crusader, Charles Oputa a.k.a Charly Boy, and his south American born
wife, Diane, popularly known as Lady D, have remained, an item
after 35 years of marriage.Some critics believe their union is a
case of birds of a feather that flock together. But the couple have
a different opinion as they share the secrets of their marriage as well
as how they weathered the storms of cultural boundaries and still remain
as husband and wife.
Read their love story as told to Vanguard below:
I met my wife in 1974/1975 in a hair saloon in Boston, USA. I went to do
my hair there when I saw this beautiful lady with an overflowing hair.I
admired her beauty and decided I was going to invite her to a party
that never happened. She accepted my invitation and the party was just me and
her in my limousine and I asked my driver to drive us round town. While we were
cruising, we talked and that was how we started.
She has a child’s spirit; almost like shy. Also, she has the best figure I have
ever seen in a woman. Of course, she was pretty, but I think it was her spirit
that attracted me to her.
Love at first sight
No, it wasn’t. I was looking forward to coming back home and settling down. It
wasn’t much of love at first sight than more of companionship at a time.
Yes, I was prepared to settle down before I met her. I had been married
twice or thrice but it didn’t work out for me. I was leaving one relationship
when I met her. More or less, she was filling the gap kind of a thing.
Marrying a woman from another
She comes from the southern part of America. They are more inclined to
the homeliness kind of thing. She didn’t have any problem readjusting after
all, we started from the village. When I returned to the country,
and completed my youth service, I had problem with my parents because they
didn’t support what I wanted to do for myself.
them. That was how I relocated to the village to put myself together. I started
the Charly Boy brand in the village and she was with me for about eight years
there before we moved to Lagos. So, I think I’m a lucky bastard.
My parents’ reaction
My parents had met her several times in Boston. I didn’t know she was going to
be my wife. I wanted to marry a Nigerian and not an American. But she was
all over me, and when I wanted to return to Nigeria in 1980/1981, she
bought her own ticket under the guise that she was coming to spend two
weeks in Nigeria, only for her to end up spending six months.
should go back to her country to give me chance to look for a wife. She was
supposed to book for a ticket to return to America. One day, she woke up and
said to me: “Marry me or I will never come back to Nigeria.” That was how I was
intimidated into marrying her. I didn’t propose to her, rather she was the one
who proposed to me. That ‘s why I said I was intimidated into marrying
35 years after
It’s like a moving coaster. We have had our low as well as our high moments.
Sometimes, it’s good, at other times, it’s averagely good. We have had
our issues, but, above every other thing, I think we have great understanding
and respect for each other; love and trust for each other. Also, we were
willing to work out anything that will keep us together. That’s why I think we
have come this far.
Strength of our marriage
Great understanding, mutual respect and a lot of communication.
These days, I really don’t hang out. In fact, I don’t have a social life
any more. At 7 pm, I’m already in my bed. My house is like a castle. We
have done all the going out in the past, but that does not mean that we should
stop going out. That’s why every six months, we try to come up with an idea
just to keep abreast of time. Like I said, we are determined to make our
marriage work and to find ways that we can keep reinventing ourselves
and keeping our interests in each other going.
What I don’t like about her is the thing I like about her. She is like a child,
she’s so innocent and naïve. I keep being afraid, if I’m not around, who
protects her. Sometimes I quarrel with her that she’s too trusting.
That innocence, I think I have a lot of that in me, that’s why I have always
remained a boy. You know, children are open-minded about a lot of things.
want to be like that boy, I just want to play. That’s the spirit
that attracted me to her. That’s the same spirit I wish I could change in her
because Nigeria is a very treacherous place and one needs to be very
Following the deep friendship that we share, I can almost do anything for her.
She has become my baby, my angel and my best friend ever. I don’t
even see her as a wife, rather I see her as my body.
I don’t think most couples respect themselves. And if there is no respect,
there will be no understanding.But in a marriage where there is respect and
understanding, the couple will approach any problem that comes their way with
that kind of mindset. If I do something that is out of order, I quickly
apologise to my wife. For longevity in marriage, there should be great
friendship, understanding and a lot of communication and determination to want
to stick to it and make it work.
man, I probably wouldn’t have been in Nigeria — Wife
Sometimes, I wonder if it is really up to 35 years. Maybe it’s because one is
just enjoying the ride. When you are comfortable and you do the things
you like to do and you are around people that you enjoy, you wouldn’t just
realize when time is going by. But it is going by because I see my children in
college graduating with first degrees, definitely something is changing around
me. It is a long journey and we have had ups and downs within the 36 years that
we have been together. But we are happy together. A lot of couples haven’t got
that far-we are really privileged.
Companionship. Like I said, all couples have their ups and downs but we have
been able to sort things out by ourselves. Also, we communicate a lot. Talking
is a key thing in any relationship and we always point this out anytime we are
interviewed. Honesty and agreement are also important. We strive to make things
good for ourselves and our extended family including our children and parents.
We look beyond just ourselves.
I guess it is just the small things that every couple experiences in a
relationship. It may be disagreement in raising the kids among others. I also
have step children to look after. The bottom-line is the resolve by both of us
to make the relationship work.
I have seven kids altogether out of which three are mine biologically, the rest
are step children. We are all very close. We reprimand those who are not doing
well and commend those who are doing well. We try and work with them and they
know they have our love as parents. They don’t really look at me as their step
mum and that is how I have always wanted it to be. They all call me
by my first name.
appellation ‘Ma’ for me. It hurts me. One of my step children came to Nigeria
some years back and when he saw me he was overwhelmed. He never knew that a
step mother could have such a positive influence on one’s life.
With regards to coming to Nigeria, I don’t think I would have changed anything.
But I think if someone had told me that I would come and live in Nigeria and
have kids here, I would have told whoever the person is that it was not
possible. The first time I came to Nigeria, I wanted to stay for three months
but I ended up staying for nine months. So, it’s not about the country but the
person who brought me to Nigeria. I don’t want to brag but I am grateful to God
for my relationship.
From the beginning, meeting Charles was different because he was a Nigerian. I
have never really gone out with a Nigerian. I have a lot of American boyfriends
but not a Nigerian. I really wanted to know much about a Nigerian man and his
culture and people. That was what really intrigued me.
He takes care of his family very well. If he had not proven to be a family man,
I probably would not have been in Nigeria in the first place. He has been a
good husband and father to his children.
I think they have to first get it right from the start. I think dating is very
important. You need to know what you want to get yourself into. For women, it
is not because the clock is ticking and for men, it is not about what you have.
But you need to know the person you want to spend your life with before you
commit yourself. We make mistakes but people have to be careful. One of the
things that work for me and my husband is that he is not a typically and
culturally Nigerian man, maybe it is because of his exposure.