If forty million Nigerians have mental health challenges, don’t you think that some of these people will be general overseers and pastors of churches and Imams in mosques? Some will be Policemen. Some will be medical doctors. Some will be lecturers. Many will be husbands and wives. You need to google bipolar disorder and read about the behaviour of people in this category. Marriage counselling in churches must embrace mental health fitness checks.
A Recent Experience
A very close person to me once told me of how much abuse he was experiencing from his wife. It was terrible. To protect his wife, he refused to expose the crisis until it reached a climax, after which he invited me to his house. When I saw the innocent wife, I said to myself, “this woman can’t be doing all what this man has told me”. Not until the next morning when I went to the kitchen to get some water. She jumped out of her room, and screamed towards the kitchen, “Who is that in my kitchen”? I replied, “I just want to get some water”. To my surprise, she gave me a strict warning never to try that rubbish with her again. I quietly went into the room I was staying, packed my bags, and called the man to inform him that I was leaving. The man laughed at me, because, according to him, it was good for me to experience what had just happened since I had refused to believe all he had recounted about the same woman.
Later on we separated, only for him to reach out to me again a few years later that his wife had actually grown worse. So, in 2016, I went to Nigeria for an important engagement. When I arrived, I called him for a brief meeting, where I told him plainly that with the new details he was giving me about his wife, he was going to die very soon. He was scared. But I had to tell him the plain truth. I told him to leave his house and stay away for a while until the madness of the wife could be resolved, and if she still remains unchanged, he may have to escape for his life. I returned abroad. He remained at home despite my counsel. Two years after, they called me that he was dead. I cried like a baby.
My wife dropped on the floor weeping profusely because of how good this man had been to us. My mother-in-law, who was with us on a visit from Nigeria at that time, heard my wife’s screams and ran out to see her weeping profusely on the floor. We told her, “We have just lost one of the dearest people in our life to a needless death”. I am yet to recover from the loss, as I still cry in my lonely moments whenever his name comes up in my mind. He was a very caring and loving man. This should tell us that abuse is not just limited to women being on the receiving end, although statistics shows that men are more likely to be the agressors in marriages, instead of women, given their privileged positions of physical strength.
It is painful to lose a precious person to an avoidable death
Losing a precious person to an avoidable death in marriage is one of the most painful things in the world. I don’t think I can ever forget this man I have just described. I have hidden a lot of things about him because some people who know the wife may be reading this and may likely get upset that I am narrating their story on a public platform. That is why I have hidden all the details that may identify the wife, who is still very much alive, but now lonely and miserable.
A popular minister of God in Nigeria recently came out in an Instagram live seminar to make a very shocking confession. According to her, “I have counselled many ministers’ wives in Nigeria who told me that their husbands, popular pastors and Bishops, have continued to beat them up”. Are these the ministers who will raise disciples and model Christ-like values in members? But Nigerians, themselves, are not looking for pastors that can make them disciples.
Does he physically abuse you?
See, friends, I don’t play around with people’s lives. The first question I ask women in counselling is this, “does he physically abuse you”? Once I hear the word, “yes”. The next thing is to tell her to jump out to a safer place. Be safe first, is my priority. With the little experience I have with women in counselling, I will never allow my junior sister or daughter to remain in the arms of a killer, or someone who appears like one. Unfortunately, I don’t have girls. All my children are boys. I am doing everything possible to model good fatherhood to them. I have never touched my wife with the tiniest finger in my hand in fifteen years of marriage, much less use a foul language on her — before or behind our children. “Are you stupid?” From my mouth? Never! “Don’t you think?” Never. This is to let you know that not all men are beasts. There are still many godly men out there. Do we disagree? Many times. Do I get angry? Several times. What do I do? I walk away. Sometimes, I drive away to a quiet place to relax. And, of course, I have a great deal of self control; one of the most powerful character traits of disciples of Christ. That is why I tell young people never to build their marriages on transient and ephemeral things like money, fame, or other types of mundane benefits. In fact, love does not prevent marital crises, neither does it unilaterally sustain the success of marriages. Love plus self-control is the greatest formula.
Causes of Martial Abuse
This problem is a product of our rotten culture, particularly the preponderance of fallen values in the Nigerian society, ably assisted by our evil culture of silence; the evil culture of men’s superiority over women and the lawlessness in the Nigerian society at large, where people can do or say whatever they like and get away with it. The church has entered the culture. The culture has entered the church. Rather than the church being the light of the world. The world is now the light of the church. The departure of many church leaders from the message of truth has produced a new generation or carnal and money-driven Christians who go into marriages for personal gains. When the church stopped producing disciples, we started to produce wife beaters and husband abusers. A popular minister of God in Nigeria recently came out in an Instagram live seminar to make a very shocking confession. According to her, “I have counselled many ministers’ wives in Nigeria who told me that their husbands, popular pastors and Bishops, have continued to beat them up”. Are these the ministers who will raise disciples and model Christ-like values in members? But Nigerians, themselves, are not looking for pastors that can make them disciples. What we are looking for are miracles, prophecies, money and other mundane things of life that can never produce Christlikeness in us. So, we too are enablers of the current crises in the church
Solutions to Marital Abuse
First, our churches must wake up and start teaching sound doctrines. Second, the government has also failed woefully. Values have collapsed totally in the society. The youths have no role models again except corrupt politicians, and sexually immoral celebrities who marry and divorce in six months. These are the role models for many of our youths. The media is soaked in corrupt and immoral music and video contents. The politicians are ruining the lives of young ladies, married or unmarried, dangling millions of naira in their eyes for a nightstand. On our campuses, the situation is even much worse. Also, the nation’s worsening economic crisis, coupled with the lawlessness in the Nigerian society, produces morally bankrupt citizens who go into marriages with vengeance and bitterness. So, we can’t solve this problem from the surface. The problem is multi-faceted; that is, it is cultural, economic and spiritual. Consequently, the solution is multidimensional. The church must wake up.
…the role of mental health has also not been taken very seriously by the church. The Nigerian government recently mentioned that more than forty million Nigerians are suffering from various mental ailments… We need a lot of awareness in this aspect. When a mentally deranged person, one suffering from bipolar, psychopathic and sociopathic disorders, among others, is married to another person of a saner mental status, the outcome is always disastrous.
The government must wake up to its socio-economic responsibilities. They must know that there is a strong correlation between the socio-economic status of a nation and marital success. When people are poor, angry, depressed and confused, they will take it out on their spouses. Hence, marriages will continue to end up in crisis and troubles. Let me speak for the men. We men must take responsibility to become good role models to our children. When men are better aligned to sound moral values, proper upbringing by parents, real and genuine transformation in Christ, a culture of respect and are generally faithful and responsible, many of our women will be aligned.
Second, the role of mental health has also not been taken very seriously by the church. The Nigerian government recently mentioned that more than forty million Nigerians are suffering from various mental ailments. And the government always downplays statistics to avoid panic. So, this number may even be more than this. A mentally ill person is not necessarily a mad person. We need a lot of awareness in this aspect. When a mentally deranged person, one suffering from bipolar, psychopathic and sociopathic disorders, among others, is married to another person of a saner mental status, the outcome is always disastrous.
If forty million Nigerians have mental health challenges, don’t you think that some of these people will be general overseers and pastors of churches and Imams in mosques? Some will be Policemen. Some will be medical doctors. Some will be lecturers. Many will be husbands and wives. You need to google bipolar disorder and read about the behaviour of people in this category. Marriage counselling in churches must embrace mental health fitness checks. There are many medications and therapies out there to contain these illnesses. But where there is ignorance and/or lack of awareness, a lot of homes will continue to be ruined by mentally deranged partners. My heart goes out to all the godly men and women out there who are experiencing untold abuse from their spouses. Please speak out and where violence is involved, jump out now. If you are suspecting that your spouse is mentally unstable, given his/her behaviour in recent times, please send us a email for a professional mental health assessment with one of our Canada-based mental health professionals. Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ayo Akerele, a leadership and system development strategist, and minister of the word, writes from Canada and can be reached through email@example.com.