By NBF News
Listen to article

Affable and easygoing, Dr Ikechukwu P. Nwadinigwu is a psychologist with a special interest in marriage counseling. He sees his profession as a calling to help sanitize the society by stabilizing and strengthening marriages. Nwadinigwu, a lecturer at the Department of Education Foundations, University of Lagos is concerned that distrust is ravaging marriages, not just in Nigeria, but all over the world. This, he argues, is reflected in the astronomic rate of divorce.

In his view, no right-thinking person that cares about his marriage should allow a third party to break his home. The father of five recalls how a third party could have broken his home. For this reason, he urges couples to avoid third parties on marital issues warning that they can ruin any marriage. Born in Onitsha, Anambra State, Nwadinigwu is the first child of his parents who have four other children . He had his primary and secondary education in Onisha before proceeding to the University of Calabar, where he obtained his bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees. In this interview , he shares his views on some of the realities couples face.

What is your view about marriage?
Well, marriage generally is a union of two personalities who are ready to live together, who relate to each other and despite their differences, accept each other. Generally, when two people decide to live together there is bound to be some ups and downs. When marriage starts it is initially based on infatuation. No matter the length of courtship the two people involved are infatuated within that period. As they live out their infatuation, it becomes consolidated, that is when love in essence manifests. So, you will find that for the marriage to blossom there is bound to be a lot of patience and understanding, accepting that no one is perfect. But most importantly communication is the soul of relationships, because no matter how the two work towards oneness in building a home, if communication is absent the union will not work. There will be conflicts and conflicts may attract third parties .When the couple begin to listen to people who ordinarily should not have a say in their marriage that marriage is sitting on a keg of gunpowder. This may ultimately result in suspicion, mistrust and separation.

At what point should a person abandon a troubled marriage?

There is a popular Igbo adage that before you decide to go into a marriage you should first of all go and train a pig. If you can stomach all the nuances from the pig then you can stomach the problems in a marriage. Many see marriage as an issue of friendship. So when the marriage is troubled you find that couples begin to drift apart. Now, marriage is not like clothes you can put on and off. It is a vow! Yes, there is bound to be conflicts but it is the couple's ability to attend to those conflicts that matter.

When their relationship is strained, none of the couple is ready to accept the other's point of view. I have been fortunate not to have that experience in my marriage, because I believe that my wife and I are one despite all the things we have passed through. The relationship between us is all that we require. Even at that, no matter how strained the relationship is, the couple should work towards getting it resolved.

You sound like someone whose marriage is successful. What is your secret?

I will always say that two things make marriage successful. The first is sexual compatibility.No matter how strained, no matter how bad the situation is, when the husband and wife are sexually compatible, most of the conflicts that arise in daytime are resolved at night. Sexual incompatibility is responsible for most separations and divorce. The other is patience. Patience is the name of the game and that's why I said that before you think about marriage you must undergo a patience test.

That's why the Igbo say go and train a pig . If you can stomach the nuances of a pig, then you can stomach the troubles of the family. The man has his problems as well as the woman. No one is perfect. The thing is to understand and accept the weaknesses of each other. My wife is my friend, she is my best friend and I owe nobody an apology . My best place is my home .That is where I find peace, but when peace is elusive then there is bound to be problems.

Can you talk about sexual compatibility in marriage

When it comes to marriage, sex is one area many couples don't really bother about. A lot of people find it difficult to talk about it. They are only interested when the doors are closed. But what is behind, beneath and around the concept of marriage is companionship and sex is the anchor of the consummation of marriage. So, if the couple have a very active sex life, the problem in the marriage would be half-solved since they will be looking up to that oneness, that consummation of their relationship.

So in essence, when they remember the total joy, satisfaction and peace arising from sexual intimacy, you will find that the issue that could have been problematic is ultimately deflated. That's why you see some families during the daytime no matter how explosive an issue, before the end of the day they would be laughing. This could only happen where the couple have satisfying sexual relationship, but in a situation where the couple have problems you will notice that most times the man or the woman is not satisfied then it becomes a problem.

Then you see a third party coming to settle the dispute for them and the couple may not necessarily voice out what was actually responsible for the frustration in their relationship. They will think the woman doesn't know how to cook or she is untidy. These are peripheral issues that neighbours will continue attempting to settle but the core of the problem is never discussed. The following day, the same issue will come up. If incompatibility and lack of satisfaction arise, either the man or woman begins to go out to look for some other person. Immediately the man finds solace outside, this creates problems and he now has divided attention. He would find it hard to accommodate the other partner and the same goes for the woman. So on this issue of compatibility, it takes understanding for the partners to appreciate and understand each other. Once the essence of sex is understood and they are able to explore each other, understanding the erogenous zones of each other, then that problem will no longer be an issue for them.

Sometimes, the female partner in the marriage tends to relax and feels satisfied immediately children start coming. It is in such situations that you see the women transfer their affection to the children, turning the man into a stranger in the house. The man now begins to compete for the attention of the wife with the children. Sometimes the woman feels she has arrived. What happens is that all the nice things the man once saw in the woman initially and which attracted him begins to lose value. Maybe the woman doesn't look after herself again or she begins to look untidy and put on weight.

Before a man marries a woman, there must be something valuable he had seen and in the same way the woman may have seen something valuable in the man. It is that thing that continues to fuel the perceptions of the partners. If those perceptions begin to fade then there is a problem. It is always important to let the two parties know that it takes two to tangle. It is not only the woman that should work for the success of the marriage, the man also has to work towards that and that's very important.

How should romance be conducted in marriage?
Well as I always tell people I interact with as a marriage counselor, if the man is waiting till night before he makes moves to the woman, that amounts to taking the woman for granted. Sex should start from morning . You have to psychologically prepare the woman's mind towards the night. It doesn't mean you have to wash dishes or prepare some food, but you can still create a psychological mood for sex.