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Taiye Aluko: I enjoy bringing couples to a place of awareness and understanding

By Esther Ijewere
12 February 2022   |   4:13 am
I grew up as one of the last children in a family of five. I have a twin sister, which is why I am one of the last children.

Taiye Aluko

Taiye Aluko is a relationship and marriage coach. The amazing amazon is also the founder of RareGems Counselling and Coaching, a centre that helps people gain clarity in their relationships. Thereby, turning despair to hopefulness and ignorance to awareness. The sought after coach who has been married for over 22 years, has 16 years experience in counselling and heads her local church’s marriage counselling unit.

She holds a degree in Law from the Obafemi Awolowo University and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1992. She also holds an MBA from the PAN African University and is also a certified Prepare Enrich facilitator. She worked in leading law firms before starting an active career in banking, which spanned over 18 years, until 2013, when she decided to follow her passion for counseling.

Aside from her Law degree, she also holds certifications in Person Centered Counselling, Psychology Counselling, Marriage and Relationship Counselling. She shares her inspiring journey and insightful relationship nuggets in this interview with Esther Ijewere.

Growing Up
I grew up as one of the last children in a family of five. I have a twin sister, which is why I am one of the last children. Growing up was largely uneventful for us; we had both parents and my dad died last year at the age of 90 years.

My parents tried their best to provide a comfortable life for us, but things became difficult when my dad lost his job. My dad was a diplomat who worked with Foreign Affairs Ministry, so we spent our early years outside of Nigeria. When we came back to Nigeria and he lost his job, he wasn’t able to get back on his feet and my mum had to assume the financial responsibility. That was a turning point as we the children had to quickly adapt and adjust to the new realities of our life. Those were difficult years, but my parents stayed together.

I think my growing up made me assume that every family consists of a mother and father plus children. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that not all families were like that. Some people grew up without fathers; grandparents brought some up. My parents ensured we had a stable and loving home. That for me was a great gift from them to us. I won’t really say that my childhood prepared me for what I do now; I think I discovered my love for working with couples later in life

Inspiration behind Raregems Counselling And Coaching
Working in the Marriage Counselling Department of my church over the years opened me up to how needed premarital counselling is; it was clear that many couples still had a mills and boon idea of marriage. The reality they experienced once married was at variance with what they expected, and it was resulting in heartbreak and pain for many couples.

I was privileged to attend Late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya’s singles fellowship before I got married. Attending her fellowship helped reset my thinking and understanding of marriage. Then, when I was about to get married, my husband and I also went through premarital counselling. As time went on, I began to see the need to offer premarital counseling outside of the church, because not everyone gets married within a church setting, and they still desire to be married and happy.

Because the family is the bedrock of society, it is important that we have healthy marriages and happy homes. So, my thinking in setting up RareGems Counselling and Coaching was to take premarital counselling outside of the church environment to reach more couples. I was mindful of the larger picture, which is that society is better off when the family unit is thriving. Families can only thrive when husband and wife have a wholesome relationship. Already, we were seeing the impact that a lack of understanding of foundational principles was having on marriages. I felt more needed to be done and this is what inspired me to become a professional Marriage Coach and I set up my company as a vehicle to offer this service to the world.

But I also realised that I would need to equip myself, because my audience was now different and church rules would not apply. So, I had to equip myself with learning to be able to offer value and truly address needs that existed. Another thing I discovered was that even when preparing couples for marriage, some had issues from their childhood that needed to be addressed and resolved. This meant that I had to be more than just a marriage counsellor; I had to be fully equipped.

Perception Of Marriage As It Relates To Nigerian Society
I would say that we are a very traditional and religious society, governed by cultural values and norms. Marriage is desired and desirable by most Nigerians, up from the time of our parents till now. So, there is still an associated stigma when one is not married. This is what puts singles, especially single women, under pressure to want to marry at all costs. Because of this pressure, many make the wrong choice.

Also, you have cultural interpretation, where many believe that because the man is head of the home, it is interpreted to mean that he is lord and master of all. Many men abuse their position of headship, because they don’t understand what being the head of the home calls for. So, a lot of women suffer hardship in their marriages. I get calls from wives whose husbands brandish the head of house status like a badge of honor, while falling to take responsibility.

The sad thing is these men have no understanding of the responsibility aspect of being head of the home. I believe that every man needs to be taught the leadership style of Jesus. Jesus came as a servant leader and so one of things I say is that the position of headship that husbands hold in their homes is a position of servantship. They are chief servants, because true leadership is all about service.

What makes me happy though is to see that the younger generation is coming into an understanding of this concept. Men are more willing to love their wives through service; they are more present and involved in making their marriage work.

So, I would say that things are evolving, yes, the evolution is slow, because you only see these changes in thinking and behaviour in urban areas and even in the urban areas; it is not yet a prevalent pattern. We still have a long way to go.

Role Of The Church In Helping Young Couples Navigate Their Marital Journey
I believe that the church needs to be at the forefront of helping couples navigate their marital journey. Firstly, marriage is God’s idea and we need to uphold the principles He laid down regarding marriage. The marriage relationship is also a deeply spiritual one, otherwise how do you explain the concept of two becoming one? I believe that the church should be at the forefront of helping young couples have a deep understanding of the marriage institution and of God’s original design for marriage.

Secondly, I will also say that to be more effective, church counsellors need to be trained professionally on basic counselling skills. This is because the quality of counselling can only be as good as the knowledge of the counselor; you can’t give what you don’t have. Many teach using their experience, this is wrong, because if you have a bad experience, you will be projecting fear to the couple. Also, you must know that people’s backgrounds are different and when it comes to marriage, it is never once size fits all. So, regarding the role of the church, I say the church needs to be at the forefront both in premarital and post marital counselling.

Lastly, for the church to be at the forefront, we need to have a system of counselling that actually works, and couples need to feel safe coming to the church with their challenges. They need to be assured that there will be no judgment or condemnation. People need to see the church as a solution centre. Many churches have robust premarital counselling programmes, but the post marital one is lacking. A lot of work still needs to be done regarding post marital counselling.

Challenges
Quite a few, number 1 being that counselling is still relatively a new concept in Nigeria. The need for professional marriage counselling is a novel concept, so people are reluctant to make the financial investment. They are willing to spend millions on the wedding day, but do not see the need to invest in the actual marriage. Unfortunately, the cost of ill preparation is actually higher and the consequences can be devastating.

Another challenge would be that sometimes, you could see clearly that this couple is not a good fit for each other. You see red flags and you begin to wonder, how do you get this couple to a place where they realise that they should not be going ahead? I always say at the onset of my sessions with couples that the aim of premarital counselling is not necessarily to get you to the altar at all costs, but rather to help you take an informed decision. I once had a case where the lady decided she was not going ahead and called off the relationship.

Finally, when it comes to post marital counselling, the willingness of the couple to make needed changes is very necessary. Counselling is not a magic formula, so where there is no willingness or commitment from the couple, there is little or nothing that a counsellor can do.

Other Projects And Activities
Thank you for asking; everything I do is directed at helping couples in one way or the other. I have a book that was written and released last year called, Together Forever, Godly Principles for Building a Happy and Lasting Marriage. The book is available for purchase on Amazon and Okada books. It’s a book that any intending to wed or newly married couple can pick up and read together. I have poured what I do in one-on-one sessions with couples into the book, so it’s a valuable resource for any couple seriously committed to making their marriage work. I also have three online courses, which I created last year. How to have an engaging productive conversation on expectations before marriage; How to grow your intimacy through the power of effective communication; Create your dream marriage, your marriage blueprint. The courses are available for purchase on my website, Taiyealuko.coach.

What I Enjoy About Job
I enjoy being able to impact people’s lives. I enjoy bringing the couples to a place of awareness and understanding of themselves, their partners, and the marriage institution. It’s really a journey or transformation and I love seeing couples go through that journey and the growth that takes place in their relationship. When you are able to influence or impact people’s lives in deeply meaningful ways, it is always a rewarding experience.

Three Women Who Inspire Me And Why
Late Pastor Bimbo Odukoya, of blessed memory. She was passionate about marriage, but more importantly, she was passionate about the single person being whole as a single first. She understood that if you are not whole as a person first, there is no way you can build a healthy marriage. She challenged mindsets with her preaching, and she shaped my thinking and beliefs about marriage when I was still single.

I went into marriage having been properly schooled by her teachings at Single and Married Fellowship back then. It’s interesting to note that I even met my husband at one of her singles programmes. She would always encourage us to mingle, so that evening, at one of such programmes, we were all mingling and just generally being friendly towards each other, in a godly way o. That was how my husband mingled towards my direction and the rest is history.

My mum, Mama Oluyinka Laoye. My dad lost his job and for many years, she was the breadwinner and provider in the family. It wasn’t easy for her, but she stayed with my dad despite the challenges. She ensured that we grew up in a happy home. She made lots of sacrifices for her children and for her husband. I say it often, that for a long time, I never understood single parent households, because I grew up seeing my parents together.

Lastly, I would say more recently, Pastor Mildred Okonkwo. She is fearless in her preaching and teaching about marriage. She is not afraid to say it as it is. She is also practical in her approach whilst also promoting godly principles regarding marriage. She is one woman who is so full of wisdom, and I admire her a great deal.

To Young Women Who Are Trying To Find The Right Partner
Firstly, get to know yourself and love yourself. Get to understand that you are valuable and priceless. As a young woman, don’t undervalue yourself. Many women are making wrong choices because of low self-esteem. I want young women to know that they are precious and priceless.

Secondly, you must have your values. Know what is important to you and have a vision for your life, because if you don’t know where you are meant to be going, all roads will look attractive. Set standards for yourself. It is very important, particularly with regards to choosing right.

Lastly, if I were to choose one critical quality to look out for, I would say kindness. Look out for a man that is full of kindness. You will see this in the way he treats all those around him, including his family members. Kindness is such an overlooked virtue, but is so critical for marriage success. It is particularly important for men to have kind hearts. There are too many stories of wickedness out there; it is heartbreaking.

Nuggets And Lessons From My 22 Years Marriage 
We clocked 22 years of marriage on January 14. For me, it has been a journey of learning and growing; that is one of the most beautiful things about marriage. One of the greatest gifts you can give your spouse is the gift of acceptance. Acceptance is a gift that is not just for your spouse, but also for you.

My husband and I are very different and in the early days of our marriage, I used to feel so frustrated with some of the things he did. I would be miserable wondering why this man just can’t see it the way I do. But then, I began to understand that difference is not bad; I learnt to appreciate him for his uniqueness and accept him for who he is. That was when I started understanding the power of acceptance. My learning to accept him helped me to begin to enjoy his uniqueness. I stopped wanting him to be like me, but learnt to love, honour and respect him just the way he was. Remember that we can’t change anybody, so trying to change our spouses in subtle and not subtle ways, only leaves us frustrated.

When I stopped trying to change him, I freed myself from that frustration. Now, acceptance is a gift to your spouse, because you say to them with your actions that they can be themselves with you. That even with their flaws and frailties, you love and appreciate them. Every human being on earth wants to feel accepted, so when you give the gift of acceptance to your spouse, they can be vulnerable and truly be open with you. Once you create an atmosphere of unconditional acceptance in your home, things become easier.

Another nugget I would mention is that marriage is a journey. There are seasons and stages that every marriage must pass through. Recognising the season your marriage is at, is key. That way, you can deal appropriately with challenges per season. Many times, people give up easily or early, because they don’t take a long-term view.

One of the things I say to couples is that, if God has purposed that He has a mega blessing that He wants to release in your marriage in the 10th year and you get to the 5th year and decide to call it quits, because you feel the challenges are too much, you have missed the mega blessing is year 10. God sees and knows all regarding us, we need to trust Him more and follow His lead.

Being A Woman Of Rubies
I believe every woman is a woman of rubies. As women, we are precious and priceless. We are beautifully crafted masterpieces, specially created by our Master. Every woman carries beauty on the inside and that is our strength. We women are nurturers and co-creators with God.  In the bible, rubies are associated with beauty and wisdom. I see every woman as beautiful and full of wisdom. As for me as a person, because I am a woman, I am automatically a woman of rubies.