Winie says … Coulda-been-in-laws (COBIL)

COBIL

Coulda-been-in-laws are family members of your significant other whom you get very close to over the course of your relationship but get stuck with even after the relationship ends. It’s painful to form relationships with them, prepare financially, emotionally and mentally to be part of their lives, and then experience a break-up with the person that brought them into your life. It also becomes very complicated trying to analyze, what kind of relationship to maintain with them when you are no longer with their son/daughter, uncle/aunty, brother/sister, niece/nephew, etc. How do you introduce your ex’s sister to your new beau when you run into her in the mall? How do you relate with your ex’s mother that took you in as a daughter or son? How many of these awkward relationships do you want to have in one life time?
Some relationships fail after a long time which might make meeting and knowing each other’s family almost inevitable. Sometimes, you unintentionally, meet the person through their family member which might give you the pre-in-law status very early in the relationship. But there are some very unnecessary acquisitions of COBIL. COBIL might make it difficult for you to move on; constantly expressing wishes that things had turned out differently or bringing back memories that you may be trying to suppress. In my opinion, the more of those we have in our life, the more complicated relationships we acquire too. I have observed three common situations that lead to unnecessary acquisition of COBIL.

Helpers: Very early in relationships some people begin to run errands, buy items for the other person’s family, attend intimate family functions etc. Sadly, some people see it as a way to secure their place in the other person’s life. While it’s unrealistic to have set time when these things should happen, it should be when the two people involved have decided they are part of each other’s future, not when the relationship is new with uncertainties.  As nice as it is to help the family of someone you care about, when it happens too early, you only endear yourself to the family and vice versa without taking enough time to build on the relationship that actually counts. If you two end up together, you have the rest of your lives to buy gifts and help each other’s family. If after you advertise yourself as a ‘helper ’and the relationship doesn’t work out, all you have is a family that loves you and a man/woman who doesn’t. You would have acquired COBIL.

One Chance: There are those bad-belle people who look for people to date because they see a gap in their family that only that kind of relationship can fill. They have no long-term plans for you or the relationship, just the service they want you to offer. A few years back, one of my girlfriends entered a relationship. After a few weeks, the young man asked her to travel alone to another state during her free time to help his elder sister that just had a baby. (Bros!! how far?).  So, he found a girl that he thought was good enough to send for Omugwo. My friend is sharp; she didn’t go. They broke up a few months later; you can imagine. The list goes on: for women who turn young men to their family bank, or the guys that find a girl and promise her heaven and earth just so that she can help his mother when he travels abroad.  Sadly people fall for this plot and enter one chance. When they realize what’s going on, it’s too late, the relationship has gone too far, and someone has dashed them COBIL.

Back Door: These are the people who on purpose go through family members in an attempt to win a person’s heart. This is called using the ‘back door’.  In this case the people either have unsuccessfully tried to approach the person directly or believe using a family member is a surer and faster way. They get close to the person’s family members, buy gifts, inject themselves into their lives, and use them as weapons or use their own family members as baits and tools to lure the person to themselves. There’s a high chance of not winning the person of interest through the back door; this might equally earn you or make you give someone COBIL.

On the part of the family, it’s not also fair to introduce someone to them, and yank that person out of their lives when the relationship fails. I’m sure some of us that grew up with uncles and aunties know that feeling of pain when the person that supplies you biscuit and sweet stops coming. I mourned the end of some relationships of my relatives. Not just because of the goody-goody, but the connection that was made with these people was lost and I missed it.

Bringing family members very close at the beginning of a relationship has its downsides. They make decision-making and building a relationship a little tougher. I’ve witnessed situations where family members like a person more than the other part of the relationship duo. Hearing your mother’s voice in your head about how awesome a man or woman is, when you don’t feel the same, might just mess up some things for you. Of course if the opposite is the case, the hatred or dislike might not allow you make a right decision on what to do.

Finding a life partner is not easy; I’m absolutely convinced that family plays a huge role in the decision.   I support discussing the person of interest with family, talking about qualities, asking questions, etc. and hopefully having someone in your family that you confide in and get guidance.  But a face to face meeting, I believe should come later, because personal interaction is a different ball game. The marriage will be between you, the person and God. Those are the only people who should matter at the initial phase. I like to think of it like building a house. You start with the foundation and you make it as strong as possible. Get to know each other to a certain extent; at least be sure to a point that a future potentially exist. Then you can build the ‘house’ further by bringing in family. A strong relationship foundation can withstand a lot, peradventure you have issues with family acceptance but a weak one won’t stand a chance. When that foundation is strong, family love and acceptance will strengthen it and not complicate it. You also minimize the pain of a break-up when it’s necessary and save your family the trouble.

For those of us that are still yet to tie the knot, I suggest we avoid coulda-been-in-laws (COBIL) so there would be space for the real ones.

These are just my thoughts. Who agrees? Who has had an unnecessary COBIL or an encounter that might have led to one and how did you handle it? Who has a different opinion on when family should be involved, at what point and why? Do not hesitate to share in the Comments below.

While you’re at that,

Winnie says Have a Winning-Day!

WAW

MY WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR

I was first taken on a blog tour by Walter ‘Shakespearean’ Ude, a great pal and splendid writer. We became acquainted first as tweeps on twitter (where he lives @Walt_Shakes) and then as Lagosians; it has been a great experience getting to know him and through him, other amazing writers. When you can, enjoy his work at www.mymindsnaps.com.

Now this is my tour and on it, I have to answer four questions on behalf of my pen then nominate three other great bloggers I know. These three would equally answer the same questions on their blogs, and in turn nominate three other writers each. And on it goes…guiding you through the blogs and works of some of the world’s best ‘writerly’ personas.

Here goes mine:

 

WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

The much I am working on is a few series running concurrently on my blog. One is the “This Thing Called…” series which is a personal indulgence of mine. It’s a private hobby to tear apart, strip by strip, hitherto ‘everyday’ concepts so that they are better appreciated. On my TTC series, I take random topics and place them under my blogoscope…I’ve done that with Beauty, Honor, Weddings and Success was my latest specimen. There’s also the ‘ON TOP D MATTER’ series which is, yet, primarily a weekly and/or fortnightly review of events at the ongoing National Conference in Abuja, Nigeria. When the conference ends, it will grow into something else…I hope.

Still in the coffers is a baby that has not properly taken shape. The much I can say about this project is that: One, it will be anchored by a Doctor whose acquaintance I was privileged to make 5 years ago; two, this brilliant doctor is NOT a medical doctor; and three, it will show you in HD, the colors, textures and stories that real life likes to dress up in. I’d say ‘Watch Out’ and play one badt soundtrack from ‘Igodo’ but I am watching out myself so…

Most recently, I acquired the shared online publishing rights for a new series by Miracle Adebayo titled ‘Unforgiven’ – the first episode has already been published here on WAW. Mimi is an amazing writer who is known in Naijastories circles as the Queen of the FPSM – Fictional Prose Series Movement 😉 I will not tell you if that is true or not but you WANT to watch out for Mimi and her dainty royal pen.

Between and around these, there is an anthology of poems I am slowly, vaaaiiiirryyy sloooowly putting together; a few short stories waiting to gel before I release them; political analyses; news reports; etc.

 

HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

I’m not sure how to answer this question so I’ll just blab on about my writing; hopefully, you’ll find your answer in there:

My earliest memory of any writing was essays in secondary school. For an essay topic as simple as ‘How I Spent My Vacation’, I’d craft dialogues, tell stories and even drizzle on some poetry. My classmates – God bless their valiant souls – bore the brunt of most of it but I still didn’t take writing seriously. Not until my ‘lil’ big sister mentioned offhandedly how she thought I was a wonderful writer and needed to invest more time working on the skill. So I did.

In my sojourn so far, I have refused to look at any genre of writing as untouchable; I try to write everything with just as much passion as I write anything. As a student journalist, I reported news events and interviews, I wrote and still do investigative pieces, opinions and feature stories. I write poetry, fiction, non-fiction, essays, etc. The one broad genre I am yet to dabble into is drama and by extension, screenwriting. I hear it’s kajaad oh but we shall see huh?

 

WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

Hian!

I’m not sure oh. Maybe because I can. Or because I know how to. The reasons I write are maybe as numerous as the things I write. I wrote a poem once in my university lecture hall on a particularly bad day because I needed an outlet. I wrote a very long story once on the strength of the pain of a broken heart. I wrote an opinion piece once out of anger, another time because the situation was just so hilarious that I had to share.

We all are blessed with talents and one of mine is the skill of the pen. I don’t want to be like that poor sharp guy in the bible who was thrown into hell because he buried the one talent he was given and returned it unscathed to the master upon the latter’s return. So I write.

 

HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?

Finally, a question I am comfortable with!!!:)

Doing laundry manually is an absolute anti-hobby of mine. That said, the only reason I still wash with my hands – not counting the old news that I don’t have a washing machine yet – is that I get a lot of writing ideas while washing. I also get them while bathing, while walking, in a group or private discussion. I lose some of them after the moment has passed (I really should buy a pocket notebook) but a few linger on, sometimes for months, until I sit down and put down.

For poetry, analysis and other pieces that are neither exclusive fiction nor non-fiction, slowly I collect the materials I need and over time, it comes together. For stories however, many times I know how a story will end even before I know how it will start. As a result, the writing process is this near-burdensome frenzy to get-it-done-already! Sometimes I know how to start but not how to go anywhere else; so I just start and sit there. A lot of my characters are drawn from real people I know and the story in my head births them; hardly has it ever been the other way round.

Lastly when I am doing a story right, I know. There is this thing that I cannot explain which I feel when I am writing a story just as it was ‘told me’; the thing manifests as a shiver when I pen down a sweeeet twist in a plot, as a smile when it’s funny and as sweaty eyes when the scene is particularly emotional. It tells me when to go ahead and publish a piece or leave it in the cooler for a while. This is the best I have ever done at explaining the thing so…there.

 

And now, the three amazing writers I know.

Chioma Nkemdilim (b.k.a ThatIgboGirl)

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Chioma is simply That Igbo Girl!

She is also a serial blogger, an avid reader, a music lover, a Korean drama buff and a chocoholic, in no particular order :D. At different points in her life, she wanted to be a doctor, then a private investigator, then an archaeologist, then later decided that being a forensic scientist was much better.

But in all these, one thing stayed unchanging – her love for writing. Chioma does not now have any of those lofty careers she wanted as a child; she’s happy just being a serious writer (most of the time) and a tree hugger. She wants you to know that she equally does a little web designing here and there so don’t hang in front of that screen biting your nails for too long…reach her! You can read her stuff at thatigbogirl.wordpress.com and follow her on twitter @thatigbogirl.

Tip: If perhaps you are struggling with reconciling the name with the light skin or ‘stranger’ childhood dreams above, don’t ask if she’s Nigerian. Because if you do, your fate will be much like mine; she’ll shoot you – literally – a hazardous look and say “duh! Before nko?”

 

Stephen Eke (b.k.a Uncle Stephen)

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Uncle Stephen finally agreed to accept the title of ‘writer’ after being conferred with it severally by his village people. He is inspired to write his thoroughly humorous stories by his enduring conviction that the same village people are after him.

He lives in Lagos because it is (hopefully) far beyond the reach of – yes, you guessed it – the same village people. Regardless, he loves to travel and when he is not writing, is out on the seas making a living.

Uncle Stephen has never won an award but his fans repress this global slander by telling him he is the best humor writer in Nigeria. If you doubt it, check out his humorous stories on his blog www.homeofhumor.com; but first insure your ribs because you will need a doctor to repair them afterwards. If you do not laugh yourself to tatters over his stories, your own village people are even stronger than his! He also grants you permission to stalk him on Twitter @itsunclestephen.

 

Chiedozié Dike

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He is a son, a brother, a friend, a writer, a singer, a blogger, and a lawyer. Writing is his first love, but then there’s a polygamous situation with music, theatre and dance. Chiedozié likes to travel and meet new people, but also enjoys his quiet moments curled up with a book or listening to music. Puzzles, board and computer games are equally his thing — Candy Crush and Flappy Bird currently rank tops among his favorites.

He describes his niche as the mystery/suspense/psychological-thriller genre, and his writing style as subtle and understated. He likes to keep his social media image neat and elaborate so if you were to ask for his contact details, he would reply as follows:

Twitter: @dk_stan

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DiCblog

LinkedIn: Chiedozié Dike

Blogsite: www.dkstan28390@wordpress.com

E-mail: dkstan_28390@yahoo.com

In 2011, Chiedozié graduated magna cum laude from Law and – wait for this – he speaks Igbo, Yoruba, English, and French.

Intimidated much? 😉

 

Mention me on twitter @ojukwu_martin