Sun2surf.com, 6 December 2004
|Joe Hasham & Faridah Merican|
Keeping a marriage alive is a tough job, especially for entertainers who have to contend with living in the glare of the public's eye.
Temptations abound to drive a couple apart. Even the most loving of marriages can fall prey to the pressure of fame and success as well as failure and disappointments.
But two theatre personalities seem to be bucking the trend. Director Joe Hasham and actress-cum-director Faridah Merican have been married for the past 15 years and look set to stay that way for many more years to come.
The two, who run the most successful theatre company in the country, The Actors Studio, have been married before and each knows personally the many pitfalls that can trip the unwary into divorce or regrets.
"I don't think there is a standard formula to a successful marriage," says Joe. "But in our marriage, there is mutual respect for each other. We didn't come into into this marriage with our eyes closed."?
He adds that this being both their second marriage was a huge advantage. "We have probably made most of our mistakes in our first marriage. I believe we are the wiser the second time around."
Joe was married for 14 years and had two children before his first marriage ended in divorce.
Faridah's first marriage lasted less than three years. Because of that, she admits to being sceptical about marrying Joe. "I was a single mother for 20 years and was pretty much happy with my status," she says. Her son by then was all grown up.
The two first met when both were in the advertising industry. It took Joe more than two years to get Faridah to go out for their first date.??
"We hardly touched our food as we were too busy talking," Faridah remembers about that first date. "In fact, the head captain asked whether something was wrong with our food."?
They dated for some three years before she agreed to marry him in 1989. "Joe was such a charmer and I found it difficult to say no," Faridah recalls with a laugh.
"What really made me agree was when he vowed to look after me when I am 60 ... when I am old and grey. Well, I am 65 now and he is still here looking after me."
Faridah is nine years older than Joe but that didn't stop him from pursuing her. "I have a history of liking older woman," the 56-year-old director says. "Age is immaterial to me. I was attracted to Faridah before even meeting her. I saw her reading the news."
Faridah also does not see their age difference as a big thing. "Recently, I was watching a TV programme on the Prophet Muhammad which stated he had also married an older woman," she says. "If the Prophet can do it, why not mere mortals?"?
To Joe, Faridah is a woman with many qualities he admires. "She is a strong woman and has a mind of her own. She says what is on her mind. I dislike women who just agree with whatever a man says."
What does Faridah like about Joe? "Joe is a charmer, humorous and a man with lots of patience," she says. "Sometimes that is not good because he allows people to walk all over him."
But she adds that the best thing about Joe is that he never fails to tell her he loves her at least twice a day. At that, Joe gives her a kiss on her head.
As for their professional relationship, they dismiss any notion of rivalry between them. "There is no jealousy where our careers are concerned," says Joe.
Chips in Faridah: "We have always been supportive of each other's work. He always encourages me to direct and I always involve him in all my work."
Yet, this veteran performer admits to being jealous of his former girlfriends in the early days of their marriage.
"Luckily, that didn't last long. When I compare myself to his past girlfriends, there is no comparison," she says with a laugh.
As to the secret behind their 15 years of marriage, Joe says: "We argue a lot and that is part of our successful marriage." Faridah agrees. "In that way, we don't have pent-up feelings waiting to explode."? -- Bissme S.