Monday, December 17, 2012

Joke Silva on Marriage - The Man can be Vulnerable too

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Over the next few weeks as December wedding season progresses, I'll be running a series first featured on Genevieve Magazine about three friends, three weddings and three marriages of 20+ years. I'll start off with Joke Silva, that doyen of the Nigerian movie industry, and her husband, actor, Olu Jacobs.

The Proposal: Olu and I dated for a couple of years before we got married. I remember he proposed when we went for dinner and a Greek meal was served. I think he got the people in the restaurant involved in the whole arrangement; oh…it was just so romantic! He was living in England at the time though, so that was their custom and he was used to it.

The first years of the relationship: When I first met Olu, he was this dashing guy. He was just such incredible fun! We got along very well. I didn’t even know his age; I thought maybe he was in his late twenties, early thirties. I screamed when I found out his age. He was 39 and I was 20! Well, eventually it was my mum who gave me the go ahead because she saw how serious I was with him and hadn’t seen me that serious with anyone. My dad was worried about the age difference but my mum was able to make him see reasons. She also had the background of her mum being much younger than her dad and didn’t really see a problem with it. She felt it was something I could handle.

The Wedding: Our wedding attire??? Betty keeps saying we wore costumes.You know, my husband’s outfit was made from aso-oke and had a cape! A friend even teased us saying instead of the bride’s outfit to have a cape it is the husband’s that had a cape. It had always been what he wanted to wear on his wedding day. He told Sophisticat exactly what he wanted and he designed it for him. A cousin of mine got married earlier and her dress was made with lace and aso-oke and I loved it. So I felt that if he was going to come in aso-oke, then that was what I would wear. We were very happy with what we wore so we were really surprised when everyone went on and on about it.

Talking about our marriage, we are 26 years in it and it has been quite a journey. There were rumours about us considering divorce. It’s not like we actually separated but I must confess we were so close to it; it was really a tough time for both of us being a media couple. When you are not in the face of the media,it’s easier to resolve your differences, but when you are, it’s almost like you are not staying together for YOU because you are wondering, “What would people say?” And this mounts pressure.

But I have to confess, I thank God for good friends because they talked to each party and brought solutions that I never thought were solutions. On my side, the solution that I was given was that I just had to take everything to God. I had to become someone that goes to Christ and nowhere else. Then I came to realise the true meaning of this verse in the Bible that says, “The plans He has for us are plans of good and not of evil.” I just started seeing it come into my home and I was like, “Is this the same home?”

I have still not got over my birthday celebration and the renewal of my marital vows! My friends put everything together. They didn’t even let me spend a kobo. They went to the different associations I belong to and they were all willing to be a big part of the whole thing. There was so much love.

I walked into Freedom Park and I just burst into tears; I was crying the whole day. They were also able to talk to Olu. I started crying when I was told he loved the idea of the renewal of our vows. The Lord was actually talking to me on how the whole thing should go. He even put the songs we were going to use for that day in my heart. My tears started from when the band began playing the song, Tumigbe; that was the song I walked down the aisle with. The song was just so meaningful because it spoke to our situation and said,“Forgive me for everything I have done and let it all remain in the past.” It was a new page; a fresh start. Throughout the journey, there have been some memories that time and tide can’t seem to wash away.

My son will hate me for this, but I remember when my son was born, he looked like a chick! He was all chest, just like frozen chicken. He has incredible broad shoulders just like his dad. Then Gbenga came 11 years after. He put me through hell in terms of the pregnancy. I hadn’t had any pregnancy that difficult. We lost our first child and 3 years later, Gbenga came.

When I attend weddings of young folks nowadays, I am usually upset by the sermon because having had the experience of my marriage and friends’ marriages too, I find it very irritating and annoying when pastors say, “Now, make sure you take care of your husbands.” I just wish they can make everything equal. They make it seem like the entire marriage is on the woman and that is wrong! I think putting the Lord in your marriage is the bottom line and both parties have their parts to play (50-50) and I would expect that when the pastor or priest is talking, they should sound that way.

There’s a lot of societal pressure that makes men not be themselves. A man should be allowed to be vulnerable, strong, supportive, sometimes challenged and needing somebody to help him through and he should also be there for the person as well. On a parting note, for those couples about to jump the broom, go ahead and do it! Go in and enjoy each other; enjoy every moment of your marriage.


I first featured Joke Silva and Olu Jacobs in the Nigeria Power Couples piece.

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  1. You mean I get to comment first?! Thats new!

    I love the candidness of this piece. I especially love the 'wedding sermon' part! How true. They really need to change the trend of sermons at wedding.
    Well done Joke Silva!

  2. So they did not separate eventually? I am so relieved. I cried reading about the renewal of vows. And 19 years difference! Wow.

  3. I love this couple! I love what she said about letting men be vulnerable i think the pressure to be a "man" starts from when they are young; Daddy is going away on business tells his 7 year old boy take care of mama and your sisters, who are much older than him. He is just a 7 year old boy how about "Mama will take care of you and your sisters till i get back"

  4. Awwww love'em . Its so beautiful when people dont mind being open and sincre about their relationships, encouraging and guiding others as they embark on new journies. I love her story!

    May God give us the wisdom to manage and enjoy our relationships.

  5. aww lovely couple. Love love Aunty Joke. Nna, that age difference is not a joke though

  6. candid....dts all i can say

  7. I enjoyed reading this...I think i know that song 'tumigbe'.

  8. she has said well

  9. Beautiful writing. They're an inspiration. :-)

  10. this is good. However we need more older, married Nigerian women to speak about their marriage, and counsel the younger ones.
    Its also not just the pastors fault, its the whole society. Im so glad that an older marred Nigerian woman talked about talked about this 50-50 issue because honestly if a younger woman brings this up they will say eleyi ti baje (this one is spoiled) or o ti wo movie oyinbo ju (you've watched to many oyinbo films. Some convos ive had with guys my age are so pathetic that im left the pray for their wives, or that they mature before they marry. the idea they have about women and marriage is so warped its disgusting and SOOO PRIDEFUL!! I think thats the main thing! Pride! We really need Jesus.

    Once again, i commend her vulnerability

  11. They 've always been the perfect couple that people love. I love them too, and really do Joke. She's got very warm and inviting personality. Like I know from her story, once a mother gives the go ahead, that marriage issue is settled.

  12. I loved the last paragraph, great article from Joke, not a lot of women are so open and honest.

  13. What an honest interview. Marriage is just too dynamic, anyone would agree. It works for people in different ways.

    1. You are so right. In general terms, we could pick guidelines from others, but specifically, we run our own show in our own unique way. What works for Mr&Mrs.A, could fail hopelessly, if Mr&Mrs.B try to apply it in their own relationship. Marriage is such a dynamic relationship, but then, so is life generally, lol.

    2. Wow d best couple i eva loved and respect. Love ur openess and vulnerability Joke. You are such a wonderful mother.

  14. “Now, make sure you take care of your husbands.” I just wish they can make everything equal. They make it seem like the entire marriage is on the woman and that is wrong! I think putting the Lord in your marriage is the bottom line and both parties have their parts to play (50-50) and I would expect that when the pastor or priest is talking, they should sound that way"

    I agree with this, but would also add that it is a 100-100 thing, not 50-50. When each person gives their own 100, the success of the relationship is guaranteed. Nice interview. Many lessons to be learned here for those who are aspiring to hit 26years in marriage and much more. Thanks for sharing Myne.

  15. Woow I love this piece. Av been pinning abt 8 years difference

  16. I admire Joke Silva very much. I remember those "Mirror in the Sun" days (a popular 80s soap opera in Naija back in the day).

    Definitely spot on: about marital responsibilities and male vulnerability. And with both points she nails exactly what is wrong with marriage and long term relationships in the modern age. Some men expect women to 'fix' whatever is wrong with the relationship and that's very much tied to their refusal to acknowledge their own vulnerability.

    Love Ms Silva's candidness about her marriage too. So real, this woman. Respect!

  17. I love her honesty. Thanks for this post, Myne.
    Happy New Year!

  18. I admire her very much. Great Woman with Great virtue!keep it up.


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