Our vulnerabilities

One of the fundamental reasons for cheating in relationships is the fact that we always crave what we miss in our life and partners, and we become vulnerable when we find it in another person. It is in that moment of lack that our cravings and the temptations associated with them grows. Talk of craving friendship, affection, true love, sex, empathy, quality time, real communication, etc.

How long can one stand being starved on those?

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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)

Dating is easy…Marriage is hard work

​Marriage preparations do not end at the altar

You are allowed a temporary sigh of relief and accomplishment at the altar…but almost immediately begins real work; a new reality. Dating is easy…Marriage is hard work. 

When in doubt, remember all the billion people who couldn’t keep it together even at the easy dating stage. If dating could not last…marriage could not too. You may not like that reality but it’s just the simple truth. 

God meant marriage to be forever, of course your Pastor told you that; but it’s not always forever if you don’t put in the works. And who says your Pastor’s marriage is all rosy and a heavenly Jerusalem 24/7; don’t believe that lie, they just want you to see it that way. They go through every thing every normal marriage goes through; are they Jesus? How will you feel if your Pastor comes to say on the pulpit “things are not going too well with my marriage but we’re still working things out”. You think it’s not a possibility? The Pastor’s marriage has good times and bad times just like every other marriage. 

There are no perfect marriages; yours wouldn’t be either. So, chin up and let go of all the fantasies! 

I can love him/her better than you 

Always remember that everything you are doing to or for your husband/wife or your boyfriend/girlfriend, somebody else can do it and even do it better. Don’t say it’s not possible…it is! 

If you’re giving him/her sex, somebody else can also give them that and even give them better. Maybe your stronghold is food or taking care of the home…but do you think nobody else cooks better than you or can ever manage your home or partner better than you? You think nobody else can spoil your girl/wife better than you’re doing now if they get the chance? 

Everything you do in life, somebody else can do it better than you. The only reason why you are still there and still the only one doing it is simply because that other person has not been given the CHANCE. So, never lose guard and start playing dull moves. Everybody can potentially lose their partner to the next available highest bidder. 

You’re not irreplaceable in even the most loving of all relationships. Just do something very silly, or worse case, just die now and see how soon you’ll be replaced by someone else. It’s natural for voids to be filled, just like in every working environment. 

Like Sam Casey put it: 

“It’s easy to see your position in leadership at the office as becoming more important than your job as the leader of your home. No one is indispensable. Everyone can be replaced on the job. God can raise up another leader to do what you are doing. It’s worth asking your spouse from time to time to make sure you stay on the mark” 

Never stop loving your partner, never stop doing right by them. And never stop evaluating yourself and each other. Start treating them wrong…and you will soon see. You will wonder where that highest bidder taking what belongs to you even sprung up from. Oh boy, they have always been there! They have always been secretly admiring and wishing for what you have. All it had to take was your negligence. 😜

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2017

Marriage & Personal Development Author 

Promises and Realities

​At the beginning, love is based on the promise of a life together; later, it is built on the reality of a life shared.

That’s a very profound truth. But not only that; it also presents us with two extremes or opposites: Promises vs Realities.

The problem is that people are not very accepting of realities. They always and constantly wish the stark realities away. They want to forever live in a bubble…never planning ahead what they will do when the bubbles burst. They act as if it’s impossible for bubbles to even burst. 

We pray for all the good things to happen to us…but never for the wisdom to know what to do when good things don’t happen to us, knowing very well the reality that good things will not always happen to us in life. 

Life is a bit of good here…a bit of bad here; a bit of success here…a bit of failure here; a bit of happiness here…a bit of sadness here; a bit of right choices here…a bit of wrong choices here; a bit of life here…and a bit of death on the side.

How long will you last in any venture (relationship, marriage, business, etc) when the winds of realities test you? How prepared will you be? How often do you pause in life to assess your situations? Is your assessment of the fortunes of your relationship blinded by love? Will you accept the realities of your shortcomings or lack of foresight which probably caused you that relationship, marriage, or business? 

 

Marriage: a field of openness and accountability 

​A healthy relationship or marriage requires honesty in all things!

In marriage, your partner has every right to have access to your phone; and in fact, investigate whatever they want on it. It’s just not always recommended because of not wanting to encourage or breed unnecessary suspicious behaviours towards each other as couples. But the simple truth is that marriage is a field of openness and truthfulness.

A part of marriage means or involves accountability. If you don’t want to be accountable to your spouse then you don’t need marriage. I don’t see why you would want marriage yet not want to be accountable to your partner. 

The moment you decide to marry, you are saying you want to be responsible and you’re giving your partner exclusive rights to information on every detail of your life. Every action of yours affects your marriage, as such, it is every partner’s duty to keep the other in check. If you don’t want that, then you simply have to remain single because you can’t be married and still have singleness attitudes and mindsets.  

Singles are only accountable onto themselves but once married, you are accountable to each other. The marriage vow enjoins you to. 

Our accountability in marriage is not only in the eyes of God but also to our spouses; as such, you must not resent being checked by your spouse. 

The trademark of a strong Godly marriage is complete openness; a relationship where couples can talk freely about absolutely everything. If you are faithful, there is no reason to want to hide anything. What at all is on your phone that you are hiding from being seen by your spouse?

Some may say one’s partner may see something that may trigger mistrust but the point is, trust never happens in a vacuum. It’s based on actions…always! I can never wake up one day and just start trusting someone. I must see evidences of your actions over a period of time to conclude on trusting you. And who said trust is a one time thing? It never is. It is constantly being assessed and daily renewed. 

If a partner thinks once you marry, trust must just be there automatically, I don’t want to marry such a person. You need to continuously prove to me that I can trust you and I can never do that without genuine openness and accountability for your actions. 

So yes, If I chance on something unpleasant or suspicious on your phone, there is something called explanation, clearing of doubts or putting things in their right context. It’s only people who don’t want to be accountable that don’t like being questioned. And for me, once you don’t want to be accountable and subject yourself to scrutiny, then you are a questionable marriage material. Even Jesus Christ says he will judge us so we must be accountable and if that’s cool with us, then it must be cool that we are accountable to our marriage or partners. 

The simple truth is that in marriage, both of you need to take joint responsibility for how the marriage is doing. How do you do that when you want to keep some things a no-go area? 

Share your thoughts with us. 

©Mark Gadogbe (McApple), 2017

Marriage & Personal Development Author 

So much hurt; too afraid to hope again

​IT’S NOT LOVE…when it trifles with your soft heart and piece by piece tears it apart and having won dumps you in a grave of pain, scarring your life with grief and bequeathing to you debts of regret!

Many people today are afraid to hope because they have been hurt so much in life. 

They have had so many disappointments and so many relationship and marital breakups that they don’t think they can face the pain of another. They are left with emotional scars and baggage from past failed relationships or marriages that has wrecked their trust and skyrocketed their fears. 

They have lost all their beautiful smiles, joys, trust, confidence…and the Devil has taken advantage to set up in them negative thoughts, lifestyles and false realities.

LORD WE NEED YOU TO SHOW YOURSELF MIGHTY IN SUCH LIVES. RESTORE THEIR HOPE AND LET THEM KNOW YOU’RE ABLE TO TURN THINGS AROUND! 

Help them let go of the past and trust in Your promise of a better future. Help them realize that in Isaiah 43:19, You told Your people not to dwell on the past but to recognize that You’re doing something new. 

Constantly remind them of the truth found in Psalm 147:3, that you God heals the broken.

Just help them…someway, somehow! 

Affection before perfection!

Though there are no perfect people and relationships/marriages, it is possible that you can get to a point where you can say confidently of your partner that he/she is the “perfect” partner for you and you can’t think of anything that you would wish changes. And we can get there when we strive to offer affection before seeking perfection out of our spouses.

Affection constitutes tender expressions that result in feelings of closeness, passion, and security and results in marital satisfaction, intimacy, approval, hope, and pleasure…which can bring about perfection. For marriage to thrive, it needs frequent doses of affection which is a vital necessity for connecting with one’s spouse.

In the words of Hallifield Cosgayne O’Donnoghue:

Our husbands and wives however good, virtuous, or amiable, are yet mortal, and have the imperfections of their earthly origin: but still there are ten thousand graces and virtues, as strong to retain affection, as they were at first to conciliate it.  Let it be the endeavour of both parties to cultivate a kind and affectionate feeling; let not all the little acts of attention and kindness which first won esteem and marked the progress of attachment, be permitted to terminate when it is of most importance to preserve its endearment. The cares of life will sufficiently operate to cool and freeze the current of affection; but a prompt and ready attention to every wish, an anticipation of every want, a well-timed offering, in memory of a wedding or birthday, will revive affection, and warm the coolness which would otherwise steal insensibly over the heart and affections.

Affection is vital for all healthy human relationships and when spouses cultivate the habit of being affectionate towards each other, they become emotionally bonded in a near-perfect way. Conjugal affection especially is like a delicate plant; be careful you don’t trample it. 🙂

God help us to increase the affection in our marriages!

© Mark Gadogbe (McApple)

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…not always the right thing

Sometimes what is comfortable and natural is not always the right thing. Many of us are immersed in unhealthy patterns in all kinds of areas of our lives. We spend too much time on the internet. We yell too much at our kids. We get up too late and are always in a hurry. We have no organization in our lives and always feel a little discombobulated. We’re doing what comes naturally and feels comfortable, but it’s actually hurting us. And we can be like that in our marriages, too. We stop talking about matters of the heart and only talk logistics: who is going to the grocery store, who is going to help mom this weekend. We criticize when we should keep our mouth shut; we retreat to our own hobbies instead of spending time together.

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