These guides, written by Counseling counselors are meant to help you understand and work through common issues. Our hope is that these guides can give you a better understanding of your concerns to aid your communication with your counselors.
I recently counseled a young couple, they were separated and decided to come for counseling after the guy attempted suicide. The wife left with their two kids and the man became lonely and miserable. It took the intervention of neighbors and friends to rescue him, this is not moonlight story but reality. I’m sure the typical African man reading this will say, “ Is he alright ‘women don finish for town’…”
We live in a society where we have left the cultures and traditions that shaped us in the quest of trying to be western. I personally don’t think its a bad idea to move along with the current pace at which the rest of the world is moving, because we could be left behind if we don’t brace up ourselves. My issue is the fact that, we seem to be in a trance, we are neither here nor there, we seem to have outgrown African cultures but underdeveloped for the western ways, we want to behave like the West but put no measure in place for checks and balances.
The men want to be the usual African husband that must be cooked and catered for and wants the wife to, at the same time, contribute to the upkeep of the house. He wants the wife to be a freak in the bedroom only to satisfy his needs, she doesn’t deserve to enjoy sex because sex is for making babies, he wants blow job, but said its un-African to get down on his woman. He wants to go clubbing and hang out with the boys hoping to meet a faithful and submissive wife at home, who is always at his beck and calls, how do you match all these together in a world that is already a global village, a world where every woman is more conscious of her needs and how to satisfy them.
Our level of pretense and hypocrisy is appalling, everyone come to social media trying to put up the best appearances while living in bondage. We go to church and raise holy hands, and we are very quick at judging and condemning others, while committing worst atrocities in the closest. People will rather pretend to please spiritual leaders and die in silence, instead of coming out to be helped, of course, coming out could mean being termed a demon or could earn the sinner a suspension. We want things to be done the old school way, just like our great grand parents, but want to align with the internet age as well, who does that for crying out loud.
Most of the problems weighing people down are relationship related, and whether you agree with me or not, things have changed from the way it used to be. It is high time we use the right approach, the time to cultivate the habit of talking to professional counselors is now! Can you imagine the state of mind of a society where children grow up without child counselors? In the olden days, the whole village usually teemed up to train a child, but the situation is different now, we lock up our kids in our apartment without making alternative provision for professional child counselors.
The same scenario is playing out with the teenagers, how many teen counselors do you know in Nigeria? What about relationship matters? I run a pre-marriage counseling service in my company, Intimate Solution network, in that department, we hardly have up to 3 clients in 6 months, meanwhile people get married on a weekly basis spending millions of naira on paparazzi and show off, they will rather have ‘a talk of the town’ wedding than prepare for the marriage itself. ‘Maybe they don’t know about us’ you said….. Don’t forget Singles will google the latest Asoebi, hairstyles, shoes and all for a society wedding, but will never take a moment to google professional pre-marriage counseling in Nigeria.
What about marriage? The worst hit institution. I was discussing with a medical doctor friend recently and he said something that i can’t help but agree with, he said about 75% of Nigerian men doesn’t know how to sexually satisfy their wives, but they thought they knew. A lot of house wives are becoming lesbians and sex toys are becoming more popular in Nigeria than some western countries, are you still saying we are very African? Your highly spiritual wife usually takes good care of herself with her dildo whenever you are not at home sir. Do you know cheating used to be a man thing, but the women are gradually catching up with men now.
Is there any measure in place for a sexually frustrated man or woman? how many sex therapist do you know in Nigeria, the few of us that came out to professionally talk about these things are being termed sinners. What about grief and bereavement counselors, do you know any around you, who counseled the bereaved in our society? Is professional counsel readily available for those that are waiting for death? What of the elderly, we think they don’t have needs and don’t feel like sharing their thoughts? What about those that lost their loved ones, mothers that just put to bed nko? The list is endless….
That brings me to the aim of this article, depression. I read about the young medical doctor that committed suicide yesterday and was troubled in my mind. We can’t just go on like this, it is high time we cultivate the habit of talking to professional counselors and therapist around us. Like i said earlier, most of the issues people are battling with are relationship related, wicked bosses, unfriendly financial institutions, bad relationships, frustrating sex life, marriages from hell etc. Parental advice could be helpful but you will need more than that to achieve a peaceful closure in this present age.
In fact, your pastor is not a financial consultant, he’s not a clinical marriage counselor neither is he a sex therapist, stop expecting too much from him and allow him to concentrate on taking care of your spiritual needs. Even, the pastor needs help, but most are afraid to come out to seek for help because the society has tagged them infallible.
You go to the hospital when your body is sick, you run to the church when your soul is weak, where do you run to when your mind is troubled?
Dr. Tolulope Oko-Igaire (Hons.) is a Clinical Relationship & Marriage Counselor, Sex Therapist and Professional Matchmaker. She’s the Provost of The Institute of Counseling in Nigeria (www.instituteofcounselingng.org) and the host of the popular TV, Radio and online Talk Show; Intimate Talk With Tolu.
Do you know the largest organ in the human body? Hazard a guess. What is the largest human organ? I could almost bet the majority of you will be wrong. The largest human organ is the skin. In a grown man, it covers about 19 square feet and weighs over 3.5kg. A piece of skin the size of a small coin contains more than 3 million cells, 100 to 340 sweat glands, 50 nerve endings and 3 feet of blood vessels. The skin is a work of genius that sub serves many physiological functions ranging from acting as a protective barrier to external agents, to thermoregulation, and even excretion of waste products. Today I want us to examine one of the abilities our skins confer on us especially in our relation with others. Through series of studies we’ll be looking at the power of touch.
A study was done in the 1960s and I find the results fascinating. It showed a stark contrast between cultures by noting the number of touches exchanged by pairs of people sitting in coffee shops around the world: In San Juan, Puerto Rico, people touched a whooping 180 times an hour (i.e. 3 times a minute= every 20 seconds); in Paris, France, 110 times an hour; in Gainesville, Florida, 2 times per hour; and in London, England, they never touched! I am not aware of any such study done in our country, but I think culturally as a nation, we are “touch shy” people. Our culture looks with puckered brow at open expression of affection. I once asked a large group of young people I was leading then how many of them had ever heard their fathers tell their mothers spontaneously “I love you”. Only a tiny fraction had ever done so.
For example, from the moment of birth our physical sense is stimulated. Pushed out, picked up, and slapped on the bottom, we are placed at our mother’s breast, and a bonding process begins. This bonding process is further reinforced by the design of the infant care-giving process. It is by no means an accident that there is a lot of skin contact for the act of breast feeding. We are designed so that the infant care-giving process involves an enormous amount of contact. Touch is essential for optimal brain and psychological development. This has been demonstrated in both humans and animals.
I saw a documentary last year about the greatest carnivore of the open sea: The Great White Sharks. These creatures grow to be as long as 20 – 25 feet long and over 2,000kg in weight and can swallow things half their size! Their jaws (sic!) are massive. Yet I saw them mesmerized with touch! They went perfectly still as if in a trance. Just with a touch!
In a study with premature infants, half of the tiny babies, selected at random, were gently stroked for 45 minutes a day. The other half was not. Although all were fed the same amount of calories, after ten days, the touched babies weighed-in 47% heavier than the untouched group. Not only were those babies bigger, they were happier as well. The stroked kids were more active, more alert and more responsive to social stimulation.
Studies like this and others are challenging the practice of isolating premature babies in incubators and our cultural rule of no touching. It’s also the same in relationships, there are times when you need to connect on a different level, it’s not every time you will want to talk or go out to have fun. Sometimes, a long hug, a pat on the hair, a stroke of the face is all the connection you need. We need to be touched.
Now I am not asking you to go haywire and start grabbing anyone in sight. You might just receive a hot slap soon if you go about doing that. You have to respect people’s personal space.
As mentioned earlier Nigerians aren’t a big fan of touching, but it goes a long way when you connect with your partner through the simple act of touching. Some of us adjust well to open affections, some of us do not. However a balance can be reached. With all the above analysis, the art of touching is enough to keep the flame alive in your relationships.
Pass a little sunshine to someone today. Give a warm handshake to a stranger. Not a limp wave. Pat the back of a friend. Rub the head of your child. Lift him/her up. Give your spouse a warm, long unexpected hug. Pull the cheeks of a naughty friend. Cultivate the habit of meaningful impactful touch. Those touches of yours will add value to their lives.
Dr Gbenga Adebayo