Tag Archives: relationships

What Women Want

Thanks so much to those of you that answered the questions posed to you a few days ago.

Men

What do you want most from life?

What do you want from a woman – character wise?

Women

What do you want most from life?

What do you want from a man – character wise?

Before going any further I want to say something to you women.

“You Are Absolutely Fantastic!!!!”

Especially those on my bb. Your swift and detailed responses were superb!!

Just one question ladies

“Why did the majority of you start your answers with lol???”

Below are the results of my mini survey.

What women want most in life 

Happiness – 70%

Success in Business – 50%

Fulfilling purpose – 50%

What women want from men

Fear of God – 90%

Honesty – 80%

Drive and determination – 70%

Men

What Men want most from life

Peace – 80%

Happy Family – 30%

Fulfilling purpose – 30%

What men want most from women

Friendship – 70%

Make them a better person – 60%

Honesty – 60%

Let’s start with our adorable women.

Yep – I love you ladies. You’re all troopers!!

Happiness

I often wonder where true happiness comes from – on what or whom it depends on.

About a year and a half ago I asked myself the following question.

“Segs, what makes you happy?”

The answer was actually fairly simple – tennis, children, God, work, watching films – either cinema or dvds (I just love my series’!!!!), adventure holidays, family and friends – not necessarily in that order.

Though fairly straight forward I was surprised by how the simple things in life seem to be what make me happy. It revealed to me that many of the things that I was doing, or attempting to do in order to find excitement or happiness were a pointless exercise.

And there’s the rub.

Many of us spend so much time doing what everyone else is doing because we think that is what will make us happy. But in reality what will make you happy is most likely very different to what makes others happy. In other words we are all intrisically different – in  character and in DNA.

So stop doing things, or attempting to do things just because others are doing them.

If the world says that what makes you happy is boring then so be it!

Tell the world to take a hike. 

And don’t make the mistake of depending on other people to make you happy. That is both a futile and unfair burden on those around you.

It is interesting that most of us say ‘happiness’ and ‘purpose’ in the same breath.

The two are linked.

Once you know your purpose in life and start to walk in it, you will ultimately feel a lot happier about life – even in challenging times.
Nope. This is not an article about purpose so that’s enough on that point.

Just remember – happiness is very strongly linked to walking in your purpose.

Let’s proceed

“Let love and faithfulness never leave you, bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart”

Proverbs 3 vs 3

“Now I want you to realise that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.”

1st Corinthians 11 vs 3

A man’s biggest responsibility in life is to his God; to love and serve His God with all his heart, stength, and mind.

In other words to love Him faithfully – no matter what.

The man’s greatest mission in life is to fulfill the purpose that God set out for him.

Please note – God is perfect in love and therefore understands that women need to be loved.

Indeed He expects nothing less from the man – to love his partner.

“Husbands, love your wives”

The woman’s greatest mission is to be her husband’s helper.

“The Lord God said, “it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”

Genesis

Note ladies – a helper ‘suitable’ for him – to help him fulfill his God given purpose.

Note chaps – “suitable for him”.

So when chosing a partner, ask yourself this question.

“Will this beautiful lady help me fulfill God’s purpose for me?”

If the answer is no then gird your loins (literally), take a bow, make your apologies, and leg it!

And ladies, when deciding whether or not to date a guy, ask him what he believes his purpose is.

Yep – ASK HIM NOW.

Who cares whether or not it’s too soon. You don’t have time to waste. Better to find out nice and early so that you both don’t waste each other’s time.

If he doesn’t know where he’s going then scarper.

If he does know where he’s going, but you’re not even vaguely interested in going there then scarper.

If he knows where he’s going and you believe in his mission and want to help him get there then he’s your guy.

What’s that saying?! You can tell a man / woman by his or her friends??

Hence the reason friendship comes up high on the list!!!!

Genesis 2 vs 18

Now this is where the challenge begins.

We live in an age in which women want to be equal to men – equal in power, equal in money, equal in influence, and equal in authority.

As much as I love the thought of this, it simply cannot work.

Please DO NOT misunderstand me.

I am not saying that women should be muppets for men to tread all over. I’m also not saying that women shouldn’t work or aspire to do great things.

Certainly not!!!

Remember – “husbands, love your wives” – listen to, take care of, respect their opinions and protect etc.

But so long as women embrace this new found liberation and equality which the world, aptly aided by the media, is feeding them, then relationships will continue to be fundamentally challenged.

Why?

Because most men want peace – peace of mind.

Peace of mind to follow their purpose – no matter what, and to be rest assured that their partner will support and help them – no matter what.

For a man to flourish – to fully focus and succeed in obeying and serving – oops!! – let me put this another way – –  for the man to fully succeed in this “fear of God” desire that ladies so desparately crave, he must be allowed to walk in His purpose – to obey and serve his God.

Ladies – you cannot desire or expect the man to ‘fear his God’ and at the same time challenge every decision he makes! If you do so, and he changes or dilutes his course then who is he actually fearing – God or you??

Remember ladies – you also want a man who is driven.

Am I making sense??

I really hope so.

I’m trying I’m trying!!!

Finally, men please take note – ladies want a man who ‘fears God’ and who is ‘driven’.
 
In other words a man who is determined to succeed in fulfilling his purpose.

The moment you start to dilute your course is the moment your partner starts to feel insecure and unsure.

So as my dear friend Dejoooo quite correctly stated, consistency is absolutely key.

Another dear friend of mine succinctly put it this way,

“We are gradually doing away with old fashioned values.”

I couldn’t agree more.

These old fashioned values that we are doing away with are the necessary ingredients to peace, unity and happiness in relationships.

The interesting thing is that we all know what we want; and deep down – beneath all the garbage that the world’s media has fed us, lies a deep and sincere desire for those very things that God placed in our hearts when He first created us.

This article really didn’t pan out the way it was supposed to.

It was supposed to be a funny article.

When I woke up at 2.30am (yep – finally realised that there’s a reason why I wake up in the middle of the night. Lol) and started writing what I thought would be a fun filled message I was shockingly led in a completely different direction.

I guess God had other ideas all along. Lol

It’s 5am in the morning.

I pray I’ve made sense.

Hopefully I can sleep now.

Tata.

©Segun Akande

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My Dear Val

Can you remember that wonderful film ‘Love Actually’?

You already know I’m a hopeless romantic so why be surprised about my deep fondness for ‘Love Actually”?????

The scene at the airport – where it shows loved ones, be they couples, parents and their children, family members, friends – greeting one another in feverish excitement – a range of emotions – tears of joy – tears of sadness – a seemingly endless display of love in all its various forms – I JUST LOVE IT!!!

Ok…before going any further I have to confess that I’ve been struggling as to how to explain this next bit. Whether to tell you exactly the way it is, or whether to mix it a little so as not to sound weird.

I’ve decided to tell you exactly the way it is.

If you think I’m weird then so be it! I’ll still love ya!

The reason I love that scene so much is because it is something I’ve always enjoyed observing at international airports.

Ask anyone in my family and they will tell you that Segs has always enjoyed going to the airport to meet family members or friends (maybe not so much in Nigeria, as it really isn’t much fun having to wait outside!!).

Why?

Because there are few things more facinating than observing the wonderful reactions of loved ones greeting each other at airports. I’ve always found it so moving.

For years I would jump at every opportunity to go and meet a family member at Heathrow or Gatwick airport.

I always got to the airport at least two / three hours before the flight arrived so that I could observe passengers of other flights meeting their loved ones at arrival.

Each greeting told its own story – love, excitement, sadness, dread, fear, you name it – all there – plain to see.

Why on earth am I wittering on about Love Actually and airports????

Ah yes…LOVE – and its countless depictions.

Our generation seems to have allowed the media to decieve us about the true meaning of love.

Love is painted as a somewhat magical feeling of romance, excitement, physical beauty, and all manner of extravagance.

Add to the mix expensive jewelry, watches, holidays, cars, apartments and so forth, and I’m sure you’ll agree with me that love seems to have given way to ‘material gratification’.

I’m certainly not against excitement or expensive gifts. Indeed such things can be very pleasant.

But this media conjured ‘love’ that we all seem to subscribe to is simply NOT sustainable.

For many of us it certainly isn’t financially sustainable.

But more importantly, for all of us, that magical feeling of romance, excitement and passion is most definitely NOT sustainable.

Once again, I am absolutely NOT against romance and excitement.

In-fact the more the better.

I did a little research with regards to the origins of Valentine’s day.

Emperor Claudius II banned marriages because he believed that his soldiers would fight more effectively if they were single. In other words he didn’t want to have young married men who were missing their wives leading the front line. Can’t say I blame him to be honest.

However there was a priest called Valentine who believed in the importance of marriage. As such he proceeded to marry young couples in secret.

When the emperor found out he was incensed.

Valentine was imprisoned, tortured and executed.

One of the people who was supposed to judge him was a man called Asterius.
Asterius’ daughter was blind.

It is believed that during his incarceration Valentine prayed with and healed Asterius’ daughter.

This led to Asterius giving his life to Christ.

In a letter Valentine wrote to Asterius’ daughter just before he was executed, he signed it ‘from your Valentine’.

The meaning of all this?

Valentine was willing to sacrifice his life for what he believed in.

Despite his incarceration and torture he continued to love others unconditionally.

We can all learn from this.

I love this quote from a priest called Father O’Gara.

“Valentine has come to be known as the patron saint of lovers. Before you enter into a Christian marriage you want some sense of God in your life — some great need of God in your life. And we know, particularly in the modern world, many people are meeting God through his Son, Jesus Christ.”

“If Valentine were here today, he would say to married couples that there comes a time when you’re going to have to suffer. It’s not going to be easy to maintain your commitment and your vows in marriage. Don’t be surprised if the ‘gushing’ love that you have for someone changes to something less “gushing” but maybe much more mature. And the question is, is that young person ready for that?”

“So on the day of the marriage they have to take that into context. Love — human love and sexuality is wonderful, and blessed by God — but also the shadow of the cross. That’s what Valentine means to me.”

So, what exactly is ‘love’?

– Love is patient

– Love is kind

– Love does not envy

– Love does not boast

– Love is not proud

– Love is not rude

– Love is not self seeking

– Love is not easily angered

– Love keeps no record of wrongs

– Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth

-Love always protects

-Love always trusts

-Love always hopes

-Love always perseveres

1st Corinthians 13

In summary, love is everything Christ is.

Every relationship is meant to be a mirror of Christ’s love for His bride (the church – the body of Christ).

I’ve said it before, and at the continued risk of sounding like a broken record, I shall not stop saying this until things start to change.

If our churches focus more on ‘Love’ and less on the ‘me me me’ nature of how God can bless us and help us to be successful then we all stand a better chance of leading our lives in the loving and selfless manner that Christ commanded.

Isn’t it rather odd that there are so many better examples of loving and selfless people OUTSIDE of our churches?????

Indeed, contrary to the nature and design of Christianity’s message of love and forgiveness, us ‘Christians’ are actually the most unforgiving of people – world-wide!

Something isn’t quite right there!!???

Who is to blame?

We are ALL to blame.

Let’s focus less on how we can be blessed and focus more on how we can love and serve one another.

For those that went out with loved ones on Valentine’s, I hope you enjoyed every second of your night out.

For those who plan to make a whole weekend of it, please do your utmost to enjoy and cherish every blessed moment.

Romance is bliss!

Fun is awesome!

You deserve a good time!!

God is NOT boring.

He wants us to have fun.

But spend a little time reading and digesting 1st Corinthians 13.

Yep – today.

And do the same for the next one week.

Apply the love described in 1st Corinthians 13 to your relationship.

To those that were on their own I say this;

“Do not despair. Remember – ‘Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.’ ”

Be thankful for the most unconditional and secure love that any man or woman could wish for – the love of Christ.

And remain steadfast in hope.

God will give you exactly what you need.

©Segun Akande

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Where Is She?

I recently gave you two articles regarding discovering and fulfilling your purpose.

I hope you took some time out to do some personal digging.

If you didn’t, it’s not too late.

Give it a go!!

Hey! I even gave you a warm Christmas message in between!

Gosh I’m a nice guy!

But today …hmmm….sorry ….just a little bit of controversy. Tiny.

Weeny. Honest!!

During a bbm chat with a friend of mine about ‘finding the right partner’ I asked her, “So what type of man are you looking for?”

No I was NOT chatting her up.

Actually now I think of it maybe I was!

“A man who is God fearing, and who I respect,” she replied.

A decent enough answer.

“I can do that” I thought to myself.

Only joking people!!!

I repeat – I did not have a hidden agenda. Although she really is damn fine.

But alas, a friend she is, and a friend she shall remain.

But as I reflected on her answer a few hours later I coudn’t help feeling a little saddened by it.

Why?

What about love?????

For what for many is a Continuous roller-coaster search for the right partner / package,  love not only seems to have flown its nest, but has also purchased a non refundable single ticket to the kalahari desert!!

When did she leave?

No idea.

Rumour has it she created a clone and left decades ago. And now it seems that even her clone has had enough, as she (the clone) was spotted walking out of the travel agents’ a few days ago!

Am I exaggerating???

Hmmm…

An old family friend recently said to me “Young man(I love it when he says that – makes me feel young again – like I’m in my 20s or something!!!), what are you waiting for? Find a good woman; one that is God fearing and respectful. Start a family with her. You don’t need to be in love.”

I must admit that whilst a little shocked by his statement it actually seemed to make a little sense – for a few seconds anyway.

Call me a prehestoric romantic, or whatever you want to call me, but I choose to believe in ‘LOVE’.

Surely even in this day and age it is still possible to meet someone, fall in love, be friends, plan together, and live happily ever after. Surely????!!

Or

Meet someone, be friends, attraction increases, fall in love, plan together, and live
happily ever after. Surely!!!!!!

So – what is Segs talking about today?

Simple

Where has love gone?

Will she be coming back?

And is she (love) a necessary ingredient for a happy relationship / partnership / marriage???

I’ve touched on more than one occasion in my articles about the “package deal”. By this I mean the “doing well, upwardly mobile, great potential, has a nice car, nice watch, fears God, and ambitious – doing well”.

We hear this in most churches accross the nation every Sunday.

Whilst there is nothing wrong with this,  I’m rather concerned that not only is mammon chipping away at the fundamentals of Christianity – love and serve God / love and serve your neighbour; but that old lover of money is now niggling away at the fundamentals of relationships / partnerships / marriages, friendships, unity, LOVE – selfless love.

We live in an age in which selfless love seems all too alien to our natural senses.

I of-course include myself in all this.

We have perfected the art of “loving on condition of”.

Think about it – on condition of;

For you ladies;

– Financial Liquidity

– Has a nice car

– Has a good job and is going places 

– God fearing (whatever that actually means)

For you men

– respectful

– good wife material

– good mother material

– humble

Very rarely do we hear the word “love” mentioned.

There is of-course nothing wrong with any of the conditions listed above.

Indeed every man and woman is entitled to freely make their own choice – and should never be judged.

But when was the last time you heard someone say ” I want to meet someone I’ll love and cherish, and who will love and cherish me”?

Would be quite refreshing wouldn’t it??!!!

Maybe our churches should focus a little more on the importance of love in relationships????!!! And what love actually is??!!!

Heaven knows we ALL need it.

There is however a more recent and more radical view point, which whilst at first sounds utterly ridiculous and more than a tad ‘immoral’, but on reflection actually makes a some sense.

Are you ready for this????

Get out there and have as much fun as you can. If you have a few flings along the way then so be it.

Why?

Because by doing so you stand a better chance of finding a friend – one way or another.

My concern with this view however is that the chances of hurting a few feelings along the way are fairly high.

The alternative of-course is to sit still, behave, and hope for the best. Also a good option.

The one thing that most people seem to agree on is that your partner / wife / husband should be your friend – your companion – warts and all. Lol

Can you remember the parable of the sower? The seeds that fell on good soil but were suffucated by the thornes of the pressures of this world?

This parable relates to love – both in terms of our love for God and our love for each other.

Most of us have a natural inclination to love and be loved.

However is it possible that the pressures of this world, as stated in the parable, have suffucoted our ability to love and be loved???

Pressures??

What pressures???

Oh let’s’see now – he / she must look right, talk right, walk right, sound right – be going places, cook well, is financially liquid, nice car, property, excellent prospects, fear God etc etc.

Why all these conditions?

Because they are fed to us directly and indirectly on a daily basis by friends, family, tv, magazines, gossip, and so much more – leading to an inevitable tendency to compare, compare, and compare some more.

Can you see it now?? – the good seeds of love that were suffocated by the pressures of the world?????

By the way – this ‘fear God’ thing that we all love to say – even demons fear God. But that doesn’t mean that they want to do good.

Surely better to change this to ‘loves God’ – right??!!!

Just a thought.

So – in a nutshell what I’m saying is this;

Love was NOT on that BA flight to the Kalahari desert.

She’s still here.

Keep searching

And if you make a few mistakes along the way, dust yourself up and try again.

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Life Spring

I informed you all many weeks ago about my intention to hold a Divorce seminar in Lagos.

On Saturday, 15th September, the seminar was held at Ocean View.

The seminar was scheduled to begin at 10am.

As I sat in the hall at 10.05am, still waiting for the first guests to arrive, I couldn’t help but wonder whether I had made a huge mistake. Not for the first time I asked myself, “Segs, why on earth are you doing this? Is it really worth it? Are you sure it was God’s voice you heard?”

Continue reading

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Divorce / Separation

Going through a divorce in Nigeria is a challenging ordeal.

We live in a country that loves to celebrate weddings, which is a good thing.

But when marriages experience serious challenges, or worse still, when divorce or separation become a reality, there are very few people or groups you can go to in order to get some respite, advice, guidance, love – call it what you will.

On Saturday 15th September, an interactive divorce seminar will be held at the Ocean Pearl restaurant.

This seminar is NOT about who is right or wrong. It’s about;

– Recognising and accepting one’s mistakes

– Accepting God’s forgiveness

– Forgiving yourself

– Forgiving you ex

– Who am I?

– What is my purpose?

– How to achieve my goals

– When do I start dating again?

Date : Saturday, 15th September 2012

Time : 10am – 5pm

Venue : Ocean Pearl, Ocean View, Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos

Bell Phoenix©

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Have We Got It Wrong 2

There were some interesting reactions to yesterday’s article – ‘Have we got it wrong?’

Some people felt the article was spot on.

Others were irritated by what they thought was a blatant attack on marriage.

Some even felt the article was a little too tame.

The one thing we all agreed on is that something is definitely wrong somewhere.

Why did I point out those dark divorce rate statistics?

I wanted us all to be aware of the grim reality.

Not to scare.

Not to make those of us whose marriages didn’t make it feel better either.

But to encourage us to ask ourselves why.
As well as to goad us into dwelling on how we can play our own part in preventing those horrible rates from increasing.

For those of you who felt that yesterday’s article was an attack on marriage, I want to assure you that it most definitely was not.

Once again, I fully believe in marriage and really hope and pray to get it right one day.

To emphasise this point I want us to have a look at the following excerpt from yesterday’s article.

Quote
” Have we over-complicated matters?

Further still, has the excitement of the church wedding become so fevered that we have become blind to the fact that marriage is so much more than the wedding day???? ”

What I was implying is that we need to go back to the basics.

As I understand it, marriage is about two people coming together as one to build a life / family / future together.

I now believe that in order for a relationship / marriage to flourish there needs to be a great degree of commitment and selflessness from both parties.

Remember – Jesus pointed out that a man’s love for his wife is supposed to mirror His (Christ’s) love for the church.

Christ’s love for the church (you and I) is unconditional and selfless.

This requires regularly swallowing one’s pride and permanently dying to ‘self’.

In other words it is far more than the wedding day.

If there is one thing our generation seems to lack today, it is a commitment to seeing things through, no matter how challenging the circumstances may be.

Let’s take another look at 1st Corinthians 13.

Love is patient
Love is kind
it does not envy
it does not boast
it is not proud
it is not rude
it is not self seeking
it is not easily angered
it keeps no record of wrongs
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth
it always protects
always trusts
always hopes
always perseveres

Just taking one glance at the above makes it pretty obvious to me where I went wrong.

I failed pretty miserably in most, if not all of them.

The above verses are so much more important in the context of marriage and relationships than going to church and saying ‘I do’?

I now believe that in marriage we need to permanently focus on the love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13.

This selfless love that the Apostle Paul describes is supposed to be a personification of Christ’s love for us.

Now – remember – Christ said ‘go and do likewise’.

Marriage is supposed to be the prime example of this selfless and unconditional love.

I certainly had to face some painful realisations about my own lack of commitment and selfishness when I was married.

For those of you who are not Nigerian please accept my apology, as I need to focus on our beloved country for now.

As I pointed out in yesterday’s article, we love our big weddings in Nigeria; to the extent that many jump into marriages in order to enjoy the big wedding day and for the general rush and experience of being able to say ‘I do’.

For some it is because of family pressure; for some it is for financial reasons; for some it is simply for the thrill and apparent magnitude of the wedding day; for some it is just to settle down. For some it is love.

Everyone has their reasons; and none should ever be judged.

But what happens next?

Unfortunately many experience disillusion and disappointment. The end result is more often than not a breakdown of communication, leading to an inevitable split.

Much to the irritation of some people I spoke with yesterday regarding this topic I am still a little hesitant to be as blunt as I probably need to be on this topic.

Why?

Because I know that I made many mistakes and I am still learning from them.

Many couples are friends before they marry. But for some reason, as soon as they utter the words ‘I do’ something changes.

Suddenly the pressure of expectations from each other rears its ugly head.

Whereas before they used to have fun and enjoy each other’s company, suddenly the weight of expectation and the pressures that society seems to heap on each individual strangles the life out of the friendship / relationship.

So what do we need to learn from this?

1. From a personal point of view I believe that we need to fully recognise and understand our expectations before saying ‘I do’.

2. We need to ensure that the fun does not disappear from our relationships.

3. We need to ensure that we do not allow society or church doctrines to dictate how we should think, or how we should conduct ourselves in our marriages.

This is what I was referring to when I pointed out that there is no where in the bible that says a man and a woman got married in a church.

Is it possible that the expectations, concepts and precepts of society’s attitude towards marriage and how a married couple should and shouldn’t behave have basically robbed many marriages of the joys of a free, loving and intimate friendship / relationship?

In other words, have our societal ‘norms’ and expectations – be they financial, behavioural, church or otherwise, eroded the authenticity and joys of relationships?

I often wonder which is more authentic.
To be married and living a life in which one is constantly keeping up with appearances for the sake of societal norms and expectations?

Or to be in a genuine relationship of love outside of marriage?

Yes I know. It’s a little radical.

But is it really???

I am not saying one is better than the other.

I’m also not saying that one is right and the other is wrong.

But I have come to the realisation that contrary to how I used to frown upon couples who are not married living together, I now see absolutely nothing wrong with it; so long as both hearts are committed to a lifelong relationship / partnership.

Remember when Samuel anointed David to be king of Israel?!

Let’s remind ourselves shall we!!

‘ When they arrived, Samuel saw Eliab and thought, ‘Surely the Lord’s anointed stands here before the Lord.’

But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’

1st Samuel 16 vs 6 – 8

So – which do you think God prefers?

To be in a marriage for appearances sake or to be with someone out of wedlock but be genuinely in love and wanting to build a future together????!!!

Does the fact that they didn’t go to church to get married mean that the Lord frowns on the relationship???

I am in fact very pro marriage.

My hope and prayer is that the two articles encourage us all to reflect on the importance of love – unconditional love – selflessness – authentic friendships and authentic relationships.

Be true to yourself.

Don’t just be another clone of your church or your society.

Take note – if you’re not true to yourself, eventually the real ‘you’ will come out, and it is very possible that your partner will not like what he or she sees.

Be true to each other – in terms of who you are, what you like and what you don’t like. Surely this is the only way in which you can really know whether somebody likes you for ‘you’.

God gave us all individual minds; individual characters; our own gifts; our own talents.

He purposely created you to be different from the next person.

Don’t be a clone of society.

Don’t be a clone of your church.

Be true to yourself and be true to God.

Remember, in as much as we are all in this together – to support, to encourage and to uplift one another, your relationship with God is between you and God.

For those of you who have never been married I say this.

Don’t be scared.

I firmly believe that marriage is a blessing.

But go into it with both your eyes open.

If you find your marriage in a rut, try as best you can to remember what you love (or loved) about your partner.

Then do your best to practice the love that is described in 1st Corinthians 13.

Finally, we are all on a learning experience; a long journey in which we need to do our best to continue to grow into the people that God created us to be.

On this journey we will make mistakes and we will at times fail.

But we must never give up on ourselves or think for one second that we cannot be better – for God and for each other.

Most importantly we must never ever give up on God’s ability to mould us into the wonderful and loving people He created us to be.

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HAVE WE GOT IT WRONG???

For some of you traditionalists this may sting a little. But please be rest assured that I am not purposefully trying to cause unrest or unease.

This is merely an observation; and just a few teeny weeny questions.

Just a few. Promise!!

I apologise in advance for any discomfort this article may cause you.

In the United Kingdom one in every three marriages between 1995 and 2010 ended in divorce.

In Australia nearly every third of marriages end in divorce.

The divorce rate in North America is 54.8%.

According to findthedata.org the divorce rate in Nigeria for 35 to 39 year olds in 1986 was 0.6%. In 2003 it was 1.6%.

Whilst this is a much lower percentage than those of our brothers and sisters in Europe and the U.S, we need to bear in mind that in Nigeria we tend to ‘separate’ and not divorce. It is quite possible that the ‘separation’ rate in Nigeria is just as high as the ‘divorce’ rates in Europe and the U.S.

Yes yes yes I know, I’m going through a divorce so it’s all too likely that I’m purposefully focusing on negative statistics.

I can assure you that I am not.

I very much believe in marriage, and to be perfectly honest I am looking forward to finding the right person to spend my middle and latter years with. Unfortunately the days of being able to use the word ‘young’ when referring to my dear self, officially waved an endearing but finite goodbye when I turned 40 earlier this year.

Statistics do not lie.

So what has gone wrong?

There are some who believe (as they do with most things) that marriages are under attack from the devil. This is quite possible.

Some are of the view that today’s generation (yep – you and I ) can’t even spell commitment let alone abide by it. This is also true, and quite possibly a legitimate reason for the increase in failed marriages.

Others are of the view that today’s generation simply refuses to put up with some of the unacceptable behaviours and actions that were prevalent in previous generations. Also possible.

Some blame the media.
I love blaming the media; such an easy target. Whenever in doubt blame the media!

However during the past few months I have sensed a more radical line of thought.

This rather controversial view is of the opinion that the institution of marriage has been hampered by the very fact that man has turned it into an ‘institution’. In other words man has indoctrinated and institutionalised something that was supposed to be a lot more simple, natural and straightforward.

Is there anywhere in the bible that portrays a man and a woman getting married in a church building? I’ve searched and searched and searched but I can’t find any reference to a couple going into a church building and being directed to say ‘I do’ as well as being required to sign marriage documents.

Correct me if I’m wrong but it seems to me that by our own volition we (mankind) have created an institution (or shall I say ‘system’) by which to maintain control, and then turned around and claimed that it is God’s will and God’s doing.

Is it God’s will for us to get married in church buildings? Who knows! But the bible certainly doesn’t give us any suggestions that it is.

Is it God’s will for us to sign documents? Again, who knows! But I’m yet to find anything in the bible that suggests or implies that this is what God wants.

I can sense the agitated sighs of “and so what Segs! What’s your point?”

Please tarry with me a little while longer.

Is it possible that as a result of an innate desire for systematic orderliness and accountability, mankind has more or less wrenched out the necessary ingredients for sustained relationships? Ie love, friendship and freedom.

In other words due to the subtle, subconscious, but inherent pressures that accompany the words ‘I do’, have we unknowingly created a ‘system’ that is basically destined to fail?

Again, please pardon me if I’m way off track here but it seems to me that in biblical times it was merely a simple act of two families meeting, and the payment of a dowry.

Have we over-complicated matters?

Further still, has the excitement of the church wedding become so fevered that we have become blind to the fact that marriage is so much more than the wedding day????

We Nigerians love the wedding day. In fact I often wonder whether the wedding day is about the couple getting married or the parents!!!

Has it merely become an opportunity for people to display their wealth?

The attitude seems to be one of ‘Sod the couple! They can sort themselves out later. This is our chance to show how well we’ve done. Let’s celebrate in style.’

No no no, I’m not having a go at parents. Anyone and everyone is entitled to celebrate their children’s wedding day in whatever manner they like.

I’m simply asking this question.

“Is it possible that man’s determined efforts to establish and build a thriving institution have in fact resulted in the unfortunate demise of authentic relationships?”

 

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DIVORCE

This is a very difficult and tricky article for me to write. But I’m going to write it anyway, because I know I have to.

One thing I believe we all need to recognise is that we are able to get through difficult patches in life not by our own strength but by God’s grace and the strength He gives us.

He enables us to get through tough times so that we can help others to do the same.

It is not about “me, me, me”. It is all about God’s unconditional love and how we should do likewise for others.

I’m currently going through a divorce. Don’t ask me why, because quite frankly it’s none of your business. Lol

However, for the record, my ex is a lovely woman with a great heart and I wish her all the very best in life. I recognise the fact that I made many mistakes. But this is not about the mistakes I made.

This is about how God helped me through what were some of the most challenging months of my life.

Before going any further I want to thank God for blessing me with the most awesome family and friends. They were all so very willingly used by God to get me through this. You know who you are. Thanks so much for being there for me.

Going through a divorce in Nigeria is a very challenging ordeal. Why? Because you are so alone.

We live in a country that loves to celebrate and make so much noise about weddings. This is a good thing.

But when marriages go through serious issues, or worse still, when divorce becomes a reality, there are very few people or groups you can go to in order to get some respite, advice, guidance, love – call it what you will.

Ironically, churches across Nigeria offer pre-marital counselling, and from what I hear, some churches do this extremely well. But unfortunately very few, if any, address the issue of divorce. Ooops! Actually they do! Most tell you that you must stay in your marriage at all costs.

Many people refer to the text in Malachi 2:16 which says that ‘God hates divorce’.

Some have now  translated this to mean that God hates people who divorce.

Is it really possible that a God who loves us so unconditionally; who has forgiven us of ALL our sins; who is all about grace, can hate someone because their marriage didn’t work out?

I DON’T THINK SO!!

God hates the process, the consequences and effects of divorce. He hates what it does to the people involved – especially children. God hates the pain, the fear, the feeling of rejection, loneliness, the confusion and the anger that people experience.

God does not hate the people who are getting divorced.

He hates what we put ourselves and those closest to us through.

It is good and indeed extremely worthwhile to encourage couples to work through their problems. In my case we did two separate sessions of counselling – with two different sets of people.

So, we may not have tried hard enough, but we did try.

Once divorce became a reality I felt so alone. I felt like I had failed majorly.

I remember I kept looking at married couples / families and thinking ‘how come they got it right? Why couldn’t my marriage have come good?’

The more I analysed and compared, the worse I felt (Remember ‘Stop Comparing?’).

One night in November 2011 I woke up at about 1am, and because my mind was so full of negative thoughts I couldn’t sleep anymore. So after an hour or so of unsuccessfully attempting to lure myself back to sleep, I decided to Google ‘ Recovering from a painful divorce’.

It introduced me to a whole new world – so many articles.

Not only did I find comfort in the recognition that the emotions and feelings I had been going through were normal, but I also found great comfort in the fact that so many others had gone through what I was going through.

You see – in Nigeria, because nobody talks about what is really going on in their lives, so many people are suffering in silence; and trust me – it really is a very lonely experience.

It is also exactly what the devil wants – for people to suffer alone and in silence.

I firmly believe that reading those articles was one of the first steps towards recovery.

I made a decision that night. I decided that I was not going to stick to the Nigerian norm of suffering in lonely silence. I decided that I would talk about what I was going through and that I would encourage others to talk about what they are going through.

People – you will not believe the stories and experiences that I heard during the coming weeks!! So many people – married and divorced are quite literally going through hell. But because we live in a country in which people love to gossip, judge and talk behind your back, many, if not all, are unwilling or unable to talk about what they are going through. Again – exactly what the devil wants – alone, hurting and feeling defeated.

So – again on God’s prompting, I made a decision. It wasn’t an easy decision. In-fact with every step of the way, I have asked God the question – ‘who am I to be doing this? I’ve made so many mistakes and failed so many times – what right, or on what grounds do I have to do this?’

But alas, in very reluctant obedience I dedicated the last seven months or so to designing a Divorce seminar.

Before going any further I want to make it very clear that I strongly believe in marriage.

Divorce is a terrible thing which we should all do our very best to avoid.

But it is also a reality of life.

The seminar is for those who are going through divorce and in need of hope, strength, and the truth of God’s unconditional love – the surest foundation for a new beginning.

Whether we like it or not; whether it is right or not, the fact is that divorce is not the end. It is actually an opportunity to start again; an opportunity to get things right; an opportunity to find out why one is here – on earth.

Divorce is quite literally one of life’s most painful experiences, due to:

–          It’s terrible effect on children.

–          The pain of two hearts being literally torn apart.

–          The pain of bitter anger and negative emotions obstructing loving and objective decisions.

To be perfectly honest, for many people, divorce is quite literally hell.

But it is NOT the end.

Divorce is also an opportunity to rise from the ashes.

It is also an opportunity to find out who you really are and why you’re here.

It is an opportunity to finally start fulfilling your potential.

Yes – it is another opportunity for long lasting joy and fulfilment.

We need to remember that ‘God is for us’ and not against us. Therefore, no matter what mistakes you made or how much you failed (trust me, I made plenty), remember that God still and always will want the very best for you.

On Saturday 15th September, at the Ocean Pearl, Ocean View, from 10am to 5pm, there will be a seminar on Divorce.

The seminar is completely FREE.

Some of the topics that will be addressed are;

–          Recognising and accepting one’s mistakes

–          Accepting God’s forgiveness

–          Forgiving yourself

–          Forgiving you ex

–          Who am I?

–          What is my purpose?

–          How to achieve my goals

–          When do I start dating again?

The seminar will be very interactive.

This seminar is not about who is right or wrong.

It is about helping one another to get up and go again.

It is about Not Giving Up.

It is about Not Comparing

It is about learning from mistakes

It is about recognising that the future is still very bright.

So if you want to attend, or know anyone that you believe will benefit from attending, please inform them.

Time: 10am – 5pm

Date: Saturday, 15th September

Venue: Ocean Pearl, Ocean View, Adetokunbo Ademola Street, Victoria Island

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