Visually impaired award-winning producer and songwriter, Cobhams Asuquo has been married to Ojuolape for four years. In this chat, the couple talk about their marriage and its peculiarities
How long have you known each other?
Cobhams: I have known her for about 13 years and still counting.
Ojuola: We met in 2001 but we didn’t start dating until 2009. I was 18 years old and about to go to college in the United States of America when our paths crossed.
Were you searching for love at the time you met?
Cobhams: I wasn’t searching for love when we met for the first time. I told her that I liked her but she did not think I meant what I said; maybe she felt I was just another fellow. We were both fresh out of high school and about to get into the university. When I realised she did not think I was sincere, I went into other relationships where I did not find fulfillment. I decided to come back to her and it was a hard chase. I told her I was going to be a rich miserable bachelor if she didn’t accept to date me. I told her my mind was made up and I wasn’t going to marry someone else if she didn’t accept my proposal. I had to exercise a lot of patience until she had my time.
Why did you not give in easily to his proposal?
Ojuola: When we met, I wasn’t ready to date; I just wanted to be his friend.He was and still is that brother I never had. He was my best friend and as the years went by, we maintained our friendship even though I was in the US and he was in Lagos. Over the years, I soon realised my heart was drawn towards him and he resumed the chase. Like he said, he went into other relationships. Eventually, we decided to date and later got married.
How did you propose to her?
Cobhams: I did it the conventional way; I went on my knees, asked her to marry me and slipped the ring on her finger.
Did you nurse any fears that she might turn down your proposal?
Cobhams: Yes, I was scared because I wasn’t too sure of her response. When you are really in love, you don’t walk around thinking because you are the man, a woman would readily want to get married to you.
What gave you the conviction that you had fallen in love with her?
Cobhams: I had known her for years and we had been very good friends. We had laughed and cried together because we have a strong relationship. She had the character traits I loved and admired; she is kind, honest and blunt about any situation in a way that quite a lot of women I knew at that time were not.
Ojuola: I think our friendship contributed to the foundation of our marriage. We are first and foremost best friends who feel a certain ease to tell each other certain things especially difficult things. When you marry your best friend and gist partner, you can’t really fight with each other for too long. You have to make up because you would have no one to gist with. That is one of the things that makes marriage rosy.
How did your parents react when you decided to get married?
Cobhams: My father is late but my mother was excited. My family members were majorly concerned about the person I would get married to. They fell in love with her when they met her. It was so easy and we had no opposition whatsoever save for the obvious and usual concerns: would she be able to cope and what is it like marrying a blind person. She was asked all the right questions but not in form of any opposition.
Ojuola: I didn’t receive negative comments from family and friends because he (Cobhams) had been a big part of my life for so long. Even though he was just my friend, most of my friends knew him. We were friends for eight years before we started dating, so obviously in that time, he had become acquainted with my friends and family .When we started dating, they were happy and excited to know he was my boyfriend. They loved him because he was more like a family member. My close family members had a heart-to-heart chat with me. They wanted to know if I knew what I was getting into and if I was sure I would cope.
Did you find the first few years of marriage challenging?
Cobhams: No, it wasn’t applicable to us but we do have our downtimes; we disagree but our marriage has been nothing short of a fairy tale. We love each other and go through good and hard times together. We are friends and there is nothing we can’t talk through or deal with. We have enjoyed the first few years of our marriage because our friendship has not changed.
How would you describe your spouse?
Ojuola: He is quite romantic, caring and an amazing husband. He does things consistently and takes life from an optimistic standpoint. He has come to terms with how he lives his life and how he wants it to be. He accepts himself and others for who they are. He doesn’t live in the past, he embraces all and makes the best of all that life brings to him.
Cobhams: She is imperfectly perfect.
You are Efik and she is Yoruba…
Cobhams: My wife and I are open-minded persons and do not do things based on tribal differences. As far as we are concerned, we are both from one tribe and speak one language, which is the language of love. We show concern and empathy to other people. In marriage, you define your own language and we are excited that we are from different tribes. We hope our children can learn to speak our languages.
Do you sometimes wish you could regain your sight even for a day?
Cobhams: Yes, I would love to regain my sight even if it is for one day just to see my wife’s face. That is one of the things that would make her happy.
Do you ever wish he had his sight just to see what you look like?
Ojuola: No, I don’t and I have never wanted him to have his sight for the reason you mentioned. If I ever want him to have his sight, it is because I wish he can see more of everyday things. For instance, if I am narrating an incident to him or if there is something really nice I want to show him, at times like that I wish he could see. Because he is my gist partner, I often wish he can see the expression on my face when we are talking.
Is it easy to hide any secrets from your wife?
Cobhams: No, it’s not. Whenever I have a phone conversation with anybody, chances are I would tell her everything we talked about. We probe each other and sometimes I find it annoying.
Ojuola: I always look out for him. For instance, even though he can operate the Automated Teller Machine all by himself, I assist him by standing behind him.
What do you admire most about your spouse?
Cobhams: I like the fact that she speaks the truth at all times. She is a reasonable person and a good cook.
Ojuola: With him, what you see is what you get. He is diplomatic, courteous, generous, kind hearted and peace loving.
What hobbies do you both have in common?
Cobhams: We both like ‘fresh gist’ but we don’t talk about other people. We both like reading, movies, and food; I like food more than she does. When we were dating, we used to eat all the time.
What lessons has marriage taught you?
Cobhams: Marriage has taught me that love is not just a feeling and it is not just about sparks flying all over the place or how you feel at a particular point in time. Love is consistency; commitment, sacrifice and doing the things you say you will do when you say you will do them. It has taught me that responsibility doesn’t just exist in the mind and that you have to be responsible for your wife and children. It has taught me that I have a definite role to play in life and I have to protect my family. I have learnt to put them first before me.
How involved are you in his business?
Ojuola: I used to be fully involved in his business but right now, I only consult and play an advisory role. I am currently running my own business and I am also in school.
How do you keep the passion alive in your marriage?
Cobhams: We spend a lot of time together and because we do not work nine to five, we are part of each other’s lives; she is part of my work and vice versa. Her school project keeps us talking. We always have something to talk about and we are never bored when we are together. Whenever I travel and find something I like; say a perfume, I get it for her. She recently initiated an impromptu date; we were returning from church and she suggested we stop over at Starbucks to have coffee and hot chocolate. While sipping our beverages, we talked about a lot of things. Because my work requires a lot of travel, it allows me miss her and she misses me too. Whenever I return from my trip, we are excited.
How do you handle female fans?
Cobhams: I am fortunate in that regard and it also depends on how you carry yourself. People will always want to cross the boundary hence the need for an indicator that you can’t cross it. You just have to be daring to want to go from being someone I relate with to someone who wants to cross the boundary. My wife is involved in just about everything I do and that is great. A lot of people know I am happily married and I talk about my wife openly. Women are always looking for something more but when it is clear that its not possible, they become more hesitant to start a relationship or cross the boundary.
Who is first to apologise after an argument?
Ojuola: I don’t think there is a trend. There is a freedom to apologise and there is always an atmosphere for reconciliation. Once you recognise you are wrong, you apologise. Arguments are simply just misunderstandings or a result of expectations that are not being met . We talk a lot and moreover Cobhams isn’t stubborn.
He is very diplomatic, courteous, generous and a kind-hearted fellow.He doesn’t like conflict but he might keep certain things to himself. If he is upset with you, you wouldn’t know because he won’t lash out or talk back at you. People might not know this but if you offend him, you won’t hear from him again.
Do you run a joint account?
Cobhams: We have individual and joint accounts and I can’t remember whose idea it was.
Do you help out with domestic chores?
Cobhams: Yes, I do and it also depends largely on where we are. In Nigeria, there is really not so much for me to do because we have people help out; we have a driver, chef and steward. I am the handy man; I try to fix things around in the house. I help with preparing our son for school. I bathe him, dress him up and watch over him, when she has classes or is out hanging out with friends. I generally ensure sure the house runs because its my responsibility and I make sure the generator is in a good working condition because I am a good house husband. But because America is a land of ‘do it yourself’, I take out the trash myself whenever we are there.
Ojuola: We do a lot of things together. He is very helpful, and supportive. We live our lives as a couple. He carries our son, bathes him and puts him to bed. He is a hands-on dad.
Any advice to married celebrities?
Cobhams: Treasure your partner and commit to building the relationship because when you come home, you are a father, husband, worker, domestic employee and so much more. You are not the celebrity or star.
Ojuola: Live your lives guard your marriage jealously and have your sacred place. With social media, it’s easy for everybody to know all about you but there is a certain part of life you need to guard and keep sacred.