By Christy Anyanwu
For the first time, the world will mark Valentine’s Day under the pall cast by the COVID-19 pandemic, and compulsion to wear face mask, observe social distancing and avoid crowded places. Absent will be the pulsating sound of discotheque music which most lovers would have gone to enjoy with their partners. With most social watering holes shutdown today’s Valentine’s Day may seem boring.
However, renowned relationship expert and life coach, Jerome Onipede, offers in this interview for having a memorable Valentine experience and drops hints on how spouses can sniff out the sexual orientation of their partners, in the face of the increasing incidence of hidden expression of homosexuality by both male and female spouses.
How do you plan to spend today’s Valentine’s Day?
Today is a Sunday, so this won’t be the usual Valentine’s Day in the sense that what I would have done on a usual Valentine’s Day is to spend the day with my wife alone. I developed that attitude long ago, when I realized that there’s no point teaching people how to be with their spouses, what to do on days like this, and then I don’t do it. By the way, my wife and I would be celebrating our 34th Valentine’s Day as a couple. Also, I have a group of married couples called, Marriages That Last. The members will come around and we will have a great time watching movies, talking, relaxing. Later, 7.00pm, I would be a guest on an online show, where I would talk about ‘The Agile Relationship, the Agile Marriage’. That is exactly, how I will spend Valentine’s Day, today.
How can couples still have a memorable Valetine’s Day experience despite COVID-19 and issues associated with it?
The first thing a couple would need to do is to have right mindset about the day. Using Lagos as an example, in the past on Valentine’s Day, there is usually heavy traffic all over the city and you find that most of the restaurants are heavily filled up. You find couples go to certain restaurants, and they have to stand to eat. It’s crazy when I see those things happening in the past. A lot of restaurants now do home deliveries and you actually order what you want to eat for your breakfast at a particular restaurant or if for example, the husband is a very good cook and has not probably cooked for the wife for a long time, this is that very perfect moment for him to do that. If you have not bought a lot of things yet and you think it’s too late today, you can still order for a lot of things. If you get in touch with me on whatsapp, I might make some recommendations to you about people that could do delivery in a jiffy. The pandemic has helped us with a new way of life, with a new way of purchasing things and the delivery is sweet as long as you are able to purchase so quickly. If all you want to do is spend some time together, you can order for breakfast in a particular place, order for your lunch in another place entirely for a different kind of experience and another place for dinner in a different place entirely. You already have in mind what kind of things you want to eat and why. I do not probably think that it should be one sided. Valentine’s Day giving has been one sided, you find out that it’s either the wife doing it or, it is the husband doing it. I think both of you as a couple should ensure that you give something to your husband or to your wife, you may do that on your wedding anniversary as well but there is nothing wrong if you are able to do that at least four times a year. I’m talking about giving a gift on your husband birthday, on your wife’s birthday, on your wedding anniversary and then also on Valentine’s Day. It will only spice up your marriage because most of the time those little gifts you get mean a lot to your partner. Then, you need to watch a movie. Couples don’t spend time on watching movies. Choosing a very good romantic movie at a time like this can be wonderful for both of you sitting down together. Something that both of you can sit down and talk later after the movie is over. Something that will get you talking again because the movie has provoked certain communications all over again. Then, dancing is wonderful. Dancing together can be very amazing. This might be a good time to also write a letter. Have a handwritten letter and hidden somewhere where your spouse is going to see it. Telling your spouse something you have admired about him or her all your life. Something that has been very consistent. If you find out that one of you may have been having issues with your finances due to the pandemic and only one spouse is working, I would still advice that you should still give at this time. A gift is most appreciated when it is sacrificial, when that person knows that you must have made a sacrifice in giving that gift. The person knows you don’t have enough and you choose to give that means a lot to a couple like that. Some of you might want to renew your vows, you might not need a pastor or priest to be there, you might just choose to renew your vows again with each other.
What would you say are the major reasons spouses are increasingly heading to the divorce court?
It’s true that couples are increasingly heading into the divorce court but more of the reasons they would probably head to the divorce court is because of their views of marriage. Marriage actually means nothing to a lot of people right now. In those days, before you get married, you would think about it very well, you would attend a lot of premarital classes, where you are taught a lot of things. It is not so today, because the quality of the people living in the society has gone down. People don’t tell the truth anymore. We are only concerned about having our way, getting our way. You want to get what you want at all cost and so, truth is no longer a tool that is used to build relationships. If we lack truth in our relationship, trust will be missing. If you can’t tell me the truth, I can’t trust you as a person, I will naturally not be able to respect you because I cannot trust you. You find a lot of people from the very start marry people they don’t respect; if you can’t tell me the truth I will have a problem trusting you. If I don’t respect you, I won’t be able to love you. People think it all start with love. No, it does not start with love, it starts with truth, from truth you go to trust, from trust you go to respect. When I begin to respect you, when I begin to admire you, respect you, because I know that I can trust you, because I know you will tell me the truth that makes you different from others and naturally, I begin to really love you. As I begin to love you, I start becoming intimate with you because the truth is, I have nothing to hide. You cannot become intimate with somebody that has a lot to hide. A person that has a lot to hide will never be able to really connect with you and so, that has broken down the foundation of marriage itself. You are living with somebody that doesn’t tell you the truth, you are living with somebody you can’t trust, you are living with somebody you don’t respect, you are living with somebody you find it difficult to love, how can you then get intimate, how can you get to the point you realized you to build each other up, you need to grow together. How can we make this work because we are too precious to lose each other. We need to see a counselor. People think nowadays that divorce is one of the tools to use in resolving personal conflicts, they don’t know divorce has never been one of the tools in resolving marital conflict. As a matter of fact, what divorce does is, tear apart what you have together. The amazing part is, the person gets a divorce now, the next thing he tries to rush into marriage. I know this because I’m also a match maker. This person wants to rush into another marriage and a lot of people that are divorcees are competing with people that have not been married before and they are all back in the market, they want to get married again and when you have not resolved what makes you get divorced in the first place. I have met 40-year-old men that have divorced three times in Nigeria. Why is it that that happens? Because love is really missing in our marriages. We live in societies where we are not patient with ourselves and then with each other. Bible, the only source that I know, makes us understand, love is patient, love is kind, love is not unkind, love would not do things to you that when you know or find out about it you are going to be deeply hurt, we also understand that love perseveres.
What steps can couples take to enliven and recharge their relationships?
If couples are going to recharge their relationship, they need a charger obviously and there’s so many ways they can charge it up. One of the ways is that once or twice a year, couples should plan to have a getaway and a retreat. A getaway, where they can attend a retreat during the getaway. There is a time that you need to get away from all the stress around you, which has contributed to making both of you not seeing each other anymore because you are so busy with your work that is so hectic. You are busy with all the schedules that have to do with family members, sister’s wedding ceremony, next Sunday, parent’s 70th birthday anniversary, and after that the next weekend you have to go for your bosses wife’s occasion. It’s always from one occasion to the other event and your life is so crowded and before you know it, both of you are not speaking with each other. You no longer talk about each other but you talk. You look at each other but you no longer see each other. When was the last time that you saw that your spouse has this scar behind her ears, what was the last time you realized that your husband has had a rash, or eczema in his back. You may have sex every day that does not mean you see each other it is just normal routine and because of all of these things you need to spend time alone. You need to move away from everyone else and spend time alone with each other. This might be something you can do once or twice in a year. It requires your time, your focus, your energy and it requires finance as well. It’s something you plan for. When you are there, play with each other, don’t go for destination retreat because you want to go and look for business opportunities. Give your spouse the idea that you want to be together with him or her. Always be sincere with yourself about your motives. Take time out, you need to date each other. Don’t wait for Valentine’s Day to give gifts. People love it when they are given gifts. It shows that that person is on your mind. It shows the receiver that he/she is in the mind of the giver; such gesture will spice up your love. Sit back to watch movies together, dance together, get good music, and dance together, don’t be shy. Start it, dance together. Start it you will love it, you will continue in it and you will grow in it. Do you know that when your children watch you dance together, watch a movie and enjoy it together then it gives them a lot of assurance, it makes them to have peace of mind, it gives them confidence, it makes them to feel right at home. Even when they are teenagers they will want to come back home. They know their home is a haven of peace, love, and joy, they will always want to come back home.
The new Biden administration has elevated same-sex relationships as LGBTQ+ personalities have been appointed into cabinet positions. How do you feel about this?
I believe strongly that God’s idea about marriage is actually one husband, one wife. That’s why he made Adam and Eve. But you have a lot of societies that actually start with God, they become very big and very mighty in their own eyes and they believe strongly that they brought themselves to where they are today. When people have got so much, they have achieved so much and they believe they did it all by themselves. Therefore, they go away from God and then they start talking about human rights and they now use that as a camouflage to also bring in Sin Right.
How can a Nigerian woman recognize the signs that her husband is gay? And how can a Nigerian man also recognize that his wife has lesbian tendencies?
It can be very difficult sometimes for a man to recognize that the wife is a lesbian or for the woman to recognize that the husband is actually gay. The reason is that the strange things that you find in a straight marriage, those things also happen in marriage where either spouse may be gay or a lesbian. The guy might not want to spend much time having sex with you, and the woman might feel very churchy, you also find that in straight marriage or when you find they don’t want to spend time with you, communicate with you, or sleep with you , they are always trying to show that they are busy. That also happens in a straight marriage. However, there will be this thing about you. If you are somebody who is a censor, you can sense it. Something is not adding up with your spouse. There is a knowing intuitively, a thought comes to your mind and that’s where it starts. I’m not asking that everytime a thought comes to your mind you are right. I’m saying that is where it starts. You really have no reason to be that suspicious, no reason to begin to feel that something was wrong. Let me tell you a true life story. It happened to my client. This particular lady had gone to the airport, the husband had dropped her and had gone back home. Something happened. The flight was cancelled for no reason. When the flight was cancelled, she didn’t bother to call her husband anymore to come and pick her up, she just took a taxi home. When she got to her house unfortunately the door was open and she walked in. She saw her husband having sex with the driver on their matrimonial bed. She didn’t scream, she just dropped her luggage and left the house but they both knew that she saw then. But before the husband could dress up and go after her she had gone out of the house. I was the first person she called. She realized that she had always sensed it, that she didn’t like his relationship with this driver at all. This guy is a driver, her husband in high position, the way he treated the driver in such a special way and they were not related. She saw a confirmation when she was not even looking for one.
A lot of men in Nigeria are beginning to find out that they have lesbians as wives and lesbianism is a big market especially in Lagos, it used to be very big right from Abuja. In those days we had a lot of women whose husbands were in power, these women were not happy women, they were very lonely women, they had money and everything of course given to them by their husband but they were very unhappy at home. When women sit together sometimes, they try to look for solution by themselves and when as human beings we try to look for solutions by ourselves, then we go outside the word of God to solve the problems, we will only create more problems for ourselves. These women started bringing in girls who were very powerless, young girls, who are coming in for their NYSC at that time in Abuja, young girls who had nothing, young girls who were very depraved, and they started bringing them in, they started meeting their needs, they started doing all sorts of sexual things with them. That way lesbianism grew at that time in Abuja. Now in Lagos, what started making lesbianism a big time business was the strip clubs. We have a lots of strip clubs in Nigeria, some are registered, some are not, so we have them in Lagos. It is so crazy that the kind of men we have these days now take their own wives to strip clubs and as you take your wife to strip club, most of the girls in the club are lesbians, so gradually, the strippers come around, they dance around the women, and ideas that may not have come to your head begin to come. Sometimes you become very curious as a woman. These girls give them their complimentary cards. I’m talking out of what I know as a counselor. Some of these married women go behind and ask them for cards. It is easier now for lesbians to operate because they rent their own apartment, you don’t have to meet in hotels or any of those places anymore. All you have to do is, come to their apartment and do what you need to do and of course you are going to pay. They have cool, furnished apartments. When you find your woman really having strange telephone conversations with strange friends who are females but you don’t know anything about these females, even when you ask questions you can’t get much from what your wife is telling you. Then you need to ask a lot of questions. When you see your wife begin to dress in certain ways (you know this is not for you), she changes her kind of perfumes (these are not for you). These are signs and there are lots more. If you think you have this feeling and you are not comfortable, talk to a counselor, who might be able to listen to you or encourage you on what to do, and then find somebody that could pray with you and help you go through this journey without making mistakes because you can make a decision that might be detrimental. As a match maker, I will end with this, I have a lot of homosexuals in Nigeria who come to me and they say they want to get married now. Most of them come from a particular culture in Nigeria, a particular region in Nigeria, saying they have to get married because their family is asking them, when are they getting married. They ask me if it’s possible for me to find them lesbian women who will know from the very start that they are homosexuals. So that at the end of the day the man is doing his own thing and turns his face away from his wife who is also doing her own thing. This is really going on. If you are a straight woman and your husband is not jealous about the men that talk to you, keeps his eyes away from it, you need to talk to a counselor. In a situation like this, it is good for you to talk to a counselor because you won’t want to do anything on your own at this particular time because you just can mess things up. When we are faced with troubles like these, talk to a counselor. Out of every chaos , there can be creation; something wonderful can come out of certain kind of chaos. We have a lot of these things going on, brewing in our society and it happens very quickly and very fast because it’s done underground.