Navigating mental wellbeing amidst marital challenges

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Prof. Muhammad Pate, Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare.

By Tosin Kolade, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

Marriage comes with different challenges and frustrations. They can come in the shape of no child, intrusion by family members including mother and father in-laws, even from siblings.

Yet in many other instances it is disagreement between couples over financial or even business deals.

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Sometimes the cause of disagreement could be something considered as mundane as the choice of school for children or wards.

These challenges stretch the mental health of affected couples to the limit. They become a strain on overall wellbeing.

The affected couples usually have various ways of dealing with the mental health challenge association with such interference depending on their psychological strength.

While others adopt lame duck“siddon-look“ approach, others decide to fight back while many others “leave everything in the hands of God“, and most of the internet era young couples go to social media to vent their frustration.

Such was the case of recently, Instagram outburst by Israel Afeare, popularly known as IsraelDMW, the Logistics Manager of music icon, Davido, on his Instagram against his estranged wife, Sheila.

In the post to Instagram, IsraelDMW called Sheila unprintable names and blamed his mother in-law for the failure of his marriage.

“What happened in my marriage was never any case of assault, infidelity or any form of abuse at all.

“It was a pure case of a mother in-law wanting to extend the control of her husband to me, which I fully declined”, he complained.

IsraelDMW’s public call-outs and verbal abuse and harassment towards his estranged wife are not uncommon in Nigeria where people usually express their emotion in public.

Citing irreconcilable differences, Israel DMW’s ex-wife, Sheila Courage, also posted to Instagram where she blamed her mother for the crashed marriage.

Dr John Gottman, a psychologist and researcher, asserts that many factors are responsible for the breakdown of any relationship, including uncontrolled outbursts and retaliations.

He says once a relationship starts unraveling, there is a predictable sequence of events that tends to occur.

In Nigeria, It is becoming a common trend for former spouses and ex-spouses to risk defamation laws as they take to social media to hit back at each other.

Defamation laws in Nigeria aim to safeguard individuals from false statements harming their reputation.

Experts say false and damaging statements about a divorced spouse, negatively impacting their reputation, may fall under defamation laws.

The application varies, considering factors like impact on reputation, and circumstances.

In sour relationships, spreading false information about an ex-partner could lead to defamation lawsuits.

Ms Elizabeth Olalekan, a lawyer, says the surge in social media usage may lead to an increase in digital crimes such as defamation, privacy infringement, and cyberbullying, causing severe mental, psychological, and legal repercussions for victims.

According to her, Section 375 of the Criminal Code prescribes penalties for publishing defamatory content.

Also, she said, the Cybercrimes Act of 2015 prescribes severe consequences, including imprisonment and hefty fines, for transmitting threatening or harassing communications through computer mediated systems.

She said Nigeria’s laws safeguard individuals’ reputations, permitting legal action against defamation that harms a person’s reputation or business.

“Compensation is a potential remedy to restore individuals or businesses affected by online defamation.

“Defamation involves false communications likely to expose individuals to public contempt, scorn, humiliation, or damage their reputation in their professions or trades”, she said.

A wellness therapist, Mr Victor Akata, underscored that Israel’s emotional outburst, as cited earlier, serves as evidence of the complexities men face.

According to Akata, men experience hurt when rejected, grapple with emotional breakdowns, and possess the ability to express their feelings.

This behavior, Akata said, was common among African men who often project their emotions onto women, simultaneously boosting their own egos while diminishing the worth of women.

Akata recommended seeking support from a therapist when faced with such a situation to facilitate healing.

He criticised societal expectations that perpetuate silence among men and demand women to suppress their voices.

Drawing attention to the contrasting support systems in Europe and America, Akata underscored the need for a paradigm shift in Africa.

He recounted an encounter where a mother vowed to beat mental illness out of her child, illustrating the prevalent misconceptions surrounding mental health.

Akata said there was the need to acknowledge mental illnesses as legitimate health concerns.

He urged individuals not to shy away from seeking help, championing open conversations and seeking guidance from mental health professionals for holistic well-being.

Dr Adedotun Ajiboye, a Clinical Psychologist at Ekiti State University Teaching Hospital, Ado Ekiti, said individuals have profound psychological impact on their psyche after divorce or in abusive marriages.

He said the societal stigma associated with divorce also affects individuals’ self-perception and social interactions.

Ajiboye said abusive marriage had trauma symptoms, including low self-esteem, self-blame, isolation, anxiety, fear, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), difficulty trusting others.

He said prolonged exposure to stress and abuse can lead to headaches, digestive issues, and sleep disturbances.

Experts say talking to experts, family members, friends and even colleagues, among others when faced with an abusive relationship or when divorced is important in a stable mental health.

According to them, fostering understanding, empathy, and awareness can contribute to dismantling societal stigmas and facilitating a more compassionate approach to mental health in the context of these complex life experiences. (NANFeatures)

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