Welcome to the second edition on the topic, “Healthy Family at a Cost”. In the last edition, I rounded up by asking salient questions that could change the trajectory of your family, if honestly answered. The question was, “How much sacrifice can you make for your family’s sake?” It’s like genuinely evaluating your wishes and desires for a healthy family. Beloved, for the goal of nurturing a healthy family, how much price are you willing to pay? Remember we did learn from the first edition that when you Pay the PRICE called sacrifice, you will enjoy the PRIZE called HEALTHY FAMILY!!!
Today we will emphasize another dimension to building a healthy family. To build a healthy family, you must learn to forgive, and accept being forgiven. For example, forgiving your spouse is fundamental to experiencing a healthy marriage relationship. There can never be a healthy family if the husband harbors unforgiveness towards his wi犀利士
fe and vice versa, or if parents remain unforgiving of their children for ill behavior.
There isn’t any family under heaven that is bereft of the need for forgiveness. If the members of your family are human beings, then the offence is of surety because it is inherent in human relationships to offend each other, thus the need for forgiveness is inevitable.
Is it possible to live in a family and never be offended? Let me twist the question, do you have the propensity to offend people? If yes, then other human beings in your family also have the propensity to offend you. So, create in your heart three realities: (1) you will be offended/angered/annoyed/provoked/deceived by at least a member of your family, (2) because you are not a spirit, you will definitely offend at least one member of your family, (3) you will need to create the room to forgive family members.

Hear what the Bible prescribes in the Book of Colossians 3:12-13 (NLT)
12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
The rule of thumb in this text is to “make allowance for each other’s fault…” Making room helps you to live with the three realities stated above, and helps you create a healthy family. Remember, you are as imperfect as the people you are expecting to be perfect… think about this truth.

In families where children have rebelled and offended parents, remember, “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against Him.” (Daniel 9:9, NIV). In God’s mercy, He has been merciful to you even when you rebelled and spoke lies instead of truth, chose compromise instead of honesty. It is that same God that is inviting you to be merciful to your children when they rebel against you.

For anybody reading this article with hurt because of your rebellious child(ren), I pray for God’s transforming power to change your rebellious child(ren) lives right now in Jesus’ name! Every prayer prayed in their lives receives manifestation right now in Jesus’ name! I will hear your testimony. Hallelujah! Speaking of couples harbouring each other’s offences, do you know it is possible to see married couples who go for a whole week, some months and some others go for years without talking to each other? For some, the only talk that joins them is either sex or worship at church (public spaces for people’s sake). Even when they do family devotion, they will both talk to God, but not to each other. Do you understand what I am trying to say?

A story was told of a couple who were having a strained relationship and refusing to forgive each other. The man was going to bed after working on a project over the night and slept around 3 am. He needed to be up and tidy up the project which he was going to submit at an executive meeting with his office board of directors and an important client at 8 am. Thus, he really needed his wife to wake him up wrote at hour 5 am, so he wrote on a piece of paper “Wake me at 5 am” The wife woke up just before that time and she replied to his letter, “Wake up its 5 am” without tapping him to wake up. At the time he woke up, he couldn’t catch up with his presentation and his organization lost the contract. Could either this husband or his wife have adopted Jesus’ counsel in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” (NIV)?

Trust me when I tell you, forgiveness breeds a healthy environment for a family to thrive. However, forgiveness can be a great struggle for some people. Such that begrudging those who offend you (alive or dead) might feel natural or appealing to human reasons, but the Bible encourages you to forgive. May His grace enable you to forgive your family members of every wrong in Jesus’ name! A healthy family where husband and wife enjoy their marriage as heaven on earth is possible, but there is a price to pay- FORGIVENESS.

Read my book “Earthly Maintenance for Marriage: even heaven-made marriage needs earthly maintenance to sustain it.”

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A story was told of a young man, Yoko (not his real name) who was so spirited he brought joy to everyone who encountered him. In his society, Yoko was known as an emblem of joy who exuded joy to the weary, angry, and discouraged. The story has it that this young man rarely got offended by ANYTHING; he could ignore offenses and insults, laughs at misfortunes, and willingly forgives the offenders at any slightest word of apology. The story has it that parents in the society often referred to this Yoko as an ideal child for all young people to emulate. Let us label this phase of his life as PHASE 1.

Yoko grew in maturity to the third floor in life (the third floor means being in his thirties, the fourth floor connotes one’s forties and the fifth floor one’s fifties and so on …), and got married. Fortunately for him, he married Zudunta (not her real name) whose reputation in character and God-loving precedes her introduction into society. Their wedding was the talk of town … I’m sure you understand why, yes? Let me lend my voice to the thoughts in your heart over the “Why?” Their wedding attracted people of timber and caliber in that society, or like my uncle, Samuel Adejoh, Esq will say, “people of iroko and mahogany were in attendance” and all roads of that community led to their wedding. The love this intending couple shared before their wedding painted the town red (read my article on Devoted Love to glean- As noted in phase 1 of their story, every young person dreamt of experiencing such love and affection in a relationship, and parents exemplified them to their children. At the instance of his wedding, the entire society unequivocally declared that these two love birds- Yoko and Zudunta have launched into their HAPPY EVER AFTER. Let us label this phase of his life as PHASE 2.

After some years of marriage, Yoko became the exact opposite of who he was in Phase 2 of his life. Surprisingly, he became a gloomy, doomy, and frustrated man who disappointed everyone who knew him in his earlier phases of life. He became a shadow of himself as he embittered all the relationships around him. To him, marriage had changed him into a bitter, frustrated man. Instead of the HAPPY EVER AFTER dream, it became a reality of HAPPY NEVER AFTER. Realities like this narrative invite my curiosity to ask, how does the dream of a HAPPY EVER AFTER become HAPPY NEVER AFTER? Have you seen people who were happier as singles than when they became married? Another probing question to ask is, why is it that for some couples, the longer they are married, the less happy they become? What could account for answers to these questions? Let us label this phase of his life as PHASE 3.

I claim ignorance for the precise answers to these questions in phase 3, however, it’s a living reality in some people’s lives. For some people, happiness enlisted them into the pain of HAPPY NEVER AFTER. For your knowledge, the experience of HAPPY NEVER AFTER is not God’s will for any marriage. God’s word reveals: Find a good spouse, you find a good life – and even more: the favor of GOD! (Prov. 18:22 MSG)

From God’s perspective, you are enlisted for a good life, not a miserable or embittered life when you find your spouse. This is the reason that a man leaves his father and mother and embraces his wife, and they become one flesh. (Gen. 2:24- CEB)

In God’s will, when the man intentionally embraces his wife, both will become one flesh.

 In God’s will, when the man intentionally embraces his wife, both will become one flesh.

Gleaning from these two passages, it is obvious that marriage breeds good life and oneness for the couple. If these two essences of marriage are traceable to your life, you experience HAPPY EVER AFTER and not the HAPPY NEVER AFTER reality. Thus, HAPPY NEVER AFTER is not God’s plan for your marriage. Being happier as a single than when married is not God’s plan. Being happier in the early years of your marriage than now that you are much older is not God’s will for your marriage. I pray for you that your reality is about to change from HAPPY NEVER AFTER to HAPPY EVER AFTER in Jesus’ name! Your phase 3 will be more enriched and invigorated with joy than your phases 1 and 2 in Jesus’ name!!!

I invite you to a discussion. What causes HAPPY NEVER AFTER in marriages? Let’s interact in the comment section on the website. Please endeavor to share your (learned) story, experience, knowledge, suggestions, and solution(s).

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Leaping through the annals of life history, you will discover that when a young man found a lady to marry his only challenge was being sure she was God’s will (God’s will is God’s word, principles, instructions, definition to life, choice). The same can be said of the lady’s only challenge too. But in today’s ‘Now upon a time’ the rhythm is different. Human and cultural reasoning has so clouded Christians to an extent that the primary questions young people ask or hear from their parents and/or elderly people ask are “where is s/he from?” or “where is s/he working?” or “what is his/her parents’ financial status?” or “how are you sure s/he can conceive/impregnate a child/woman” and the list goes on and on. Little wonder that some unserious and Christless Church youths seek shortcuts by having sex or worst still, getting pregnant to ‘blackmail’ parents into endorsing their marriage.

The act of blackmailing parents or impregnating a lady or having sex before marriage is a sin (irrespective of the reasons). God’s word in verse 4 of Hebrew chapter 4 reveals, “Honor marriage, and guard the sacredness of sexual intimacy between wife and husband. God draws a firm line against casual and illicit sex” (The Message). Thus, sex before marriage and sex with anyone other than your wife/husband remains dishonoring to God- our Father and the Holy Spirit who dwells in you.
Sometimes (if not most times), the change in these rhythms of questioning is witnessed among parents who are seasoned and renowned disciples of Christ.

 Pst. O. J. Dickson

Parents who have trailblazed Christian values in their homes, Church, and society are becoming champions of traditional and cultural criteria for marriage at the expense of seeking to know God’s will and God’s will alone. I have heard on multiple occasions how young men are frustrated and infuriated by potential in-laws when they seek their daughters’ hands in marriage. ‘Now upon a time’ is the determining factor for accepting young people’s marriage proposals. They tend to tilt more towards anything other than God’s will. Maybe this reality accounts for why the rate of divorce, separation, and avoidable conflict is on the increase.

Once upon a time, seeking God’s will was the thrust of the question, but ‘Now upon a time’ some may say, it seems needless to ask such an ‘old fashion question.’ Let me render some advice to the wise. Although walking in the will of God does not immune your marriage or life from the storms of life, you rest assured of God’s presence in that storm. Should you be ignorant of what the presence of God can do in your life, please do a personal study on this subject. If you do, you will not want to do anything outside His will. I call you to recalibrate your criteria for marital choice – to put God’s will/opinion back as the primal determinant against cultural and societal evaluations.

The realities of ‘Now upon a time’ invites you to the saying in a movie title, ‘Fighting temptations.’ In that movie, when the abominable happened in the Church, one of the characters called Paulina exclaimed, this act is an “abomination that causes desolation.” It is abominable to ignore the will of God for your marriage (or any facet of your life). The reason is that the resultant consequence of ignoring the犀利士 will of God ends in desolation. Thus, the clarion call is made to all persons involved in “the marriage process” – the intending couples, their parents, formal/informal counselors, and every stakeholder (let’s call them “mouth-choking” actors and actresses) to seek God’s will. In the words of my friend, Anaja Odekina, “mouth-choking” actors and actresses are the invited and uninvited council of concerned Uncles, Aunties, Cousins, Neighbours, etc. You may have one of such in your family.

Our chief discipler, Jesus, modeled a way of life when in verse 38 of John chapter 6, he declared, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” Also, in verse 42 of the book of Luke chapter 22, Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (NIV) These passages of scripture tell you of Jesus’ reliance on the will of God. In the renewed Spirit of ‘Now upon a time,’ let’s emulate Jesus, and in the quest for God’s will being the determinant for marital choice, the marriage should stay anchored on God’s will for the continuance/sustenance of the marriage.

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Salvation and redemption are important experiences of the Christian faith, but not without a cost- Jesus’ death. The exploits of the Apostles in the book of Acts, which revolutionized the world with a memorable and laudable impact had a price tag- ‘the Martyrs.’ Successful projects have a price tag-diligence. Likewise, every healthy and peaceful family you see has a price tag called sacrifice.

Building a formidable healthy family between husband and wife is possible. However, the possibility is embedded in an outer demonstration called sacrifice. It takes sacrifice to let go of your right for the sake of the health of your marriage. For example, when there is a misunderstanding between you and your spouse, either of you must be willing to sacrifice his/her rights for the common good and the health of the marriage. Refusal to sacrifice your right for the health of your marriage is indicative of the toxic atmosphere in your marriage. Just a quick one, a healthy marriage is not void of misunderstanding, disagreement, and thinking differently, however, the pursuit of a healthy family graces you to obey God’s word at all cost-whether preferred or not preferred. Take a closer read at this Bible passage:

In Eph 5:25, God’s word renders: And to the husbands, you are to demonstrate love for your wives with the same tender devotion that Christ demonstrated to us, his bride (TPT). Husbands are instructed by God to demonstrate love to their wives just as acts of devotion to Christ. I feel like screaming, ‘Help me, Lord!’ I guarantee you that this way of life is very demanding, but it is the measurable standard given by God to every Christian husband. As a matter of gleaning from another Bible translation, read this: Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not 犀利士
getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already “one” in marriage (Eph. 5:25-28- The Message).

Husbands are instructed to go all out to love their wives just as Christ did for the Church, demonstrating a love that is measured by giving, not getting so as to bring out the best in his wife. In the words of Dr. James Zasha, “the way you treat your wife is a by-product of your relationship with Christ. To this understanding, I once again, scream ‘Help me, Lord!’

For the Christian wives’, God’s will reveal: Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ.
The Christian Wife on the other hand is instructed to submit to her husband (unconditionally) in a manner that shows her support or loyalty to Christ. The measurables of a Christian wife’s loyalty to Christ is demonstrated in her submission to her husband. Did you hear that? I hear the devoted Christian wife screaming ‘Help me, Lord!’
Thus, as a way of application, some husbands will say, “I will love her as the Bible says if only, she submits to me” and some wives will be saying, “I will only submit as stated in the Bible if, and only if, he loves me as Christ loved the Church.” Friends, though this reasoning sounds logical to the human inherent nature, it is unscriptural. Living by Biblical standards invites the Man to love his wife even if she doesn’t submit, while the wife is to submit to her husband even if he doesn’t love her as he should. Friends, this way of life in marriage comes at a cost, and that cost is called sacrifice.

How much sacrifice can you make for your family’s sake? Sometimes God will want you to sacrifice personal comfort, profession, work, and friends in order to build a viable healthy family. The cost is demanding, but the reward is unquantifiable. Beloved, a healthy family has a price tag called sacrifice. Pay the PRICE called sacrifice, and enjoy the PRIZE called HEALTHY FAMILY!!!

 For ongoing discussion,

Please contact your ‘Go-to-Pastor’ Pst. O.J Dickson on:
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Picture a Romeo and a Juliet who are head over heels in love with each other. They got married, painted the city with the color red and garnished their society with the aroma of their love for each other. In due course, they became the gossip headline of oral news; they created unnumbered chapters of love stories for all who cared to notice and even those who pretended not to have noticed. Their love was audible to the deaf and visible to the blind. It was a seasoned and admirable love. In Nigerian parlance, we will say, their love for each other was “talk of the town”. That is, it headlines both gossip and organized news. I am sure an image of a loving, caring, romantic, and tantalizing love is created in your mind right now. Please keep that picture saved in your internal cloud- the brain.

Transport yourself to their reality; two, five or ten years later….. It may shock you to greet a reality which reveals this same Romeo and Juliet are either no longer in love or divorced or creating a narrative of a strained and frustrated relationship. The fundamental question I hear you ask is, “what happened?” or “how are these two narratives ever possible with the same parties?” I don’t claim to have a one-size-fits-all answer that fits all of your questions, but I will attempt to answer.

I will attempt by saying that the love that leads to the wedding is not enough to sustain the marriage. Most likely because the love that leads to the wedding is ignorant of so many things in volumes. The love that leads to the wedding may be ignorant of how your spouse responds to anger, forgiveness, and sexual temptations such as taming sexual urge and sexual appetite by deciding not to date or patronize strange women because your wife offends you or travelled out of town or is nursing your newborn baby. Also, as a wife, please learn to control your hunger for sex when your husband is away or getting entangled with the game of ‘getting back at each other.’ Foxes such as the above realities are narratives that marriage unveils. Thus, I am inviting you to practice devoted love with your spouse as a crucial praxis to sustaining love for your spouse.

OJ & Queen Dickson

Devoted love entails committing to everly love and grow together with your spouse through thick and thin- bad, good, and ugly. Devoted love invites you to intentionally and exclusively focus on building your marriage by learning to spend quality and quantity time together, refusing to cheat on your spouse (even if they may not discover), honouring your

spouse above your parents. Worthy of note is the salient truth that when you practice devoted love with your spouse, you will ardently esteem their needs above yours as you deliberately work towards fulfilling your wedding vows and commitment to each other. Thus, the practice of love that makes you esteem your spouse’s needs and requests over yours, deliberately living out your marital vows, exclusively focused on building your marriage as patterned by God is what I refer to as devoted love as it guarantees lasting marriage of bliss 犀利士 and endless joy.