LOVE AND SICKLE CELL

Today is World Sickle Cell Day, as such, I decided to repost this piece I published years ago.

Ever gotten to that point where you start to wish misfortune upon the very child you lovingly carried in your womb and looked with so much love and fulfillment upon on delivery and in raising him/her up? That point where you do not have the strength to personally carry out your wishes upon your child and thus can only nurture a burning hope and desire that some natural death could perhaps visit your child and take you out of your misery?

Well, that’s close to a real situation in the life of one beautiful bubbly woman I was shown whose life was going perfectly well until that decision to knowingly or unknowingly marry an AS genotype man, being herself an AS genotype woman. Now she’s lost everything including that “adorable” prince charming that all hell was to break loose for years ago, had anyone tried to quench their love. That sweet man could just not bear it anymore and so left her to her fate to as it is, figure it all out by herself what to do with a sickle cell anaemia child. Perhaps because he thinks or knows that a woman can handle more pain than a man?

Well, I think we should never assume to know very well or inside out, beyond all reasonable doubt, our partners or spouses. That’s because the true test of a person’s character is not when he/she is in love but when he/she is tested beyond his limit by a life situation.

So as it were, her husband was just not who she thought he was in the entirety of his character.

sickling organogram

The troubles of having a child with sickle cell disease she could not imagine and she wouldn’t have believed it if it had not happened to her. Almost everyone has run out of pity for her and the burden she carries and she has run out of pity for her own baby. If even her own husband could give up on her, why not her employer considering all the million times she had to be excused from her very good and secure job in order to make all those countless trips to the hospital for one thing or the other. What a cross to carry, seeing how the disease strikes suddenly without warning and making it almost impossible to make plans for any given day! She has also now concluded that prayer is also not an alternative because how much has she not prayed. Of course, she finds strength through it sometimes to carry the burden but if only she can find the strength to “kill” her own child, she can begin to pick up the broken pieces of her life. But can she ever live with that conscience? The murder of her own child? Well, with that child still stuck with her, life’s suddenly lost all the hopes and beautiful times she foresaw with her then “crazily in love with” boyfriend and husband.

Love conquers all things” but it didn’t for her on this one important thing. She can only continue to wonder if her story and life would have been any different if she hadn’t focused all her attention on the fact that love alone was enough.

Of course, YES! Her life would have been way different! Though only God is the absolute decider of the health status of the children He chooses to bless us with, having done all our best, we must never be ignorant of the parts we have to play.

sick

For many others too, their story is somewhat like this: they were so consumed by love and unable to control their passions for each other and allowed it to blaze on until unfortunately she gets pregnant; and to avoid the “Christian shame”, they decided to get married quickly before any of the “over-religious Christian critics” see signs of it. And then, it is only after the baby comes…perhaps with troubling symptoms, that they begin to hang their passions on the wall and do the all important background health and family history checks that they should have done way back.

Situations of this nature in love relationships are what a good friend of mine describes as “jumping the steps”. Of course, it’s a simple principle in relationships/marriage that when you jump the steps, you risk a great fall that either leaves perpetual damage or a big scar for the entire life of that relationship/marriage union. The exception to the rule is only by Grace.

Now back to the fulcrum of writing this article.

It is sad the number of people we observe who are in relationships leading to marriage and yet are clueless about their partner’s status or some very critical things that must be known ahead of time. To them, love alone is enough and so, they invest blindly all their resources into the relationship for as long as it lasts, only to discover way too late the inevitable. Sometimes it takes the strict recommendation of some churches during pre-marriage counseling that some tests be conducted before some would-be couples even get to find out their partner’s sickling status after all the years that they might have dated. Most counselors report being surprised when they ask would-be partners during pre-marriage counseling sessions whether or not they know their partner’s sickling status and they get a “no” answer and they begin to imagine what the two lovers have been concentrating on all the length of their relationship. Though a “yes” answer does not stop counselors requesting further test to be conducted, many admit that they often appreciate partner’s who make the effort to know each other’s status before reaching that point in their relationship.

We have always advised those in or starting relationships to as a matter of urgency know for a fact (not just asking about) the sickling status of their partners way early into the relationship before things get too serious and they start getting blinded by love or “over-spirituality” to think that it is not important or God can turn things around through prayer in case the two are not medically or genetically “compatible”.

If not for anything, we must be proactive in this aspect of our relationships with the right kind of thinking that, marital love must not be limited only to the spouse but goes way beyond to the offsprings from the union and their impact on society. If you limit it to only you (the partners) and you take certain things for granted, you will only have yourselves to blame in the end.

choice

Many of us were only lucky enough to not have been born carriers of the sickling trait because I do not in my wildest imagination think my parents took their time to know their status before getting married and making babies (us). It’s one of the blessings I thank God for and I do not entirely blame them (whatever way they got to know each other) because that was a long time ago in a country where information is not widespread on this important issue. With no compulsory newborn screening in a country like ours, I was left to only know my status way later in life because my parents couldn’t tell me. And though not a carrier by God’s grace and could have relaxed and taken for granted the status of the woman I marry because working out the “maths” I wouldn’t end up with a sickle cell anemia child even if my wife is a sickle cell patient, I had to be proactive with knowing her status.

It is always a very difficult decision to make, breaking things off with one’s lover of God knows how many years into the relationship before being hit with the inevitable ugly situation of not being “medically compatible” per your sickle cell genotypes. And I recall the bitter experience of two dear friends (who have gone years into their relationship) and who I had to counsel to break it off or face the risk. I sincerely wished these ones didn’t have to face this fate and wished they had known earlier on in the relationship. I don’t know if they found the strength to break it off but I hope they do, and don’t go on acting all over-spiritual about it that it will change through prayers.

Don’t get me wrong yet. We know of many cases where two carrier (AS) couples have had many children without a single sicklier among them. So, you can risk it if you want but what if you’re not so lucky like them and end up with a sickle cell child? Can you forgive yourself, knowing you are putting that child through a hell of agony which you could have easily avoided? Don’t take it lightly what sickle cell disease can do!

child

So here’s the thing. As much as depends on you, strive to know your partner’s sickling status before setting out on the love journey or before you get way too deep to risk being blinded by it. It is one of the foundations you must lay early enough and save yourself a lot of midway heartbreaks. Love alone is not enough; faith and spirituality is not an antidote either. The only solution is to know and act; bearing in mind God’s word that “for lack of knowledge my people perish”.

I can only leave you with the question: is your genotype, blood group and Rhesus factor compatible with the person you’re considering marrying? Well, I’m sure you will soon realize this is a much more important consideration than just love. Just hope you don’t realize too late.

aware

Perhaps you should do me a favour; take a moment and google real life testimonies of sickle cell parents and children and then…whatever you decide to do with your life is up to you!

Shalom!

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

MARRIAGE IS FOR MEN, NOT BOYS. IT’S NO MONKEY BUSINESS

When it comes to marriage, the difference between a man and a boy is not about age but maturity of the mind, emotions, intellect, actions, etc. Maturity does matter; but not necessarily in terms of age. As John Grier is believed to have said, “You are only young once, but you can be immature for a lifetime”. See the difference?

A marriage between a 20 year old man and a 19 year old woman will be a rare occurrence in many parts of the world, where it appears the very first and sometimes most important determinant of the success of a marriage is the physical age of the people involved. In many such cultures and places the “a young man married is a man that’s marred” Shakespearean ideology rules.

Surprisingly though, the legal adult and marriageable age of 18 or lower is recognized for almost all purposes in this same places. It is well known that about 82% of the world’s countries and 67% of countries in Africa prescribe 18 years as the marriageable age. So what is the problem? Why hold strongly that marriage between 20 year olds will not succeed then?

Irrespective of all the benefits of marrying “young”, I always maintain that marriage is huge; very huge! Anybody entering that institution must thus “study to show himself approved” and anyone irrespective of the age (18 and above) who has done his or her homework well and has prepared adequately for it must be permitted to go in without raising of eyebrows simply because they are “young”. As the age old adage goes, “a child who learns to wash his hands well can eat with the elders”. Similarly, anybody no matter the age, who learns well the rudiments of marriage, can succeed in the institution. Or can we easily say as a fact that it is only at a particular age that people will be fully prepared for marriage and to succeed thereof?

Nonetheless, for a man, I think he should also make sure that aside every other thing, he is financially sound to run his family and if he can at 20, then glory hallelujah! And for a woman, if at the age of 19 she is well informed about marriage, motherhood and all wifely roles and is ready for it, glory hallelujah!

By 20 years however, most men and women in Africa and some parts of the world by the nature or structure of their educational and support systems would still be in school anyways. Funny enough, most will still be in high school anyways…and why think about marriage, sex, starting a family and all that when you are in school, probably still under your parents care and most definitely without any job anyways?

men-not-boys

“Marriage is no child’s play” does not mean a man/woman should be above 30/40 before marrying. There are no rules. It just means marriage is no monkey business; it’s not a frivolous venture, but is serious in content, attitude and behavior (and the list goes on). It’s a maturity issue and we do know that in many cases maturity is not commensurate with age. Proof is that we’ve seen so many old folks behaving so immature!

I do believe in marrying “young” but not rushing into marriage when one is not well prepared mentally, emotionally, financially, spiritually…and all the “llys” one can think of.

Marriage is an exciting journey…so good luck to everyone considering it, irrespective of age. Just know it’s no monkey business.

Cheers!

 

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

Marriage & Personal Development Author

 

 

Marriage exists because sex exists?

There is a saying that many hold as true that “marriage exists because sex exists” and I’ve been trying to wrap my head around it.

Does that expression mean that many of us wouldn’t marry or even consider marriage if not for sex? Does that make marriage a “way of escape” so one can have their “hot and holy sex” devoid of the guilt of sin?

But how come then that many people marry so they can have “unlimited opportunity or access” to free, uninhibited, holy or guilt-free sex only to get stuck in the reality that sex even happens frustratingly less often in marriage than they expected? Is it sane then to just bluntly recommend marriage to young people struggling to control their sexual urges, drives and appetites as if marriage really will solve their problem?

I have heard countless testimonies or should I say confessions of people who MARRIED FOR SEX and ended up becoming more miserable than before. There are sad stories of people who could not even express their sexual freedom in marriage, which apparently was supposed to be the realm where they could have all the sex they want, but now rather feel imprisoned by it because they have to literally “beg” their spouse before they could even get some sex.

Talk of the frequently unmatched libidos, work schedules, stress levels and the countless reasons partners give to avoid sex on the regular, it becomes detestable to some Christians that they no longer have authority over their own bodies (biblically) to even explore other ways of sexual satisfaction except to wait on their partner until they are in the mood to offer sex.

Many have begged the question “why should one be left literally at the mercy of another in marriage to have their sexual needs being met?” To force oneself on one’s partner even when your sexual needs are not being met will be totally condemned as insensitive, emotional abuse and worse case, rape (which is a chargeable offense). To satisfy oneself outside the marriage is even worse and a complete no no! Why not just have sex with oneself (masturbate) then for all the reasons one can find…to avoid the temptation of infidelity, to avoid forcing yourself on your spouse, to avoid constant arguments over sex or becoming a bother to your spouse, etc?

You may have very justifiable reasons to go the option of “sexing oneself” and that may solve some of your sexual problems but does that even make it right or is that even a safe zone in marriage? What about the risks of it becoming an addictive habit and making you desire even your spouse less and less? What about that which was supposed to be a temporal solution or alternative option in the end becoming a bigger problem than the actual lack of regular sex? Can you even openly discuss that with your spouse and would your even “unavailable, busy or uninterested in sex spouse” give their approval or interpret it as equal to cheating? Are you willing to risk breaking your marriage if your partner should chance on you “enjoying yourself”?

Christian views on the subject are even so varied and confusing if you want to convince yourself whether self-pleasure is right or wrong in marriage. Even the mere question of whether sex is a need for survival like food that one cannot do without, the Christian community cannot agree on, and you want to have just one right or wrong answer on that very sensitive subject of self-pleasure? 🤔😊

That’s just by the way, but more seriously, with all the sexual issues that throng marriages and many times wreck it, is it still fair to say MARRIAGE EXISTS BECAUSE SEX EXISTS? Is it still sane to encourage people to marry and then all their sexual needs will be solved?

Well, these seem more like rhetorical questions but more so, an evidence of my mental struggles anytime I try to read wide to keep an open mind or to broach certain subjects. 🤣🙊🙈

Thanks for reading. Do share your thoughts…we learn as we share.

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2019

Bitter spouses…is there not always a cause?

It’s surprising sometimes how we are able to always find time for every other thing or people in our lives except our spouses. We easily neglect our responsibilities to them claiming they should understand if they love us. They should understand we are busy for a reason. We’re busy caring about everybody and everything else which when taken out of our life or lost, would contribute far less to our depression and insanity than our marriage.

Image source: @emmel_concepts

Fast forward and there’s a case of someone else or something else getting more of our spouse’s attention and we become bitter and defensive. Are we bitter for shirking our responsibilities and pushing them beyond their limit or boundaries in the union or it just must always be the fault of the other, justified or not? We forget people always understand and bear with us until a point where they can’t bear it anymore. How often do we think about our partner’s limits…how much they can take until they can take no more?

Everybody’s got their limits and no matter how much they love you, there’s a limit to how much they can cope or live with any situation. Oh no, it’s not only about bad stuff. There are men who can’t handle too much love or affection from a woman. They begin to feel like they are babies to their partners. There are men (and maybe women) who equally can’t stand too much attention or pampering from their partners. Sometimes it’s sad that we can spend so many years with a person and know very little about them because we always just go with the flow and never pause to ponder things…until something happens.

Could you be humble enough to admit that the breakdown in your spouse’s affection towards you could be self-inflicted? Is there not a cause for your spouse’s bitterness, changed attitude, ill behavior, addiction, low/unmatched sex drive, broken friendship, lost vibes, etc. and have you stopped to think about it?

We wait too long for things to blow in our face before we look ourselves in the mirror.

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2019

Our differences are still beautiful

My wife’s patience when dealing with people lasts only a day or two (tops) because she hates disappointments. Golden rule with her: if you can’t fulfil a promise to her, don’t make it. She can’t keep hoping that you will hold the end of the bargain and she hates to see the “monster” in her come out because of a failed promise.

My patience can last years…not that I love disappointments but I tend to give people far too many chances, making excuses for them whiles they hurt me (intentionally or otherwise). That’s my greatest weakness ever and people have exploited me in so many ways because of that.

She hates me for that and i love her for her own weakness too 😂.
We’re such a great team 😊💪

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2019

Sex is the spice of marriage 

A sexless or sex-starved marriage is a suffering marriage…it’s not marriage at play at all. It can at best be described as FRIENDSHIP at play.

Per Bible standards or rules of Christianity, SEX is what differentiates married people from unmarried people. Sex is virtually the only thing prohibited for the unmarried or let me put it this way, friends can do everything married people do except to engage in sexual intercourse.

So, what’s the point being married and not having sex on the regular? This is not to say marriage is all about sex…I’m addressing sexless or sex-starved marriage.

Sex is what separates the boys from the men…if you want to put it in a funny way. Friendship is good in marriage but it should never take the place of sex.

Regular sex in a marriage makes God happy because it solves a lot of problems in the marriage. Couples are happier in a marriage where sex is not lacking…and the devil is always defeated.

The devil’s main goal is to see couples not connect, knowing very well intimacy is a strong bond in marriage. He will get you to fight, disagree on sex, not want sex, not enjoy it and not want to even try harder. Meanwhile remember “a great sex life requires effort”. Once you stop trying, the devil wins.

Sex is an indicator of love whether you like it or not. Can you have sex with someone you don’t love or have mutual connection with? Yes! But at best, that will be described as abuse or rape at worse.

I believe all things being equal, any man or woman who is sexually satisfied will not leave his or her marriage.

It is said that when a man or woman is sexually satisfied, they are more emotionally stable.

It is also said sex is not only for making children so you should never let the children rob you of a satisfying sexual life. Be mindful that the sex preceded the children.

And be sure to note that in marriage, any time you give needless excuses for sex, the devil wears a silly grin of victory. 😊

OK, that should be enough for today. Hope you’ll also share your thoughts with us. Cheers!

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2019

Why don’t you discuss sex while dating?

While dating, there’s that huge temptation of being interested in actually having sex than discussing the subject of sex and your expectations of sex in marriage. Majority of cases, you can bet that subject is not broached at all. One seems to wonder then, how do lovers jump from talking about sex to rather how many children they will want to have and what kind of home they will want them growing in? Sex precedes children (it’s actually what leads to children), so why don’t lovers discuss the sex itself before bringing in the topic of kids? Why assume everything about your sex life in marriage will just fall in place?

It’s fair to say that most dating relationships have little conversation about sex, forgetting that a great percentage of success in marriage depends on how you handle your sexual expectations in marriage. You may be surprised sex sometimes happens less frequently in marriage than you expect (after telling yourself you will have so much once you marry). And when that happens, how do you handle that mountain of unmet expectations?

Like Dr. Kim Kimberly puts it, “it is interesting that we live in a sex-charged world, yet talk so little about it in our marriage relationships. I think that going into marriage I felt like I knew all that I needed to know and that a great sex life would just happen. That theory didn’t hold water very long“.

There are a lot of realities about sex to discover in marriage than is out there or you may have even experienced in your many bouts of pre-marital sex. Everything else is different in marriage and you will get to learn that you need a lot more than just the sexual compatibility or attraction that makes you want to test the “forbidden waters” before locking it down. No matter how much effort you put in the “doing sex” rather than “talking sex” before marriage, chances are things will be a whole lot different in marriage even with all the experience you may think you have gained with pre-marital sex.

Married sex is a game changer and you can sometimes be left disappointed if you just assume things will just pick up perfectly once you’re married. You’ll be surprised you’ll have to learn loads of patience, experimenting, empathy, forgiveness, listening, understanding and a lot of “rewriting of scripts” from your pre-marital escapades. Very few couples get their sexual expectations met right from the honeymoon. You may be surprised to discover that very few people get it right from the word go, even for those who have been sexually involved before marriage.

It becomes therefore very important to have realistic expectations of and discussions on sex before you enter marriage with a truck load of fantasies and thinking you have mastered the act or got it all together in your head how things should play out.

OK, so here’s where we end for today. Till next time, do share your thoughts with us. Will love to hear them…we learn as we share!

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2018

Two Becoming One

I think the biblical “two becoming one” is not to be interpreted mathematically to mean the fusing of the personality traits of two individuals into one.

Some couples wouldn’t mind the total erasure and wiping away of their individual identities, dreams and interests to take on that of another person and we cannot resent them, yet for many others, that brings a feeling of total nonexistence and a kind of living in a cage.

There’s a place for sacrifice and compromise in every relationship. Nonetheless, individual passions, dreams and interests must be nurtured where necessary for the good of the relationship. It’s one thing sacrificing, compromising and still being happy in a relationship and it’s another thing sacrificing, compromising and pretending to be happy taking on the identity of someone else you are quite or totally out of touch with. Then again, there is a place for shared passions and interests.

In reality and the field of play, it’s always about finding a balance and not about partners trying to fuse themselves into something like a ‘nuclear fusion’ thing. The oneness of which the Bible speaks, I believe, is not a kind of abstract science or reasoning or some idealist thing.
Everyone’s reality of “two becoming one” is different and I can bet the biblical “two becoming one” is still a mystery being reviewed and interpreted by theologians…just like we know in part and we prophesy in part. Lol

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2018

Needs and red flags

The very core of marriage is about meeting the needs of each other. That’s the very foundation. Destabilize that and then marriage is as good as dead. No amount of prayer will meet a man or a woman’s physical needs…at most, it will meet their spiritual needs.

The tragedy with being too spiritual is that you believe marriage is a spiritual union and so you give little attention to physical things…you think everything physical is carnal to you. Marriage may be spiritual but it is lived 100% of the time in the physical.

No marriage can survive, no matter how much you pray, without the physical and emotional needs of both partners being met. The problem sometimes is that, as our marriage evolves, we stop asking the critical questions of what our partners needs could be at every phase of the marriage. We assume we are meeting their needs but sadly, we actually may not.

Everybody changes and same with our needs. Yesterday’s needs could be totally different from today’s needs. A successful marriage is one that makes a conscious effort to continually carry out a needs assessment of the players in the marriage as the years go by. It’s not enough to only assess your needs just before marriage; it’s equally important within the marriage, year in year out.

I came across a beautiful piece by Joy Ehonwa and the second paragraph is what’s so important to me!

Joy Ehonwa wrote:

“Some marry for love and wish they hadn’t attached so much importance to it and married “sensibly” instead. Others make practical choices and later wish they had held out for love. There are no guarantees to this thing.

What sucks is underestimating the power of who you really are, and marrying someone who is unable to provide what you need, eyes wide open.

People who do this are normal people like you and me. They often suspect before the wedding that they’re short-changing themselves, and so they avoid discussing the contract.

Affection is a vital need for Ayo, but she marries a man who is aloof, because he has money and can give her the good life.

The prayer team leader doesn’t stir Dave as a lover should, but she would be a good accessory to his pastoral ministry so he goes ahead and marries her.

Nkechi needs quality time to thrive, but she marries a man who is always travelling, because time is running out and she needs to settle down.

Love is delicious – I’m a huge fan – but it is never enough to sustain a marriage. Why can’t we tell ourselves the truth about what we really need, what we can give up, what we can live without, what we can offer, and marry accordingly?”

Read that? What a beautiful piece. Guess it’s fair to say life is all about choices and we must either make the right ones or blame no one when we make the wrong ones. In serious retrospect, you would have realized you could have avoided the many pitfalls you are probably in now but you chose to ignore the red flags and treated your decisions lightly.

The lesson in here is probably to know that when it comes to marriage, you don’t make light your decisions…even though it is a chance we are all taking and just hoping for the best outcome.

…………………………………………………………

Till next time, do share your thoughts with us. We all could learn a thing or two, so don’t hold your thoughts. 😊

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2018

Sex is a big deal 

Women usually don’t understand why men make a big deal out of sex; it’s like their whole being is wired to sex. It’s a simple answer: SEX IS A BIG DEAL!

Never trivialize sex. If it were not a big deal, a man could simply go have it with another woman and not come facing his wife’s wrath. It’s a big deal and you would know when you check the statistics on how many marriages hit the rocks over sex related issues.

Again it’s a BIG DEAL because even the Bible stresses on it a lot and even recommends that couples have sex on the regular to avoid falling into temptations. The only exception given is the 1 Cor 7:5 clause “…except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer“.

It is important to build healthy intimacy in marriage and one of the best and proven ways is through SEX.

When you trivialize sex, you risk truncating your marriage; and when the sex is dull, it saps the shine out of the marriage. There’s a reason why it’s called “intimacy”. And who doesn’t like all the many benefits of intimacy?

You can always bet the one who doesn’t may be the same one whose marriage is suffering. Why? Because it is often hard to see a couple with a great sex life or physical intimacy talking divorce. “Sex nips divorce in the bud“. So give it, and give it all; not in small tots as if it’s a harmful alcohol. It’s rather a good kind of intoxication so don’t withhold it.

Instead of getting into the habit of looking for ways not to indulge, understand that marital success hinges a great deal on sex. Let everything be good but the sex bad and u can still bet 90% that things will fall apart. So why not channel as much energy there, as you do all other areas of your marriage? If the sex is not that great, work at improving it in love…not looking for reasons to avoid it.

But whatever you decide, know that sex is one of the surest ways of keeping a man…every man. The porn industry knows that too well…else, why do you think it’s always a thriving business? The interest of man (in general) in sex, his fixation on sex, the curiosity, the adventure, the excitement, the adrenalin rush…just name them, will keep every man asking for more and making it a BIG DEAL. It’s a big deal to a man when your interest is more into anything but sex. Lol

God is not stupid not to have known that about us His most priced creations, hence the 1 Cor 7:5 reference. And don’t forget the prostitutes know that so well too…so keep looking for excuses and lose him (same goes for the men too; keep looking for excuses and lose her) to the next bidder who will put much value on what you don’t value.

Great Sex = Great Marriage

Do the maths!

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2018

Marriage & Personal Development Author