COUNTERPOINT By Femi Akintunde-Johnson
Friends are great; we all need them. Friends are useful; most of us can’t do without them. Friends are supportive; few of us can’t breathe without them. All I am about to say will be summed up in one phrase: only inept people will look up to any friend for help in times of need. Perhaps, I’m jumping the gun and declaring the answer without showing the process – don’t worry – there’s no “wuru-wuru-to-the-answer’ (a special trick of my older daughter in Maths). And before you jump up to accuse me of passing off my peculiar experience as the yardstick for universal occurrence; just hold on.
Let me also add: Some friends will latch on you, not like a parasite, but like a guiding angel – even in spite of your bad mouth. They will hold you up when you slip; they will go before you and smoothen rough edges you have left hanging; they will do things your siblings cannot, or are not in a position to do.
Don’t confuse the two: those are not friends: they are angels, and you did not choose those ones. Frankly, you have no intelligence to choose an angel as a friend. You know who can.
Sadly, angels are not that many; and most of us are not that fortunate to have even one as a friend. Even sadder is my suspicion that there is hardly any angel that is a female. See why the womenfolk are in great danger of falling into all sorts of temptations and troubles. No wonder – well, it’s still my opinion – many women who truly are wise, stay away from any sort of friendships.
If you are going through any matrimonial “wahala”, your biggest mistake will be to go to your friends for advice. In case, you have many friends, and you are one of those whose mouth is their “senior sister” – then you are in mortal danger of not only losing your family life, but also handing over your man into the bed of that same “close friend”.
If you watch our home videos, most of their sub-themes are on incredible betrayals of confidences between two women or more. Don’t smile it away, and say it’s just a movie. No, we all live in the same environment. True, real-life experiences are the firewood for most of the menu we consume in our home movie productions.
There are friends who really want to give you “good” advice. Their intentions are genuine; but the consequences of their advice expose them as wicked fiends looking for co-travellers on their journey to matrimonial breakdown. What do I mean? Look at them very well. I mean those your good friends. And ask yourself some questions before you accept to use their advice. What sort of home do they run? Are they often out of their houses – spending all their waking hours at your shop, house or office? Even several hours after the closing time? What do they talk about when with you?
Are they moaning about what their husbands have done to them (or what he has refused to do)? What latest headache they recently ‘dashed’ the poor souls? Do they worry if there’s any food in the house for both husband and children – or just for their children? Do they call their husbands all sorts of derisive names in your presence? Do they wonder repeatedly why you don’t abuse your husband – at least behind his back? Do they fret more about the diminishing spending power of their husbands, and the ageing status of their ward-robes – wishing they had married the latest money-bags dominating the pages of soft-sell magazines? Are they always feasting on the current marital woes of others splashed in the soft-sell papers? Add more if you truly want candid advice, and you are serious about identifying the kind of friends you have.
Now, the major part is this: are you willing to answer those questions truthfully? Are you willing to take the right step after confronting the true nature of your friends?
Why is this so important? Many of us are in the habit of wanting one thing, and choosing another. It is called “delusion”. Some of us don’t have the will to do the right and proper thing that will ultimately benefit us and our partners; but we cringe at the immediate stress, the anxiety and possible grief that our decisions will cause even when our heart tells us that a particular relationship can only lead to one spot: pain and regret.
Let me give you a good style practised by my wife, which has kept us away from the precipice, and has assured me that I have a God-given angel in her: be nice to everybody that is nice to you; be indifferent to anyone that is rude to you; be supportive to anyone that comes to you in grief; be helpful to anyone in obvious need, within your capacity; be brisk and half-deaf to all those who bring tales of others to you; and have none as “close friend”. What that does to you is it gives you space and time to be there always for your man in all seasons; and be a real mother to your children.
Then it is a foolish man, worthy of only contempt from man and God that will treat such a woman with levity; or abandon her warmth and love for the cold and soul-less insides of a night club or hotel room, with you-know-what. Yes!