On today’s edition of exclusive interviews in the authors’ corner, we bring to you another amazing author. SUNDAY ANANI is a phenomenal writer whose writing has impacted hundreds of readers far and wide; a devoted Christian, husband and father with great influence in the relationship space. He is the author of the bestselling book titled “My Marriage, My Work”. Although he is a chartered accountant, his dedication to helping couples and singles build an exemplary relationship and married life is commendable.
Please, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I am Sunday Anani, a Christian, husband, father, chartered accountant, author, reader, and lover of information with great interest in sports, particularly football. Writing is my major way of imparting my society; I write frequently as thoughts deluge my mind. I also give counsel to singles and young couples on relationship and marital affairs, as well as teach these subjects on virtual and physical spaces. Most ultimately, I live with eternity in view because it is the final phase of life, which I consider the most important.
When did you first realize that you wanted to be an author and why did you decide to be one?
I started writing far back when I was in secondary school, from which time I began publishing pieces of literary compositions that automatically made me an author then. However, the thought of publishing a book came to me first in 2012, during my NYSC year. I thought of documenting the processes I adopted to achieve a First Class in Accounting at the university with the hope that others could replicate the success. This was why I decided to be an author. I wrote the manuscript but didn’t publish it until 2016.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey as an author? What were the struggles or challenges you’ve encountered and surmounted along this journey?
My journey as an author has been interesting and challenging all in one piece. I realized that the ideation and scripting stages of authoring a book are probably the easiest because anyone can effortlessly generate ideas to write on. However, making the market buy my idea is the biggest hurdle I have faced.
I overcame this challenge by learning from a book marketing expert. I bought his book and participated in his sessions on how to sell books. I adopted and adapted his marketing strategies. And in addition, I made sure to own my sales processes. I knew I didn’t print books to have them adorn my room so I took it upon myself to market my book aggressively, creatively, unashamedly, daily, anyhow, and anywhere.
At some point, someone had to ask me how I made him pay for my book. (This was after he had already paid.) So, I keep overcoming the sales challenge by constantly putting my book in the faces of people. Still, I ensure I talk to people personally; I follow up with buyers to know if they have read my book. I fetch their feedback and use it to “pepper” those who haven’t bought it. I keep inventing means to sell what I had written.
How did you come across TEBEBA Publishing firm and why did you choose TEBEBA as your publisher?
Well, I have known and had a relationship with the founder of TEBEBA many years before the company was founded. So, choosing TEBEBA to handle my first printed book project was as easy as going with a friend and brother who has demonstrated expertise and professionalism over the years. It was a decision I made on a default mode and I found it quite perfect.
Now, let’s talk about your book, “My Marriage; My Work”. What inspired you to write this book and choose this title?
I was inspired to write MY MARRIAGE; MY WORK because of the several ills that relationships and marriages face today. I thought that since I enjoy my marriage despite the pocket of challenges here and there, why not help singles and young couples get things rightly by sharing what we do in my family? I decided to be vulnerable in sharing my book’s content by being open.
This decision to be specific in sharing stories that people don’t share every day is because most books on relationships and marriage, sometimes, do not come out direct enough for readers to come to terms with. More so, I read a book, “The Fish and the Ocean,” by Pastor (Mrs) Abimbola Tayo-Bamidele, which was revealing and motivated me to be real too.
As for the title, I chose it because of its simplicity, directness, and capability of generating questions that would pique the interest of people in buying it.
What is your book about and who is it for?
My book, “My Marriage; My Work,” is content for singles and married. It contains very important information on relationships that lead to marriage—courtship—and also marriage. I realized that many people do not share their relationship struggles before marriage and in marriage. So, I took the time to share very personal stories that people would find indeed useful.
It contains a lot about my days before marriage, my disappointments with relationships and how I came out of it (which most people would not like to share), how I finally got led to my wife just ten days after the first lady I proposed to turned me down, how I prepared for marriage, and the challenges we faced in our early days in marriage—sex, finance, waiting for a child, and all others.
I shared, in detail, family life: how to live in peace and harmony, understand your spouse’s love language, and form a formidable family front especially in the place of prayers. I also took the time to answer some questions and concerns from my prospective audience.
It is for anyone who is preparing for marriage, already in marriage, or having one challenge or the other.
What would you say the foundation of every marriage should be built upon?
For me, any family that must be successful has to be built on God, the Founder. This is the start point. By this, I mean the TWO (not one) intending partners need to know God through salvation. In addition, trust is pivotal. Openness to each other, firm commitment to stay together despite hiccups, ability to forgive countless times, truthfulness, labor and finance, communication, faithfulness to each other, and necessary compromise are major components of the foundation of a solid marriage.
What are the necessities that need to be put in place before venturing into marriage?
It is a basic requirement to know God before thinking of knowing any opposite sex with the view of marriage. It is also a basic requirement to understand what marriage and its demands are before thinking of saying “I do” to anyone. A lack of this understanding is the reason many enter and flee marriage early or complain that it is an unbearable union.
These two requirements are more basic than having a source of livelihood and a befitting apartment, which are also important. I prioritize knowing God and understanding marriage and its purpose over finance and accommodation because the latter make no meaning when the people who have them do not know God and His essence of marriage.
What are the various perceptions people have about marriage that are not completely true?
The untrue perceptions people have about marriage include, but are not limited to these ideologies: you don’t have to open up to your spouse completely; the man is the final authority in the home, whatever he says stands and is final; men/women cannot be trusted; marriage is a trial and error institute; the woman is the man’s property, so he can do anything he desires with her; monogamy is not possible.
All these are wrong perceptions about marriage. They are not the thoughts of God; they are just the philosophies of men that we should stay clear of.
In a Christian home, only what God says is final because marriage is an association between a man and a woman under the cover and authority of God. So, although, a man is the physical head of the home, women, especially those who are cool-headed, are usually better decision-makers.
Secondly, if you depend on God for guidance, your marriage cannot be by trial and error. You will go into it with certainty, and even if you have some doubts, they will all dissipate along the way as you trust in God. Finally, people have been married for years—50, 60, 70—sticking to just one spouse. So, monogamy is very much possible.
How can singles handle rejection in their journey to finding a life partner?
Rejection in singlehood is a common happening. It may come at the beginning of the relationship when a man proposes to a lady and the lady says “no”, or vice-versa, in some cases. Rejection is a painful part of life. When you are rejected, you must, first of all, know that you are not the one being rejected but the idea of the person being in a relationship with you. This means that another person can say “yes” to you.
So, when you get rejected, accept the pain, move on and look at the possibility of getting a “yes” in your next trial. This is where many singles miss it. They don’t want to move on; they chew too much on the pain of rejection that they forget to move on.
Before I met my wife, I was turned down by a lady—a very painful experience. I tried to convince her but she didn’t budge. I then decided not to pray about marriage again. But it took God only ten days to settle me. (I wrote about this in detail in my book.) I prayed fervently until I was convinced that she was who God was leading me to.
When rejection comes your way, always remember that there are possibilities of acceptance elsewhere. Don’t stay there and bewail your situation. Also, check yourself: what are those things that you are not doing well; correct them and move on. You would find another person who would say “yes” to you.
What is your advice to young people who are just about to go into marriage?
My advice to young people who are about to go into marriage is, firstly, to know the essence of marriage. It is often said that if the purpose of a thing is not known, abuse is inevitable. This is perfectly true. If you don’t know why you are entering into marriage, there is a possibility of you abusing your marriage, your spouse, and misusing yourself as well.
Young people need to understand that marriage was not made for them but the glorification of God and service to Him. When God finished creating everything, including marriage, he looked upon them and declared all to be good. He looked at Adam and saw that it was not good for man to be alone, so, he instituted marriage.
The purpose of marriage is to cause growth to the couple and for companionship—a person with whom you can glorify God and serve His purpose together. It was not created for sex or for getting a house-help or for having a person on whom you can vent your anger but for service to God and your spouse. The person who said yes to you, or to whom you said yes, only did so for service. This clear purpose of marriage should be known by everyone intending to get married, if not, he/she will go into marriage with wrong expectations.
If you go into marriage with the mind to serve your partner, you will know that nothing you do will be too much. In other words, both partners are brought together to make themselves better and stronger, and to sharpen both their irons—two heads are better than one.
Finally, be prepared for every eventuality that may arise, to work it out and not to run away from it.
What are the various stages that intending couples should invariably go through before deciding to tie the knot?
The first stage is knowledge gathering: certainty about who you want to live with for the rest of your life. And this starts with knowing yourself—who you are—and then, knowing who you want to marry. Even before you propose to a person, know the kind of person he/she is. Make findings from afar—through prayers and by observation.
The second stage is the proposal. Having known the person to whom you want to commit, propose. Many singles assume they are in a relationship when they are not. Don’t be one of these; propose and then wait for an answer.
The third stage is the introduction to the parents of your would-be spouse, which in most families leads to parental consent. Many people tend to skip this stage. They assume that loving each other is all there is to it, and so, tend to go ahead with it, and probably, abscond. This is not the plan of God. Seek the consent of your parents and then begin courtship proper.
The courtship stage, which is the final stage, involves in-depth knowledge-gathering again, in which both partners would know and appreciate each other better.
There are some realities (such as sex, money, conflict) that married people face in their marriages that most intending couples tend to ignore. What is your advice to intending couples on these important factors in marriage?
Marriage opens our eyes to a lot of realities. Whether we like it or not, some things would happen, which we’d never plan for, and still, others that we’d plan for but the degree to which they would occur may not be what we expect. These are thus the realities that we have to face. They include sex—sexual expectations are, more often than not, different from what you’ll be faced with in reality—money, illnesses, and a host of many others.
So, whatsoever the situation is that you are faced with, the important thing is that you should have entered marriage with the mindset that you are not going to shy away from anything because it doesn’t work according to your plan. The question you should, instead, ask yourself is, “what is the way out?”
Never bottle up anything within yourself; talk it out with your spouse.
First, decide that whatsoever reality you are faced with, you would face it. Secondly, you must be ready to find solutions. Thirdly, know that you are not alone in this; always talk things through with your spouse. Also, very important is patience, prayer, and action. You shouldn’t pray about what demands your action. Some realities would require you to learn and seek counsel; you should take action when faced with these types of realities.
Courtship is the last phase that singles need to pass through before being legalized as married couples. What do you think intending couples should do to maximize their courtship period to achieve great success in their union?
I’ll recommend five things that intending couples should do to maximize their courtship period.
- The first is to pray. Most singles do not consider this to be an important exercise during courtship because they think all is well, their wedding is already there, and all of that. It’s not always so. Until you get married, you are not yet married. If you are in a Christian courtship that is pure and leading to a pure marriage, the devil is usually very unhappy, and so, he does all he can to make you fall.
- Secondly, ask questions—those that will make you know your intended spouse better.
- Thirdly, answer questions: give answers to whatever questions you are asked by your intended spouse, as much as you can answer. This would make you both be able to tell whether you are indeed fit to live together as a couple or not.
- Fourthly, plan—plan for your future together. Yes, what you plan for may not be what you eventually see in marriage but failure to plan may make your marital journey difficult, confusing, or even burdensome.
- And lastly, be open. Tell your intended spouse about your past, what they should know about you. Know when not to say things too early; know when not to say things too late. And try as much as possible to seek knowledge and make findings of marriage in general.
Money management in marriage has been the bone of contention in most families. How do you think couples can manage their finances to prevent crises from arising in their homes?
This is a very important concept in marriage.
To have a less financial crisis in marriage, the couple should, first of all, see each other as one, including their finances. The man and the woman own their money together. The moment they begin to separate their money, issues will begin to arise. This doesn’t mean that they should have a joint account; it is not necessary. All that is required is oneness. Then, there should be a contribution.
The man and the woman should both make effort to bring something to the table, no matter how small. One would earn more than the other, that’s fine, but ensure that you both bring something to the table. Don’t just be consumers. The other party may not complain but it won’t bring fairness and adequacy and may be a risk factor for a crisis. Contribute so that they would be enough.
Also, be contented. You should not always see reasons why what you have is not sufficient for you. This may cause you to run a race that was not meant for you. To manage financial problems, you both need to have multiple sources of income. And lastly, you should be able to manage what you have to multiply it. Plan what you want to spend. Make budgets. Invest and save. Spend on what would increase your income, not what would leave you in deficit.
How can the issue of in-laws be handled in the family, especially in cases of hostility?
Managing in-laws, especially the difficult ones, can be a thorn in the flesh. Not all people are easy to associate with or handle; some in-laws are better kept at arm’s length as much as possible. So, one of the ways to handle difficult in-laws is to limit contact with them in the areas possible.
Another way is to be of good behavior. Have “…your conversation honest … whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God…” (1 Peter 2:12). Because difficult people are impossible to please, you just need to keep being well-mannered despite their provocations. They indeed will acknowledge your goodness in their secret place but because they just want to trouble you, won’t openly acknowledge it.
Also, be good to them. Do the good you can do unto them despite their unfair acts towards you. Goodness melts hardened hearts too; it may take so long but it eventually does its job.
For those who have issues communicating effectively, how can they improve on this in marriage?
The only way to communicate is to communicate. However, there are ways of communication that need to be explored. I used to have problems in communication in my marriage; my wife complained that I didn’t communicate or respond to issues well enough. I could just give a terse response to what she expected a detailed answer. I have improved so much now that it is no longer an issue. I overcame this challenge by communicating better and more.
You need to be empathetic to your spouse’s needs. Women, for instance, want to be heard—you need to give listening ears to them, as active listening is part of communication.
You also need to let out your opinions or feelings instead of bottling them up. More so, you constantly have to seek your partner’s wellbeing by encouraging them to share their burdens. Engage in conversations that tend to clear off tension. Talk freely about less complex issues that don’t put you out as too serious. Talk jokingly about events from your past. Open up always to your spouse; talk to them more than you do to any other person. These steps improve communication.
How can couples build a formidable shield and spiritual reinforcement in their homes?
Prayer is a shield that cannot and should not be trivialized; use it always. Another dependable way to build a shield around the family is to praise and worship God always. These are even more powerful than praying. Praise and worship work wonders, as they confuse the devil. While the wicked one is expecting you to panic, he gets confused when you’re praising instead. Biblical references include Jehoshaphat and his army of praise singers, Paul and Silas.
Maintaining a rancor-free environment is also a shield. The devil easily gets into homes where there are crevices than he does in homes that are made of people with one mind. Peace confuses the devil especially when he expects you to be panicking too.
Also, adopt watchfulness. The Bible admonishes that we watch and pray. As security officers watch to ward off danger, we also have to be watchful spiritually and physically to forestall the works of the wicked one.
So, prayer, praise, and worship maintaining peace at home, and watchfulness are formidable shields.
What inspires all you do today?
I’m most inspired by God. If there is anything I can do, it is because I have been given inspiration from Him. I am also inspired by the assignment I have been given as a light that I am which is set on a hill. I must shine, be seen, and also heard. I get inspired by the need to make others better and when I see the result of this effort, I get much more inspired to do more. In a nutshell, God, the assignment I know I have to complete, the light I must shine, and the lives attached to my living, all inspire me to do what I do.
What has been your most memorable moment so far while working on your book project?
The most memorable moment I’ve had while working on my book project was when I received an invitation from an internationally renowned marriage counselor to meet him in his office. Unknowingly to me, he had observed my consistent marketing effort and was impressed by it. That my little effort on that book project could be so acknowledged remains etched in my memory. My book launch is another time I can hardly forget. It was a joyous time for me.
As an experienced author, what advice do you have for someone who wants to get his/her book published?
I advise such persons to know that a book project is similar to building a house. You don’t lay the foundation and then go to bed. You have to complete the building to the roofing level, with the interior designs put in place. Writing a book is easier than selling it. Prospective writers should consider the full picture before setting out. They should also learn from accomplished authors to adopt or adapt their winning strategies. They should be fully committed to getting the book to readers instead of just being after the title of an author.
Which authors do you admire?
I get inspired by Pastor Bisi Adewale; whose books address most topics that interest me. I also get lots of inspiration from John Obidi, Emeka Nobis, and the late Myles Munroe.
What is the best piece of advice you have received as an author?
Write more. I had just published a book and while expecting to be commended, I was advised to begin writing another one. That piece of advice was the best slice of inspiration to get going and ahead.
Do you intend to write more books and why?
This is related to the previous question. I certainly intend to write more books because I have so much to leave in print. My mind is daily deluged with awesome ideas that are solutions to the relationship challenges many people face. It is incumbent on me that I must never keep them to myself. One of the best ways to have these ideas immortalized is to publish them. People will read what once reigned in my heart years afterward.
My book is available on my publisher’s online bookstore, TEBEBA Books. It is also on Amazon. The others are can be gotten directly from me by contacting me on Facebook at Anani Sunday and through my telephone number on 08029299709.
What are your final words to the audience?
Your thoughts got ripe yesterday; today, they are already getting overripe, and by tomorrow, they will begin to get rotten because you didn’t pluck them. You have thought enough. It is time to execute that which you have always pushed forward till tomorrow. Write that book. Read that book. Place that call. Just do that thing. And you’ll excel.