
He laughed at my curiosity.
I am very serious. Where I’m from, Innocent is a common name.” “Oh yeah, and where are you from?” it felt so easy to talk to him, I just felt comfortable with him.
“I’m from the Igbo tribe of Nigeria.”
The Igbo people are one of the largest ethnic groups in Africa. The language of the Igbo people is Hebrew and there is speculation that they may be the original Israelites. Researchers and scholars found that Igbo Jews practice Judaism so authentically, that they either adopted Judaism when it was first started, or they are the descendants of the Jews of Bilad el-Sudan.
Innocent was a jack and master of many trades. He was a professional boxer, musical entertainer, and part time security guard. He shared his love for God and that he was very close to his family and really enjoyed keeping in contact with them in Nigeria. I appreciated that we both had a strong connection to family.
After many conversations, he finally asked me out on a date. I waned to ensure that we both were comfortable on our first date. I didn’t want to go to some snobby, fancy restaurant. I just wanted to get to know him as he truly was. When he came to pick me up, he was in his uniform. I looked at him and said, “If we go out, you can’t wear those big shoulder pads.” When I reached my hand to touch him on his shoulder, I realized that he was not wearing shoulder pads. There he was standing before me with shoulders as wide as the sea. He was as strong as those shoulders and looked and just that fine.
Over the next few weeks, we started spending time together. I found out that he enjoyed cooking. He was great at it. The first dish he made had rice, chicken, beef with an amazing tomato paste sauce. He purchased his seasonings from the neighborhood African store. He made a dish called “fufu” with his meals (ate it with his hands). The dish he served with every meal and very common tradition in Nigeria. He told me, “A Day without fufu is a wasted day”.
Later, I found out he really enjoyed working out. He was great at that too. We would run for miles, do push-ups and sit-ups. I was surprised he could keep up with me. I think he was allowing me to keep up with him. It came time for me to move to another apartment within the city and I needed some help. I asked him, if he would help me move some of the boxes while I was at work. I expected that he would help by moving a few boxes out, to lessen the workload when I got home. When I got off work, I arrived home very surprised to find he had single handedly moved everything out of my apartment into my new place. He displayed actions of kindness from the very beginning which was another attractive quality.
We would attend Nigerian events together. I really enjoyed meeting his friends and family, I enjoyed amazing African dishes that were served at these events. Soon, I learned how to dance and dress in the traditional attire and even speak some of the language. As we grew closer, I grasped he was an extremely patient person. He held a lot of respect for the military. I really enjoyed the fact that I had someone in my life who supported me. This was a man with whom I could spend that rest of my life.