The foundation of most marriages is faulty –Okunowo
“Most people are either products of divorce or separation and are traumatised by sexual abuse”
By KATE HALIM
Tuesday, May 08 , 2012

•Okunowo

Pastor Bola Okunowo’s desire is to see dignity restored to womanhood and the marriage institution. Being a relationship counsellor for over a decade, she is pained by the way marriage vows are desecrated.

Okunowo who is the Vice President of Kisses and Huggs Outreaches, an outreach devoted to Singles and Married Couples, spoke with Daily Sun and shed light on various ways couples can keep their marriages alive. She also advised women to look inwards and locate what makes them tick as that is a pointer to their life’s purpose. Excerpts:

As a relationship and marriage counsellor, what would you say about today’s marriages?
Today’s marriages are plagued with gross ignorance and some couples lack knowledge as to how the marriage institution works. The foundation of most marriages is faulty. Many relationships are based on lies, deception, societal and peer pressure, materialism, financial gains, contracts, sexual prowess, parental selfishness, competition, selfish ambitions, immaturity, traditions and culture and the list goes on.

The very core and basis of marriage which is love and commitment are shunned. Marriage vows are disregarded and desecrated while some couples treat themselves as strangers and co-tenants, suspicious of each other. Others because of the socio- economic situations spend less time with each other and more time with colleagues at work which is a perfect ground to breed extra marital and emotional affairs. Most of today’s marriages are in a state of decay and really need help.

In your view, what are the challenges facing relationships and marriages today?
The challenges facing today’s marriages range from lack of knowledge, inadequate preparations for marriage, parental influences, peer pressures, materialism, sexual pressures from the media and at work places and technological advancement which makes cyber sex, pornographic materials and the likes readily available. Others are traditions, cultural influences, and lack of adequate and proper education on marital, emotional and sexual issues. These affect every strata of the society. We can even see it affecting the productivity and creativity of our young professionals, those in governance, religious leaders and the young folks.

How can these challenges be tackled and in what ways can couples constantly keep the flame of love burning in their marriages?
First, there is the factor of quality time. Time is the true test of love. You spend more time with the person you love. Make out time to be together no matter what. Play, laugh, pray, and eat together. Create time to be alone together daily and then some special outings where you can just be by yourselves. And please make those times really special, let your spouse feel special.

Secondly, there is words of affirmation. Words do a lot in fanning the flames of love in marriage. What you say and how you say it matters a great deal. Don’t talk harshly especially when angry. Soft answers turn away wrath. Learn the act of proper communication. Be expressive, be open and keep talking. Also, learn to help each other at home. The little things you do for yourselves shows you care and that you are not taking each other for granted.
In addition, give gifts to each other. Buy special things for your spouse. There are wide ranges you can choose from. They could be expensive or cheap, it’s the gesture and thoughtfulness that makes it special.

Finally, we cannot exclude physical touch from a romantic marriage. Someone once said that a woman that is not constantly touched lovingly can have her lifespan reduced. Holding hands, kisses, hugs, pecks, looking into each other’s eyes, sexual and non sexual touches are all important. Making sex creative, exciting and pleasurable whenever needed or wanted fans the flames of love.

When you met your husband, was it love at first sight?
It was a knowing at first sight rather than love at first sight. The first day he saw me, he told his friend I would be his wife. But of course this didn’t happen until several years later. We both had to grow in love. These all happened in Ogun State University, now Olabisi Onabanjo University Ijebu Igbo. I was a fresher and he was a 300 level student when we first met in 1993. Our courtship started in 1996 and we got married in November 1999.

How were you convinced he was God’s choice for you?
I had to take my time because I knew marriage for me was till death do us part, so I was not ready to rush and make mistakes especially since I had other suitors. I had to pray, watch out for his character and I trusted God for guidance. Once all my questions were answered including how much he loves God, there was no going back.
How do you juggle your roles as a wife, mother and pastor?
It’s been learning to maintain balance between adequate planning, being multi-dimensional, delegating roles, tapping into Gods Grace, strength and wisdom and of cause honouring and remaining submissive to my husband as my head. It’s beautiful when you juggle the roles by Grace.

As a pastors wife, what advice would you give to other pastors’ wives?
Don’t joke with your relationship with God, His Word and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Your marriage, home and family comes next, don’t lose your marriage for the ministry. Don’t win the whole world while your home is a disaster. Your marriage is your responsibility. Then, learn to respect your husband, give him space to grow and obey God. Learn how to maintain balance in your roles, know your limits, work on your weaknesses, learn people skill and trust God to reward you, not man.

How did the name Kisses and Huggs come about?
Prior to 2007, we suddenly had a lot of young folks come around my husband and I to share their personal issues especially relationship challenges. They shared their struggles with masturbation, addiction to pornography, sexual addiction, rape, incest, sexual abuse, real traumatic cases and all sorts of questions about what they were going through. We saw a huge need in this area and we sought God’s face for a nomenclature for this vision that will appeal to the Singles and Married. One evening in 2007, the name “Kisses and Huggs” dropped into my husband’s heart. Coincidentally, way back in the University, I used to sign cards and letters with kisses and hugs just as a friendly way of saying I care. I never knew God would breathe on that name and make it an answer to so many people’s questions.

What challenges did you face when you started out in ministry and how are you coping with today’s challenges?
Challenges are food for champions. The more challenges you overcome, the greater the inner strength built to go higher in life. When I started out in Ministry with my husband, it was a real sacrifice. There were the sacrifice of obedience, serving in a church as fresh graduates and newly wedded couples on a full time basis.

We had to trust God with our future. Another challenge was that of the rigors of divine direction, total submission and consecration to God’s will. It was a complete pledge of allegiance to follow wherever and whenever he leads. Today’s challenges are very similar because the higher you go the more the challenges you have to face and deal with. But thank God for His Grace to help us. So basically it’s been by standing on God’s Word, studying, meditating and confessing Gods word. Having a consistent fellowship and relying on the help of the Holy Spirit and learning to stay under spiritual covering. Being mentored is very crucial.

How would you describe your experience so far?
It’s been so fulfilling touching the lives of different people from different strata of the society hurting from relationship issues. Relationship challenges inflict on our society a lot of pains. Most people are either products of divorce or separation and are traumatized by sexual abuse. Some had abusive childhood from as early as three years old. Others have lived with the pains of sexual pervasion for years in silence. More painful is the tragedy of not having trusted adults who can understand these pains and guide them on the right path. This we have done over the years through various means. We answer their numerous questions through calls, text messages, emails, facebook, seminars, conferences, daily devotional, free monthly newsletters, and books.

What advice would you give to women who are yet to find their path?
Learn to look inward. Make sure your relationship with God is intact. There’s always a desire deeply seated in your heart, locate it, it’s your map to significance and fulfilment in life. Pay attention to your gifts and talents, they are what make you unique and pointer to your purpose. Always seek and do what gives you inner peace and joy. Learn to live, not exist, love and leave a legacy.

Can you tell us about yourself?
I am the fourth of five children and the second girl of three girls. I grew up in Abeokuta in a stable, loving and religious home. I studied Banking and Finance at Olabis Onabanjo University. I am a writer, an author, a blogger, a conference speaker, a pastor and teacher of God’s word, a mentor to many, protégée to my mentors and mother of three boys. I am the Vice president of Kisses and Huggs Outreaches an outreach for Singles and Married Couples. I love peace, order and desire to see dignity restored to womanhood and the marriage institution.

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