For the first two years of their marriage, Kola Busari and his wife, Adebimpe (not real names) could never do without each other. They wore the same types of clothes to outings, ate food from the same plate, slept in the same room, even went to the market together always. They were obviously so inseparable that family and friends, including neighbours tagged them as twins.
But one evening in late 2017 after a disagreement, Adebimpe picked up a pestle from the kitchen store, headed to the garage and smashed her husband’s car’s windscreen.
According to Kola, who spoke with our correspondent, his wife accused him of having extramarital affairs with one of his female colleagues at work. He said Adebimpe accessed his phone after he returned home that day and saw the photographs he took with the female colleague.
“Without asking questions on the reason for taking the pictures with my colleague, my wife simply jumped into conclusion, accusing me of infidelity. Initially, when she confronted me with the allegation, I snubbed her because I had a hectic day at work,” Kola, who works at a bank at Lekki, said.
Little did he know that his wife took the allegation seriously, hence he did not expect her next action.
He said, “She challenged me to confess my affairs with the female colleague and I just laughed. Actually, I didn’t know she was serious about it. I thought, when did it become an offence to take pictures with a colleague?
“When I refused to respond to her again mainly because I saw the allegation as flimsy, I left her in the living room where we were and went to the bedroom. A few minutes later, I heard a loud sound like a crash outside the house. When I stepped out to see what was happening, my wife had broken my car’s windscreen.
“I was furious, boiling with anger. I was enraged and wanted to beat her up but I controlled myself. She finally calmed down after the act and went on her knees to ask for forgiveness. But I ignored her.”
For the next one week, Kola said he had to either follow a colleague to work in his car or board commercial vehicles. When he refused to talk to his wife after three weeks, Kola said her wife reported herself to their pastor, parents and parents-in-law, who all promptly intervened in the issue.
He said, “It took a long time for me to forgive her, after many pleas by our pastor, family and friends. I was even on the verge of divorcing her.
“I never thought she could exhibit such an attitude. On the day the incident happened, I was stressed and I had wanted to wait until the following morning to explain to her that I took pictures with the female colleague because it was her birthday. But she couldn’t wait for any explanation.”
Nevertheless, Kola said he eventually forgave his wife but asked her to give him half of the money he used to fix the car which he said she did.
“I think the pastor and family members’ intervention saved our marriage from collapsing. I still love my wife and she loves me too. We understand ourselves more now,” he said.
According to marriage counsellors, marriage is like a roller coaster. It has its highs and lows. The ride is unexpected, sometimes thrilling and scary. There are surprises and adventures that cannot be predicted. There are many challenges and heartbreaks but also countless joys and celebrations.
However, while many couples are able to save their marriages from collapse when the storms come, some couldn’t. To this end, marriage counsellors advised couples noticing cracks in their marriages to learn the following ways to repair them.
Identify what initially attracted you to your spouses
A marriage counsellor, Mrs Funmi Adelakun, said when a marriage started to show signs of failing, it was good to return to the beginning of the relationship and identify what made the two partners fall in love initially.
She said, “It can be saddening when a partner thinks about how madly they were in love with their partner and how damaged their relationship had got. But in my years of experience of counselling couples on the verge of a breakup, the first thing I ask them to do is to draw a list of at least 10 things they admired about their partner when they fell in love.
“I discovered that I don’t talk much if the partners are able to identify what made them fall in love initially. It is then easy to repair their broken marriage. The truth is that many people lose sight of the things they liked in their partners along the line, and because of this, the marriage gets tiring. Thinking back to when times were good and when they just fell in love can really help to lift their spirits and heal their broken marriage.”
Also, a clinical psychologist in the United States, Dr Erica MacGregor, said remembering the good times could save a failing marriage.
“When you first met, did you love exploring new places together? Did you make each other laugh? When a marriage is failing, it’s important for both partners to try to recognise and remember the things that once attracted them to each other,” she wrote on oprahmag.com.
A marriage therapist based in the US, Ellen Chute, advised couples to recognise what had been working for them, saying divorce should never be the first thing to consider in a failing marriage.
“Chances are, your relationship isn’t all bad, all the time – but it can be hard to single out the good things when there’s so much discord. All marriages have low points. What brings people out of the low points is their ability to be open to the positives.
“One way to do this is by changing your inner dialogue when you’re unhappy with your partner. For example, instead of thinking, ‘I’m so irritated that my partner is never home for dinner,’ try saying, ‘I’m grateful my partner has the weekends free to spend time with the family.’ Reframing your mindset to be more positive allows for more acceptance and may help rebuild the friendship and trust that feels gone,” Chute wrote on oprahmag.com.
She added, “If your spouse has gone from being your best friend to feeling like a total stranger, you may wonder if your marriage is on the outs. But getting a divorce is a huge decision, especially if there’s a chance you can rebuild what’s been lost.”
Start to listen to each other again
Relationship expert, Rachael Pace, said couples whose marriages are on the verge of breaking should start communicating and listening to each other as these could help to save their marriages.
“Have conversations again and really start to communicate with one another. Listen to what your spouse is telling you, and then ask the same from them. Really make it a point to listen to one another again and it may well be what helps you to uncover what was once great about your marriage.
“Wondering how to make a marriage work? Just listen to your partner, try to understand what they need,” she wrote on marriage.com.
Reflect on the threats to your marriage
Why do marriages fail? Where did things go wrong? What happened that got you to the point of a broken marriage? Have you grown apart? Did one of you cheat? Or did life just get in the way?
According to Pace, identifying the causes of a broken marriage is important to fix it.
She identified some of the reasons why marriages fall apart to include lack of care and affection, communication gap, infidelity and difficult times.
She said, “In difficult times, how couples support each other determines how good or bad their relationship is going to become. When partners don’t support each other, it shows they are in a failing marriage.
“Even if a relationship has gone through such problems, saving a broken marriage is not impossible. There are plenty of circumstances for which you can work through even though they have chipped away at the marriage to this point.”
Accept the past
Maybe your partner had an affair. Or perhaps you discovered something about your partner that shook you to the core. Whatever it is, MacGregor said if both partners decided to move forward together, it was important to embrace what happened and commit to a new beginning.
“In some cases, this means grieving the loss of what you once idealised in your relationship and realising that it has changed into something different. You can recreate something fresh, with more transparency than before,” she said.
Find time for self-care
Do you count on your partner to be your everything? If so, that can hit a marriage hard.
“We cannot expect our partner to fulfill all our needs,” a psychotherapist and author based in the US, Kelley Kitley, also wrote on oprahmag.com.
She said, “In order to have a healthy marriage, we have the responsibility to live dynamic lives including socialising, friendships, and activities that ensure we are living our best life. When you are happy with yourself, it’s easier to be happy in the relationship. We are all a work-in-progress.
“Both individuals in the marriage need to make improving the relationship a priority. But to do this, each person needs to be self-aware and reflective of their role. Some marriages just need a tune-up to make them work again. Date nights or going away on an uninterrupted weekend together can help regain lost intimacy.”
According to Kitley, one may follow all the advice offered by people and read all the books on marriage but sometimes the most effective option is to see a professional therapist who can work with a couple to address specific issues.
“A marriage therapist can act as coach, mediator and a teacher,” she said.
Meanwhile, Kitley said a good marriage therapist should stay as neutral as possible while supporting and challenging two partners.
“Alternatively, if you’re a member of a religious organisation, you can ask if they have trained clergy to counsel you,” she added.
In addition, MacGregor advised partners in a failing marriage not to give up too soon on their relationship.
She said, “Understandably, there may be some ambivalence but there has to be a commitment to try to work through the difficult issues. This can take months or even years because each couple and situation is different.
“The truth is, everyone has their bad habits, annoyances, and unique problems. If each partner realises that they will have conflicts no matter who they are married to, this bodes well for the success of the marriage.”