LIFE&LOVE

Secrets of the heart

In times gone by, in the real traditional African setting, it was the responsibility of parents to find suitors for their children. Marriage was considered a very important institution, a lifelong contract all things being equal. Families on both sides conducted investigations on the intending partners and even their family members and history before consenting to proposal. It was not often that one heard of cases where young men and women were allowed to bring home partners of their choices in the name of falling in love. love But times have since changed and all that is considered old fashioned now. As young people, we believe we are now more educated, enlightened, exposed and knowledgeable than our parents in almost all spheres of life, including sourcing potential life partners. We go through a period we call dating or courtship depending on which fancy word we want to use, insisting that we have good knowledge of each other and we go ahead to seal what we consider the best deals of our lives. After all, what you see is what you get. Courtship periods are exploration periods; you get to investigate each other, discover your intending life partners’ qualities, their high and low points. You juggle and re-juggle all your information and you come to your conclusion. You cannot be wrong. This is love and a match made in heaven. This is because it is only natural that a normal potential partner will put up his/her best behaviour during this time. Most women are said to be all lovey-dovey at this time. They put their best foot forward, many becoming pliable and submissive, patient and enduring, characters perceived needed to clinch the trophy. While the guys also want to ensure that their ladies are convinced of their manliness and ability to head the family. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Because each potential partner knows that they are constantly being examined, scrutinised and evaluated, there is the tendency to switch into survival mode just so we can score the necessary points. Jomo to the answer, is a mathematical slang used to describe scholars who work from answer to formula rather than the other way around. What this therefore means is that dating, either long term or short term, does not guarantee that you will know everything or the most important things about your partner beyond what they want you to know. I have come to the conclusion that often, courtship or dating is not much different from blind dating. The only thing is that while a blind date is a one off thing, courtship will end on the day the marriage contract is signed. It is a market shrouded in secrecy. Time and circumstance determine the decisions and actions people take most of the time, not knowledge or perception of character. However, in putting our so called best foot forward, how much information are we permitted to conceal from a potential life partner? Earlier this year, a man named Femi Olayiwole dragged his wife of three years, Kemi, before a magistrate court in Ogun State seeking dissolution of their marriage. The wife, for all the period that the proceedings lasted never appeared in court, allowing the judge to set aside her marriage without a fight. Mr. Olayiwole’s grouse with his wife was that her sex organ was not open, thereby making sexual contact between them impossible. Pray how does a wife with such a problem want to fulfill her statutory roles in a marriage? Olayiwole claimed that in the three years the marriage lasted, they never had sex once but his wife was always praying for the fruit of the womb!! Just how is that possible? I doubt if there is any record or revelation of a second Jesus’ coming through another virgin Mary. According to this distraught man, when he met Kemi, part of their decisions was not to have sex until their wedding night. But after their wedding, anytime he asked for sex, she would always come up with an excuse. Where that was not enough, she resorted to arguments, fight and aggressive behaviour. Yet, she made him go through the rigours of fervently praying and fasting for a child. It took her the whole of three years to confess that she had been deceiving him all along. She has never had a menstruation in all her adult years and has no vagina opening. One can only imagine how Olayiwole would have felt on discovering that his wife was not only a liar but a “freak” (pardon me). Unable to believe or comprehend what Kemi told him, he paid her parents a visit, hoping to find a more plausible answer to his marital problem. But he was even more perturbed when he discovered that his in-laws were aware of their daughter’s condition. They told him they assumed that his wife had briefed him of her problem and he was willing to go ahead out of love for her. A similar story broke out some years back, this one, involving a pastor and his wife. The lady was a relative of the pastor couple, while the man was a relatively new member of their church. Under the pretense of divine revelation, (I doubt it was divine) they paired their sick relative to this unsuspecting budding young man as wife. When the guy discovered his wife’s condition, he ran to his “daddy in the Lord” to share his problem and perhaps seek solution. It was in the course of their discussion that he discovered they were in the know and he was the one being scammed. They informed him that they were already saving up for the corrective surgery and pleaded for a little more time. But all pleas fell on deaf ears as the guy and his family insisted it was over. Had they been informed before the wedding, they would have considered bearing things out together. Why would a pastor, a spiritual father whom this poor young guy looked up to as a father figure and even a god on earth, do such a thing to him? Is pastor not having sex with pastor Mrs. and bearing children in his own marriage? If they were sincere, why not tell the young man before the wedding? And if they truly had the intention of assisting their poor relative, why allow her get married before promising to help out? A case of putting the cart before the horse, or just plain wickedness? Even if Olayiwole’s in-law’s excuse held any iota of truth, why did they not call him to a meeting to discuss and map out solution before the wedding?  Why do many people often fail to empathise with others, unable to place themselves in the other person’s shoes? In the course of my work and interaction with people over the years; I have come to realise that the root cause of the problems in many marriages can be traced to long before the contract was signed, only that one was fooling the other, or turning a blind eye to the problem. For instance, many abusive partners did not just wake up one day after the wedding to pounce on their partners. The abuse, especially physical, must have begun while courting. For those with medical issues, many of them, especially women, were aware of their challenges but refused to discuss them with the innocent individuals they want to drag into a torturous, sad and long journey. Some even go to great extent to cover up their secrets, often hiding under the umbrella of religion, or striking deals with their doctors. Others blame the devil, their enemies, in-laws and other family members they are not pleased with, causing a chain of confusion, fear and despise in the heart of others. I recently met a woman who shared her harrowing experience, in a five-year marriage that ended with her husband committing suicide. The man knew he was impotent (the brat could not salute the queen) but went ahead to court a woman and marry her without first seeking a solution to his problem, nor sharing it with her. At the height of his insolence, he granted her permission to seek pleasure elsewhere, as if that was the solution. Her sexless five year marriage ended when he finally admitted that there was no way out. He took his own life to set the poor woman free. It is not often that freedom would come with the death of one of the partners. Sometimes, true repentance can bring about divine intervention or miracle, other times, one lie often begets others and just like the journey began, more permutations will take place to arrive at the desired answer. God is great! Still, others have to chart their own way to freedom. Such was the case of a male reader who called me sometime ago to share his experience with domestic violence. Besides the fact that his wife was so violent she would destroy their property when the demon fell upon her, she often threatened him with killing herself, their two children or even him. During their courtship days, he’d erroneously taken her erratic tantrums for deep love for him and had chosen her above all other better behaved girls. It was after marriage that he discovered she had also lied to him about several other things, including the fact that she said that she graduated from the university, when she actually dropped out in her third year. Reporting her to her parents always amounted to nothing as her mother would always scold him. “You know the nature of your wife, why are you too provoking her?” she would ask him. Eventually, he managed to get a posting to Abuja from his office and left her with the children in Enugu. When there is a challenge, either natural or man-made, it is best to face it and find solution to it, rather than take steps that will further complicate things. Many of us, especially women, know the roads we have travelled before arriving at the thresh hold of declaring ourselves saints. Rather than deal with the issues, for selfish reasons, we cunningly endear ourselves to unsuspecting partners and force them to bear with us, the burden of our heavy crosses. We often forget that when the rain falls, it doesn’t fall on one person. In this part of the world, women get to hold on to the longer end of the stick. Perhaps this informed the outburst of a friend’s pastor one fateful Sunday morning worship. He asked all the women waiting for the fruit of the womb to stand up and he began raining curses on them. He told them he had a message that all the fasting and prayer sessions for the fruit of the womb were not being answered because the women were not being truthful to their husbands. They should either tell the truth so he will know how to direct his prayers or leave his church. My friend said the silence was deafening and everyone left very sober. But by next Sunday, it was business as usual. May God help us all!! Do have a wonderful weekend!!

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