A former Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Femi Pedro and his wife, Justice Jumoke, talk about their marriage with MOTUNRAYO JOEL.
You have been married for 33 years. What is the secret of your union?
Femi: We give God the glory but more importantly, the secret lies with the type of personality and character my wife possesses. She is extremely patient, very resilient and bestowed with tremendous wisdom, even at a young age. She was only 25 years old when we got married but she had the wisdom and maturity of a 40 year-old. Because of her, it was easier to navigate through the challenging early years of marriage. We got married on February 5, 1983. That’s almost 34 years ago.
How did you meet your wife?
Femi: She came to visit her friend whose house was opposite our family house. I had just completed my A-level at the time and waiting for admission into the university. She was preparing for her A-level. I was 19 and she was 16. That was in 1974; 42 years ago.
Would you describe your relationship as love at first sight?
Jumoke: Yes, certainly. I spotted my husband for the first time when I visited a friend of mine. I saw this tall, dark and handsome guy in a bright red shirt and I fell instantly in love with him. I was enthralled when he approached me and introduced himself. I had butterflies in my stomach.
What made you fall in love with each other?
Femi: I just loved her humility, elegance, and intelligence. She is dark, beautiful, tall, elegant and sexy but shy. I fell for her almost immediately.
Jumoke: I fell in love with his good looks, gentlemanliness and character.
Do you still the qualities that initially attracted you in her?
Femi: Yes, she still possesses most of them and more.
How did the relationship progress into marriage?
Femi: We got married when both of us had a young but promising career. I was 28 years old just starting a career in banking, while she was a 25-year-old fresh lawyer. Both of us were very ambitious but she was able to manage her career such that our marriage was strengthened. We had our first child that same year.
Did you accept his proposal immediately?
Jumoke: Yes I did. Immediately he proposed I said ‘yes, yes, yes.’ I was so excited.
When did you realise you wanted to spend the rest of your life with him?
Jumoke: The day I met him. I had no doubt that he was the man of my dreams, but I did not tell him then. I just knew in my heart that this he was the man I would rather spend the rest of my life with.
How do you feel about your spouse now compared with when you first met?
Jumoke: In some ways, he is still the same great guy I married. However, in other ways, he has changed. In a society where some women only go after men of means and power, it is not unexpected that women will try to flock around him but he has handled this very well and I am proud of him. One thing is that he cares about his family and tries to shield us from external forces. God has been good to us. I am truly blessed to have him as my husband.
Did her family welcome you with open arms the first time you met them?
Femi: Yes, she had a great dad and a very loving mum. Both accepted me with open arms and never discouraged us from getting married.
What is the most memorable moment of your union?
Jumoke: It was when we had our first child. That way was the most memorable, joyous and wonderful.
What do you think has strengthened your marriage till date?
Femi: I have a lovely wife who is very caring, patient and understanding. She takes good care of me and handles all my private affairs. She is very tolerant and respectful. We love each other and protect one another. I consider myself blessed.
Loving each other unconditionally and communicating very well with each other are our strengths. My wife is my best friend and confidant. We share the same faith and try to be close to our God. We pray together as a couple. We try to manage our conflicts without allowing third party interference. No matter how busy we are, we make it a priority to spend time with each other. God has brought us through life changing experiences. Our trials and triumphs have drawn us closer to each other.
Jumoke: I am truly blessed to have an understanding, affectionate and devoted husband who is also a wonderful father to our four children. He loves his family unconditionally and creates time for us.
What are some of the favourite things you do together?
Jumoke: Traveling, listening to music, dinning, and watching movies.
How do you handle the attention that comes with being married to a personality like Femi Pedro?
Jumoke: It is a privilege and an honour to be married to such a man and I am grateful to God for giving us that opportunity. I was once a magistrate, a Chief Registrar of a High Court before being appointed as a High Court Judge. I saw his elevation as a call to serve the people. By the grace of God, I have handled the attention that comes with it very well by being level-headed and supportive.
How do you keep your romance alive?
Jumoke: I always look good and do those things that attracted him to me in the first instance. We have our dates when we go out for dinner. We also go to the cinema. Being intimate, caring and affectionate to each other also keeps our marriage alive. We try to renew our marriage vows from time to time and remain committed to each other.
What is the most valuable gift you bought your wife?
Femi: I bought her a BMW SUV once; she loved it.
Who is the first to apologise after a quarrel?
Femi: I am, always in fact.
Jumoke: No one is perfect, whenever I am wrong, I apologise first.
How do you handle disagreements?
Femi: When I am wrong I apologise and when she is wrong I apologise. I learnt this long time ago that the best way to foster a lasting peace in a marriage is to avoid unhealthy arguments, anger and malice. Just say ‘sorry darling’ and move on even if you think your spouse has wronged you.
Jumoke: Conflict in marriage is bound to arise. The most important thing is being able to resolve the conflict. Whenever there is disagreement, we do not allow it linger but we find a way to discuss our differences as mature adults and arrive at a compromise. Sometimes, we settle immediately and other times, it takes longer but the key thing is the ability to communicate with each other and resolve the issue.
Do you have joint accounts?
Femi: No, mainly because it is really not necessary. We hardly have disagreements on financial matters, maybe because both of us have been working for a long time. My wife takes good care of herself and does not bother me.
How financially ready were you before marriage?
Femi: We were both working before we got married. We jointly pooled our resources together to rent our first apartment, finance part of our wedding expenses and furnish our apartment. I took a car loan from my employer to buy our first car which we used jointly even before we got married.
How do you share household chores?
Jumoke: I have always been a homely person and I love to cook, decorate the home and keep a clean, neat environment. When my kids were young, I always ensured they were well taken care of and that they did their school works. They are all grown-up men now and have turned out to be well-behaved. I am very proud of them. My husband loves to cook but as a matter of principle, I do not allow him to cook. One time, when I was ill, my husband made breakfast for me which I loved. But generally, he handles only technical, financial matters and helps keep things working well in the house. He provides for the family and ensures that there is peace at home.
Who is the better cook?
Femi: She is. She taught me how to cook but she never allowed me to cook.
Jumoke: I am a good cook; I love to cook delicious dishes for my family despite my tight work schedule. I do not allow our cook handle his meals whenever I am around.
Are there couples you look up to?
Femi: Yes, my former boss, Otunba Michael Olasubomi Balogun and Olori Abimbola Balogun. They are a model couple. They have been married for over 40 years and are always together publicly, elegantly dressed in matching attire.
I also admire my Pastor, Wale Adefarasin and his wife, Pastor Laolu Adefarasin. They are also a model couple, always together in and out of church.
Is love the only ingredient needed for a successful marriage?
Jumoke: Love is just one of the ingredients. I believe having God as the centrepiece of our lives is the most important ingredient for a successful marriage. It is only from him that one gets the wisdom and grace to handle challenges in marriage.