Why you need a marriage/family life coach – Joan Anuoluwa Ologundudu
Joan Anuoluwa Ologundudu, a US Certified Marriage and Family Life Coach is the brain behind Christian Dating Community, an online dating community for Christians. There she coaches and counsels people on Relationship Intelligence. In this interview, she speaks on the benefits of engaging the services of a relationship coach. She also has recommendations for parents on how to train good children
How long have you been a relationship/marriage coach?
I started counselling people in relationship matters as far back as when I was a child, about 10 years old. It has grown into a fully-fledged career part for me. I got certified by The Institute For Marriage and Family Affairs, (TIMFA) Texas US.
The first-hand experiences of failed marriages I encountered while growing up. Now that I’m an adult, I can help but see the deep issues that can result from a dysfunctional family.
You said you started at 10. Can you recall how you started and who benefited from this?
Yes. I intervened in a relationship within my neighbourhood but it would be inappropriate for me to share details here without the consent of the people involved here
You also said you experienced firsthand failed marriages while growing up which made you go into counselling fully. Can you speak more on this?
This has to do with my own family. The family I come from is one of the major reasons but I’m not ready to talk about that now. However, ultimately, I will say it is an assignment God gave me
Based on your experience, what are the issues that can lead to a breakdown in marriages?
It’s a lot but the major reason is ignorance, lack of mentorship from a professional family life practitioner, not taking premarital counselling or adhering to the recommendations of a professional.
I believe that if people knew better, they’d most likely make better choices when it comes to marriage. This is why I have a free singles community where I share resources on marriage intelligence apart from the paid community.
Specifically, how is coaching helpful in relationships?
Let me give an analogy. Imagine that you have a high-duty device in your possession and try to operate it without the help of an expert, you’d most likely do a lot of trial and error. It may work but it would be frustrating or you may end up destroying a feature of the device from misuse. Even trial and error is manageable for a device, you shouldn’t do that with a human being or your own life. This is why you should get a personal relationship coach to guide you. Oftentimes, sentiments and emotions cloud our judgment and we ignore warning signs and rush into the marriage only to rush out after facing hell. Marriage is an institution. In the same way people get education for their field of practice, it’s important to get educated about relationships and marriage. Research has shown that at least 50% of the quality of a person’s life drops because of poor marital choices. Note that I said ‘at least 50%’ meaning that it can be 70, 80 or 100%. We have heard stories of people who ended up in a psychiatric hospital because their partner was driving them crazy. This and many more reasons is why individuals should have a personal relationship/marriage Coach. Just the same way people have a family doctor, every family/intended family should have a personal marriage Coach.
What are the most important qualities of a successful marriage?
The first is knowledge. Understanding the psychological, physiological, emotional, spiritual, financial, introspective, and evaluative side of relationships and marriage.
The second is wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge appropriately. This is because a person can have knowledge but misappropriate its application.
People would argue that our grandparents didn’t engage the services of a relationship coach, yet, they lived happily together. Are you saying those who do not engage coaches are not likely to have a successful relationship or even marriage?
The challenges of this age are quite peculiar from that of our grandparents. Apart from that, many women suffered in silence and endured subjugation, abuse and violence. Since they were not speaking up, they endured it. Many of them didn’t speak out because they wanted to protect their marriage at all costs. It’s okay to be willing to protect your marriage but it shouldn’t be at the expense of your life and destiny. These days, the tides have changed. The economic realities are more harsh than they were then. Women are more enlightened and want to have a life. They want to pursue their dreams too. Men who want to treat today’s women like their fathers will have problems.
Have you ever encountered a difficult couple during counselling? How did you handle it?
I have a caveat attached to every business contract, breaching it brings the counselling to an end. That is the way I have been able to curb difficult clients.
Domestic violence seems to be an issue in marriages nowadays. What’s your advice for anyone who finds him/herself in such a situation?
My advice to anyone facing domestic violence is to save their life first. Even if you want to keep your marriage, run to safety first. You can only be married if you’re alive. Being alive is more important than being married.
Would you say our religious institutions are doing enough in helping to curb domestic violence among members? If not where would you want them to improve upon?
Our religious institutions are trying today concerning domestic violence. Most church leaders are very audacious about the need to protect one’s life first before marriage. All we can do is not relent but keep sharing the truth so that it can get to the right eyes and ears.
What would be your advice to a young man/woman intending to get married?
Get a marriage coach. The same way wise people get a family doctor, get a family life coach too. You don’t need marriage counselling only when things are bad, you need marriage counselling to prevent things from going bad. So frequently, do a marriage pulse check with your marriage coach.
What would recommend to married couples on ways to sustain their marriages?
Ensure you grow together. Don’t grow apart. You can grow together by exposing yourself to the same knowledge as much as possible. This includes books, conferences, therapy, podcasts, etc
Do you also counsel parents on their relationships with their children, especially teenagers?
We have a teens hub on Lifesaver. I have a free eBook on protecting children from sexual predators. And videos on parenting on YouTube
What’s your reaction to the case that recently went viral of the 17-year-old girl who requested an iPhone and her father’s reaction?
The case showed two things. Parents who cared for their child’s welfare but didn’t do it with emotional intelligence. They wanted her to focus on her education instead of a new device but didn’t communicate it appropriately. This is typical of most Nigerian homes. The comments on social media can attest to that. Parents should take a cue from this and learn better ways of communicating especially when they are frustrated.
The girl on the other hand seems to have been a source of perpetual concern to her parents because they complained about her. The effrontery to record and share her parents on social media clearly shows the kind of child she is.
What would recommend to parents on how to train their children and teenagers?
Firstly, I will recommend raising children in age-appropriate terms. Most parents think a child may be too small to be corrected or disciplined. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There is an appropriate level of discipline that can be administered to children at each stage of their growing years.
Secondly, value indoctrination. Children emulate what their parents say and do, not just what they say. The best way to raise a child is to live out the values you want them to emulate and teach them those values. Most parents only say those values but fail to live them out. Some are also too busy to say or live it out before the kids.
Also, befriend your child. Parents need to make their children their friends so that they can confide in them on any matter.
Reinforcement is another recommendation. Rewarding good behaviour and discipline for bad behaviour is key to raising a great child and teenager. This doesn’t necessarily have to involve beating or flogging. Most teenagers develop resistance to flogging. Several other effective ways of discipline are more potent than flogging a teen.
Finally, teen mentors. Parents need to strategically position mentors who emulate the values they want their teens to have.
Where do you hope to see yourself as a relationship coach in the next five to 10 years?
I want to have been able to help 1,000 couples heal from their challenges. I want to help 10,000 singles make informed decisions about who to marry.