For humans, relationships are unavoidable. Whether we like it or not, we will find ourselves in romantic relationship of some kind, latest by adulthood. For this reason, relationships have thus evolved and become an entire industry on its own. If perchance sex gets added to the relationship, we might have sex and relationships consuming roughly 20% of our lifetime, energy and resources.
Religion, in the first instance, rose to standardize the institution of marriage and relationships in its own way but it was not widely accepted across the whole of human society. Churches continued to push their own agenda with relationship counseling; hoping to help forge better relationships amongst their followers at least. Counselors were then appointed from within the congregation; leaders from the church became an authority in matters of romance overnight. Even in mosques, Imams guide the young men of marriageable status as much as pastors do – in spite of whatever else the Biblical or Quranic scriptures might have laid down as the rule.
As human relationships became more complex and different sexual orientations became more popular, interpretations on matters of sex and relationships too became more democratized with time but more controversial. The dependence on religious authority and edicts, by couples, reduced drastically in western culture.
Even in Africa, youths have reacquired from parents their once lost agency in matters of the heart or in marriage. In fact, the old African tradition of choosing a suitor for a bride or betrothing a daughter to a prospect is arguably a notch more slavish than what obtains with merely influencing which partner a young couple chooses. Yet, it seems that the new tradition of religiously following the dating procedures laid down by a church is the new cool in Nigeria, and it is fast rising too.
But who exactly needs relationship counseling; who needs marriage advice? Can someone who does not want advice be advised? How well have relationships which weighed heavily into external advice fared?
Observation shows that it is mainly religious people who adhere to the counseling which comes from their religious denomination, while most non-religious folks just take their relationships one step at a time – spontaneously. There is a major western cultural influence in the attitude of those who don’t really care for relationship advice. Americans, for instance, would rather take relationship advice from a psychotherapist or certified counselor than from their pastor.
One can only wonder what professional qualifications a religious leader has to advise couples in a relationship, other than their personal experience which may not even be transferrable to other couples. It is common these days to find church relationship counselors dabbling into matters such as genotype counseling, sex indoctrination, gender roles and other more religious but less practical leanings?
Ideally, any form of relationship counseling should be encouraged and not be spoken against; but when a counseling session indoctrinates rather than educate fully, it can be regarded as detrimental to couples’ choices. At that point, such counseling has turned into a cunning propaganda with seemingly good intentions but which in fact has many damaging futuristic implications.
Thus, it is high time that young couples re-educated themselves sufficiently at first, seeking proper professional advice with certified relationship counselors or therapists and in full self awareness, make their informed choices. Else, they may stand a chance of being ill-informed, indoctrinated, confused and even falling into unintended anxiety and depression bouts resulting from choices forced on them.
Featured image source: Grief Relief Center