Chinyere Ukoha (real name withheld), looked forward to getting married after undergoing the compulsory one year national youth service programme three years ago. Eventually, she met a young man who took her to the altar and eleven months into the marriage, she had a baby girl.
But for inexplicable reason, the relationship between the once happy couple turned sour just four months after the arrival of the baby. One thing led to another, and before one could say ‘Jack Robinson,’ the marriage had broken down irretrievably.
It is trite to say we live in an era of marriages collapsing like a pack of cards. What can today’s couples do to make their unions last till death do them part? Kalu Igwe Kalu, a marriage counsellor, gives some tips.
In our society today, there are several young women in the mould of Chinyere. Our customary courts today have registers filled with applications for dissolution of marriages that have hit the rocks. And although there are no realiable statistics on the phenomenon, the courts have dissolve quite a number of frosty marriages in recent times.
What could be the reason for the increasing number of broken marriages in the country today? At a recent forum in Lagos, lawyers olinked rising divorce cases to intolerance, infidelity and wife battering.
Regardless, marriage is viewed in several climes and cultures as a sacred institution that must be kept intact irrespective of the problems arising from the relationship between couples.
Indeed, there is a groundswell of opinion that the rising cases of armed robbery, prostitution and other social vices in the country are partly due to the increasing number of broken marriages, since children from such homes are subjected to inadequate parental care.
And, apparently to stem the tide of broken marriages, KaluIgwe Kalu, a marriage counsellor, writer, public speaker, and economist, recently organised a seminar with the theme, ‘Marriage is Beautiful Couples Banquet’ in Aba, Abia State.
The seminar dwelt on steps to make marriages enjoyable and successful. Kalu described marriage as “beautiful” as well as “a gift from God,” noting that a beautiful marriage is not achieved in one fell swoop. Rather, it takes a gradual process.
He said during the early stages of marriage, the husband and wife are attracted to each other, but submitted that with the passage of time, the bond that holds the couple together may start waning.
“This is when marriages begin to come under severe attacks, and if care is not taken disintegration sets in”, he said.
Nevertheless, Kalu stressed that marriages could be sustained as long as the couples are physically attached to one another.
His words: “Couples should always develop the habit of touching each other… studies have shown that couples that touch themselves more frequently do better than those who do not’’.
He counselled couples to see their bodies as joint possessions, and to always give love and gifts to one another.
He said: “Marriage is where you give and not just receive ….start the giving and your spouse will reciprocate. As you give, you begin to receive. “Whatever you give your wife is what you get from her. If you give her love, she will submit to you.
“You should date your wife as you did before you got married to her. This will bring freshness reminiscent of those days of courtship... Also, take her out to a nice eatery you can afford or on a picnic for a two-hour talk. Get engaged in discussions and you will be surprised how both of you would be flowing.
“Spouses must recognise and appreciate each other, which may involve discovering and developing common interests and values, finding perspectives, creating shared expectations and life time smart goals as conflicting values, standards, morals and ethics may not allow the beauty of marriage to manifest.
“In situations where there are conflicts, you just need to work on your differences and arrive at a compromise. Either of you have the right not to agree on everything, but you have to feel safe to be yourself - holding on to your own values and ideals without threat”
Kalu advised couples to come to a level in their martial life where they will have common interests as well as know each other’s tastes in music, clothing, food, art and many other issues of life.
The marriage counsellor stated: “It is possible to come to this level of marital beauty as it is absolutely an awesome experience… Appreciation in marriage is a beautiful lifestyle of holding one’s spouse in high esteem. It is necessary to understand what your partner enjoys; the type of stories he or she likes. What is it that he or she enjoys that you don’t?
“What is his or her attitude to sex? Does he or she enjoy long foreplay, adventure and sensual love-making? The ability of one to answer these questions will help in the showing of appreciation in marriage.”
He stated that the ability of a man to tell his wife that “you are beautiful”, has the potency of making marriage beautiful. “It is one word one says that makes a whole world of difference in a woman’s world”, said Kalu.
According to him, “husband and wife who see and appreciate each other’s beauty; couples who don’t just internalise their appreciation of each other’s beauty but voice it out experience the beauty in marriage more.
“Another thing that makes marriage beautiful is the ability to say sorry. There is nobody that does not make mistakes. When we wrong our partners, saying ‘sorry’ can open up the room for conversation that will eventually lead to a resolution. In a beautiful marriage, no spouse waits for the other to be the first to say ‘I am sorry’. A beautiful marriage is a place for givers and forgivers.
“Express your love verbally to your wife. I love you is a statement you cannot say enough to your spouse. Women especially, never get bored hearing ‘I love you’ from their spouse as if it is a creed in marriage. “Love your wife man, love your husband woman. When you say I love you, you should mean it.”
Kalu described sexual connection as an important ingredient of a beautiful marriage. However, he regretted that most couples have remained extremely conservative, making it difficult to discuss sexual matters, even where it affects their personal sexual enjoyment.
According to the marriage counsellor, the seminar will be held in Aba on a monthly basis, and would be mounted in Abuja in September.