Unlike his relationship with his other wives, Okonkwo appears to have more of a feeling of respect for Ekwefi and holds her in a special place. Perhaps this is because of her renowned beauty as a young woman or the fact that she first married someone else but then left him to be Okonkwo's wife.
They also suffer great disappointment together as they struggle to have children. Ekwefi bears ten children, nine of whom die. Because of what she has been through, she is far more willing to confront Okonkwo when he oversteps his bounds, particularly if it involves protecting her daughter.
Okonkwo's relationship with Ekwefi is also more significant in his life because his relationship with their daughter Ezinma is the ideal to him. She seems to have all the qualities he wishes his sons would have and this leads him to do more for Ekwefi than he seems to be willing to do for his other wives.