ONE thing that produces marital strife in today’s world is friendships with the opposite sex. In our society, men and women often have friendships with each other outside of marriage, and in some cases these are very close.
However, when one or both friends are married to another person, too often the spouse feels threatened by the friendship and it can lead to tensions, distrust, and accusations and can even tear a marriage apart. How should such friendships be handled? What priorities and boundaries should be set?
First of all, I don’t think men and women should build close intimate friendships with each other outside of a committed relationship. It is not appropriate to build emotional closeness without a plan in place to head towards marriage. Men and women can be friends, but they shouldn’t be sharing their deepest feelings and dreams if they want to remain just friends. Intimacy between a man and woman should be reserved for marriage, period. It is part of the beauty and sacredness of marriage that your spouse knows you more deeply and intimately than anyone else. Your spouse alone should know your innermost secrets, hopes, and desires.
A lot of people, however, will object at this point. Men and women can maintain a purely platonic friendship, they say. They will point to a friendship or two in which they were very close but never had feelings for the other person and will testify that their close friendships of the opposite sex have been good for them, filled a need for them, etc. My response to that is that of course these friendships fill a need – a need that should be filled by your spouse (or your future spouse). We all have a deep desire to be intimately known, to be accepted just as we are, to make deep emotional connections with another. But this need was meant to bring a husband and wife together to fill this need in each other. It is not appropriate to fill this need outside of marriage any more than it is appropriate to fill the need for sex outside marriage. The problem is, we like to think in little boxes. We want to put emotional closeness and sexual attraction in separate boxes and pretend that they’re totally unconnected. We believe we can have emotional closeness with someone of the opposite sex without having “feelings” for them. The problem is, we aren’t robots that can put things in little boxes and keep them that way. We are integrated beings. We are designed to build emotional closeness that leads to physical attraction and its culmination in physical and emotional unity through sex. Again, that’s supposed to draw a husband and wife together. The marriage relationship is about more than just having sex. For that matter, sex is more than just a physical act. Sex is a physical, emotional, and spiritual bonding experience that is designed to merge two people into a single unit. Just as physical closeness (such as kissing and cuddling) are preparation for this marital unification, so too is emotional closeness. The physical and the emotional go hand in hand to bring the kind of unity that God designed marriage to be.
Because of this, when you are married, emotional intimacy with someone other than your spouse is cheating. It may not be physical, but it’s still sharing with someone else what should only be shared with your spouse. Such emotional affairs are not only wrong in themselves, but dangerous. Most adulterous affairs begin with a seemingly innocent emotional closeness with an opposite sex friend. It’s part of God’s design for our sexuality that we feel physical desire when we have emotional intimacy. This is a beautiful truth within marriage. Emotional closeness brings husband and wife together to show their love for each other physically, and the physical act of sex bonds them even tighter emotionally. Both male and female bodies even release a hormone called oxytocin that triggers emotional bonding after sex. This is the way God meant it to be within marriage. But when a person allows emotional closeness to form with someone to whom they are not married, their body will, sooner or later, want to respond as if they were married. Even if an emotional affair does not become a physical one, it still causes damage to the marriage relationship. For one thing, the emotional energy that is invested in the inappropriate friendship is energy that is not invested where it should be – in the marriage. If you feel the need to express hidden desires and feelings to someone else, it is a sign that your marriage has a problem and your immediate response should be to work to fix the problem and restore intimacy in your marriage. Sharing with another person of the opposite sex ignores the problem, allowing the gap to widen between husband and wife, while also building closeness with someone else. No wonder it leads to so many problems. In addition, when a spouse learns of an emotional affair, they often feel betrayed (and for good reason). This can cause a lot of hurt as well as further rifts in the relationship. Thus, even when an inappropriate friendship does not turn physical, it is still extremely harmful. Because of the design of our sexuality, we need to guard our hearts in order to protect our marriages. While men and women can be platonic friends, that will only happen if there is an emotional reserve between them. In other words, we should not build intimate friendships with the opposite sex outside of marriage. With this is mind, we should be extremely careful what we share with others, especially those of the opposite sex. Even what is shared with friends of the same sex should be limited (though, obviously, there’s less cause for concern that inappropriate sharing will lead to inappropriate physical acts). The need to share your inner desires and feelings should bring you back to your spouse to fill that need.
A question that often arises is what to do when a husband and wife are having problems and they can’t seem to talk to each other or regain the intimacy in their marriage. The default position should be to work out your problems with your spouse, not to talk to someone else about how to “fix” your marriage. However, sometimes there is a rift that does require outside advice. Sometimes counseling is needed. Ideally, a husband and wife should see a counselor together, but that requires both spouses to participate. Sometimes a spouse has to get help alone. In that case, here is my advice. Anyone you tell about your marriage struggles should be:
Your same sex,
A happily married mentor figure, and
Given only enough detail to allow them to help and pray for you.
You want to avoid using anyone (male or female) as a dumping bin for all of your frustrations instead of working them out as a couple. And you want to avoid ranting about your spouse on a regular basis to someone who takes your side all the time. This will only cause you to focus on the negative qualities and turn your heart further away from your spouse. The proper kind of mentor figure, if you must confide in one, will challenge you to change yourself, not your spouse. After all, you are the only one you can change.
By Ogunkoya Odunayo.
Nigerians And Desperate Quest to Travel Abroad Using Marriage Deception || By Rahaman Onike
WHAT is not clear is the real motive why many Nigerian Youths are desperate to travel abroad. Instead of thinking of what to do within to make fortunes,it has always been a case of everyone trying to travel abroad. Even persons without any specialization or vocational training are not left out of the struggle to break any barrier to escape offshore.
Now adays,young Nigerians go to marriage registry across the country particularly Lagos State for marriage solemnization as part of formalities to secure the travelling documents.
One thing that is amazing about this new trend is that most of the adventurists go for aged women.It sounds somehow seeing a guy of thirty years old asking a woman old enough to be his mother or even grandma’s hand in marriage just to secure Visa to travel abroad.
Assuming most of these marriages are consummated as a product of true love and relationship the better.But the truth is that these guys do not love or sincere rather they are only interested in using the old women to perfect their travelling documents.Sometimes, what played out is nothing but a mere contract between the guys and the aged women.
However, the fact that most of the “arrangee marriages ” by young Nigerians are predisposing factors for sexually transmitted diseases call for caution.
The arrangee marriage thing is largely aided by internet connectivity and social media.
This is a mere observation for deep thoughts by readers.
‘My brother-in-law wants to share bed with me’
A mother of two, Dasola Akinkule, will know on September 6, 2018 whether her prayer to end her eight-year-old marriage to her husband, Tunde Akinkule, will be granted by the Oja-Oba Customary Court, Mapo, Ibadan, Oyo State.
Dasola had told the court that Akinkunle hadn’t shown worthy qualities to be her husband as he was “a pathological liar, wicked, useless and careless about the well-being of the family.”
She said she was once compelled to invite the police to arrest him when he allegedly inflicted serious injuries on her with a stick.
The petitioner said when her husband impregnated her, he took her to his family house to stay with his family rather than secure an apartment for both of them.
When Akinkunle eventually rented a room apartment for them, she added, he brought in his younger brother whom she accused of always insisting on sharing the bed with her whenever she wanted to sleep. She frowned, “How could I sleep beside a mature man who is not my husband?”
Dasola told the court that her frustration reached the peak one day when she returned from work to discover her husband had removed all her belongings from their home.
She asked the court to dissolve the marriage and grant her custody of their two children.
But Akinkunle, a driver who lives in the Ojoo area of Ibadan, said his wife was not being sincere with her allegations against him in the court.
He said his wife was a nurse when he met her but, when she could not practise, he advised her to learn how to operate the computer and invested in the business for her.
The petitioner told the court that it was true that his wife was staying with his mother when she had her first pregnancy because he was then working in northern Nigeria.
The respondent, who presented receipts of computer scanners, generators and other business equipment, accused Dasola’s mother of being the problem he had with his wife, describing her as an “intruder” in the marriage.
The president of the court, Chief Ademola Odunade, requested for more evidence to prove the real owner of the computer business and demanded to see the two children in court on the next adjournment.
Why girls now reach puberty early
Showing all the trappings of a young adult, one would need more than just words to believe that Funke (surname withheld) is just eight years old.
At her age, she already developed breasts, one of the primary indicators of puberty in females. And the way other parts are growing very rapidly would almost give an impression that she’s someone in her early 20s.
But, truly, Funke is eight, according to her dad, who also expressed surprise with the way she’s ‘growing’, and is now unsettled due to the girl’s likely premature sexual attention from men. He is equally unsure if the situation is normal, more so that she has also started menstruating. The medical term for early puberty is called precocious puberty.
Realistically, Funke is not alone and her father’s fear is quite understandable. In fact, her case is a fitting reflection of what now obtains across the world, whereby young girls now show obvious signs of reaching puberty, as against what obtained in the past, say about 20 years ago, when girls wouldn’t exhibit any sign of puberty until about 15 years upwards.
Meanwhile, other indicators of puberty include underarm hair, certain body odour, since the sweat gland would have become active, pubic hair and vaginal discharge, which is a precursor of menarche, the first occurrence of menstruation. All these are now happening to girls below 12, and according to a study published in Paediatrics as far back as 2010, a number of the girls surveyed had reached puberty as early as seven years, evidenced by breast development.
According to a consultant paediatrician, Dr. Rotimi Adesanya, the average age a girl is supposed to attain puberty is 11, but “these days some of them show those signs at age eight.”
However, there are reasons for this early puberty, and it is pertinent to point them out, perhaps to allay the fears of such parents. These reasons include:
Obesity: Literally, obesity is caused by eating too much and moving too little. Thus, if you consume a high quantity of food, particularly fat and sugar, and you don’t burn off the energy through exercise and physical activity, much of the surplus energy will be stored by the body as fat and that leads to overweight or obesity.
This was the explanation given by the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. While it is seen as a general problem, obesity has been found to be a major cause of early puberty, especially in girls. Dr. Adesanya explained that girls now reach puberty early because they eat junk food, snacks, oily food, etc., without doing exercises.
He said these days; children would rather play computer games or play games on their parents’ or siblings’ smartphones rather than go out to do exercise. Thus, that lifestyle of eating without exercising has led to obesity and now makes them to reach puberty early.
He said, “Obesity has strong links with precocious puberty and what favours it is the diet and sedentary lifestyle. Children no longer do exercises; they don’t trek to their school the way we did back then, which helped us to burn fat from our body. So, that is one major cause of early puberty.”
Stress: This is one other factor that has been found to aid early puberty in girls. Adesanya explained that traumatic experiences and emotional problems impact on the female reproductive system. He said this had to do with the interconnection among the brain, emotions and the reproductive system, like the hormones controlling breast growth and menstruation. “Children that go through a traumatic experience or emotional problems may see their period earlier, even though the impact is not as high as that of obesity.
Also, a study by a professor of family studies and human development, Bruce Ellis, and Prof. Marilyn Essex of the University of Wisconsin found that family conflict could influence how early or late girls attain puberty. In the study, which was reviewed on WebMD, a website that provides valuable health information and tools for managing health, they asked the parents of the girls about their economic difficulty, marital problems, parenting style and family stress.
It was revealed that girls who live in families with great parental support and less marital conflict experience their first hormonal changes later in life than girls who live in homes where there are marital conflict, family issues, poor parent support, depressed parents and other such unpleasant issues.
These were identified to be associated with puberty. “Even modest family conflict or stress may influence a young girl’s sexual development and these were the normal stresses of growing up, not serious abuses,” Essex tells WebMD.
Now that it is almost inevitable for children to reach puberty early, because children from the rich or average income earning homes are likely to eat so much or even eat junk food, those from poor homes could be stressed emotionally, and those from either divide could come from home with family issues, girls who show signs of puberty should not be treated as aliens.
This development has no doubt made them endangered species, given the rate of rape and sexual abuse, but parents have been advised to pay more attention to their young female children, because their changing physique could make them attractive to the males, even when they are not mature enough to refuse such (negative) gestures.
An endocrinologist, Dr. Glenn Braunstein, said open communication, nurture, and knowledge of the child’s activities would be good ways to prevent the child from getting into such avoidable troubles. In his analysis on Huffpost, Braunstein said whether puberty arrives early or later at the more expected time, it is always a challenge for children, especially girls and that it was up to parents, guardians and older siblings to help them to be the finest men and women possible, by assisting them through that stage.
He added, “Parental nurture, generally considered a key factor in curbing risk-taking, may be even more important for early-maturing girls. The thinking is that parental influence can help decrease these youngsters’ susceptibility to peer influence, assist them in developing better coping skills and diffuse negative feelings that might turn into negative thoughts and actions.”
Another solution advanced is sex education, which according to experts, will prepare the girls for the change that is to come and what to do when it comes eventually. However, the experts stressed that one way to make this effective is for parents to encourage their children to communicate freely with them.
A consultant paediatric endocrinologist, Dr. Elizabeth Oyenusi, had said at age eight, a female child should be taught about sex, so they don’t learn about it from outside or do so the hard way.
She had said, “Whether for a male or female child, once they clock eight years, parents should talk to them about sex, and there is no need to use nicknames or graphics, more so that such children are exposed to different images on the television or even the Internet. A girl is ready for such education when her breasts begin to come out or when she clocks eight.”
Apart from this, parents are advised to teach their children when to say no, and that in certain (identified) situations, it is okay to say no to an adult. It has also been found to be helpful when children are taught where they should not be touched by others; how to get out of an uncomfortable situation and what to do if the adult wouldn’t let go.
A forensic psychologist and expert in the field of mental health, violence, mental health and addiction, Dr. Kathryn Seifert, in his post on Psychology Today, noted that given the way young girls tend to be susceptible to male attention, even at that young age – since they already show signs of puberty – highlighted ways by which parents could avoid such negative occurrences from happening to their children.
She said parents must encourage their kids to talk to them about how their day went, teach them when to run away from an adult, take action and let them see their parents take action when they make reports, which she said would build their confidence level.
She added, “Teach children that the danger may come from someone they trust. Tell your kids that bad touch is bad touch and no one gets to do it to our bodies. If anyone does bad touch, you go to a grown-up for help. When you are not sure about whether something a grown up is doing is okay, ask another grown up to help you.
“Also, take action if you suspect abuse; understand the signs, such as significant changes in sleeping, eating, mood, or strange behaviour that does not quickly go away; and know where your children are and who they are with at all times.”
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