Partners advice on relationships

FAMILY MATTERS: Claudine and Jerry Mofokeng, who are relationship consultants, at their home in Observatory, Johannesburg. PHOTO: MOHAU MOFOKENG
FAMILY MATTERS: Claudine and Jerry Mofokeng, who are relationship consultants, at their home in Observatory, Johannesburg. PHOTO: MOHAU MOFOKENG

Power couple Jerry and Claudine Mofokeng know what they are preaching about when they dispense advice to listeners in Kaya FM's Home with Mapaseka Mokwele slot - and when they reveal to Sowetan the challenges of their own family.

When well-known actor Mofokeng met Claudine at her home while visiting her brother in August 1978 it was love at first sight.

"I thought to myself this is nonsense; there is no such thing as love at first sight. But the more I tried to pour water on the fire the more I felt like I was adding petrol," Mofokeng said sharing the love story of how they met.

The pair started dating in January 1979 and got married a year later in June. They are now in their mid-50s and have five children (Tsakane, Palesa, Lerato, Mpho and Mosa).

When Sowetan interviewed the couple at their Observatory home in Johannesburg they were joking around like old school friends.

This year the couple celebrates 32 years of marriage and they still find love, comfort and great companionship in each other's presence.

Their successful love story has prompted them to share their experience and expertise of love and marriage with the world. It is through their seminars and the regular Wednesday Kaya FM slot of their show Family Matters that they have earned their titles as marriage counsellors and relationship consultants.

"Back then courtship was taken seriously. You would stand back and learn about this person (your partner) and still be given room to walk away if it was not working. But nowadays couples get too close too soon and find it difficult to walk away," Claudine said.

The couple shared the challenges they have had to contend with as parents.

Their first child, Tsakane, is 30 with two children and has recently separated from the mother of his kids. Palesa, 28, their second child, has a kindergarten-going child but has had challenges with the child's father regarding parenting differences, their 26-year-old son Lerato has recently happily tied the knot, and the last born, Mosa, 19, wrote her Grade 12 pregnant last year and had the family in emotional turmoil.

The couple said they had always had an honest and open relationship with their children. "Our family has what we call a family altar where we pray and talk about anything," said Mofokeng.

Claudine recalled how young Mpho one day came back from pre-school to tell them about the birds and the bees' lesson she got from her teacher.

"I have always tried to create that freedom for my children to tell me 'I think I have fallen in love' but that doesn't mean all our kids got it right, though," added Mofokeng.

These types of dilemmas have served as a learning curve to the couple and also helped inspire them when dealing with their troubled clients.

Communication, respect and understanding your partner are some of the factors that the relationship experts swear by when advising other couples.

"There is an African proverb that says when your husband is angry you should put cold water under your tongue then wait for it to settle down", shared Mofokeng, on his wisdom about dealing with conflict in a marriage.

"This simply means don't answer him back, just let there be one normal person in the situation. Women should learn not to fight a man like a man because you will win the battle but lose the man," he advised.

The Mofokengs have also created an interactive platform on Facebook to dispense relationship advice.

"Our age and the fact that we are black has given us an advantage. People often cringe at first but ease in and feel comfortable as they can relate to us."

The couple see at least three couples in a week.

"The biggest issue we are dealing with right now is infidelity. Women are scared to go back to their cheating lovers but end up reconciling in the end, while men in the same situation will remain livid and for many there is no turning back," Claudine said.

  • This article was first published in the printed newspaper on 15 November 2012