interviewBy Anthony Ada Abraham
Recently, the news of their second honeymoon went viral in the social media, a clear indication that the two lovebirds have continued to renew their love at each passing day. Many were equally shocked when Charlyboy's letter to her hit the internet. It was amazing that one of the most eccentric African artists could be that romantic with his words. Lady Diane in this interview with ANTHONY ADA ABRAHAM disclosed several hidden treasures behind the success of her 36-year marriage to Charlyboy.
What does a day like this mean to you and your soul mate? Is there anything special planned?
The truth is, Val day has been so commercialised that people forget that love should be expressed all year round, extending this to family, friends, and the less privileged. Charles doesn't believe there should be just one day to show love. We are going to have an amazing and quiet time together with the family, after which I will give him a present.
What attracted you to him when you first met?
His uniqueness of course, and the fact that he is a gentle man, very sensitive, passionate, loving and a giving person. I must also add intriguing and adventurous because that was the first thing I noticed about him.
It is believed that many people have problems deciding their life partners, how did you know he was the one and why did you agree to marry him?
I dated Charles for a few years before I proposed to him to marry me, else I would leave. He was getting too comfortable with just dating me because marriage wasn't really on his mind. You know, he hasn't been lucky in that department. During my first visit to Naija, I met his wonderful family and it was clear he was coming from a very strict Christian background.
His family was a very spiritual one with high sense of morality and values, there was no way some of that wouldn't have robbed off on Charles. I just fell in love with him and his family. Since then, they have been ever so kind and loving to me. I just thank God.
People say there is a whole lot of difference between courting and marriage; did you experience that in yours?
If people are saying that, then they are right. There is a big difference between courting and marriage. As boyfriend and girlfriend, you don't have much responsibilities, you stay just focused on each other. After marriage, comes a lot of responsibilities, children, in-laws, income, bills and a lot more.
Marriage is a time to take charge and be serious; it is no longer a play thing. But if you have managed to be friends during courtship years, it makes the journey a bit easier. Courtship is playful, marriage is serious business. That is just the simple truth.
Has your trust for him ever wobbled, like maybe he was unfaithful?
As entertainers at the early stages, it wasn't easy but as time passed by I began to see things for what they really are. Because we are always in the limelight, we attract all sorts of people, but experience will always teach us how to deal with things. Charles is not lacking in that area.
Well, my trust for him may have wobbled in our first few years but I have long since figured out where his mind, soul and head is and I am comfortable with that knowledge.
Have you ever feared he will leave you considering his history?
I have been most lucky in all of this, considering that I am coming from miles away, no brothers, no sisters, no family, except the Oputas and my friend Charles who sometimes fills in as a brother I never had. Yes, it could be scary sometimes, but for some reason those thoughts never took over my mind.
You have been together for 36-years what's the secret behind your bond?
Charles is my best friend, our friendship came before marriage. I sure don't have all the answers. What even works for me may not work for you, but what I do know is that, we are two individuals determined to make our relationship work. We talk a lot in our marriage, Charles is the first to say sorry when he goofs.
He is so sensitive when it comes to my feelings, but above all, I think we are just two very good friends who have refused to grow up and who have sworn to watch out for one another.
Be sincere, have you ever woken up and felt you were done with the whole thing? Don't you get tired and bored sometimes?
Being fulfilled in one's marriage is guaranteed when your spouse is supportive, understanding, and sensitive to your feeling, always looking for creative ways to keep the spark in the marriage. I will just say that I am lucky and I thank God for that. No regrets.
I don't mean to get to your bedroom but is there still romance in your relationship?
Does your husband still look at you the way he did thirty six years ago? Is he fondly?
Charles is an unrepentant romantic person, even though he hides that part of himself from public. He knows that I love romance and often makes the plan for such rendezvous. Being married for over three decades can become boring if you don't work at it. We sure work at it because for us, this is it. That is why we try to keep it as youthful and fresh as we can. It is not easy ooo but we are determined.
Has anything changed from when you first loved him and this long period of thirty-six years?
Life is always changing, nothing stays the same. We inspire growth in our relationship. He is like a fine wine, tasteful with age.
I know every couple have their fights and quarrels! How have you managed to stay close after those cold moments?
Disagreement is healthy, so long as you know when to say you're sorry and move on. That is one thing about Charles, when he goofs he apologises and if I goof I do same and we work on getting better. We are always talking in our friendship, so it is easy for us to correct and adjust where necessary.
What would you say you love most about your hubby?
I love the fact that he is very protective of his family. It is everything to him and from inception, he never allows outside influences to interfere. He is indeed domesticated, he respects our friendship and works at it, and he is a good man. I am just lucky because I have seen things and heard how bad things happen to good people.
What is your view on couples taking advice from people outside their homes? Should all issues be solved by couples alone or can they use outside help?
Well, it depends, as long as you take the advice that can help build on your relationship. For Charles and me, we sort things out ourselves because we talk, sometimes when we go through our own bad times, even our kids in the house don't even know anything is amiss, this is how it has worked for us.
Do you have pet name you call each other? Can you tell us?
Sure we do have pet names, my pet name for Charles is Sweetthang, and he could be so adorable most of the time, a very passionate man. What he calls me, I make a reserve.
If life was to give you another chance or another dance, will you choose the same dance partner? Would you love, cherish and marry the same man?
Over and over and over again; why change a good thing?
Do you still remember and celebrate birthdays, wedding or other anniversaries?
Of course, Charles knows how to sweep me off my feet, he knows how to woo me with very outlandish surprises, and the latest was my birthday. I feel special most of the time. I dey try too.
With all the controversies surrounding your husband, how do you deal with it because you can't say it doesn't get through to you sometimes?
If by now one is not used to that, then that person might have a big problem. I am part of that creation called Charlyboy, so I of all people should know. Sometimes it gets a bit too much, but I have learnt to live with it. Nobody can know Charles, people see Charlyboy, but I see Mr Oputa , my husband and friend.
Do you feel fulfilled after 36 years of marriage?
I just thank God, I have been blessed coming to Africa, being married to the Oputas, I am happy and at rest.
What will you advise those out there to look out for or hold on to if their relationship must last as long as yours?
They must have mutual respect, love and friendship.