My name is Bukola and I enjoy reading your divorce stories. As a single woman, I am trying to get all the information I can have access to, so as to arm myself well enough before entering this very dreaded stage of life called marriage.
But my worry is, with all the divorce stories I’ve read none of the couples tried to solve their issues by seeking counsel either professional counselling or Christian counsel.
Is it that couples just decide to get divorced because they choose to be married and so can divorce on their own accord even though some or even most of these divorces could have been avoided sometimes through dialogue, or they are just not aware they can seek counselling to solve some of their problems?
Are our psychological needs being neglected by the nation or are their structures in place that we are not aware of or are underutilizing?
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Thank you very much for your letter. I’m glad you are enjoying the divorce series.
Your concern is a valid one. However, you need to understand some things about marriage and divorce.
1. In spite of the seemingly high rate of divorce, marriage is still a beautiful institution and more marriages are doing well than not. The divorce rate is still much lower than the number of successful marriages. The big problem is that we seem to notice more of the bad than the good.
2. People get divorced for a variety of reasons as you must have noticed from the series
3. As regards the issue regarding couples who don’t seek counselling, one of the prevailing things I have noticed is that the majority of these couples chose to get married without the intervention of parents or their pastors. They saw each other, liked themselves, decided to marry and then went to inform their parents or whomever a “higher authority” is.
While yes we do have the right to marry anyone we choose, The downside of this is a lack of community and accountability. Community in that where you want to marry someone and go through your family or pastor, there is a lot of a-prior background probing and verification.
Parents send emissaries to know the other parent, the way the child was raised and the character of the child. Pastors usually know their congregation and the character of their congregation. There are things you wouldn’t know that the pastor knows. Things people wouldn’t tell you sometimes until it is late. This a-prior probing helps.
Accountability in the sense that the individuals have someone who can speak sense to them. One thing I have found over the years is that it is difficult for parents to be completely impartial in matters concerning their kids. As such, I rarely advise that parents should be the point of settling quarrels.
Couples should do everything to protect each other from their parents. The different reports to the parents tend to colour the perception of the other spouse and usually wouldn’t allow good judgment.
The pastor or church elder is an impassioned judge having the same relationship with both spouses. This way, they can really look at things from an impassioned standpoint and help the couple seek closure. I have seen many cases where the matter is made worse by family.
4. Having said that, there are also trained counsellors outside of the church that are available for professional counselling. Also, some states like Lagos State in Nigeria do provide some family resolution and counselling.
The big problem, on the other hand, and is that people don’t believe that much in getting counseling until it is usually too late. They view counsellors with suspicion and don’t like making their private matter “public”. Too often, couples believe erroneously that they can resolve their issues without without outside help.
They don’t realise that one of the biggest problems in marriage is usually a matter of perspective. The couples see the ng same thing but from totally selfish sides. An impartial counsellor nil of parents etc, helps couples break down the barrier enabling them to see things from one view.
There, however, does appear to be a shortage of trained marriage counselors in our society today and unfortunately, most couples who end up in the divorce court do not seek or get real professional help before they opt for divorce.
Again, We don’t have much of structured counseling outside of the church. Society is gradually waking up to the need of professional counseling and we have some NGO’s filling some of that gap. The most structured professional counseling available now, is that present in the churches. I believe this would change in time.
I hope this has helped.
If you have any marital counseling questions you would like me to deal with or an experience you would like to share, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will treat it with the utmost confidence.