Good men groom their wives and set them free - Praise Fowowe
Praise Oladimeji Fowowe studied accounting for his first degree but somewhere along the way in his post-Youth Service journey, he developed a passion bringing about a new generation of sexually pure youths committed to abstaining from pre-marital sex. So essentially, he works in the field of sexuality and marital relationships, helping families manage the crisis that crop up in marriage.
He is the coordinator of the Last Nigerian Virgin, which is an initiative he plans to run in collaboration with all state governments in the federation. Currently, the organisation is training 2000 students in public secondary schools in each of these states and giving them free books on sexuality so as to get them committed to abstaining from premarital sex.
Author of many books, including three on marriage and relationships, Fowowe has produced several CDs, through which he is spreading the message of abstinence from pre-marital sex. In this interview he talks about what it takes to bring out the marital best in a career woman and how male celebrities should handle their homes. Excerpts….
Are men afraid of marrying career women?
A lot of men are afraid of marrying career women for obvious reasons. I don't have a problem with that. It's still about the ego of a man… every man has an ego and part of the ego says I must be more popular than my wife or part of it says my wife must do everything at home. She must do the cleaning, she must fix my meals and all kinds of things and there is this hidden thing in most men that says 'if I allow my wife to become a career woman she will not respect me' but we don't need these things.
A lot of men are afraid of some of these things and that is why they try to keep their wives at home. They don't allow them to improve and when you don't allow your wife to improve, she will become a mama-at-home and she will not be inspiring because you've prevented her from pursuing her dream. She will conform to who you want her to be but she would have lost the sparkle that makes her who she is because there is no motivation. She lacks exposure and she begins to have a problem. What I say to men is this: when you see a career woman – that is the kind of woman you should marry.
That's why I tell my wife: I don't care whatever you want to become in life, I am willing to support you… you want to become a professor I am willing to go along with you. It only makes me a good coach. So I will keep improving you to become the best because I am not insecure. But if you want to snatch my wife from me you have to be ready to do what I do which most men are not ready to do. I'm looking forward to the day we will have a woman president.
Many women have done better than most men. I mean the Dora Akunyilis of this world; the Ezekwesilis of this world have performed incredibly well. The question you should have asked yourself is: what if their husbands didn't give them permission? I think I need to duff my hat for their husbands because that is what it takes to be successful men. A good man will work on a woman, groom a woman and set her free… that is what it takes to be a good man. Most men find it difficult to do that because we battle with insecurity.
What can career women do to make their marriages secure?
Pride can make their marriage insecure. Your husband has given you the opportunity to be a career woman and you have to understand that you are still a woman – you are not a man. So you must learn to switch roles from the masculine mode (which you exhibit in the office environment and when you go out to negotiate corporate deals in addition to those other things you do for your company, which keep it ahead of the competition) to your terminal, home environment mode.
By the time you step into your house, you need to drop the toga and become the housewife that you are or your husband can just bond with your housemaid or with your sister or someone out there – so you would have effectively thrown the man into the arms of a strange woman. In other words, as a career woman you need to humble yourself and treat your husband like your king. He is your lord; If he did not give you the permission you won't have been who you are today. You need to understand that. Late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya was exemplary. I worked closely with her.
Her stardom notwithstanding, she was pure. Nobody served her husband food apart from herself. This is one thing our women need to learn. Don't be an absentee wife. Don't be an absentee mother and when you are at home please be at home. Don't be at home and be doing business transactions. Be a loving and romantic wife, so that you can sustain your marriage and even when you travel make sure you call your husband constantly to express your love and when you're in the limelight and people are applauding you, always give your husband some credit. Bimbo Odukoya always did that. For every award she received she always told people, “I don't deserve this award, it's for my husband because if he had not given me the opportunity I wouldn't have been where I am today...” That is what every woman needs to learn and follow.
Nollywood and celebrity marriages don't seem to last again. What is wrong?
Who is a celebrity? One thing we miss out is we think celebrities are role models. They are not role models, but society puts a lot of pressure on them. A young man or woman may just stumble onto stardom and because they released one good album and their name is everywhere and they have a lot of money, which they don't even know what to do with it, then something says to them build a house and the next thing is to get married. That doesn't mean that they are prepared for marriage.
What stardom does is magnify your strengths and your weaknesses. Many of them are not prepared for marriage, they just think now I have money so let's get married or because we are showbiz people let's get married, and let's see if it's going to work. We call that gallatical kind of marriage …where two of them are stars and none wants to submit to the other. Unfortunately, it happens in Hollywood and I don't expect it in Nollywood because many of the guys who we call celebrities today used to be very poor, but something says to me that many of them have forgotten where they are coming from. Some are from good homes but now fate seems to have smiled on them and they seem to be very arrogant.
You see a lot of pride and you see the way some of them behave in public. Their new status also imposes unrealistic expectations on them. When their cars breakdown it becomes very difficult for them to get on okada even when there is traffic. Because we want them to become superstars overnight, we impose an unrealistic life style on them. So we make them to pretend to be who they are not. So many of them are not prepared for marriage. How many marriage seminars have we done that you see them attend? They just feel they should be able to handle their home.
Those of them that are men feel that because they have money, every woman should want to get married to them. Many of them have not mastered themselves and that is the most important thing. So with little money they are sleeping with 10 or 20 women already. So how do they stay single? How do they stay married? You see, money is a bad master and that is why you need to master money. Because they seem to have enough money to throw around, something says to them that they are not answerable to any one.
They feel that no one can order them around, and not accountable to anybody. So here he is married and suddenly a popular musician. His wife says, 'I am seeing all these girls around you, and Mr Popular Musician barks 'shut up' and begins to command the wife, there is no humility again. They say pride goes before a fall and that's why their marriage is not working. My advice to some of them is this: no matter your fame, no matter your stardom, please don't forget where you are coming from.
Some of you came from homes where your mother was very faithful to your father, so don't forget that! You are not in Hollywood, you are not Americans and you are not in Bollywood, you are not Indians, you are Nigerians. Here in Nigeria, we respect women, we respect the marriage institution and we need to understand that. So our stars, celebrities need to be humble.
The women among them need to learn how to be submissive to their husbands when they are married. They need to learn how to keep good friendships because evil communication corrupts good manners. For example, if you are a married Nollywood star and all your friends are ladies who have packed out of their husband's houses or ladies who are not married, it's only a matter of time you will get out of your husband's house as well. So many of them do not know what it takes for a marriage to work.
Some people say that people who marry celebrities don't seem to understand what it means to marry a star?
Celebrities are human beings. David Beckham has had a successful marriage. So who is more of a celebrity than David Beckham among all those we celebrate in Nigeria? In the first place, we have seen people we should have even called super celebrities, people like Pastor Enoch Adeboye. He is a symbol of humility and he did not say because “I'm the pastor of the largest church in Nigeria…” His marriage would have crashed. Rather he says that the higher you go, the more humble you should become.
People want to get married to actresses and when you marry an actress you need to count the costs as well. She might not be at home all the time because she has to be at the location but you have to build that relationship on trust. If you think you can't trust her don't go ahead because you will hear rumours. However, if you can trust your woman and if you can groom your woman, I don't think your wife will go to any location and spread her laps for a stranger. No way. We need to count the cost of getting married to a celebrity. For example, my work requires me to meet all kinds of women and my wife has learnt that it is not as if I'm going out with them and I travel a lot, so if she doesn't trust me and she is getting herself worked up unnecessarily, that will be the end of my marriage.
You need to say okay, what does it cost me? So if a first timer writes something about your wife, you need to call your wife and ask her… see what they have written about you, what do you have to say about this? Don't do this with anger, you don't read something in the newspaper and fight your wife and break your marriage. The day you break your marriage, you break the life of your children as well. So trust is very important, we can't do without it in any relationship.
Courtship is a period for interview, not a period of intercourse. Unfortunately many of them get into courtship and move straight into sexual intimacy. You see where communication ends is where romance starts. By the time you get into premarital sex, it prevents you from seeing what you're supposed to see before marriage and by the time you get into marriage, you begin to see these things and you run into trouble and in one year your marriage is over. It's not a big deal. The basic things an ordinary person requires to run his marriage is what it takes a celebrity to run his. The only thing is that so many of them need to be humble.
Is it possible for a man to be faithful?
Yes! It is very possible for a man to be faithful. The cost of unfaithfulness is higher than the cost of fidelity. A regular guy is contending with a lot of things. When people bring marital infidelity cases to me the first question I ask is when you were courting were you sleeping together? So, if I realize that they were sleeping together, I always ask the woman what do you call that? That is called premarital sex. Now the man has communicated his tendencies.
On the first date, second date, the man has already started touching you, trying to sleep with you or he says that I can't do without sex in this relationship. That means the man is already communicating his tendencies and such tendency is called learned helplessness. What he is saying to you already is that I am heading toward sex addiction and if I marry you and you are not at home I will sleep with any other woman. “I will sleep with your housemaid”. If you are not careful, that is what he is already communicating.
Most women overlook these things and they give their man sex before marriage and when they get into marriage, they begin to complain. You don't need to complain because you have already done it. The question should be why do people get into premarital sex? How did we get to the level where a normal guy cannot hold his body? Even a normal guy who doesn't want to do it sees it and something says in him why don't you try it, after all everybody is doing it. It's not everybody that is doing it.
I know some guys who are not cheating on their spouses. There is something that leads you to some of these things and you have to know the cost of heart break to your wife, to your children, when they find out about your extra-marital affairs. I have also discovered that a lot of our people have been molested and are sexually abused and when somebody is sexually abused that person stops seeing himself as a human being that must be respected but starts seeing himself as a thing that must be used. A lot of our guys that have been sexually abused see themselves as promiscuous and when they say they love, they don't love because they don't understand what love means. Sex has become a language to them and the only way they can love is to have sex with women.
Have you been faithful?
Yes I have – for about five years straight.
You've not touched any other woman?
Why would I touch another woman?
You've been fine?
Yes. I've been and my wife is not even in the country now. She left the country six months ago to do her Masters degree in the United Kingdom.
For the last six months, you've not seen her?
No, but we talk on phone every day.
You mean that you have spent six months without a woman?
Yes, I have been single before. I didn't touch a woman for 10 years before I got married. You see what I always say is that you must learn how these things work. It is not by your power and I am answerable to so many people. I usually say if you are a man and you want to have sex, why don't you put a call through to your wife and tell her exactly how you feel? That gets you out of the problem.
If you can't call your wife, you should have a mentor you can talk to, but because we don't want to talk about it and so many of us feel that we're men “I am okay” that's when we get into trouble. When you have another lady that is closer to you like your wife, you will still run into trouble. It's only a matter of time. I don't stay frequently in hotels, the only time I stay in hotels is when I travel for my training sessions. I don't even give out my details to anyone and I don't do counselling. So if I want to sleep with anyone I will have to do a whole lot of work. I know what is ahead of me; I know what to do with my life so it's not an option.