Don’t Marry For Money…It Can’t Buy Love Or Happiness – Agbabiaka | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Don’t Marry For Money…It Can’t Buy Love Or Happiness – Agbabiaka

Posted: Jun 28, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Aside being a Lawyer, Mrs. Tinuola Agbabiaka is a licensed counselor and relationship expert. She is the coordinator of the Practical Christian Living Initiative (PCLI), a Faith-based, Non-governmental Organization that talks about marriage issues with a view to educating and assisting men and women to bring healing to their homes and relationship. In this chat with ARAMIDE OIKELOME, Agbabiaka speaks passionately about the many wrongs reasons why people go into marriage, a mistake which, according to her, later haunts them. 

AgbabiakaWhat is Practical Christian Initiative (PCLI) all about?

Practical Christian Initiative (PCLI) is an NGO focused on relationships. Before a couple got married, they started out as singles and then went into a relationship. Naturally, it is what you have been nurtured with in your family that plays out when you have your own home. For instance, the values that a girl or boy grows up with is what he/she will eventually play out when he/she gets married. If a girl grows up with a mother who constantly tells her that men are terrible and not to be trusted, when she gets married, she will never trust any man. We have discovered that a lot of times, people are fixated on doing things a certain way, even when it is not the proper way. They are not to blame because that is the way they have always known how to do things. If for instance you grew up in a home where you all eat once in a day, maybe at noon, you won’t understand why someone has to eat breakfast at 7am. So, at Practical Christian Living Initiative, (PCLI), we educate, teach and assist to change people’s perception about issues when it comes to relationships.

Of course, there are so many doctrines these days; there is a lot of hurt in the home. Look around, you must know someone who is either going through a bad relationship, has gone through a bad relationship or will go through a bad relationship.

So, what we do is to balance things. In our ministry, we do not just assume it is the man or the woman that is the problem. It takes two to tango. If a woman got married to a bad man, that means she also has a problem, i.e. the propensity to connect with the bad people.  And because I am also a certified Counselor, I do a lot of going into background and know that oftentimes, our background affects the way things finally turns out for us. If you do background check on that woman, you find out that such a woman probably had a childhood where the father was not involved as such or the father was a bad man. There is always a reason for every situation. So, what we do is that we get people together and talk under a very friendly, beautiful and relaxed atmosphere. We also pray and by the grace of God, many hurting marriages have been healed and strengthened.

How would you describe your experience so far?

What we do at PCLI is hard because by the time someone who is into a bad relationship cries out, it has really gone deep and things very bad. This is because issues about marriage are perceived as private affair; hence people don’t easily open up on it. The first instinct is to try and shield it and manage it yourself. And then when he or she decides to speak, she may be talking to people who would rather condemn him/her. Some would even tell them what they are going through is nothing compared to what another person is or has gone through. And when you hear all the bad stories only, you would almost believe that there is no good story anywhere.

So what we are trying to do is to manage our own relationship in such a way that it is inspiring. Not that we haven’t had our challenges but in all, I try to live what I preach. My husband also does the same.

 How old is PCLI?

PCLI is eight this year

Tell us about some of the giant strides you have made?

When PCLI was five, I clocked 40. So it was an opportunity to launch my book as well as get people together and take testimonies, knowing well that with relationships, people don’t want to admit openly that they have issues. Relationship involves people and emotions and it is a very delicate ministry. But when PCLI was five, we had a couple who attended and gave their own testimony.  They were on the verge of divorce when they attended one of our programmes before my 40th birthday. In fact, it was the husband’s friend who invited them that paid for them to attend. And when they eventually came, they didn’t come together because things had really gone sour with them. But, to the glory of God, they left together at the end of that programme. They danced together, participated in the fun, games and other activities.

Three years after, I was at a burial ceremony when a man walked up to me and said ‘thank you’. I was shocked because I didn’t know him. I later got to know it was this same man whose marriage was on the verge of collapse. Sharing his testimony with me, the husband said “when it was time to dance and I held my wife, I had tears in my eyes.” According to him, “hanging out together for that event was a start in resolving the issues we had.”

Another one was a colleague at work. By the time I met him, he told me that his marriage was over. Then, we got talking at every opportunity. Then, I invited him for the program. They came non-chalant but something happened that night and they connected. On my birthday, he and his wife were also there to testify. So, little things like that give me joy and fulfillment that we are on the right part. The major problem is wrong foundation and values.

What actually led to the establishment of this unique NGO?

What happened was that, I was away in America for six months to have my son. After I returned, there was this urge to do something more for God but I didn’t know what it was. I am a worship leader in church but I don’t write songs. Later, someone came to me and said God said ‘that thing that He said you should do, go ahead and do it.’ I still didn’t know what it was. I had so many responsibilities at work, my six-month old baby and the older ones were there to care for. So, I wasn’t interested in whatever the person was talking about. Then, another person came to me and said ‘those songs God wants you to write, write them.’ You know that is how people deliver God’s message in their own understanding. She felt that because I was in the music ministry, it most certainly must be songs that God wanted me to write. The first person then came back and said ‘God said you haven’t done what He asked you to do and that He is a jealous God.’ That statement frightened me. I was frightened into this ministry because I discovered that the reason I was saying I didn’t want to do what God wanted was because of my husband, children and all other things.

So, I started writing about relationship. I would write and give to people to read. There was a testimony of one when I wrote about how to endear yourself to your mother-in-law. I tried to analyse whom you are getting married to as a first step, stressing that is not just about both of you alone. If you are marrying a first son, a favorite son or the last son or the richest son, then you should be prepared because those roles come with a lot of responsibilities and if you don’t watch it, you could be seen as an enemy. And you know when people join forces against you; even your husband would align with them because you would be seen as complaining too much. A woman then told me that reading that piece made her bond with her mother-in-law and she was glad she did because the woman died later.

It is very important that when you want to get married, you must understand the background of the person you are marrying or who raised the person because there is no way the person will not manifest things from the one who raised him or her. Later, we began to host conferences, talk shows and couples’ dinner.

From your encounters with people in counseling, what do you consider as the major challenge militating against happy marriages?

Part of the problem is the foundation. The Bible says: If the foundation be destroyed, what can the righteous do? It would be nicer if things were done properly from the home. In other words, as a mother, you must teach your child the right values. And mind you, you can’t teach what you don’t have. You must teach a lady what to look for in a man. Don’t marry for money. Money can’t buy love or happiness. In my case, the funny thing was that I was looking for a man like my father; a wonderful man like my dad, and fortunately I found him.

My brother is a wonderful husband to his wife because he was raised by a wonderful father. So his wife is enjoying him. I keep telling her that the reason why I won’t give her problem is because in my own home, nobody troubles me. In fact, I don’t have any in-laws; they are all my people. Right from the start my husband had made it clear to his family that “this is my heartthrob; so if you love me, you must love and accept her.” So, they are my people, not because I am the best behaved wife but because they know that this is the person their son loves and they must comply if they truly cherish his happiness.

What I’m saying is that relationship is like a circle. If you don’t train someone well, the person will end up not training another person properly.

Another challenge is that people are getting married for various funny reasons and this goes back to haunt them later. If someone gets married because “all her friends are getting married,” and he/she is not compatible with the choice spouse, when issues start to come up, then they start to run helter skelter. However, my take also is that if you have chosen that that is the person you want to stay with, then make the most of it.

I recently counseled a lady who got married as a virgin and her husband gave her syphilis. He decided to treat her by himself even though he is not a doctor. At some point, the husband was having a relationship with his own sister which she got to know about. I told her it was not time to get pregnant for such a man. The man needed a lot of work to be done on him through prayers and counseling. But she wouldn’t listen.  After a while, I decided not to pick her calls again. Eventually she got pregnant and gave birth. I later learnt the man tried to kill the child so she had to run. Recently she called me and said people are advising her to go back and have another child with that same man so that she does not have children from different men. Now, with that kind of counseling, I just don’t get it. The question is- what eventually becomes of those children she would have for a man with that kind of mind set?  And that is why this nation is like it is. I keep saying it that for as long as we keep ignoring the family, this nation will not be made whole.

Another challenge is funding our programmes. We want to do more but for funds. People sometimes think men would not respond when you invite them for programmes such as this but I would rather say women are more cynical. There have been times when men sneak notes to me at our events asking that I speak to their wives to dress better. If you have decided that that is the man or woman you want to marry, then, you have to make that home habitable.

You said earlier on that a wise woman builds her home. Don’t you think that too much emphasis is being placed on training for the girl child than on her male counterpart in terms of building a home?

The man was the first to be created but when the woman was made, she was made differently and she came with extra gifts. She can reproduce, multiply and so on. As women, we are gifted. On the other hand, there is a limitation to what the man can do and that is why when you find a man who is at the claws of a woman, no matter how high, mighty, wealthy or popular that man is, he will still come to do the will of that woman.

Yes, there is a lot of role for the woman or the girl-child but it is a two-way thing, which is why we came up with a programme targeted at young male adults. The purpose is to raise godly husbands because there are not many out there right now. And the problem is that you can’t give what you don’t have. Who is teaching the men? Who are their role models? There are so many bad examples that even the good ones are almost embarrassed to rise up to say the right things out. Sometimes, you find a man who helps his wife iron her clothes every day because he sees it as a duty but how many persons can he tell that to without the people looking at him as a woman-wrapper? A lot of times, you find out that most of the programmes out there focuses on financial strength. Financial strength does not make a home; otherwise all rich people will have happy homes. We have to teach our men how to be proper husbands and treat a woman well. You find parents telling their girl-child to keep their virginity while the boy-child is allowed to roam about with his weapon of mass destruction. They simply tell him to use a condom. Unknown to the parents, what you have done is that you have told him that women are not to be valued and that you can just exchange them anyhow. This is wrong.

How would these programs impact our nation, Nigeria?

The rippling effect is that it builds people of character, people of integrity and people with the right value mindset. Those are the people we need in our nation, those are the kind of leaders we need. So, from the home, let’s try and get it right. The family is the smallest unit of the nation and once we get it right at the family level, we will get it right at the national level. That is what will bring the real change and transformation in our land. The program is to help us instill the right values back into our system. Nigeria is a praying nation; I don’t think there is any nation that prays like Nigeria. Even in the market place, they gather to pray. But if the foundation is destroyed, what can we do? We can’t do all those prayers and there is no change. We want to make impact and the best way to go about it is to start from the family.