By Bolatito Adebayo
Pastor Bisi Adewale is a renowned marriage counsellor, who is well known for his passion for building the Nigerian home. Though he is a qualified accountant, he has been committed to what easily passes as a calling to teach Nigerians and people all over the world how to balance family lives, fix and sustain marital relationships. In his new office in Ikeja, he spoke with Sunday Sun on his ministerial endeavours to help many couples revive their homes. He talked about the newest effort of a news portal, Dailyfamily.ng, specially created to help families bond better. The cleric also talked about his marriage of 17 years and other issues.
Has the church done enough to salvage marriages, especially in the case of violence in marriage?
In terms of violence in marriage, it’s not the duty of the church to tell the woman to leave, neither is it the duty of the counsellor. The church, based on the doctrine of the bible, would want to prevent the marriage from falling apart but it would be a crime for the church to say, ‘stay in the marriage,’ when the man is being abusive and they are not doing anything about it. As a church, what we do is to pray for you but I know as a counsellor there are many things prayer would not do. There is nothing God cannot do, but there is something He would not do because He expects you to apply wisdom. In Nigeria today, many churches are not doing anything at all about the family. For the church, their intention mainly is just to gather people, dance together, contribute offering and move on. What happens to the family or the state of the people in that church does not concern some pastors. The church is not doing enough if they are doing anything at all. I think the church needs to give every pastor proper training as a counsellor. I attended two bible colleges but I wasn’t taught about marriage counselling. Many of our seminaries only teach general counselling that would help people solve their problems and this shouldn’t be so.
That is why we have realized that a lot of pastors are saying wrong things to women in trouble. The only thing many churches do and which they call marriage counselling is just traditional counselling. They are using customs to counsel people; that is why they are always quick to tell women, they are wrong when a marriage crashes. But the truth is that it takes two to tango and so both of them should be counselled, and not just the woman. The truth is that most of the troubles in marriages are caused by men. I know a lot of men will not like this but that is the truth. Unfortunately, when there is a problem it is women that will be running helter-skelter to save the marriage. So when the pastors want to counsel, they should look more into the men, I know there are situations that women have issues too. We have women that are stubborn, some can be difficult, some can be extravagant, we have some that are party freaks, we have some women that have girlfriend mentality and they are married. But in the real sense of it, I have seen it that if I counsel 100 people in a week, 95% are women who are looking for solutions, men will not look for help, they don’t flip through books for solutions, they don’t attend marriage seminars but it is the women that do all these things.
What do you think is responsible for the high rate of divorce now because it is becoming a norm?
Divorce is not a norm today but it is very high among married people. Based on my own investigations, I just discovered that divorce is higher in the city than the towns and higher in the towns than the villages.
Are you saying that the people in the villages love themselves more than those in the city?
That is not the point. I think the reason is that a lot of women in the city are becoming financially independent. For example, if you look at Lagos, recently a report was published that the rate of divorce in Lagos is higher than that of Ibadan and they began to ask questions from people. They discovered that even transport system of Lagos adds to the divorce rate in Lagos. When a woman closes from work at Victoria Island by around 6pm, and has not gotten home till around 11pm and she has to leave home for work around 4-5am in the morning, it brings tremendous pressure upon the family. Our transport system is not helping matters and the recession too has made things more complex. There are many marriages that were doing well before but now because of the recession, a lot of men have lost their jobs, a lot of women now earn better.
So in the process, some men in that kind of marriage are becoming insecure, they begin to misbehave and some women too become stubborn. As marriage counsellors we don’t just generalise, we take cases as they come. For instance, the issue of contraceptives has also added to the high rate of divorce. Women were more faithful to their husbands before now but because contraceptives are helping to cover up their tracks, the infidelity rate has shot up. I’m not saying contraceptive is not okay, it’s good for the marriage but that is the negative aspect of it.
Why do men have problems when their wives are more financially buoyant than they are?
It is because a lot of African men are egocentric. Every African man needs to be re-oriented because we still have this 13th, 17th century mentality about women. The way our fathers related with our mothers in those days, even many men that are in the city still have that village mentality. When a man has that kind of mentality and marries a city girl, who is a career woman, who makes cool earnings, there would be trouble in the house because that kind of man would be insecure. In fact, insecurity is number one reason why some men beat their wives; they don’t want the woman to take over, and they think that the best way to put her down is to beat her. It is not wrong for a woman to earn better, but the problem is who will teach our men the right thing to do? if I happen to be the president for one day, one of the things I would introduce is family life education, from primary to higher institution and make it a compulsory course, teaching men how to be real men, to understand a woman is not a competitor and not a footmat.
How long have you been a counsellor?
It’s about 17 years.
How long is your marriage?
It’s around that period too.
How have you been able to manage your home?
I have been able to manage my home because I got to understand the family life. When you want to be a great husband you need to know the things those women want. I used the word women not woman and I discovered that there are about six or seven things that women generally want. When you know that, then you won’t have a problem. There are two scenarios: what is it that women want generally? Then what is it that my woman wants? The number one thing that a woman wants is protection, she wants to be protected, that’s why when a wife and husband are inside a bus or car, or a boyfriend and girlfriend are inside a car and the car enters a pothole suddenly, you would see all women holding their men to be protected. When a man fails in protecting his wife, there would be trouble. Unfortunately, an average African man is not a protector; they even expose their wives to their families and friends. Secondly, affection. No matter the age of a woman; there is a 16-year-old girl, who feels that every mother refuses to grow. She may be 96-year-old but there is a 16-year-old girl inside of her that would never grow to 17 years. How do I mean? The same thing a 16-year-old girl wants from a boyfriend: the letters, the ‘toasting,’ the talking, the chasing, loving, everything, the love letter, the drift, the timeout, everything. A 96-year-old grandma still wants it. But men hardly know that there is a 16-year-old girl, who is in their wives. This has to do with affection, it is about spending time with her, talking to her, listening to her, giving her the whole of your life, make her believe all that.
Some Nigerians shame men who are all over their wives. What is your take on that?
If a man loves a woman so much, traditional people around would say she has charmed him. But if my wife doesn’t charm me, who should charm me? At times they would say that she has washed her privates, for me to drink. If my wife washes her privates, who should drink it if not me? At times they would say that she has cooked vegetable for me, let them say. A report in the United States showed that men that truly love their wives live 14 years more than an average man. That’s instructive.
In fact, researchers discovered that men that kiss their wives before they leave their homes in the US, have lesser accident. Do you know that when a woman marries you, she gives you monopoly? She gives you her body, time, thoughts and everything. She changes her name, she changes her life, and even the baby she gives birth to belongs to you. So what is difficult in giving something to that kind of woman? I believe many of our men would read this and God would give them the understanding of this. A woman is not coming up to take over your life, she is actually coming up to better your life. Thirdly, she craves for attention. Every woman wants attention. The fourth one is communication. Every woman wants to be talked to; she wants to be spoken to when a man arrives home. The fifth one is appreciation, an average woman wants appreciation.
Lastly, every woman wants provision, provide for her, give her money. Nigerian women generally are not greedy, though there are greedy ones.
But you can’t compare to others that are daft in the kind of way they live their lives. If you meet the basic needs of a lady, she is ready to give you all, except the greedy ones.
Lately, the Dailyfamily.ng has been everywhere, what is this about?
Dailyfamily.ng is a news portal that focuses on families. We discovered that there is need to report the family in a special way and we just discovered that there is nobody doing something like that in Nigeria. Dailyfamily.ng came on board about three months ago and it has been doing well, we have series of categories in the Daily family, like family health, we talk about parenting, relationship, we write about lifestyle, about weddings, court, we cover registries for people that are just getting married and anything that has to do with family. We encourage people to get in touch with us, to report to us what is happening in their families, get in touch with the government and we also report any policy that has to do with families.
Is Dailyfamily.ng interactive?
Yes, we have forum on it where people can drop their questions and Nigerians would gather together in order to answer the questions.
What has been the response?
The response has been tremendous. Within three months and as at this morning, we have 214,0000 people following us on Facebook and 64,0000 following us on Twitter.