Ours is a society that places a premium on marriage, its sanctity and the bliss of doing it once and getting it right. People dread failed marriages to the extent of remaining in faulty unions despite abuse and other forms of toxic marriage behaviours.
The need to not be seen as a marriage failure trumps physical safety, mental wellness and overall happiness because of the stigma and societal side-eye often directed at those who are unmarried at a certain age, and those who have had cause to separate from their spouses. That collective side-eye is especially more piercing, more judgmental towards women who have had to make the tough decision to break away from their partners, many times for reasons beyond their control.
Everyone tries to avoid the separation and divorce ordeal, thereby making the process of choosing a partner very sensitive for most Nigerians who, having been relentlessly socialised along the lines above, want to ensure that they never experience any of the marriage disasters aforementioned.
Owing to this, being watchful and observant of all the traits one can notice with the physical senses has since become insufficient. The need to be double-sure and as error-free as possible when choosing a spouse has seen a spiritual check firmly become something of a necessity among many young Nigerians who intend to tie the knot.
And for anyone who knows Nigeria, even if only by reputation, this is not surprising in any way. The country is steeped deep in religious beliefs and a vast majority of the population believes in the existence of God and in his ability to orchestrate every phase of their life’s journey.
Since choosing the right person to marry is one of the biggest decisions of anyone’s life and also because of the extra-importance placed on getting that choice right around these parts, asking God for direction seems like an absolute no-brainer for almost everyone – from the lukewarm to the most ardent followers of Nigeria’s most prominent faiths.
What’s the significance of doing this?
As explained above, most people want to be married to one person forever. The desirability for this has been systematically woven into the mind of the majority from an impressionable age.
People want to know if their bae is the real one for them, if he or she is their soulmate. People want to know if they will be happy in health and wealth with their spouse, if the happiness will last, if they will have kids, and most importantly, if the marriage will be able to withstand the test of time.
And since God is the all-knowing, why not ask him to tell them what the future holds for the union they are about to seal, right?
ALSO READ: Why are you rushing to get married?
How people go about the process
People would ideally meet religious priests – Pastors, Prophets, Alfas, Native priests etc; often at the place of worship they belong to or regularly visit.
In other cases, depending on the fame of the priest, people travel long distances for consultation with these men who are believed to have God’s ears and can translate his thoughts about the future to those who are in need of such revelations.
People have also been known to go for these spiritual consultations with lists containing the names of suitors, in the hopes that the best partner would be chosen by divine direction.
NB: Tunde Kelani’s 1997 movie, “Oleku,” explores this and all the possible drama around it really well.
But exactly how wise is all of this?
We reached out to ‘Toba Oluwaponmile, a serving minister and preacher at the Enthronement House Christian Center in Ikeja, Lagos, who tells Pulse that the whole process of going to a third party to help “select” or “decide who to marry” is not so wise.
“You don’t want to make another person your decision maker,” he says.
He continues, “there are just certain parameters you have to look out for and not make the prophet the one to give you a primary decision to say this is my wife [or husband]. What a prophet can do is to just confirm, not to be the one to choose for you.”
His opinion is based on the belief that God gave everyone a mind that functions, and an innate ability to detect for themselves what is good and what is not. Considering the things you count as your core values and the direction you want your life to take, you should know if a partner is good for you, or not. That little voice in the back of your head would often tell you, he adds.
“God did not give us our minds as a waste. He created us, gave us a mind and the mind is still very relevant and useful in the things that we do,” says Minister Oluwaponmile.
Lape Soetan is a UK-certified relationship coach who helps single women over 30 attract and keep the right relationship while building lives they love and she believes, too, that there isn’t a compulsory need to go see anyone when making the huge decision of who to marry.
Through an email interview, Lape tells Pulse that, “…spirituality is very personal. It’s a relationship between you and God. I didn’t reach out to anyone for ‘discernment’ [when I was about to marry]. I trust my judgment. I also believe that all human beings are intuitive.
“It’s just that many of us have trained ourselves to ignore our intuition. However, trusting your intuition can be re-learned. If in doubt, go within and follow your intuition. Trust your gut.”
To further prove that the choice to marry cannot and should not be made for you by a third party, Minister Oluwaponmile adds that; “Even if you look at the bible very well, I can’t remember any part in the bible where someone wanted to marry and said ‘God should I marry this marry person’ or ‘let us go and meet God.’”
Choosing who to marry, according to the preacher, is mostly a thing of applying one’s reasoning, and a matter of the relationship shared with the potential spouse. You can only go to God, whether directly or through his servants, for confirmation. The minister adds that it is best to have a personal relationship with God and make your decisions by yourself without having to ask men of God, some of whom experience have shown to not really be who they claim to be.
If you believe in God as many people do, and would need his input in deciding who to marry, you do not need to run the risk of being misled by an ‘anointed’ third party when you can personally attain a level where you can know for yourself, without any iota of doubt, who and what the will of God for your marriage is.
“Very few things in life are actually compulsory. In this case… [The decision to seek a third party’s spiritual guidance] depends on how much the couple values spirituality. …This is the real world and things are always messy. There are people who get counselling and still get divorced, there are people who obey their spiritual leader and are thrilled, there are others who obey their spiritual leader and wind up miserable. There are no hard and fast rules. This is real life,” Lape says.
Bimbo, a . executive in Lagos who has been happily married for four years says despite being really in touch with her spiritual side when she was single, she still didn’t need to ask God or anyone to know who to marry and she has had not a moment of regret since she and her husband have been an item.
“I already knew the kind of man, the kind of personality I’d want to marry and even though there were quite a number of men on my case, it was easy to spot the person I was waiting for when he came along,” she says.
Whether or not you are invested in the spiritual sphere of your being, and whether or not you rely on logic or personal spiritual conviction, one thing that always says you are doing the right thing, according to Toba Oluwaponmile, is the genuine “peace of mind” you’ll feel about doing that thing; an opinion corroborated by the senior pastor of Victory Hours of Prayer Ministries, Lagos, Samson Adetayo.
For Pastor Adetayo, however, consulting with a prophet on the matter of marriage is very key to being double sure of finding that peace.
He tells Pulse via phone call that “reaching out to a prophet for consultation on who to marry is actually a great idea. But it has to be before the relationship begins at all, and the person consulting the prophet must have done at least, some reasonable extent of character assessment of the potential partner.”
According to him, asking for spiritual guide before beginning the relationship at all is to ensure that too much emotion is not invested into the affair and more particularly so that sex doesn’t occur before the couple finds out that the stars do not align for their union. The pastor adds that romantic and sexual involvement may colour people’s decision to do what is right in the instance where the prayers and counselling of the prophet reveals that they are not meant to be together.
“Whatever good vision the prophet sees, and whatever glowing recommendation he gives before the relationship begins is not final though,” he says. “If somewhere along the line one of them finds out some unbearable character flaw or some behavioural pattern that the other won’t change, it is absolutely OK to get out of the relationship.
“That God said the man or woman is good for you doesn’t mean you have to bear domestic violence and other forms abuse and toxicity. There are other people that are just as good for you as that person is,” he explains.
An [unpopular] opinion about God and your marriage
What’s left to say in all of this is that the need to be a great partner remains the same at all times – yesterday today and forever.
Even a revelation in HD from the heavens will not take away the need to do all that is required to keep a marriage going. That the most powerful priest in the land entered a trance and saw directly from the gods that you’ll be happy and fulfilled in your marriage and that you’d live happily ever after will not count for anything if one or both spouses are not willing and ready to be sacrificial, patient, reach compromises, be affectionate, devoted, committed to each other, among other things.
One gets the feeling that people pay an inadequate attention to this and focus on getting God’s direction instead. Being directed into a marriage by the voice of God, and having his stamp on it will never compensate for a lack of effort on the part of the people involved in said marriage.
No matter what a man of God says, it does not excuse the need to work on the relationship and to live right by your spouse. Even the peace of mind and conviction you felt before signing the dotted lines on that marriage certificate do not presuppose or confirm eternal marital bliss or anything of the sort.
So it’s pointless to seek divine influence on your marital journey when the import of simple things like communication, emotional intelligence, faithfulness etc, is lost on either of the spouses.
Having God’s leading for marriage is great, but so is being the partner who never shirks the duty to remain loving and lovable as they were before the marriage began. Having a partner who also takes this duty serious makes life a lot easier.
That way, the desire of marrying and staying happily married to one person forever can be realised and both man and God stay satisfied.