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Nellie Onwuchekwa

Is fidelity gone? …let us walk fidelity back home!

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One of my most satisfying past time is organizing motivational talks for young people in colleges. I love the refreshing perspectives that the Youth bring to issues – from sheer innocence to the lethargic. Sometimes discussions delve into frightening emotional depths that cast gloomy picture of their emotional lives from a futuristic perspective.

While the word ‘Fidelity’ has various connotations and operational definitions, I refer to the ‘ability to be faithful and committed – emotionally and sexually – to ONE person (your spouse or partner) throughout the period of your relationship.

Recently, I worked with a group of 80 final year students (21 – 26 years old) of a reputable tertiary institution on a special research project. Part of my objectives was to test their degree of fidelity or faithfulness and commitment to relationships. In turn, they were to test their parents/guardians (55 – 70 years old). My interest was to establish a behavioral cycle and determine if there is a correlation between the emotional patterns of the young people with that of their parents.

This piece is not about the research but some interesting variables arising therefrom. Fidelity or Faithfulness was not a strong feature in relationships x-rayed. Over 55% of the students believe “faithfulness” or “fidelity” is old fashioned and has zero effect on their current relationships. About 73% of parents/guardians had been ‘overtly unfaithful’; 9% had left their spouses for another ‘love’, while 14% had constantly been ‘mentally unfaithful’. Only 4% percent have been totally faithful to their spouses. Interestingly, the ‘faithful bunch’ were clergy and those ‘survived’ bitter divorces.

Five team members later met with me to share an emotional fear based on findings after group discussions. Their collective question is simple: Does that mean that Fidelity or Faithfulness should no longer be an expectation in modern day relationships?

Is virtue of faithfulness truly gone?

Of course, NO! Some people still believe that fidelity in relationships should be the woman’s call… Men expect women to be faithful because it is an obligation. Truth is faithfulness is an issue of integrity. It is a personal decision that individuals make in spite of wedding vows and verbal assurances. A man or woman DECIDES to be faithful regardless of his/her partner’s lifestyle. The decision to be committed to your spouse/partner is predominantly dependent and propelled by the behavior of the other party.

Last week, after deep meditation on the issue of faithfulness or fidelity going out of fashion, I held a soul-searching and dangerous discussion with the love of my life. Here’s a snap shot:

Me: Darling, can you be TRULY faithful?

Response: Yes

Me: Can a man be faithful to ONE WOMAN?

Response: Yes

Me: What keeps a man faithful to his wife for the rest of his life?

Response: The Woman

Me: How? Why?

Response: The woman holds the key to the longevity of any relationship. She is supposed to be the mother, the confident, the nurse and the nurturer of any relationship….

Me: (Cut in) That, is not fair!!! What role does the man now play? Are you blaming women for all acts of infidelity?

Response: No, my dear. A good woman pays attention. She knows when her son/daughter is straying or has emotional issues. It is the same in relationships. The woman has the GPS to keep the relationship on course.

Me: Have you been faithful to this relationship?

Response: Yes. I am TOTALLY emotionally wrapped, why should I stray? Most importantly, I cannot hurt someone I love so deeply…

Above reflection is interesting and an innocent perspective on the issue. It may not be agreeable by modern women in relationships, as the quest for ‘EQUALITY’ has driven GOD-GIVEN roles of women to the background. However, it is noteworthy that there are elements of truth in the responses to the questions, thus, providing a unique element on the subject of fidelity in relationships.

I have no plan to open a discourse on whether a woman has more critical roles to play in navigating her spouse towards faithfulness. A peep into Men’sHealth Magazine provides helpful insight to a man’s tendency to ‘stray’. A 2008 Gallup Poll indicated 54 percent of Americans know someone who has an unfaithful spouse. Also, the University of Chicago’s General Social Survey “consistently finds that 20 percent of men cheat in their lifetimes, compared with 12 percent of women…” Today, the statistics are much more depressing.

If women can play a significant role in ensuring faithfulness of their spouses/partners, do they really understand WHY MEN CHEAT? Is it all about sex? No! According to Gary Neuman book, “The Truth about Cheating” out of 100 cheating men interviewed, only eight percent cited sex as the major reason for infidelity. Interestingly, 48 percent of them admitted that emotional issues led them to cheat. Thus, it can be safely established that it is not “just sex”.

To Men: Beware of these signs

I am positive that before you entered into your current relations, love was at the foundation that grew the bonding into a pledge of loyalty and promise to stay faithful. However, temptations abound out there. Scott M. Bea, PsyD, a clinical psychologist provided the helpful professional perspectives below:

Beware When:

  • You are increasingly interested in flirting with someone new in order to gauge the possibility of establishing a more intimate relationship.
  • You have persistent sexual and romantic fantasies about a particular ‘potential partner’.
  • You find yourself inviting or agreeing to meet or dine alone with a person with whom you feel a sexual or romantic attraction.
  • You are beginning to confide in an individual with whom you feel sexual or romantic attraction.
  • You have a history of infidelity coupled with a new opportunity to cheat.

To Women: Help Our Men

Of a truth, I am yet to meet a man who sets out to be unfaithful in a loving relationship. Temptations, emotional stressors and other inexplicable circumstances drive them to seek ‘solace’ in the wrong barn. These ‘temporary solutions’ eventually end badly due to faulty foundations.

As earlier established, women are naturally gifted with emotional intelligence and always have a ‘feeling’ that something is wrong in a relationship. Women have God-given instincts for sensing when their men are in trouble. Women who truly love their spouses ALWAYS KNOW when their men begin to drift and can propel them lovingly back to the right track – without angst or vituperation. Please…

Discuss With Him. We have established that it is NOT all about SEX. Communication is the livewire of any true relationship. Effective Communication is the outcome of a deep friendship between the two people. Humour him and do not exasperate him with jealous remarks. Establish that you both have a problem and work it via a heart to heart talk. So, talk without being opinionated.

Ensure Intimacy. Intimacy is the result of a strong bond between people who truly love each other. Intimacy does not denote sexual contact. Physical contact between lovers is more than sex. Relationship experts say: “Intimate touch – from stroking hair to massaging to simply holding each other, is key to keeping those bonds strong. “Kiss, massage, and keep those loving hands on each other: This works on basic biological levels to keep people literally connected and respond to one another, to anticipate each other’s needs, to look to each other rather than new, unknown partners.”

Do you feel emotionally connected when you touch your partner?

Help Him Avoid potential cheating traps. Dr. Scott Bea established that most men know when they are faced with potential traps. Sometimes, steering clear of these situations may be difficult, especially when emotionally stressed. Do you encourage him to discuss personal challenges – or does he have someone else he is comfortable discussing with? Being open, and, understanding the frailties of your spouse/partner will help him avoid emotional booby traps that could lead to unfaithfulness.

You must understand the need to intimately discuss the dangers of meeting alone with anyone that he might feel attracted to sexually or romantically. Confiding personal details to anyone that he might feel attracted to sexually or romantically is a dangerous signal. “It’s also a good idea to avoid or eliminate ‘friendly’ hugs and kisses.” The same goes for new avenues of cheating, such as online chat rooms and other forms of social media communication.

Note: Avoid making him feel cornered. Approach discussions of potential infidelity tactfully with clear display of love and concern. He must understand that both of you have an invaluable emotional investment, and, your desire/commitment to make it work.

Fidelity in spousal and romantic relationships establishes the basis of emotional stability and general wellness. It assures peace of mind and confidence in children. While it has been noted that both men and women have individual roles to play, the woman continues to hold the key and emotional GPS in keeping the man on course.

Women, let us get off from heights that hurt relationships. Let us invest emotionally in our relationships. Let us forgive mistakes and lovingly navigate our spouses and partners to the path of fidelity, loyalty and integrity. Stop impugning the reputation of the man before the children. “…And the two shall be one…” means that when you repudiate your spouse before the children, you inadvertently drag yourself into the mud too.

So, Let us WALK Fidelity back into our relationships…

I remain…

Emotionally Yours,

Nellie Onwuchekwa

Note: Any emotional issues or thoughts? Please share with me. Click to email me >>

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“Help Me, I Need My Wife Back” – 63-year old Willie takes marital anguishes to Nellie’s ‘Emotional Court’

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Life is filled with twists and turns. One day it is so perfect and the next, it is all gloomy. But these valleys, cliffs and mountains make life exciting. For some, what I call ‘excitement’ is emotional stress.

Shortly after Anne’s ‘MUTUAL POLYGAMY’ story was published, (read Anne’s Story) a 63-year old Willie called us requesting assistance to get his wife back. Willie loves and dotes at his wife. He should, because Constance, a paradigm of beauty and brains, is 47 years old – 16 years younger than her husband. For the purpose of this expose, I want to first submit Willie’s perspective in this emotional tango.

 

Willie, a widower, met ‘delectable’ Constance who was a Product Marketing Professional. Willie is cut out of the old stock of money and style. Willie is from a ‘Wealthy’ family – wealthy from every perspective and consideration. Left with four (4) children by his first love, Monique, who died after ‘a brief illness’, Willie was excited when Constance accepted to marry him.

Constance, a First Class graduate of Economics ‘worships’ as well as ‘fears’ her husband. She is not allowed to contradict him, otherwise, face financial sanctions or have some privileges denied. They have been married for about seven (7) years and have a five-year-old son, Brian who Willie loves very much. Willie’s other children from Monique are adults and live on their own. His daughter Yvonne (35) never supported her father’s choice, as she wanted her father to either marry a widow or a divorcee with children. Yvonne believes Constance married her father for his money and could not be trusted.

According to Willie, “I know she is having an affair with a younger man. I know because she no longer spends time at home with us (myself and Brian). She comes home late from work daily. When I was very sick and hospitalized, she refused to visit me at the hospital, but travelled to another state for some ‘urgent and critical official’ work. She does not come into our bedroom anymore, but complains she needs to stay up late to work…I am not a small boy, I know something is wrong. I love my wife, and I need help to get her back”.

Willie was really moist speaking with us. To show his desire to get to the bottom of this crisis of confidence and resolve issues with his wife, he gave us a number we could reach Constance on…. And we did speak with her.

Constance confessed she has emotional interests outside her matrimonial home due to “emotional abuse”. According to her, Willie always makes reference to “how much he bought the car; how much he bought my hair; how much my allowances are costing him and why I should be glad he married me in spite of pressures from his children.”

“My husband makes veiled references to my background. Yes, I come from a very humble background. Call us poor. Yes, I wanted my family to benefit from the relationship. And, Willie has been good to my family. However, constantly reminding me of these things is harassing me emotionally… I am not happy about the situation. I am not thinking divorce because my son is attached to my husband. I am an emotional wreck right now and really confused.

“I care deeply about Willie, but I am not sure I love him in the real sense of the word LOVE. For me love died with my first love, Victor, who left me for another woman. I just wanted to have a companion who was older than me and could pamper me like my late father. Willie fitted the bill, but his daily disrespect and abuse is driving me mad. I am not an illiterate…his daughter is also not helping in this regard. I had to look for ‘sanity’ elsewhere’ – my work.”

Constance decided to focus on her career and was assigned a Mentor/Coach at her office – as part of Personnel Development program by the Human Resources Department. Her Mentor/Coach, Michael (52) is divorced and lives with his three children. Michael has been a source of encouragement to Constance. Between them, personal confidences have been shared – and something ‘BIG’ is growing gradually…

Constance spoke with candor about her ‘involvement’ with Michael, but believes that she was ‘driven into another man’s arms by her husband.

In her own words: “There is no denying the fact that I find Michael attractive and fun to be with. He respects me and does not judge me. I don’t walk or stand on edge when I am with him. He is very supportive professionally and my productivity at work has really improved. He gives me a sense of emotional stability and professional confidence…. Do I love him? I don’t know…but he is definitely not a ‘fling’. I am looking at a deep friendship. One thing I am sure about is, I don’t want to stay with a man who sees me as an ACQUISITION. I thought he could change, but he gets worse each day…”

Could lack of sex be the issue? Constance says “Not really…but it is contributory. When you marry, it is for “better” or “worse”. If lack of sex is the ‘worse’ part of your marriage vows due to his health challenge, there are other ways to make up…. Sex is not everything”. However, Willie believes that his inability to make love to his wife regularly, and gradual loss of libido is a major factor…

Critical Questions: How can we help Willie and Constance regain an emotional balance? Is Michael playing a negative role in this Marriage?

Two things are clear: Willie wants his Wife back; but Constance wants her Dignity back!!!

———————————————————-

Dear Constance,

Sessions with you were emotion-laden. We appreciate your openness and honesty as you opened up on the “emotional entrapment called marriage”. We agree you have had a ‘frightful’ marriage, but it was a relationship you entered willingly.

You submitted that you did NOT MARRY FOR LOVE. That is truly sad for a well-educated young woman of 40 (when you married Willie). An African proverb says: “he who gathers ant-infested firewood should be ready for the dance’. You further admitted that you married for the money in order to help your family. These reasons led to how you were perceived by Willie and her children. You sacrificed love on the altar of self-aggrandizement and ‘family pressure’.

These reasons are enough reasons for Willie’s family members to be apprehensive of your ‘interest in poor Willie who had recently lost his beloved Monique.

Understandably, Yvonne, your stepdaughter is sensitive about the situation. Daughters have the natural tendency to be over protective of their parents – especially, their father. Thus, you need to understand Yvonne and make an effort reassure her that you truly love and care for her father (if you have eventually grown to love Willie) – to the best of you ability. This is not to suggest that you have to grovel and beg her to be on your side. Always steer the path of PEACE as there is never a bad peace.

Another issue is Communication. Despite your faulty entry into marriage with Willie, it is expected that communication channels be open. No desperate desire to be married to a wealthy man should make a wife unable to discuss issues with her husband.

Without sentiments, I hold you responsible for the accepting years of emotional abuse, emotional battery and, sometimes, physical abuse you suffered in your marriage. Your quest for ‘the elegant lifestyle of the wealthy and famous’ kept you encapsulated. Rather than make effort to free yourself via counseling, you found an ‘escape in work and Michael…” You return daily to a “mansion of agony” to traumatize Willie with jealousy. You are using Michael to satisfy your sexual needs; this is not fair to Michael who is ignorant of the situation, as you do not love him.

You cannot solve a problem by creating another. Thus, you need to:

  • Introspect and tell yourself the hard truth about your situation;
  • A marriage without love is COHABITATION. If that is what you want, accept all the abuses meted out to you because everything has a price;
  • Define your relationship with Michael to save him from your emotional tango. If you love Michael and wish to continue your undefined relationship, please be kind enough to progress dissolution of your union with Willie

When you take the right steps towards integrity, you will naturally regain your DIGNITY.

Whatever your choice, here is wishing you the best.

Yours Emotionally, Nellie Onwuchekwa

———————————————————-

Dear Willie,

Thank you for your patience and understanding throughout the ‘intrusive’ discourse on a matter so sensitive. We only wanted to get facts of the case in order to provide feedback without sentiments.

There is no doubt that you ‘love’ your wife ‘very much’ – and you want your wife back. It is, however, unfortunate that you seem to speak about your wife like a lost piece of furniture. During the sessions, you talked about “how much it cost me to marry her”, “how I have attended to all here needs, without sparing costs’, I give her anything she asks for, no matter how much it costs’, “how I have loved and taken care of her family”, etc. Little is however said to demonstrate emotional connection, commitment and attention to ensuring emotional stability of your marriage.

You admitted that Constance is ‘expected to fear’ you as a husband. You also expect her to align with you on EVERY ISSUE – irrespective of her opinion or perspective. Again, and disappointingly, three (3) years ago, you refused Constance (who has a MBA from a reputable University), not be involved in the running of your business when she offered her services – to give you the reassurance of her faithfulness. This led to her seeking paid employment elsewhere. Despite the aforementioned, you want her to be open about her official work-life.

It is important that you remember that marriage is a partnership between two people that love themselves and have committed to live together in love, respect and harmony for the rest of their God-given lives. Regardless of your claim of love for Constance, you did not show an ounce of respect for her. You repeatedly judged Constance using your late wife’s standard… “Monique would never do that” reverberated throughout the sessions with you. You cannot slaughter Constance on the altar of Monique. This is totally unacceptable and puts your wife constantly under pressure

Husbands are expected to support and encourage their wives to achieve their God-given potential. You see in Constance, your wife, a Competitor – instead of a HELP-MEET. Also, your daughter, Yvonne has a degree of influence on you. It is pertinent to point out that Constance is YOUR WIFE. Monique, no matter the virtues, is dead.

Action Steps:

  • Invite your wife and have a discussion (heart to heart); apologize in areas you know you are wrong. Accepting your mistakes is NOT as sign of weakness, rather, a show of strength.
  • Ask your wife honestly if your marriage has future – and show willingness to repair broken bridges/ridges. Listen to Constance with an OPEN HEART & MIND
  • Have a session with your daughter, Yvonne. She needs to understand you need Constance. Encourage her to focus on her marriage, while you work things out with Constance.
  • Work on the ‘challenges’ in your sexual relationship with your wife. There are ways to satisfy you both sexually – feel free to ask.
  • Upon reconciliation with Constance (God Willing), create a harmonious environment in your home and ensure your children respect YOUR WIFE!!!

NOTE: You are well aware of the age gap between you and your wife. Age, they say, is a number. However, when there are health challenges, you require love, attention, respect and understanding from your spouse to carry on. Communication is key. Do not stop communicating.

Dear Willie, separate FAMILY from your marriage. Pursue peace and tread the path of reconciliation. At 63, you need emotional stability, not crisis. You want your wife back – however, she wants her DIGNITY back!!!

All the best …and stay blessed.

Yours Emotionally,

Nellie Onwuchekwa

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Send your QUESTIONS and CONCERNS to NELLIE directly, click >>>

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Emotional Conflict: Is She Toying with Me?

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Growing up, my father was my BEST friend and my WALL of Gibraltar. He was an easy-going sea-faring gentleman, who knew how to take care of ONE Woman – my mother. He was strong-willed and a disciplinarian and gave no room for excuses for failure. He was admired as he was revered by young and old. We never saw our father betray any form of emotion. We all called him a “Man of Steel”.  Each time we idolized my father, my mother would silently shake her head, and smile to herself.

One day, I returned home from school to learn that Mom was very sick and had been hospitalized. I accompanied Dad to pay her a visit, observed my father was visibly shaken, as he looked her over – with all the equipment connections. After the doctor’s routine examination, my father knelt down beside my unconscious mother to pray for Divine Healing. Rather than say a prayer, my father sobbed uncontrollably – to my utmost embarrassment.

I rushed out of the room confused and devastated. To the best of my naïve mind, “real men do not cry; real men are made of steel’. Why would my father, an ex-soldier and an experienced seaman crumble needlessly? As the theatre of life moved me from one stage to the other, I realized that a man is as weak as he is strong. The strongest of men are known to be deeply emotional. In their love, men are also very weak.

This mental picture sets the scene for Emotionally Yours encounter with Kizito three decades later. A man of humble background, Kizito’s education was made possible by a special scholarship contest. Kizito beat 1069 others to clinch the scholarship award when he was 21 years old. His sponsors, a multinational oil corporation, created additional requirement as key consideration for employment: students on scholarship consistently maintain an A Grade on at least 80% of his subjects throughout the four years of study. Kizito shocked the Corporation by sustaining a 100% A Grade throughout his study. Kizito, at 25, became an employee of one of the most prestigious multinational oil corporations in the country. Today, 20 years later, Kizito, a very successful Chemical Engineer is emotionally troubled and conflicted.

When the multinational oil and gas corporation hired Kizito as a Star Employee. This placed him under immense pressure – loved and admired by some and ‘loathed’ by those who felt he was simply an opportunist. Some of the older colleagues felt Kizito was a product of ‘favouritsm’. Irrespective of the faction, Kizito was a Controversy on Arrival. This misperception created a hostile environment and had an emotional impact on his ability to interact or socialize within the organization. He became a hermit and workaholic. His supervisors only admired him because he was productive and dependable. However, his social life suffered as he put in an average of 12 hours at work.

When turned 30, his friends from the university organized a birthday party for him at an expensive restaurant. He met Veronica, a Senior Sales Executive in one of the major Telecommunications Companies. They hit it off and got married within six months. They were in love and inseparable. Within five years of marriage, Kizito and Veronica were blessed with the arrival of three children – Vera, Kosi and Michael.

During their 10th wedding anniversary, Veronica suddenly became gravely ill and was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery due to badly ruptured appendicitis.  She died 48 hours after the surgery due to complications. Naturally, Kizito was grief-stricken and suicidal, but the awareness of the impact of the loss on the children held him back. Family and friends rallied round him to condole with him as well as provide domestic support. However, to help him overcome or numb his grief, Kizito applied for transfer out of his current station and was obliged. He was relocated abroad with his children.

After seven (7) years, he returned to the in-country headquarters of his company as Engineering Manager. He continued his holistic focus on his job and children – with zero hour for personal life. He admitted to his best friend, Frank, that he had not been with any woman since he became a widower. His parents were worried and pressured him to remarry, but he would not even consider the thought – until he met Adesuwa, who is about five years older than Kizito.

In Adesuwa, Kizito found a mother, sister, confidant and guardian. Adesuwa, a divorcee with two adult children from her first marriage is set on ensuring Kizito makes “commitment to holy matrimony”. However, Kizito is emotionally unsettled and clearly conflicted. After two sessions with him, Kizito agreed to organize his emotional conflicts into a communication to Emotionally Yours. His letter provided the foundational basis for his internal conflict which is currently affecting his work, relationship with his children and Adesuwa who is set on marrying Kizito.

“Dear Emotionally Yours,

I want to thank you for your patience during our previous face-to-face discussion on my peculiar problem. Initially, I felt awkward, but was surprised by how you gently guided the discussions and made me discuss very painful episodes of my life from a comic stance. I am really encouraged to table my conflicts to enable you analyze independently.

I will not repeat the painful circumstances that made me lose my first true love and the mother of my priceless jewels. When Veronica said she wanted children in quick succession to free her from secondary infertility possibilities, I was worried; little did I know that a Divine Hand was propelling it. Today, Vera 16, Kosi 14 and Michael 13, are my greatest joy and fulfillment. Vera is a 100% ‘reincarnation’ of Veronica – a High Definition Scan Version – only prettier due to innocence.

Since Veronica’s death seven years ago, I have taken care of my children alone. How I have been able to cope with three teenagers is still baffling, but I give thanks to God. At 47 – approaching 48 years, I am very fulfilled. Incidentally, I have also come to the point where the children are focused on their education. I refused a Boarding School for them, as I need to come home and go over their assignments – as well monitoring their school challenges. My weekends are dedicated to mentoring and counseling them – and they look forward to weekends because I am able to give them quality time.

I met Adesuwa and fell in love with her maturity, knowledge and faith. Her commitment to church programs and non-for-profit organizations is inspiring. Her two sons (26 and 22 years old) display a high level of discipline. She is also admired and respected by her friends. Notwithstanding that she is five years older than me, she shows me respect. However, there are areas of slight disagreement and misalignment of thoughts that have kept me uneasy about moving to the next level of expectation – marriage.

Adesuwa insists that OUR children could be an impediment to our happiness in marriage. There is no reasoning with her on this matter as she states that she has ‘brought up two grown men’ to know that my teenage children ‘would be in the way’. According to Adesuwa, we should “restart our life without impediment of children.” Incidentally, Adesuwa’s children have completed their university education, while mine are in secondary school.

Another source of discomfort is her desire for us to relocate to another city without work consideration. She wants me to retire, get my benefits and join her in business, and have enough time for each other – and have a baby of our own. According to Adesuwa, she had a ‘vision and revelation’ that the Company will soon collapse.

I love Adesuwa – not the way I loved my wife. Adesuwa gives me a sense of security and peace. She is not beautiful in the ways of the world, but she is charming and intelligent. I get the chilly feeling whenever she talks about having “our baby”. Between Adesuwa and I there are five children – two adults and three teenage children. Medically, at 54, she is past childbearing age and at 47, I am not looking forward to changing diapers and day care center regime. If we didn’t have children that consideration could have been logical.

I have lost count of how many times I tried to have meaningful discussion on these issues with her, but every effort ends in a major disagreement and tempestuous quarrels. My family believes that I am’ under some sought of influence’. My children are not comfortable with the relationship because Adesuwa seems set on ‘ostracizing’ me from my children. Vera, my 17 year old is very outspoken and threatened to run away. Vera is the split image of Veronica, my late wife. Unfortunately, Adesuwa has not done much to win the love of the children; she tells me that I ought to have trained my children to be emotionally independent – whatever that means.

I love Adesuwa deeply and adore my children very much. I cannot imagine a life without my children. We have a bond/connection that is unimaginable. I am torn between love for my children and Adesuwa. Is Adesuwa toying with my emotions by making impossible demands?”

At this time, Kizito’s emotional problems have been impacting on his productivity at the company. His performance rating has gone down to below average – to the amazement of his Supervisor and Mentor. Also his relationship with his children, especially Vera, has gone frosty. Kizito’s emotions stand on a TRIPOD – Work, Children and Adesuwa. The conflict is further deepened, as neither Adesuwa nor the children are ready to shift ground.

To understand the perspective of Kizito’s children, an appointment was scheduled with Vera, the oldest of his children. An intelligent, smart but unassuming Vera posited:

“Madam Adesuwa is using foul powers to lure our father from his work and family. He is an excellent Engineer and has several Excellence Awards to show – including one for ‘Breakthrough Invention’. He is far from retirement and has no health challenges that could be given as the reason for retirement. I am about to start my university education later in the year. My brothers are still in secondary school; why would he consider retiring and relocating to some remote town. It is incredible that people can be that selfish…”

Furthermore, Vera stated they don’t have good relationship with Adesuwa.

“She is uppity and self-centered.  Marrying my father will mean enslavement for us. I already told my grand parents (Maternal and Paternal), that the day my father legalizes his relationship with Madam Adesuwa, he ceases to be our father. He is all we have since Mom died. Our grandparents have told my father that Madam Adesuwa is evil and has an agenda that could cost his life. They have also been good to us, but no one can take over the role of your true parents. Our father has been the one taking care of us since Mom died over seven years ago.

“Did my father tell you that the her son tried to rape me in my own home? My brothers saved me from the beast. I reported the incident to my father, and, for the first time in my life, I didn’t recognize him. Madam Adesuwa told him that I wore sexy lingerie to entice her son…Can you imagine that my father bought it – hook, line and sinker! You know what? Growing up, my mother forbade me from wearing nighties except pajamas (top and trouser). I have never worn any lingerie in my life. My father has lost it… I and my brothers are praying for him as marrying that woman will only spell doom for my brothers and I. Worst case scenario for me would be early marriage, but, what about my brothers? God is not sleeping. He will intervene…”

Discussions with Vera ended with an emotional note with Emotionally Yours Team. Everyone was moist and battling to hold the tears from coming down our cheeks. The battle for Kizito by Adesuwa has had an immeasurable emotional impact on his children, as they no longer speak to their father.

Emotionally Yours Program Counselor advised on the need to speak with Adesuwa. Adesuwa refused to meet with us; however, during the brief telephone discussion, I asked her “How do you plan to live with Kizito’s children if you marry him eventually?” She quipped “Hell No. I am marrying the man with no baggage allowance on this trip. Bye.”

Adesuwa’s answer, taken at face value, confirmed Vera’s fears that Adesuwa did not mean well. A barrage of questions coursed through my head: Why is Adesuwa doing this? Does she really love Kizito? Why is Adesuwa insensitive to the feelings of the children? Why is she not surrendering any grounds at all? Why is she bent of making the lives of these children an eternal misery…

Many Questions and postulations without answers…

It is pertinent to state that Adesuwa’s response provided zero sentiments in responding to Kizito’s emotionally torn mail on the problem. ‘Love’ sometimes can cause behavioural disharmony. ‘Love’ expressed by emotional twists and turn, hills and valleys and general disorientation. Whenever our emotional state begins to affect commonsensical reasoning, it becomes dangerous, and, sometimes, lethal. Many deadly mistakes have been made in defense of ‘love’ or emotions. The intertwined nature of ‘love’ and ‘emotion’ make some to blind-side the truth. For, true love is RATIONAL and BENEFICIAL.

Based on the foregoing, response to Kizito was crisp and straight to the point devoid of sentiments.

My Dear Kizito,

Your communication on above subject matter a month ago here refers.

Your emotional disposition at this time is unfortunate; clearly you are conflicted and dithering about where the pendulum should fitfully swing. The question that comes to mind is “Can true love evoke these negative emotions and conflicts?” The answer is clearly ‘NO’.  Therefore permit us to take components of this basket of confusion separately to enable you reach rational conclusion

Adesuwa:

The woman at the center of your confusion is a successful, self-assured woman with a very independent spirit. She seems dictatorial in determining the structure of your relationship by ‘directing’ you retire from work, invest your gratuity into a joint business, run a joint account and send your children away – either Boarding Houses or ‘abroad’. Your voice seems lost, as you did not raise a differing opinion.

True love is not designed to cause pain or confusion. True love causes harmony by gathering all discordant variables into a collective rhythm and dance. True love has inbuilt welding and sieving mechanism for the collective good. Your ‘love’ for Adesuwa seems far removed from all elements of true love. It has brought you mental and emotional instability – having negative effect on your performance at work. It is also affecting the harmony you have enjoyed at home with your children.

If Adesuwa truly loves you, she will be sensitive to matters that affect you. She knows that you love your children; she knows that you cannot be at peace if you are suddenly separated from them. Above all, as a mother, she knows that the children are at the most critical stage of their emotional and mental development – they are teenagers. Anyone who loves you unconditionally will value the things or issues that will negatively affect you.

Adesuwa’s ‘love’ for you is questionable. A love that leaves you an emotional wreck and crippled is not a recommended entanglement or liaison.  You need to re-evaluate that ‘feeling’ and put it to test, using time tested values and variables  – some of which have been earlier outline.

Adesuwa’s Quest for Early Retirement:

Adesuwa made your early retirement one of the conditions for marrying you. From her perspective, your terminal benefits will be invested in her current business, expand her current ‘profitable’ business and have you as Executive Chairman. From our discussion, it was deduced that you are not ‘inclined to doing business’. You have job satisfaction and fulfillment; therefore, do not desire to quit, especially, with company’s children educational benefits included in your current remuneration.  Again, though your performance appraisal is wanting, there is no threat to your job security.

Kizito, it is clear that Adesuwa does not have your best interest at heart by suggesting early retirement – for the sole reason of expanding a business you know absolutely nothing about.

Furthermore, her plan for relocation to a new city is generally disturbing; a sentiment shared by you parents, close friends, associates and most importantly, your children. Clearly, Adesuwa’s desire is to ‘uproot’ you from everyone you love because you have neither visited the intended location, nor have any friend or associate there.  This kind of ‘love’ is very suspicious.

Kizito, please listen to your inner man.

Your children:

During our sessions, you described your children as your jewels. Jewels need to be cared for and appreciated. Vera was nearly raped under your roof by Adesuwa’s son, Frank; rather than berate him, you believed Adesuwa’s submission that your daughter was romantically enticing her son. Vera is hurt and does with Adesuwa who judged, rather than empathize with her. She also did not reproach her son, which is an indication that she is weak disciplining her children.

It is evident that Adesuwa does not have a motherly instinct, as she has not made any efforts to initiate the process for harmonious living among the children (hers and yours). 

Also, Adesuwa’s plan to send your children to some ‘far away institution’ is very disturbing. There is nothing wrong with your children going to a Boarding School, but it becomes suspicious if it is condition precedent for your marriage. As a mother, she ought to know that teenage years are the most critical in a child’s development. It can be deduced that Adesuwa’s seeming dictatorial directive on the children is making them rebellious.

Kizito, your children love you very much, so, carefully think through issues concerning your children; make an effort to discuss with them in order to understand their perspective(s). A vacation alone with the children will provide the enabling environment for them to vent and table their charter of demands and needs with regard to Adesuwa and your good self.

We are optimistic that you will make the right decision.

Yours Emotionally,

Nellie Onwuchekwa

Emotionally Yours

Five months later, an excited Kizito visited our office with a big thank you cake. According to Kizito, Adesuwa had insisted on being part of the vacation schedule. “I told her that I needed to spend some quality time with the children. Since Adesuwa came into my life, I suddenly realized that I didn’t have time for my Vera, Kosi and Mike. Hell was let loose and Adesuwa went berserk insisting she must come with us. Vera challenged her and during the heated exchange, Adesuwa said “My feet have been planted in this house and nothing, absolutely nothing, nobody can uproot me.” I was taken aback because there was no competition for my heart. I am a straightforward man, and I don’t believe in having multiple partners. She swore that she would make sure I lost my job if she is left behind. She was like someone deranged – a total stranger. I couldn’t help but wonder what the problem was. I took the decision right there to get Adesuwa out of our lives for good. Oh, how she toyed with my emotions. She is very desperate. Men ought to be careful of such desperados.”

During the trip, Kizito and the children met Antoinette, his late wife’s friend who is now widowed. Vera and her brothers connected with Antoinette’s two adorable teenage daughters, making the vacation fun-filled.  Antoinette, a medical doctor was thrilled to meet with Veronica’s children and bonded easily, telling them stories of their late mother.

Since their return, Antoinette and her daughters have been spending long hours and weekends with Kizito’s family. Kizito says, “I am truly at peace. Antoinette is great with the children. She is a disciplinarian, but she also offers prices for good behaviour. She is firm and fair in her dealings with all the children. The future is in God’s hands, but I am free…”

Emotional Piggy Bank

Love is the greatest gift from God. Without love, our lives would be colourless and meaningless. To love is to live and to connect physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and materially. Love means enduring the worst habit and helping your beloved navigate through a variety of painful emotions to overcome that bad habit. The joy that comes from triumphing over negative habits (hand-in-hand with the person you love) is overwhelming.

True Love gives life the Rainbow-Effect. However, it is important to understand HOW your ‘love’ evolves. True love influences behaviour positively, and it is rational and sensible. Blind? No! True love INFLUENCES and REINFORCES positive attitude in us. True love refines and modifies our behaviour and overall disposition to life’s challenges with our partners. Thus, It is pertinent to keep emotions on the rational plane whenever conflicts arise. Conflicts help us to get the cobwebs of our emotions out and enables us experience the beauty of love in all its ramifications as enshrined in the Good Book – I Corinthians 13.

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Nellie Onwuchekwa

When Love Feels So Wrong – Marrying My Ex’s Best Friend

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My preferred timing for weddings is the cold season – including rainy season. I believe in the power of the weather; it is nothing empirical, but the weather has a coordinating influence. Choose a good weather for a wedding and I can conceptualize and mentally run you through a beautiful event. That is one of my Special Gifts.

Many people do not pay cognizance to Seasons when planning ‘Holy Matrimony’ events. Whenever you ask me why I prefer the cold season, my response is simple: “Cold Seasons are Peaceful and have a special effect on the ambience of the hall and mood of the people. Cold seasons make wedding ceremonies more somber – and spiritual. Vows are taken with unimaginable solemnity and candour. Each “I Do” comes through sincerely, while songs sound like ‘covenants’ by each attendee with God. Everyone looks to the couple with admiration because open declaration of love is a BRAVE Step. The next time you attend a ‘Cold Season’ event, you will agree with me.

This episode is not about weddings and weather conditions; it is not about taking vows solemnly, it is about the mental conflicts of when loving is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. Love is a positive phenomenon with an awesome feeling – sometimes light-headed and other times light footing.

For a human-interest reporter, the best of scoops can be picked up at wedding ceremonies. Early arrival and robed with the colours of the day readily grants you free access to ‘restricted information’ about the couple and family members. If you were gifted with a ‘nose for news’ and how to be a ‘news hound’ – with the appropriate familiar mannerism of a pretended ‘insider’, you would make your editors happy.

For a significant few, the need to probe hard for privileged family secrets is unnecessary. For, the best strategy is to dress the way you want to be addressed. My blessed mother taught me the importance of timeliness, and how to be distinguished – even when attired in ‘hand me downs’.  She also taught me the virtue of attending only occasions that sits right with my spirit man.

Mary-Jane (MJ) and Kelechi (Kels) were to be married during my favourite season. MJ’s stepmother was excited about giving away her stepdaughter who had been a ‘thorn on her flesh’. MJ is the daughter  (and only child) of her husband’s late wife and a constant reminder that her husband’s first love was MJ’s mother.  Kels is a banker from a noble family – and deemed ‘overdue’ for marriage. His parents were excited that their son would finally settle down for good – but not happy with his choice. Kels has suffered many disappointments from ladies. They are doing what all parents do – support their son, despite their misgiving about the choice he has made. Kels was set to marry his ex-fiancée’s best friend!

On arrival at the church, I observed the rows were scantily occupied, while there were clusters of groups whispering – some in consternation and others enjoying mocking laughter. The reporter’s instinct whelmed within me. Dressed in the ‘Family Colours’, I walked to the rows dedicated for family members and sat confidently after exchanging pleasantries with others. Studiously, I read the program brochure, which was expensively printed. The lady to my right nudged me and asked, “Why do you people want to allow this marriage to take place? My grandson, Kels, is already engaged to this woman’s best friend. Why? This generation…”

I was taken aback by her brazenness and unbridled negative demeanor; I smiled innocently to observe closely. After some introductions, I realized that the woman beside me is the grandmother to the groom. I was neither here for the bride or groom. The bride’s stepmother is an acquaintance of my Auntie who ‘ordered’ me to attend on her behalf. A visibly worried Matriarch Eunice (Grandma) told me she was there to lay a curse on the ‘witch’ that wants to destroy her grandson. Kels is from a semi-priestly family and should live ‘a righteous life’.

Grandma continued: “My grandson brought a well mannered and spiritually nurtured girl last December. Her name is Stella. She is from a solid Christian family. My family loved her very much and blessed the union at the village with every family member visiting home at the time. During the Easter celebrations, my grandson came home alone; we enquired about ‘our wife’. He told us that he had a misunderstanding with Stella; I knew he was lying. I personally called Stella and she told me the truth about what happened. My grandson wanted her to get pregnant to fast track the wedding. My girl said, ‘NO’. She wanted courtship according to true God’s standards. That is all… The next thing I heard was that my grandson had set a date for wedding; behold it is Stella’s friend. And you think God will bless this union? Tufiaa…” (Expression of an abomination)

Grandma Eunice continued this tiresome tirade that made my stomach churn. I looked around the church auditorium for escape opportunity; finding none, I latched unto the old trick that works all the time – ‘need to use the bathroom’. Bathrooms have gossip milling machines. As anticipated, everything Grandma told me was being replayed in different varieties of colours and spices. Opinions differed based on relational ties, while many were clearly neutral putting themselves in MJ’s position. A dark cloud has been cast on the credibility of the ceremony.

I returned to my seat wondering what was delaying the commencement of the program. We were 90 minutes behind the scheduled 10:00 a.m. for the event. The church auditorium was half-filled with people; most of them had become very impatient and irritable. Grandma Eunice nudged me and said with a smirk: “I told you this union is cursed. My grandson has not come and the witch of a bride has been stood up for good.” Almost simultaneously, the coordinating minister announced that the wedding program had been called off. Mixed reactions followed, and Grandma shouted, “Praise the Lord, Hallelujah” waltzing to the exit door.

Upset by the turn of events, I called my Auntie whom I had come to represent to update her on the turn of events. She was livid with rage as Kels is her godson. We hooked up later to visit with Kels to understand the reason for ‘embarrassing MJ’ at the altar. Kels had locked himself in his room, terrified by shame and gossips arising from the incident. After minutes of persuasion, he opened the door for my Auntie, who held me closely like a clutch bag. Without any preamble, my Auntie asked: “Kels, what is the matter? I am not here to berate you. I am happy that you took this stand … Marriage is an Everlasting Covenant. So, honey, tell me what the problem is…”

Kels looked up and our eyes locked; I could see a visibly embarrassed young man – very ashamed of his cowardly act. Auntie reassured him that I was there to help him through the forest of emotional turmoil. Trust my Auntie to put me in a situation like this without prior briefing! Seeing him relax a little, I asked him pointedly: “So, tell us, why did you do it, Kels?”  He asked for a shot of whisky; my auntie reached out and handed him half a glass, despite my weak protests. Thankfully, Kelechi took a sip, discarded the drink, and spoke almost in a soliloquy…

“Can love be wrong?” he muttered as he opened up.

“My problem is all because of my EX-Fiancée. Stella is a very enterprising and Godly young woman. We dated for about two years. From the moment we met, I knew this was the one I had waited for. She helped me curb my life of excesses and extravagance, and taught me financial planning – how to committedly save. As a banker, I should be the one giving her stringent controls on money matters. Stella is nothing like any of the young ladies I dated in the past. She does not pay attention to jewelry and expensive clothing. She believes in functionality and would always advise on the need to invest rather than consume.

“Months back, in my desperation to make her mine at all cost, I suggested that she could get pregnant because her parents had reservations about me. She strongly disagreed with me and stressed the need for Christian courtship. I sometimes even accused her of pretending and double dating because I thought that she was ‘too pious’. Unknown to her, her best friend MJ actually wanted her out of the way. MJ, who works as a Hospitality Officer in one of the big hotels, is at least three years older than Stella – and desperately desirous of settling down. She planted seeds of doubt in my heart and I gradually created a gulf between us and became very apprehensive of the relationship. MJ visited frequently without Stella during this period. My younger sister openly challenged MJ on her frequent visits and long stay at my residence. MJ had lied that Stella asked her to visit me to help mend the fragile relationship. Gradually, things went out of control and she became pregnant.

“My Grandmother was distraught about the development because Stella had stolen her heart – including every member of the family. My parents were very disappointed in me, but could not suggest abortion. However, MJ’s stepmother insisted that I should marry MJ, who is older than me. Can you imagine? Mum and dad bowed to pressure because of their positions in the church. Unfortunately, my courage failed me as I could not go through with the wedding. How can I marry my fiancée’s best friend? This cannot be ‘love’, and if it is, then it is wrong. This love feels wrong. Why do I feel so much burden of guilt?

“MJ confesses she loves me very much, but I have doubts. With the benefit of hindsight, I think that she orchestrated everything in their sequence. She started by dropping the poison of doubt about Stella’s sincerity. She criticized Stella whenever we had the opportunity to be alone. Each time I look at her, I see past her, with Stella towering above her. I have had nightmares; I have gone for confessions – including deliverance. MJ concluded that Stella bewitched me, but I know it is my conscience that is restless because the poor girl did nothing wrong in putting her feet down that she would not use pregnancy as the shortcut to making her parents accept me. Stella believed that with patience and prayers, her parents would accept me eventually. Stella’s parents said I am a playboy who would hurt their daughter…. See how right they are?

“Now, MJ is pregnant for me – according to her. I feel I need to settle my emotional confusion first. I am not sure about what I feel for her – love or lust. My dad said that marriage is NOT about sex; honestly, that is what I think MJ and I have. No marriage can be sustained by something as pedestrian as sex. I know I am a coward for not coming to church or facing MJ to tell her this charade cannot continue. But, I cannot raise my child in this arena of falsehood. I have succeeded in tying a noose around my neck. I need to deal with it….

“You know, sometimes I feel like I am being manipulated by MJ. Please tell me, is there a wrong time to love? How can you even tell when love is wrong? Love is supposed to be peaceful and fulfilling – that is what I felt with Stella. Do you think it is too late to return to Stella?”

Venting is good for emotional release. Kels had bottled so much during the course of his five-month-old relationship with Mary-Jane. He could neither speak with his parents nor siblings about his problems, while MJ mounted undue pressure on him. The ‘sudden pregnancy’ is another source of stress for Kels, thus, a rather subdued and confused Auntie turned to me with an ‘Executive Order’: “You need to find a way to fix Kels.” What my auntie didn’t know was that Kels was already ‘fixing’ himself up.

The most important step in resolving emotional confusion is going back to the root cause, establishing the enabling circumstances, and, identifying the variables that contributed to the situation. It is similar to walking back from the point of convergence to the solitary track. Emotional maturity is very critical in establishing the root cause when faced with a crisis situation such as Kels found himself.

While many may consider it a weak disposition, sometimes, the most important step to take is “DO NOTHING”. Proceeding with the wedding program could have driven a deeply emotionally unstable and depressed Kels into a state of near dementia. He was carrying emotional burdens of Guilt, Regret, Denial and Betrayal put together. The cocktail of negative expressions encapsulated him and made him a prisoner to his mistakes. He had no clarity of purpose in accepting the ‘love’ dished out to him by Mary-Jane. He vengefully wanted to ‘show’ Stella that she could easily be replaced, incidentally, he fell into the warm embrace of a ‘bride in waiting’.

Further interactions with Kels revealed that, “MJ has always felt that Stella overshadowed her. Many within their circle of friends always identified her as ‘Stella’s friend’, and she hated that.” Kels’ friends, Somto and Michael had major disagreements with him over his ‘choice of love’. They tried to dissuade him from his chosen path, but no one can direct the heart how to love and who to love. Now, his friends left him alone to bear the consequences of his action of ‘loving wrongly’.

Three weeks after the botched wedding, defying the heavy June downpour, I visited Kels to know how he was healing from the crisis. He was with his friends and seemed more self-assured. He had resolved his misunderstanding with Michael and Somto. His mother had just called everyone to the dining table for lunch when a visibly pregnant MJ walked in. She was sobbing laughed and was threw tantrums – walking straight to where Kels was sitting. “Why are you doing this to me? Is it wrong to fall in love with you? Do you want us to have our first child out of wedlock? Why, Kelechi, Why?…..”

To everyone’s consternation, Kels remained very calm all through MJ’s hysteria. It was very mature and confident Kels that was a very distant image of the young man who was suicidal a fortnight ago due to depression. Truly, time is a very effective balm. Kels took MJ in his arms and guided her to a comfortable sofa, while asking his mother to prepare MJ a glass of fresh fruit juice. Time ceased as the silence in the living room could make the sound of a pin echo like a thunderbolt. Kels reached out for the glass and handed over to MJ, requesting her to relax.

Everyone held their breath as Kels spoke in a tone depicting finality and judgment.  “Mary-Jane, we have made mistakes, and I hold myself totally responsible because I am the man. We cannot believe that this is love until we have removed fleshly desire called lust. What happened to us is the result of feeding our biological hunger. I was sex-starved in my previous relationship and embraced your affection. It is not fair, but it is now clear to me that I was on a rebound. I am sorry about everything, but our child will be provided for. If it is the Will of God that we will marry, nothing wil stop it. Please, MJ, let us step out of the current situation and focus on our innocent child. Let us build on the friendship we have and see what the future holds for us. These last couple of weeks has been hell; I am trying to put the pieces of this puzzle together without success. Please bear with me…”

Kels shocked everyone, including his parents. Mary-Jane cried uncontrollably. The room was filled with mixed emotions as she muttered repeatedly, “I should have known…Oh, my God…” Kels mother walked towards MJ, signaled me as she pulled her into her arms and guided her to the guest room, assuring her that all would be well. At this time, only a mother’s love can cushion the impact of the scenario that played out earlier.

As she continued to cry, Mary-Jane could not but come to terms with the fact that sometimes our emotions can be deceptive. The intensity of the emotion does not translate to ‘love’. True love is nurtured and constantly weighted. Is there a time love can be wrong? Clearly, the answer is NO; however, the thin line between love and lust can be confusing. While feeding on fleshly need, lust has intensity capable of confusing the most experienced relationship experts.

Emotional Piggy Bank

The greatest emotional baggage to any relationship is getting involved with your best friend’s ex fiancé/fiancée. To be successful under that circumstance, deception and lies must be ruled out and placed on a pedestal of transparency.

Emotions and feelings need to be constantly weighted when taking actions that will impact one’s future or that of an innocent child. True love can occur at any time. It does not have time limitations or hurtful. True love is never wrong, rather it is rewarding, as it is also responsive and responsible. Nevertheless, players must ensure that they understand the context of every emotional display to enable them apply some checks in order to secure their hearts.

We need to constantly put a lien on our emotions after a separation or divorce. Unchecked emotions may inadvertently lead one to a rebound effect, which can be more hurtful than the actual separation. The wise one says, “Keep your heart with all diligence; for out of it springs the issues of life”. Proverbs 4:23

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