The Counsellor


“Hello good afternoon. I’m here to see Mr. Iben Shedrack.” Claura said to the receptionist.

“You’re welcome Ma. Is this your first time of being here?”

The receptionist was a dark skinned young adult with a plump body. She wore her natural thick hair in a classic bun style. She had no makeup on. Claura thought her face needed some foundation and powder. That could have at least, covered some of those pimples she had on.

She nodded. “Yes it is.”

“You are welcome ma. Please fill out this form while you wait” The receptionist slid an A4 sized paper to her. “He is attending to someone at the moment”

“Okay.” Claura obliged. She took the sheet off the desk and took an empty seat in the minimum sized reception room.

She went through the form, answering all the questions required of her. When she was finished, she returned it to the receptionist. Then went back to her seat.

She looked around, there were three other people sitting and waiting. One was an aged man, who looked 60. He was reading the Punch News paper with his legs crossed. Then there was a couple, she could tell that they were married by their matching wedding bands. They were young. The man looked like he was in his mid thirties, and the woman, she guessed, was barely 30.

The couple were disagreeing about something in hushed voices. The wife had her arms crossed against her chest, with a steady frown on her face. The man was leaning forward , with his elbows resting on his knees. He was responding to her, without looking at her face, dangling his keys impatiently between his fingers and shaking his right leg.

The door to Mr. Iben’s office swung open. A woman with a young girl walked out.

“Mr. Benson” the receptionist called, “You may go in now sir”. The aged man folded the paper he was reading, and dropped it on the table in front of him. He made his way into the office, closing the door behind him.

This might take a while, Claura taught to herself, placing her handbag on the space beside her. She relaxed further into the chair, crossing her arms across her chest and her leg against the other. She took in the view of the room, admiring its aquamarine walls. The reception desk was oval-shaped, quite large and brown. She could see the female receptionist’s head and chest clearly, although it was slightly shielded by the transparent glass which made part of the upper desk.

 The ash and blue waiting chairs were all placed against the wall, facing the reception desk, with a wooden brown table in the middle.There was a frame on the wall that read, “Create the things you wish existed” and another that read, “Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak. Courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen”

The old man stepped out of the counselor’s office and without waiting to be invited in, the young couple scrambled to their feet and made their way inside.

Claura’s phone rang. She searched her bag for it, and pulled it out. It was her husband. She hesitated, then answered it anyway. “Hello?” she said.

“Where are you?”

“I’m out, why?”

“Better go and pick the kids when they close from school”

“It’s your turn to pick them up, why do I have to do it?”

“I’m going somewhere, you better go and pick them”

“Do you know___”

He dropped the call.

Clara fumed. She began typing him a text with fast fingers.

I don’t blame you. You should be ashamed of yourself. I know you are not going anywhere. You better go and pick them because I am far away.

“Ma!” the receptionist raised her voice. “It’s your turn now”

“Oh sorry!” Claura apologized, rising to her feet. “I was absentminded”

 She flung her handbag over her left shoulder and walked into the Counselor’s office, closing it’s door behind her.

“Good afternoon Sir.” She managed a smile.

Mr Iben looked down at the form sitting in his laps. “Claura Adebayo?”

“Yes Sir”

He looked up from the paper. “please sit”. He said, pointing to the couch before him.

“Thank you sir” Claura said, taking the seat.

“So, what is the matter”

Claura sighed. Her eyes began to get teary. “I’m tired of my marriage sir”

“Okay?. What makes you tired?”

A tear ran down her cheek. “We fight all the time. We cannot go a week without having an ugly fight. Our kids watch us fight and that hurts me even more. This is not the life I wanted for myself, I’m tired. He is so mean to me. A few moments ago, he called me, saying I should go and pick the kids. It’s his turn to pick them this week, yet he said I should do it, lying that he has somewhere to go to. I know he doesn’t have anywhere serious to go to, because he is on leave. And even if he did, why would he choose that over picking up his kids from school? He just wants to spite me, I know it. And that is just one example of his mean ways. I could go all day mentioning the things he does wrong. Okay, the toilet seat pulled out, he is the one that usually fixes it, I don’t know how to do it. I asked him to do it, I even placed the seat on top of the toilet so that he could see it when he went to use the toilet, that was three days ago, to this moment, it is leaning against our bathroom wall where he had removed it and placed it, and he knows I don’t use the toilet without it’s toilet seat. I have resorted to sharing our kids toilet, and he does not care. So many things. I’m just tired. I want out”

“Okay.” Mr. Iben looked down at the form . ” You’ve being married for three years?”

She nodded.

“And you have two children?”

She nodded, smiling briefly, “Two boys”

He returned his gaze to her. “Tell me, how was the first year of your marriage?”

“It was wonderful. He did nice things for me. We were best friends, but now, we cannot even sit in the parlor together”

“So he was not always like this”

“No. He just changed. Says I’m stubborn, says I speak back at him. I simply give him replies to the things he says to me. I have the right to be angry too. I just wish I didn’t marry him. If I married my ex, I’m sure I would have been happier”

Mr.Iben half smiled. “We can never know anyone completely. We only know them enough to make a decision. And how we defend that decision depends on our level of maturity. Your ex could have been a better husband, or not, but we don’t know any of that. People seem easy to be with until they become your responsibility, and live with you”

Mr. Iben sat up in his chair. “Your form says that you are a Christian, right?”

“Yes I am.”

“And you care about living a righteous life?”

“Yes I do. I am a born again Christian”

“I have been married for thirty years. My two daughters are married, and the boy which is the last one is rounding up his Master’s programme. From my experience Mrs Claura, instead of focusing on all the things that a person, in this case, your husband does wrong, it is always better to focus on the things that they are doing right. Is there anything that your husband is doing right?”

Claura shrugged. “He pays the kid’s fees. Provides for us. He loves his kids. He doesn’t stand in the way of my dreams”

“And I want you to focus on those things. I brought up your religion because, I am a Christian too. As Christians, we live by the Grace of God. He forgives us our sins, all the time. So if we, who are filth, are forgiven by God and live by his Grace, would even make heaven by his Grace, we should be able to extend that same Grace to every other person. Forgive your husband for his wrongs, and let your focus be on the things he gets right. You must learn the act of forgiveness, it is extremely vital for every marriage. Let it go, even when he doesn’t ask for it. Imagine what your home would be like, if you didn’t give him an answer to every painful thing he said to you__”

“He has hurt me so much sir. I don’t know if I can let everything go, just like that, especially when he hasn’t said he is sorry”

“You can Claura, and you will. I know that right now, going your separate ways looks like the best idea, but you two would suffer it. It’s never easy on the divorced, and worst off, on their children”

The tears kept running down her face.

“Claura, you have to forget about changing your husband, and focus on yourself. Be a better person. Refuse to be moved by his painful actions. When he says horrible things to you, do not give him a reply. When you are angry, do not speak to him either, cool off, and then approach him. Focus on improving yourself, and when he sees that change in you, he would be ashamed of his actions, and be forced to change too. But if you keep on going back and forth with him, exchanging words, he is going to feel challenged, and when a man feels like he is being attacked, he reacts”

“But why do I have to be the one to make those changes? what if I do them and yet he doesn’t even change?”

“You keep doing them anyway. Tell yourself that you are doing it for God and for your children who are watching. Look at it as you obeying God and do it with all your heart. Marriage is God’s institution, and he is going to reward those who carry out their roles effectively. It shouldn’t matter whether your husband appreciates all you do or not, because God would see it, and he would reward you. Rewards my child, come in different forms. It could be long life, good health, your kids doing great at school, thieves never visiting your home, it could be anything, but know this, God would definitely reward your efforts. And shouldn’t that matter more than anything else?”

Claura sniffed.

“So if you care about God at all, do these things. And do them for your children whom you obviously love. Those kids need the both of you. They need to see you happy, together. They need your home to be stable, for them to be able to thrive in. Your fights hurts them Claura, more than you can even comprehend, and it affects all areas of their lives negatively.”

Claura nodded.

“Promise me that you would at least try”

She wiped her face with the back of her hands, nodding her head.

“When next he comes at you with painful words, actions or in actions, keep mute. Tell yourself, it is because of the respect you have for God, and the love for your children. Repeat that in your heart until he goes away. Then, if it is that vital for you to talk about, approach him when you don’t feel so angry anymore, and he is in a better mood, and talk to him softly. If he wouldn’t corperate, excuse yourself and let it go, in other to avoid being dragged down to anger yourself. We must not win all our battles.”

She nodded. “thank you sir”

“Let’s say you get a divorce. Ten years down the line, would you applaud yourself for going away from him, or would you feel like, you could have tried harder, that there was more that you could have done to try to save your Marriage?. I want you to think about that. I’ll see you again next week. My receptionist would give you a date, and you can get my personal number from her as well, call me when it gets too hard”

Claura nodded. She rose from the couch. Her eyes were dried up. “Thank you. I would try my best”

Mr. Iben relaxed into his chair. smiling up at her. “Please do.”

She walked out of the office, feeling empowered, and with a new point of view. “For my kids”, she told herself, “and for the love of God”.



Written by Terundu Joy

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