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‘Excess time on social media can destroy marital life’

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Studies have shown that people mostly use social media sites like Facebook, Whatsapp, Skype and others because they meet their basic needs of connecting with loved ones, making friends, keeping tabs on their lives, and updating friends on their status. A marriage counsellor and President of Family Boosters Ministries, Pastor Bisi Adewale, in this interview with KEMI SOKOYA speaks on how social media can affect relationships and marriages

What do you think is responsible for unhappy relationships and marriages in the society today?

We have so many things that are responsible for this. One of them is wrong foundation. Foundation of many partners is very wrong. People meet on Facebook within one month they are married. They have never met before they don’t know each other. It is confusing a lot. Another one is the issue of greed. When a woman is looking for husband she begins to check the guy with the best car in town, the guy with the best place of work and begins to compare, it can have effect on their marriage.

Marriage is not based on where you are working because the person that is working in the best place today might not be in that place tomorrow.

If that is the reason you married him, you might not be able to cope. Another problem is expectation. The expectation of people going into marriage is always wrong. For example, an average woman tends to marry someone that will be paying her bills 24/7, eventually, when she gets married and finds out that she has to supplement the income of the family and it becomes an issue.

She expects her money to go for her based on the concept of “her money is her money, and his money is our money”. So when the man discovers this, it normally causes problem.

On the part of man, the expectation going into marriage is about sex. On getting there they had forgotten that the lady has go to work, get pregnant, and a do a lot of other activities. Another problem is business; many people are too busy, their priorities are not right. Many people are job first ahead of their families, and if that is the case it normally backfires later. Almost like that are the city dwellers. For example, a married woman that will go to work 4:00am in the morning and get back at 11:00pm, how do you think that will not affect family’s life. Statistics shows that there are divorcees in the city than in the villages.

Another issue is the clash of modernisation and culture, the Igbos, Yoruba, Hausa culture says a woman must submit, but a woman should do more than submission, if it is submission that to the level of servitude. Our grandmothers were used to that but when modernisation came, we began to resist, and women began to take over the leadership of homes.

What the Bible says is not about servitude, or slavery, it is the mixture of love and submission. Whenever you expect submission and not giving love, it is no longer submission, it becomes slavery or servitude. But whenever there is submission and the husband responds with love, it becomes matrimony, meaning mixing harmony with marriage. It becomes the real matrimony with the mixture of love and submission. Submission makes a woman calm down while the husband lifts her up.

Do you think the Internet has done enough to salvage relationships in terms of using the social media?
Technology is a plus and an enemy, internet and mobile phones are inanimate things, if you use it right they can add to your marriage, if you use it wrongly they can destroy the marriage. When I got married to my wife, those days, it was always difficult to reach out to each other when we are apart, because there was no way we could reach out. When we were courting, she used to write letters from Anambra State where she was serving to me in Lagos. But now, Internet has made it easier, you can talk to your spouse per second.

Social media can add and destroy relationships in that the husband is married to Facebook, and the children are on computer games. For example, a woman told me that her husband would be sitting close to her and be chatting with girlfriends sending nude pictures to him. A man told us that the wife was sending nude pictures to a man doing business with her, married woman with two children saying I can’t do business with you, calling somebody to say I didn’t see the alert and after seeing the alert she sends her nude pictures and the rest.

So, technology is supposed to be a plus, but if it involves pornography and connecting with old flames on social media, then it can destroy your home. For example when I travel, my children will be at home I would pray with them during family devotions through the social media platform, when I was far away from home in Europe.

Technology is supposed to be a plus, if it is handled well, but it can be a plus and minus. That is why we advise new couples to avoid some of their friends for them to concentrate on their relationships and marriages.

We have seen several relationships where there tend to be jealousy and suspicion between partners using social media. What is responsible for this and how can this be eliminated?
People are not transparent, if you don’t want bad expectations, suspicions, then you need to be open to each other. Lack of transparency and openness is the major cause of jealousy and suspicion in the society.

People should be open, marriage is not about removing your clothes, it is about physical openness, emotional openness, internet openness, phone openness, you have to be open so that you won’t give room for bad thoughts. When you give room for that it may takes five to 10 years, the marriage might crumble and disintegrate. When the foundation is eroded the marriage is almost finished because it is not love that upholds the marriage.

It was love that made you discover each other, but what really upholds marriage is trust. When those feelings of love no longer overwhelm you like wine, it is trust that keeps you going, and that trust maintains authentic love. When people were dating it is called the romantic love, and romantic love does not sustain the marriage for a long time, it takes authentic love.

Do you think partners should seek the consent of each other before sharing family pictures or multimedia files?

I don’t think it is necessary. Both of them are adults so far they are posting nude pictures of their bodies on the Internet. I usually tell people that posting pictures of girlfriends or boyfriends is totally wrong. I use to advise men, what they are looking for is right inside their house. Sex outside marriage is usually expensive; you can pay with your life. You pay for hotel room, you pay the lady, you buy a lot of things, and ultimately you can pay with your life, because you don’t even know the person you are sleeping with.

For example, a married man slept with a girl in a hotel, and found himself between two tombs in one of the cemeteries in Lagos. He met the lady by the roadside. It is foolishness. Men should always see their wife as the best that can give everything they want from others.

What do you think the limit of using the social media should be?

The limit should be no posting of immoral pictures, nude pictures and there should be time off from social media, maybe 8:00pm or 9:00pm not that at 1:00am one partner is still checking his/her Facebook and chatting. People have turned social media into a career. It is not a career. You see people cheating inside the bus and at home.

There should be light outs, from the social media, they should minimise the use of social media; they should not put television in their bedroom, because the bedroom is meant for rest and love-making. Social media should not be used for more than 30 minutes, because evening time is supposed to be family time, but television has also eaten into it and social media is taking over from television.

How do you think couples can rekindle their love sparkles that had been lost?

Couples should check where they fell, they should check what they were doing before that made them lost it. They used to meet at the park, going on outings together, talking late when then got married, eating together, sleeping in the same room etc. So they should check what they were doing when they got married, that made them so much in love, they should not report their issues to a third party, or report their issues or stories on the social media. They should seek help when they are in trouble, especially from professionals and not family members.

How have you been able to manage your home?

The kind of ministry we run is very demanding. It is meant to take our time, so I set my priorities right long time ago. It has been God first, my wife and my children then my ministry. It really helps. We have also made sure that we are open to each other, no secrecy, and we say a lot of things together. Another thing is we do things in common, our money is focused on the same vision and goals, there is no her money, my money, no competition.

What advice do you have for singles and couples?

They should lay the right foundation, get wisdom before they get married, prepare for marriage and not prepare in marriage, spend money on marriage counseling and not on romantic toasting or photoshop, attend pre marital programmes, read books and be transparent with each other. They should not make money a criteria to getting married.

Do you have a programme that focuses on the challenges people face in marriage?

We have a marriage school called College of Marital Success. We offer 78 courses and train singles and couples on marriage counseling. We run a breakthrough programme every last Sunday of the month, especially this month, where we would be talking about three Masters Keys of a Super Marriage which will be held on February 25, 2018 at the Real Place, Ikeja Lagos.


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