Desmond Jacob told Saturday Sun a funny story of how he proposed to Blessing, the woman who has been his wife for over twenty years. Initially he was not bold enough to talk to her about his deep feelings for her. So he decided to express them in a letter he addressed to her. But on taking it to her, he lied that somebody asked him to give her the letter. Blessing wanted to know who, but he told her she would find out when she opened it. And, with that, he disappeared from her sight the moment she collected it, opened and began to read it. He said he did so to escape embarrassment. Today, after being together for many years, neither he nor his wife is talking about embarrassment any more but what it takes to live together as husband and wife, after walking through period of marriage proposal, done through letter-writing, and acceptance. In this interview with BIANCA IBOMA, the couple shared the experience of what happened after the letter writing and reading. They also talk about some ingredients of happy marriage and how it can be sustained. Excerpts:
Briefly tell us about yourselves?
Husband: My name is Desmond Jacobs. I was born and bred in Lagos. I am a compere; I have a certificate in Broadcast Journalism. I hail from Oyede in Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State and was born over four decades ago. I have a certificate in Performing Arts, a certificate in Presentation in Broadcasting and a degree in Mass Media and Communication. I am also a voice-over artist and a printing broker. Our marriage is blessed with three children and I am married to a pretty, God-fearing wife.
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Wife: My name is Oghale Blessing Jacobs. I hail from Otor-Iyede in Isoko North Local Government Area of Delta State. I read Statistics at The Polytechnic, Ibadan.
Tell us how you meet?
Husband: I met her in the church through her younger sister, Kefe.
Wife: I met my husband in the Victory Christian Church, Lagos, through my younger sister. We later joined the theatre group of the church because we both have flair for acting.
How did you propose to her?
Husband: How I proposed was a funny one. I found out that I was having feelings for her but for some reasons I just couldn’t explain this to anyone, so I kept it to myself. I was not bold enough to talk to her about it. I later devised a plan within me and I wrote her a letter and took it to her. I told her someone said I should give her the letter. She was curious to know from whom, but I played a fast one that I didn’t know his name and that the name of the person should be in the letter. I ran away for fear of being embarrassed. I expressed my desire in the letter stating that I would love her to be my wife.
What was the attraction?
Husband: She is pretty, caring, understanding and tolerant and above all her love for God.
What was your reaction when he proposed?
Wife: I actually smiled when I read the content. He was cute and had a promising future. I equally loved him so I accepted the proposal. We courted for a while and got married.
What were the challenges the marriage faced initially considering the fact that you have individual differences?
Husband: Like every other marriage, there is bound to be challenges borne out of different background and upbringing.
But God helped us as children of God who were schooled in the word of God. It has been fun all the same. The challenge we had was that I like to meet things exactly where I kept them. I love orderliness. If I keep my cup in a particular position, I want to come and meet it there, if not it’s wahala. It took my wife some time to understand my principles but we learned from the process and laugh over them now. I can’t say my wife is perfect. I am a very meticulous person, especially when it comes to house keeping; I pay attention to details. My wife is the type that would say I would do it later and she would ignore what is supposed to be done at the right time. It took a while to correct that. We disagree to agree. But trust me, everything is falling into place.
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Wife: For young couples, a lot of things normally crop up but as you know, in any marriage relationship women need to play the supportive role for it to strive. At every stage, there was a hurdle that we needed to climb as a couple and by the grace of God we were able to surmount them. I never insulted my husband because whenever there was a challenge, what I did was to pray with him and today our marital bliss kept glowing. There is this bond between us. My husband and I are like siblings.
How do you relax?
Husband: We really do not have a special way of relaxation. We are both very busy people by reason of work and church activities, but by virtue of my job, we go together at times to functions and catch our fun.
Wife: I follow my husband to functions or when we decide to watch television together; I lay on his body and we would watch whatever movie we were watching. My husband equally assists me with domestic chores. Even though we had kids that can take care of certain things, he may decide to join me in the kitchen and we would prepare our meal. It does not reduce the respect we have for each other.
Can you share some of the values and recipes that have sustained your marriage?
Wife: Over the years, God’s grace has been sufficient for us. I don’t think any marriage can really be successful without God. I made up my mind to obey my husband no matter what. I don’t disobey him when he takes a decision concerning a matter. Any time he wants to do anything, I support him because to me he is my head.
Communication is also the key. My husband and I dialogue a lot. We talk about things. He informs me and seeks advice. He is my friend; we talk. I equally see him as my father because of the position he occupies in my life. I treat him as a king. He treats me as his queen. People normally marvel when they see how far we have gone because you will not have the slightest idea of what transpires in my home. I don’t subscribe for third party opinion. Submission is another thing; I submitted everything to my husband because he is my love. I didn’t hold any part of me, especially when it comes to my role as a wife. I am submissive.
Husband: I took a decision to love my wife no matter what. Love is an essential ingredient in a marital relationship and one of the duties that every man owed his wife is to love her. Love is a commandment, whether she has behaved wrongly or not as a man you must love your wife. I correct my wife with love. I ensure that we honour the basic premise of marriage and commitment. Also, I show my wife affection, I express my feelings to her. I don’t hesitate to say, ‘I love you’ to her. l ensure that she is more confident about my love for her in our marriage; this makes her secure. Communication is another vital tool that helps the marriage relationship. We dialogue a lot. My wife and I create time for each other. We still run around in the house just like it all began. Women should not miss the closeness they have with their husbands, it is important. They should make a concerted effort to retain it. Submission too is the key. When a woman submits to her husband everything becomes easy. For them to enjoy marital bliss, they should submit in totality; that is very important. My wife did not lose her role as a mother to my children as well as a role of being my wife.
How do you resolve conflicts?
Husband: We both apologise, but she is not easily offended. Initially, my wife used to stomach issues and would not say them but as time went on she started telling me in polite manner things she was not comfortable with and I made amends. Although she apologises first, I reciprocate that.
Wife: When I am angry, it takes a longer time for me to forgive but when he apologises to me I forgive him immediately. Sometimes, I would be the one to apologise to him but we never slept over offenses. For each year, there is a lesson we both learned. We grew up in an environment where we had a background understanding of the various roles that exist in a family. It has been fun marrying him. My husband and I chose the way we handled conflicts when it occurs.
What advice do you have for younger couples considering the increasing rate of divorce and domestic violence in marriages?
Husband: Spouses should create and cultivate emotional trust in their marriage relationships. When there are disagreements, several things run through the mind. It’s easy to feel like you have married the wrong guy if you don’t manage the situation. Every marriage has disagreements because they are two separate individuals. But nothing good can come from emotionally threatening your spouse with the word like divorce. Spouses should make agreements not to even bring up that word in their marriages no matter how bad the argument or situation is. Let’s assume there is no abuse or infidelity. Over time, couples tend to drift apart, often because they feel that their partner no longer “gets” them. It is a human nature to want to feel understood, especially by one’s life-long partner. In order to feel closer to your spouse, I recommend working on your listening skills. Effective listening is one of the most powerful relationship skills that can be used to rekindle marriages and bring couples back together. This is because listening creates a safe and supportive relationship where your partner can express dreams, fears, and goals. This will lead to feelings of closeness for both the listener and the speaker.
Wife: People wonder if my husband and I were able to address how we got through times when we did not necessarily agree or feel united together. While they admire our strong marriage relationship, they never found out how we were able to cope with the wonder. I can share times we had issues but never fought dirty for others to hear about it. There were times when my husband and I struggled with the marriage relationship and how we overcame those challenges. So, there would be a time in a marriage that a woman feels odd with her man. She must maintain a humble character. Take two, imperfect human beings that are filled with sin, put them under the same roof and guess what you get? Conflict with a capital “C”. Most women are arrogant; they are not ready to submit. When I hear reports on how women use the kitchen weapon on their lovers, I get frightened because ordinarily, a woman is afraid to kill a chicken. Why are they easily provoked? It is because they have stored hatred inside them. The violence comes from the man some years ago, but now women are the ones taking violence to their doorsteps. Women need to be patient.
Can you share some of the recipe needed for a successful marriage?
Husband: Happy marriages are based on some common factors – respect, commitment, caring, closeness, and acceptance of differences. Respect in a marriage begins with self-discipline. To put it simply, respect is based on one’s ability to control one’s own selfish urges. Once a person can do this, only then can he or she behave respectfully towards another person. Marital respect is all about setting yourself aside so that you can focus on your partner’s intrinsic value. Accepting your partner’s right to make decisions and letting your spouse influence you shows respect for marital behaviour.
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Wife: Marriage is the ultimate commitment. Once married, you must concede that your spouse is the single most important person in your life. Your spouse must become your number one priority. Some individuals find being fully committed to one partner difficult. Admittedly, this sort of singular devotion can be tough. If commitment makes you uncomfortable, step back and assess your life. Are friends, work commitments, or personal interests really more important than your spouse? A healthy marriage is made up of two individuals that are fully committed to one another. A healthy marital relationship requires caring, even during those times when you don’t feel up to it. It is your duty as a marital partner to provide your spouse with a unique level of care. You are the only person who can provide your partner with this kind of support and kindness; as such it is your obligation to do so. Your responsibility to care for your spouse supersedes your own personal feelings and should be the foundation of a healthy marriage. More so, what couples need to understand is that you are very different from your marriage partner. Yet, the success of your marriage hinges on your ability to accept these differences and work together to build a successful relationship. Remember, marital success does not depend on being the same; rather it depends on discovering the value of diversity.