Building Relationships We Can All Be Proud Of

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


In every marriage and relationship, trust is of utmost importance. Trust is built; it is not ascribed. It can take grueling years to build, and be shattered by a single act; intentional or not, deliberate or accidental. How a person reacts to you is a function of their past experiences. It could also be a function of your past history or your past mutual experiences. Perception significantly influences trust.

You may accuse your partner of having trust issues. What you fail to see, however, is that by designating them as such, you may end up not caring about how they feel, and therefore may not go the extra mile to deal with their trust issues. By this action, you heighten their fear and help them import the same reality or perspective they had in their previous relationship which led to its break up. Regardless of what you do, if nothing changes, your current relationship with them will also not last.

Love me, love my dog. It could be a beautiful poodle, a nasty past, or fiery looking trust issues. You cannot select what you like in a person and hate something else in them and deal with these things independently. Your partner is a complete package. You either love those things you love about them so much that it makes up for other areas of deficiency, or hate certain things about them to a point where it tears up other areas of strength.  You love them for the part about them you like and help them deal with the part you don't like....unless you don't see a future in that Relationship. Then the question comes up, what are you doing in that relationship without a future?

If a marriage or relationship means something to you, treat it as if it does actually mean something to you. When trust issues come up and are allowed to fester, it affects perception, and a skewed perception affects conversation, actions, and reactions. It is your responsibility, for as long as you choose to stay in that relationship or marriage, to work on how the person sees you. The onus rests with you. Trust is a form of promotion – we all earn our promotions.

We are by nature selfish. Selfishness means we seek out our interests first. That means we all have the tendency to want to be sure we are not short changed in any social interaction. It is for you, therefore, to act in ways that settle the person. Raving and ranting and fighting their insecurities make everyone expend more energy than lovingly and in a caring way, try to help them deal with these issues. It is a deep seated emotional issue; you don’t fight it, you assist them to deal with it.

How do you handle information that involves them? How do you handle their queries? How do you handle issues of privacy? How do you handle third parties in your relationship or marriage? How do you handle their curiosity? How you handle all, or any of these, can go to heighten their insecurity or deflate it. It may take you less than five minutes to say or do the right thing, to set in motion something that will run for a long time to your advantage. Or you can let your pride, frustration, and lack of thought let you trigger a needless fight or tension that can last for weeks, months or years. It will all depend on how you handle the triggers of their insecurities.

Do not assume your spouse is on the same level with you as far the perception of the world around you goes. And do not use their insecurity as a measure of their maturity. Many people have gone through a lot to warrant their skepticisms. Many have seen enough to almost make them lifetime doubters. Your actions can add a layer to their skepticism or take a layer off it. It is a choice that has endless ripples.  Do you love your spouse enough? Did you get into their lives to seek your interest or you did to make each other happy? Happiness is not just about you getting the best of everything. It is not just when your spouse trusts you nem con. Happiness is a boomerang; it always returns back to the giver.  It is when you make it your target to ensure that the one in your life is happy that you will be happy.

You may have tried a couple of times and may not see any improvement. You may have been as open as a book and still get the look, the tone and the body language that says you are still not trusted. Well, see it as taking someone through a period of rehab from a strong addiction. There is no magical way around it. You go through it thoroughly and painstakingly with a lot of hope for the best in the future. There are no buttons which get you results. You don't judge and go ballistic on them because you have done all you can, but they keep relapsing! If you take it upon yourself to be with someone, your attitude toward helping them become a better person is a can-do one.  

Be intentional about trying to help your partner deal with their insecurities. Handle it as you would want any of your concerns in the marriage or relationship handled. Ask them what it is about you that trigger their insecurities. Ask them what you can do to make them feel better. Discuss the difficult demands they may make on you and find a compromise. Carry out the easy ones and make them happy. If you realize you are looking at two different sides of an issue, and there is no place for compromise, then it is advised, at the relationship stage, to walk out. There is no love where there is no compromise.

Sometimes, they may not be upfront with you, and it will be for you to note those things that lead to fights, questions, sarcasm and skeptical reactions. Look for an appropriate time and engage them in a cool and civil conversation about those issues. I notice you react in ways that show you don’t trust me when XYZ happens. Can we talk about it?  There are also certain lifestyles you may need to change to build trust. I have mentioned a few earlier, but let me add a few more. How do you deal with your phone calls? At what times are you seen online? How do you react when the question of a particular person of the opposite sex come up? How do you communicate your views about issues, especially when those views have been formed by your discussions with someone of the opposite sex? How do you treat things from your spouse in comparison to things from other people? All these can lead to trust issues. Find ways of dealing with them.
Marriage is between two people willing to become one, and a good relationship is supposed to be a precursor to that marriage. If two people can’t live as one, then physically occupying a space is a failure. A Key component of living life as one is trust. I need to know that I can go to sleep and won’t miss anything.

Marriage is a lifelong decision and commitment; be certain what you commit to. If you are sure you can't deal with the person's insecurities and you don't have the grace to attempt to help them, then walking out is a good option. However, if you stay, complaining and throwing your hands up in exasperation does no one good. You entrench their fears and insecurities while they, in turn, push you to the edge. But always remember when you do it for them, they become indebted to you to do it for you. That is how you clear every clog in the trust continuum.

PG Sebastian. 
All Rights Reserved 2017

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Friday, 19 May 2017


There is a price to pay for every family you marry from. There is a price to pay when you marry from a poor home, a rich home, a prominent family, broken home, a family of academicians and religious people, a family from a culture/race/ethnicity different from yours.

It is important you know what the price is or likely to be. For some, it is the price of  the money you must be willing to part with just to crank the engine before we even start talking. The V8 families, I call them. For some, it is the price of being intellectually up there, being a spiritual firebrand, being able to cope with different customs including food, traditions, values, language, skin colour stereotypes and general way of life. For others, the price is to be able to blend into a certain class and being able to flow with certain line of conversation, a way of thinking and mannerisms. For some yet, it is the price of fear. Everything from that family was earned through the hard way that no little expenditure is seen as little, and every little laxity in spending is seen as prodigal.

The knowledge of this is not to scare you off; it is to help you decide if you have what it takes to pay that price and if you are willing and able to pay that price. Sometimes it helps you simply walk away.

A Black African man marries a white Lady, and due to certain cultural differences, marries another African woman in secrecy just so they can end up with someone they can identify with. People from 'ok' backgrounds [usually men] marry rich people [usually girls], and they complain about the crazy demands, expectations and lifestyles. People from families where both parents are living together marry from broken homes and live in terror because their spouses do not trust them, are paranoid or are abusive.

I do not know what you want to do with this information, but sit back and look at the family you are going into....look at the price you will pay for becoming a part of that family. Forget love and all the emotional stuff for a minute, and look at the reality of it. Are you willing and able to pay the price? No one ever went into a marriage with the view to breaking it; it only breaks up, most often, after the things they feared from the onset spring to life and start dancing in their face or haunt their dreams.

People are not just as they appear; we are a collage of all the experiences we have had, and how they have all influenced us. Do not forget it. Some backgrounds and upbringings do not just go away with marriage; some people do not change who they are after years of socialisation. They suppress them to get along until it becomes unbearable, then who they truly are resurfaces. God bless you if your marriage turns out differently; most often the price just gets ridiculously through the roof. Look before you jump. If you can't pay do not acquire. Prayer may not change much. That is why God gave you the vision before the commitment.

Homes are breaking up NOT ALWAYS because of an evil partner or their friends or relatives or the altar in your village; they are breaking up because of the differences in socialisation, which influences perception of the world around, how that world is interpreted and how it influences one's behaviour. People think and act in the way they see the world as shaped by their experience... Experiences of wealth, poverty, conflict, need for love, need for security, freedom, decisiveness, indecision, authority, lack of authority, faith, religion, ethnicity, language (verbally and symbolic) education, exposure among others. These things don't change overnight. There is no Harry Potter magic wand for that. If it took 25 to 30 years to shape them, before you met them, you don't expect them to change in 2 years because you are the new kid on the block. So as she is, can you pay the price of accepting her? Can you walk with him for the next 15 years before he finally decides to see it and do it your way? You can't? Great. I just saved you from a certain divorce.

PG Sebastian
All Rights Reserved. 

Thursday, 4 May 2017


The very first major national Dumsor was in 1998. Bill Clinton was coming to Ghana. I remember when the lights went off in the evenings, area boys would just come out and sit in front of our houses, some will congregate on the street in front of a particular person’s house. We would chat and talk about everything. It was around this time of the year, so it was kind of hot. The cool fresh air outside did a lot of good to us. Sometimes, we would talk and dream for hours. By 10 pm, we would start trickling out into our various dark holes... This was In Takoradi, Anaji Estates (around John Davies' house), as it was so for many neighbourhoods across the country.

We had a life.

It is unsettling that the advent of social media has resulted in huge gullies in real-time face-to-face relationships. We have all been alienated and cut us off from each other. Because of the guy inside my phone, I am not so eager to meet the new guy who moved in next door. Because of the many things I get to see and laugh about on social media, I don't bother to try laughing with my neighbours. Now we give each other highlight in traffic, or give each other strange looks, or completely avoid each other and hurry off to our little 'Intel Inside' machines and send them heartfelt messages of how we saw them in traffic and gave them a light... How we were not sure of their reaction so we looked and walk on... How we were not certain (about what we don’t know) so we did not approach at all.

I lived in Tema for 5 years. My neighbour to the left of my residence was Middle Eastern Looking; I assumed was Lebanese. My neighbour to the right had the similar features. They had children. The children would see me drive inside anytime I came home, and they were playing outside. They would smile at me and I would respond with a curt smile. To my shame, there was not a single time I stopped to give them toffee or ask their names. I would wave at their parents (the men) and drive off...or in. As culturally enlightened a person that I am, I completely avoided interacting with the women who were always clad in their black hijab.

They were my neighbours; the aroma from my kitchen was in their noses, and the moanings from their boisterous lovemaking were in my bedroom. We were spatially close yet socially very far apart. I was closer to the folks inside my phone… folks in London, Takoradi, Accra, even New York... than I was to these families… humans that lived next door.

The day I finally decided to move out, I went to my neighbour to the right, and I told him I was moving out. I actually met him at the entrance to his house. The place was too far from my workplace; it makes me tired. I told him. He could barely understand me (He spoke Arabic…I think). But he said, please come in. He took me in, instructed his wife to hurriedly go cover her face and bring me a glass of water. I nearly turned the water down. These are strangers. I can't drink from them. But the better part of me took it and gulped it down. I looked at his eyes and his hair closely, and I noticed they were a bit different - lighter. Are you Syrian? He said no. Jordanian. I said Ah. I met a Jordanian man once in Europe. We once in a while stay in touch on Facebook. He was very cosmopolitan. We had something to share and smile about. Amman? I asked. He said yes. His eyes beamed like the headlights of a Beamer. Ah, you know about Amman. I answered quietly, I know the entire Middle East well... Of course, I did not have to tell him I am a fan of the various News channels and their different perspectives, and also a fan of History.

In about 5 minutes, my visit was over. This stranger had had enough of my time. I needed to drive off so I could catch up with my friends inside my phone. Those who are in Chicago, Glasgow, and Rome. The guys on my phone who will not be there when I needed someone to help me push my car because my ignition is spurting and my battery won't kick. They won't be there to carry me to the hospital in the event of an emergency, or… borrow salt from when I suddenly discover I am low on salt and I don't have to drive a kilometer or two to buy some.

Over the weekend (just this weekend) I saw the lady who has moved into my next door for the first time after she moved in about two months ago. During Christmas, I managed to say hi to the other neighbour who had been staying around for the past 6 months. I notice them when they come, I just don’t talk to them.  She said she was called Ang... Angela.... Angelina... OK. I will probably have to call her Angie, so I don't embarrass myself. I remember asking her name when we exchanged greetings. I was locking my gate she was opening hers. But most importantly, I was chatting with my friend who lives in Tanzania, that I did not listen to the one next door mention her name. What happened to us? Or it is just me? Why is this happening to us? Maybe it is just me.

Last night when WhatsApp went down, I was asleep. I woke up to see the emptiness in people as they posted online looking for answers. Individuals who live among people in densely populated areas. All they had to do was to walk out and chat with a friend... But alas all their friends live on their phones, and the only way to link up with them was to resort to another lifeless means of reaching out.... FACEBOOK.

And to think that it is not just WhatsApp and social media that is messing our way of life up, but since 1998 till date, no sensible government has been able to fix Ghana’s energy problems. 19 years and counting... 19 years of stories, excuses, and foolish grand plans.

PG Sebastian

2017. All Rights Reserved

Thursday, 20 April 2017


Since forever, for one reason or another, I have stayed “woke” in regards to all forms of oppression and social injustices; in my personal life, my professional life, and society generally; as if I have been primed for them. I am unsure whether it was enrolling in a Gender and Development course for a year during my undergrad studies that deepened this social-consciousness or whether I had already started becoming more sensitive to them by mere observation, but it seems that every day something new, different, and often worrisome arises and I just can’t look away.
It may seem the steam that erupted during the Otiko Djaba brouhaha might have settled, but that is only because “those of us who really care,” do not have as much power and influence like she does. While the controversies centered around Otiko and her current role as protector of the feminine realm in the country, it also exposed our society in very unsettling ways.

This past week, in particular, I have heard and read many cases of child sexual abuse, which has triggered, on my part, a very critical reflection into our cultural setting to identify other ways to steer the discussion on sexual harassment and child sexual abuse. I have noticed and mentally cataloged, over the years, the various disturbing ways in which grown men address not only adult women but teenage girls and children with terms of paternalistic endearment.
"My wife..... “
“Ei miyere kitiwa,(my small wife) how are you? When will you come and cook for me?”
“Ei my wife, I'll marry you ok."
Here, methinks, is a prime example of unassuming, subtle everyday-sexism mining its heels deeper and deeper into our collective subconscious. With every saying of “my wife,” there’s not only a reinforced gender stereotype in our cultural lexicon but also, a  perpetuation of a culture of polygamy, patriarchy and ‘chattelisation’ of women as items and objects, that a man can just have at his beck and call. This goes to influence a woman's sub-consciousness that it is OK to be a little wife, a second wife or the side Chic when the big madam is indisposed.
A very mundane picture in our society is being painted here. The sexualization of girls from a very early stage is one cancer we cannot afford to miss. This statement is also one we’ve heard come from our uncles, family friends, neighbours, etc. It is for this simple fact that statistics show that majority of rape victims actually know their rapists on a personal level.
It starts as simple “flattery,” or “compliments,” as I suppose these patronizing monikers would seek to achieve but really what it does is give a false sense of intimacy to relationships that are in truth built on nothing more than mere cordiality. And because it is mostly overlooked by even parents, the perpetrators are able to get away with it because obviously, they are people “we trust.”
We might have all heard this statement in some variation before. Adults who should know better, shamelessly say it to freshly born babies. They say it to toddlers. They say it to teens. They say it to adult girls.
Now here are a few things to note:
Please, men, listen up. Erect a thick wall of boundary that reaches to the highest heavens when it comes to girls. Don't admire, don't flatter, don't propose marriage. Let teenagers remain, teenagers and children, children. Keep your favours and endearments to yourself.
If the only thing you have to say to a little girl is 'my wife'; then you should give yourself a befitting hard knock on the head and STOP, because it is no endearment. It is totally INAPPROPRIATE.
Also, young girls are not your playmates. Desist from sending little girls and boys on errands; you were blessed with legs too. The truth is, people notice these things and more often will not complain openly or call you out until something terrible happens to that child.
If the child goes missing, they will mention you. If the child gets raped, they will point fingers at you.
Why? Because you chose to treat the child as an adult and made marriage proposals to little girls in jest while sending them on errands as if they were born to serve you.
Many dangerous people are clad as family and friends. The perverts are not strangers. Even our sons and baby boys are not spared. Some of these pedophiles are also females. There’s no gainsaying that evil in itself has no gender!
Parents, please pay attention to your daughters (and sons); listen to them. Don't beat them into silence. DON’T BLAME THEM. Listen. Believe the child. He/She may only reach out once.
Also, pay attention to the people they get close to. Rape and child abuse did not die yesterday - it will be here with us till the conversion of the Jews.
Don't make a sexually abused child lie in the name of “protecting the family" or your marriage. Cowardice at this time is not an option! Get justice for that child. Let the child trust you; let them know you are here to protect them and not blame them. Name and shame the abuser. Let the laws deal with him/her.
If you see or notice something odd, don’t look away. SPEAK UP! You have chosen the side of the oppressor (abuser) when you say nothing. Sweeping sexual abuse under the carpet won't make it stop. Neither will it make our kids safe nor us. Break the culture of silence.
Talking to your kids about child sexual abuse isn't scary. NOT TALKING IS!
Empower your child to identify/recognize what an inappropriate "touch" or compliment is and to boldly say NO! Teach them to SPEAK UP!!!
It is an easier task to build a strong child than to fix a broken adult.
Stay “Woke.”

Efua Sintim 2017 
All Rights Reserved
 Ms Sintim is our Guest Blogger for today. She is a student of law, at the University of London, and a Compliance Professional, Content Writer/Developer for African Youth Excellence (AYE), Massachusetts


Contrary to the popular belief that, ‘All men are cheats’ I wish to state that not every man goes around cheating and chasing girls. Not every man is incapable of knowing and respecting boundaries. Not every man is a sick base creature with no sense of self-restraint. We may need to look at the micro issues that may lead a good man out of his home into the arms of another woman. Whereas no marital indiscretion is justifiable, we need to accept the existential fact that all though not every human action is justifiable, we still do them.

This article is not about the ‘what should be' and the 'what must be'. It looks at the ‘what is’ and the consequences of these whats. Humans, religious and non-religious, pragmatic and idealist are motivated by self-interest. If a human being is not restrained, therefore, there is no end to what they can do in order to self-sustain. This, to me, should influence the actions of everyone in the bedroom, especially the new breed of women, who use the religious and the moral predispositions of their husbands to manipulate them. The women who know that their husbands would not seek solace anywhere, and if they do, they have the society and the church to, as usual, accuse them of not being any different from the rest of the dogs. This article is not about the average Joe; the regular husband who takes decisions on fidelity based on what is convenient to him. This article is about the good men you and I know, the ones when given a chance would catch a bullet for their wives.

Sometimes a man stands at a place, looking at a woman who just wants him to be hers, and she would give her all, and looks back at how he struggles to be wanted, needed, accepted in a home he is supposed to find rest, peace, and love. Most often than not, it is in this position that many lose their breath and fall into the hands of the woman close enough and sensitive to see their frustration and desperation.

Yes, I know you will say cheating is no excuse no matter what goes on in your home. True. I agree. And I will agree with you when you conclude that God and this life will deal with him somehow. But do you think a thirsty man calculates the number bacteria he is gulping down when offered water from anything that looks like a cup? Think about it. He may drink and find a remedy later, but he may have drunk it. The mistake we do is that we assume everyone is somehow, morally or spiritually restrained in their actions. That is the ideal... but in reality? Nope! Not even you always put the care of someone ahead of your own personal discomfort….especially when the source of the discomfort is the one you are expected to show care. Don't for once assume everyone is controlled by the Spirit of God or some moral code. So watch your own actions.

Oh, and God (and society, if it comes out) will not hold you guiltless as long as it was your action that led him astray. Jesus said to his disciples: "Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come. Luke 17:1. It is there. Always remember that you cannot kill him silently in the bedroom and cover it up because in our society men don't complain, and a woman can cover it up with tears. Sorry ladies, but while I loathe with every fibre in me the horrors many of you are facing in your bedrooms at the hands of monsters parading as humans…and men at that, I need you to appreciate that some of your kind are really sending their men to their graves, silently, quietly, innocently…and sometimes…almost professionally.

He could be your brother, your best friend, your father. Tell me how you would feel if you heard another woman treat him how you treat him. Tell me if it would be OK for your brother to recount to you, as his experience, the horror stories of your own bedroom.

We know you do not respect his views because he is not as rich and successful as your boss your brother, your father... Your ex... Maybe. We know. We are aware you starve him in bed because he has not earned his place in between your thighs. Oh yes, we know. We know you loathe him and it shows in how you relate to him, his gifts for you, affection towards you and his presence. Oh please don't deny it. It is obvious.

So you see, as smelly as the house help is, without education, class or anything, you still will not understand why he went after her. You will not figure out what is with the acne covered secretary...why no one but sister Grace of long skirt and big blouse fame. You will not know why your husband will even dream about a little girl who is probably young enough to be his daughter... What you don’t realise, and if you do, would find it difficult to accept is, at least there, and with these unworthy women (as you may see them), a measure of his manhood is respected. It is only when he is with them that he feels like a man again.

So why not, he would sacrifice his marital vows just to hear someone say ‘please,’ ‘thank you,’ ‘I appreciate it’ and  ‘I am sorry.’ Someone who gives him affection in bed with no conditions… with no loathing; with no spite. He will risk the consequences of his actions to sell his birthright for a bowl of pottage. Oh, sure he will pay dearly in the end; no one is justifying a wrong. But you, my dear sister, will also pay dearly.

You will never understand… the same way he will never figure out why you loathe him the way you do. In your thinking, that is lust; that is a weak man who has no self-control and is trying to find an avenue to justify his indiscretion. Probably you may even call the author a male Chauvinistic pig, who only thinks of how to perpetuate the social patriarchy and the worshipping of the male ego. I will not fault you...Why would I? You would have succeeded in lying to yourself that you are an angel, your man is a demon; you cannot be blamed for any marital is all and always his fault. How can I help you see the folly in this position? I can't. You will keep your views until divorce becomes so common that we may have to throw Divorce Parties for the newly divorced. And In all of this, the man will be guilty with no one willing to listen to a society where it is abnormal for men to complain about marital struggles.

Before you come saying some men are dogs, they will still cheat regardless of what you do, take a pause and think hard about this. Is it ALWAYS the case? Can you, before God, say you don't know any woman who is literally driving her man mad and out? You know such a woman? Good, it is such we are talking about today.

If another woman can do it, my sister, my mother, my daughter, my friend, you can. Be interested in your marriage, be interested in your man. Love him, want him, desire him. Men do not thrive on sex; they thrive on respect. It is where a man finds respect that he plants his sexual seeds. One of the greatest regrets a man can carry is to know he messed up a woman who respects him. Many are held back when they remember the respect their wives have for them. Respect is tightly knitted into their ego. Respect him, and his ego is inflated. Women, who snatch men, know this trick and use it. Guess what, it works all the time. As a wife, you need to employ this took too.

On a normal day, I ask men to up their games. If they claim this world is a man's world, and they are large and in charge, they need to prove it and take responsibility for their actions. But I also know for a fact, women are not inanimate objects in relationships or marriages, and every conflict has multiple sides. Enough of always blaming men for their mess; but of course it is their mess, and they are responsible. However, we need to be honest about the parts each one of us play...especially the women so we can all, hand in hand, work it.

Sometimes, with a little help, a good man will stay good. And if it is beyond you, give it to God.

PG Sebastian 2017
All Rights Reserved