It may be safe to say that most everyone has taken a ride on that emotional roller coaster. The strength of an individual is determined by how well he or she is able to walk when the roller coaster ends. And more importantly how gallantly he or she hops back on the ride. I have met quite a few people who have recently been thrown from this attraction, and I thought that I could share some insight on why this happens and how to put things back together when it does. The best way to describe why a relationship fails is to outline the most important components of any relationship and then figure out where there is a breakdown. It is very difficult to correctly place these important aspects and components in their absolute order of importance, and this is because there are many factors that carry varying roles and weight depending on circumstances and personalities involved. Every relationship depends on a combination of a number of crucial components, and I will like to call them the pillars or beacons bearing the entire structure. The foundation of this whole thing though remains the very primary interest upon which the beacons are based, and this may as well be love for the purposes of this discuss.
The first pillar is communication. It is impossible to maintain an effective relationship without it, and any effort to betray its importance is always met with same unpleasant result. Face it, if you cannot talk to a person you cannot build or maintain a good sense of companionship nor can you build or maintain the trust and needed meaningful intimacy. And if these are lacking in any relationship what then can be found in it.
Mutual respect is another indispensable pillar, and this is the very factor that people often take for granted. Couples who do not have this are simply fishing in troubled waters, and only time will prove that they are not meant for each other. It may take time, sometimes forever for the truth to surface but what is absolute is that truth can only be delayed but never betrayed. Mutual respect is essentially what makes any relationship work because it makes any partner want to give more and to sacrifice more for a rather worthy course and for someone who is equally worthy. I have purposely used the word mutual because for any mutual relationship, respect must be reciprocal. In other words a husband cannot expect the best from his wife if he is “a public he goat”, if you know what I mean. Who tells him that his wife cannot be “a public she goat”. In African contemporary traditional society, and elsewhere it was the norm for the macho man to swing all over the place like a monkey under the deceptive pretext that men are polygamous animals and women must be subservient and timid. This is arrant nonsense. The women stayed put and languished until they eventually begin to have a-say in the entire mix of relationship sustenance or otherwise. Not any more, not anywhere can you hold a woman down in slavery and expect her to give you all of her worth. The truth can be delayed but can never be betrayed. If you treat badly your kids or any kids, employees or any subordinates or benefactors for that matter, your time will certainly come to reap the rotten fruit of your endeavors. Certainly the kids do know when they are respected, and when they are not they do not stop growing, rather they wait for their time to pay back. It does not matter if you are a king or a queen, remember that even the pee on has got an ego. Even the smallest of plants has got a top. Communication is only effective if there is mutual respect. Without respect, communication can turn negative or even destructive. If the manner of communication is merely gossiping, name-calling, yelling and verbal abuse, cursing and insulting, threatening and harassing, and all kinds of negative expressions, then it is nothing but poison. Through a conscious sense of mutual respect for one another a couple will be able to coexist peacefully and happily regardless of the odds. No individual is perfect. No relationship is perfect. No marriage is perfect. There is always bound to be trials but with mutual respect for one another couples will always come through stronger, wiser and more loving and that is what counts.
Beyond these two pillars a-fore-stated, trust plays into the mix immensely. Without trust in your partner you may go crazy, literally. If your partner does not trust you he/she can literally drive you crazy. If you and your partner do not trust each other, then non of you is qualified to be in that partnership. It is a disaster waiting to happen, and the question is why wait for the disaster to happen if you can avoid being a victim. Fortunately, or unfortunately the only way to avoid being a victim is by weathering the storm, by building trust and earning some too. This is tough, but it is true. As a strongly practicing Christian I strongly advocate that married couples must stay around and boldly tackle their problems together, but I cannot suggest that one must sheepishly stay in a relationship and die for a course which is unfounded and worthless. In any relationship, mutual trust is golden and definitely invaluable.
What about attraction?. Some people may think this is a rather mute point but I want to insist on presenting it as an absolutely vital component in commencing, and sustaining any relationship on the soft side. After all, most couples first saw each other and liked each other even on the face value before truly knowing each other. And if this is true, one must begin to ask why has the lust or “love” waned and dissipated over time.
Once deep and old in a relationship couples tend to relax and stop to do those things or appear those ways that first earned them the attention and admiration of their partners. With time couples begin to take these things for granted, and assume that their partner must now learn to live with what they have eventually become. This is more prevalent with the lady who, when she is young and wanting to get married she slims up and does everything right in order to be attractive. Once she gets married she tends to relax and starts to become the kind of person, in physiognomy and personality different from what attracted her man to her in the first place. This is dangerous, and some men who cannot bear this sudden disparity quickly begin to find their models elsewhere. There is no excuse for infidelity but you must not be willing to hand your partner the tools to destroy your family. Appearance is absolutely important, and this applies also to the men. A relationship is a mere friendship in the absence of attraction, and attraction is one of the reasons why every marriage is more than a mere friendship.
Obviously, I do not have enough space here to go into greater details on this topic. Even if I have all the space, I do not have all the knowledge and expertise to accommodate everything needed to do justice to this topic. What I intend to do here is to arouse our curiosity and interest on a topic matter that has rather been placed on the bottom of the rack. You and I may know why relationships begin and end, but what we are not sure about is how to stop every relationship from ending, especially marriages.
From my several years of experience working as a marriage counselor, I have come to understand that there is nothing anyone can do to help an ailing relationship if the partners themselves are not willing to make it work. The Beetles had good intentions by contending that ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, but this is not all the truth. You really need more than love. Love is very important, and in fact it is the underlying factor in any lasting marriage. However, love becomes a mute factor in any relationship without trust, and communication, and respect. Some will argue that if love is there, everything will fall in place. While this may sound as a lovely sentiment, it is unfortunately extremely naďve. Relationships take work. In the beginning there is always the honeymoon period when there is this blissful happiness that appears to be rather euphoric. Once this momentary bliss is over as certainly would, the pillars raised on this piece must be present to accommodate the weaknesses and strength of each other. These pillars grease the love between couples and if they are absent the ship is bound to wreck sooner or later. And let me tell you, once the ship is wrecked all parties are permanently bruised if not maimed. Beware of the routine. Do not get so comfortable in a relationship that you begin to feel that there is no longer need for communication, respect, trust, and attraction. Once you allow these pillars to be absent you have left a room to be thrown off the roller coaster. For couples who have children, of course you know its not just about you and your spouse. The kids need these pillars as well in other to grow up healthy and strong. The couples who come to me for help, I have always found a way to tell them about the need to pray together as family. Remember the old saying about the family that prays together. I am a believer. Prayer is the key to the heart of God. Anytime you find yourself in a quicksand situation do not wiggle because the more you wiggle the deeper you sink. Stay calm rather, and call on God who is almighty and able. The trouble with relationships is that people tend to put themselves first rather than God.
Sir Charles Anarado.
Most people call America “God’s own country.” We are fortunately or unfortunately living in the so-called God’s own country, which has its ups and downs, stresses and pleasures. To most people in Nigeria, living in America is associated with easy and endless supply of dollars by the American trees. One only needs to harvest as mush as needed from the trees. How hard one works to make a living in America is of no concern to them. The utmost goal for some of them is to extort as much money as they could lay their hands on and they do not waste time asking you to “bring the dollars” as they easily put it. I have often wondered if people know how foolish and ignorant they look when they say, “bring dollars, if you change one dollar, naira would turn into Ezu-oyetolo.” It is true that dollars hold a reasonable value over our naira, but dollars never comes easy here in America. One works extremely hard to earn a dollar and giving that dollars to someone must be done with dignity and I am not saying this because we (the people of Adazi-Nnukwu) here in America have undertaken challenges requiring sending money to our people at home. I am saying this because it is a common problem facing almost all of us here in America regardless of hometown.
We have on many occasions contributed money to assist in projects back home and I don’t believe that we have challenged our people for accountability. It is good to assist in projects furthering developments in our town and also, improving or enhancing lives for our people back home. It is however, unfair to be taken advantage of, or exploited. I have friends from all over both the Igbo and Yoruba lands and they have complained of exploitations by their people. Although our people at Adazi-Nnukwu might be a bit different and not as bad as most towns’ ruling bodies in undertaking and executing projects, a fair accountability would not be a bad idea.
We have previously undertaken projects back home including but not limited to shipping of books to our library, hospital equipment and other contributions. I can not remember seeing detailed accounts on how productive those shipments were rather, endless demands for insufficient monies were heard. We are currently working on clean water supply for Adazi-Nnukwu and it would not be a bad idea to adopt ideas practiced by our peers from neighboring towns. Most towns do not send money home anymore while embarking on projects. They directly hire consultants, embark on the projects and when completed, hand over the project to their towns. It has worked for neighboring towns and would work for us. Our Nneni friends here in America are currently building a hospital at Nneni, a neighboring town and have directly hired their consultants and deal with them. Such an idea would not be a bad idea and would prevent us from seeking audited accounts of our ventures because we are directly involved with our projects. I do not have anything against embarking on projects back home only that we need to take charge and be more responsible instead of trusting other people to spend our money. Here we live in the year 2003 yet, doing things the old way that never served us well. We should handle our own projects ourselves. Secondly, we need not seek recognition from anyone for embarking on projects. We just have to do things our way. We need to be responsible for our actions, live and die by them. Making money in “God’s own country” is difficult consequently, the money should be spent with respect and dignity.
Sir Victor Asika Obikili.
My movie audition
My story begins when I went to an audition for a movie called THE ITALIAN JOB . I was scared, but my mom took me by the shoulder and said, "Do your best and win." She sounded kind of weird when she said that but in a way I think I know what she meant.
When we got into the studio my stomach felt worse than ever my stomach growled and that is mostly what everyone heard because the place was so quiet. My mom had said, " That it is normal to want something and you try to work hard for it . You might have too much pressure and you might take it too hard if you don't get picked."I love the way my mom is always there to help me out when something has gone wrong. That tells me that she cares.
Later it was my turn; they called out my first name right but it seems everywhere we go people always have a problem with my last name. They had called it out like this: "VALENTINE EBUNOIL." I know that’s not how to spell my last name, but that’s how they do it everywhere I go. She had called my name again, because me and my mom always waited till they call my name a second time just to make sure. So I took a deep breath and straightend my shirt , and before I could move my mom told me to hurry up. I got mad but in a way that always helped me.
When I went into the room the the director asked me what my name is and I replied, "My name is VALENTINE EBUNILO", and I am 11 years old. "Wait " said the director how do you pronounce your last name. I said E-BU-NI-LO. "Thank you." Said the director. Then the director started to write some stuff I don't know though. Then the director said okay "VALENTINE EBUNILO see you later. I thought to my self that the director had finally said my name right. When I came out my mom asked me, " How did it go and I said it went great. Then weeks later I started doing a movie called The ITALIAN JOB. You know what, I would like to thank my mom for that. I made it, yes!
Valentine Nonso Ebunilo