Christine Onwuachumba, Lagos
Blessing Nkiruka Okoro advocates healthy relationships through her project, Break or Make-up Initiative. Her aim is to educate and help young people enjoy and understand love in their relationships.
Through this process, she hopes to set off a chain of reactions that would empower youths to reduce the toxicity and negativity around their relationships today. Nkiruka Okoro is married, with two children. She spoke to Daily Sun recently.
Would you give us an insight into what you do?
We share true-life stories and get opinions from other people who might have had similar experiences. This way, we help people to unburden their hearts. Just like they say, a problem shared is a problem half-solved.
Why did you take to this project?
I feel that most people today in relationships are battling with serious challenges. First, they expect the relationship to run on auto-pilot and when they don’t go smoothly, evidently, they have no idea how to fix them.
Having known what the problem is, I chose this path to satisfy my curiosity about love and marriage. Through this process, I meet new people and everyone has found my views interesting. I have always been curious about knowing and understanding what makes a relationship tick.
Is it as a result of your personal experience?
Yes, I am from a long line of family members of which many have been married for as long as 50 years. Naturally, I have over the years been opportune to observe some incredible dynamics in relationships. As a growing girl, I was fascinated about what made these relationships long-lasting. I have also been intrigued by interpersonal relationships.
When did you realise you could help young people improve their lives with your knowledge?
From my teenage years, I have always been the one in my circle of friends whom everyone would usually come to for some bits of advice on issues relating to their relationships.
For some reason, I was always there for them. I always managed to live up to their expectations. I could also see what people were missing in their relationships and, more often than not, my advice brought them back together and stronger.
I have also done a bit of matchmaking for people, especially when I see that they are compatible. I think what is important is for young people to be guided and given a good sense of direction as regards relationships. It is also imperative for them to make out what holds them back in achieving success in their relationships. It is always a relief when they find a person they can share their thoughts and fears with.
What do you think is the major factor in relationship problems?
It is hard to narrow it down to one thing but, if I had to pick one, I would say it comes down to interpreting others based on who you are as an individual. A lot of miscommunication and misunderstanding occur when you interpret what someone else does in a relationship based on how you would respond or act in a specific situation.
That is when things can go wrong quickly. It is important to always ask someone why he is taking a certain action, instead of jumping to conclusions or just assuming what is not. You have to be able to listen and figure out how to reach a happy mediation. Without good communication and understanding, even the best relationships can crumble quickly.
In this age, gender roles are in flux. How do you think this affects young people in relationships?
Yes, gender roles have serious impacts on relationships. The great thing is that young women can attain any height, career-wise, achieve huge success and be independent. However, this creates issues in relationships because what makes you a successful businesswoman or working-class lady does not translate to creating a successful relationship.
Men like to be loved and needed. While being at the helm of affairs at work can get you ahead and help you to gain a great deal of success, you must understand that, in a relationship, you are a teammate.
And this means that you have to flex different strategies to promote teamwork with your partner. When men feel you have it all covered, it can be hard to know where they fit in with you. Knowing how to let a man take the lead, fix problems for you and do things for you is important to a successful relationship. Using your feminine traits is critical in cultivating a strong relationship with a man, too.
What do you think is the most important thing couples can do to keep their relationships healthy?
Stay true to yourself. There is a reason that your partner was initially attracted to you. It is natural to fall into a relationship and want to give everything to the other person almost in an obsessive way. But couples who last for the long-haul do it differently. They have interests and so many things in common with one another even as they also have separate interests and activities they do on their own and with their friends. This creates balance and longevity in their relationship.
What services do you offer?
I coach young people, and, by young people, I mean the age bracket is between 18 and 38 years, through developing healthy relationships, re-balancing an unhealthy relationship and increasing their self-esteem.
What do you tell a young girl that is afraid of losing a young man because she doesn’t want to have sex with him?
Great things are worth waiting for. And a winner guy loves to have a challenge. Your ability to hold off puts you in a more valuable position and keeps you safe from heartbreak too.
What is the commonest mistake most young girls make?
The basic mistake young girls make with young men and males in general is always trying to give much. This includes phone calls, text messages and offering to do his laundry when they are dating, offering help with anything when he has not asked for it as well as unsolicited advice.
When a young woman does these things, she is being pro-active and is either chasing or trying to “win” his love.
Why do men stop calling women in relationships?
There could be so many reasons for this. Many times, it is because they don’t feel as if they are winning or that there is the possibility of winning with a particular woman.
They do not want to fail so they prefer to leave. If a man stops calling, a woman has two options. One is to let it be and move on. Oftentimes, when a woman does this, a man will reach out again at some point, otherwise, the second option is to contact him, feel him out and see if he is willing to talk. It is possible that there was a misunderstanding and this would clear it up.
Do you believe in gender equality?
I do believe in gender equality because women are already doing everything men can do. I think women should be given equal opportunity as long as they are qualified. Women should be given the chance to serve and be treated fairly in order to contribute their quota to the growth of society, irrespective of gender.
What do you think about the future of the girl-child?
I am optimistic about our girl-child because the men are gradually beginning to relax and allow us take our chances.
I believe that the future of the girl-child is bright. Women should guide our girls and help them to be the best they can be. They should be directed and groomed early in life to become voices for other women. Every girl-child is a potential successful woman and mother.