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Behind the Heart with Chiadi Ndu: Primal Relationships in this Season of Love



Everywhere I look I see signs of red and symbols of love. It made me start to wonder…if there is so much love available, then why are so many relationships in dire straits? A lot of unions are struggling.

Having lost their potency and vibrancy, couples are simply trudging on…just managing! I thought hard and deep and I noticed a trend from my Therapeutic Practice. I discovered that most people enter relationships with needs that stem from their early childhood. These needs manifest as behaviours in adults and until they are identified, confronted and conquered, they are likely to be an impediment in future relationships.

Most adults do not realize the impact their early childhood relationships and experiences have had on them. Sadly most people are still struggling with the consequences of their primal relationships with their parents. Where trust is broken in primal relationships it becomes so hard to trust. For instance, a girl-child that was disappointed by her father’s betrayal and abandonment may not realize that her capacity to trust men has been compromised. She may appear confident, self-assured and independent without realizing that the hurt little girl inside her is unable to trust her partner because her primal need for safety and protection had been jeopardized. On the other hand a young man who appears aggressive, brash and unable to express tenderness may simply be reacting to his mother’s voice from the past saying to him “Don’t you know that you are a boy? Boys don’t cry.” His primal need for affection and reassurance had also been compromised.

The word ‘primal’ comes from the Latin word ‘primus.’ It means first, primary, fundamental and basic. Without a doubt, this aptly describes our relationship with our parents and primary care-givers. Unwittingly, these childhood relationships are dragged into current relationships and without realizing it the emotional legacy of your very first love relationship intrudes unconsciously but yet powerfully on your present union.

From experience I know that parenting is a huge task. In fact I consider it to be a major upheaval. One day you are an individual working on/for just yourself and your self enhancement and suddenly a life is entrusted to you, to nurture, protect and provide for. This child must get your attention anytime they want it by simply yelling! Their entrance into your life suddenly becomes the trajectory of your physical, emotional and sometimes spiritual wellness and if you are female like me, your body shape and size, your sleeping pattern and your career path are vigorously affected too. Since each child is different, unique and peculiar, parenting is a learning process with every child.

I read an article a few days ago that was written by a young lady I had spoken with last year. She could not have put it better and with her kind permission I quote:

“As far as I was concerned, my parents had raised me to be a difficult and angry woman. It was their fault that I couldn’t hug them or say ‘I love you’ to my siblings. It was their fault that I couldn’t respond to criticism properly. It was their fault that I was emotionally broken. I blamed them for everything that was wrong with me, but now I understand my shortcomings were as much my fault as it was theirs. Our parents can be difficult, but as their children, we have to learn their triggers and respond with love. If we respond with anger… it takes us nowhere. Most of us have parents who have never let us express ourselves emotionally, and because of this, we grew up bottling our feelings. We have carried the shame of never being allowed to express ourselves into our adult relationships and friendships...I carried this same resentment towards my parents, but as I grew closer to God, in the past year, I realized I was living in darkness….”

During this period of love, we must endeavour to tidy up our primal relationships. This is crucial because it precipitates how well you thrive in your current or future relationships. Like my young friend I previously quoted wrote: “Forgiving your parents will not be an easy task; be prepared for frustrating moments and days where you want to scream at the top of your lungs until your voice breaks. But please know it is a decision you will never regret.”

And on behalf of every parent that has hurt or disappointed their children, I deeply apologize- most of us are still a work in progress. As you enjoy this season of love, instead of just focusing on romantic relationships, deal with the primal ones too. Don’t let them hold sway over you… forgive, release and receive!

CHIADI NDU was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1987 but has since obtained a Masters Degree in Counselling Psychology. A Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, she runs BTH Integrated Wellness and Therapy. Email: [email protected] BTH provides premium professional counselling services with experts who understand how the mind works; offering a confidential and safe environment where our clients can work on any stressful, traumatic or simply uncomfortable issues they may be facing- ANXIETY, GRIEF, FEAR, TRAUMA, LOSS, FINANCES OR HEALTH  CHALLENGES. Website:


  1. Caramel chic

    February 13, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    Thank you so much for this Chiadi. I did the work on my self three years ago and really had to dig deep and ask heart questions about how i really felt about me. What were my triggers? what was my childhood really like. When you become someone who Is aware of who they are you find that it effects your relationships. I find that the Nigeria culture thrives on just ‘surface relationships’ the struggle is real. I started getting to know a lovely guy couple of years ago. We enjoyed the frivolous early stages of dating. But when I started asking him questions about who he really was, the guy was acting weird. All of my points was disregarded. I would ask what his childhood was like? I would ask him what his own struggles were. Time and time again. I would receive a passive answer from him, like the past was just that. He couldnt see his lack of communication and leadership. He felt the fact that he had a good job and was fiancially stable was more than enough for what he had to bring into the relationship. I had to end that relationship as I knew the kind of marriage I wanted was one of transparency and emotional intimacy. So thank you for reminding us to focus on the right things in rrelationships. Nigeria culture tells us as women to ignore so much and just get married by force. Xxx

  2. mama zee

    February 13, 2017 at 1:11 pm

    Hello ma, your words are so full of wisdom. i find it interesting to either listen to you via radio or read your write ups. its amazing how one persons words can calm someone else’s pain . i have gone through the stage of blaming my parents to the stage of forgiving them and knowing they didn’t know any better, i even got to the stage of making the same mistakes in my children’s lives but i’m glad i have GOD and people like you to jolt me back to realization, thanks


    February 13, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    ” I had to end that relationship as I knew the kind of marriage I wanted was one of transparency and emotional intimacy. ” Caramel chic- that is powerful, you are a strong woman!

  4. Joy Chiedu

    February 13, 2017 at 8:45 pm

    Thought provoking!

  5. Akanna Okeke

    February 14, 2017 at 3:02 am

    Fantastic article, sis! I never really thought of it that way. It is really hard for a person to be well-adjusted. I wonder if there’s ever anyone who grew up without psychological glitches.
    It is forever true that the hardest work you’ll ever do is working on you.

  6. Titilayo

    February 14, 2017 at 10:05 am

    Insightful. I didn’t know how to be affectionate for so long because i didn’t get it from them but when i decided too, i stopped disliking them for not feeling the love they have more me.
    Thank you for the post.

  7. FlemingN

    February 14, 2017 at 10:45 am

    Beautiful sentiment. Thank you Chi xx

  8. Nz

    February 14, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    Second paragraph is loaded….. i can personally relate to this….hmmmm! On point delivery sis….
    Speaks volumes! I guess we are all work in progress….

    Thank you for this piece!!

  9. Oluchi Chigbaogu

    February 15, 2017 at 12:21 am

    Lovely piece.

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