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016. What’s Our Relationships got to do with Mental Health

Our conversation today is with Dr. Aneesah Nadir. She is a Social Worker with 40 years experience and a retired Social Work professor. Dr Nadir is the Co-founder, volunteer and President of Islamic Social Services Association – which is in its 21st year. She is the owner of Dr. Aneesah Nadir & associates which provides social justice & diversity advocacy, education, training and consultation. She also teaches pre-marital education in her course called Before the Nikah. She is currently working on a pre-marital education book.

We discuss what our relationships have to do with mental health. You’ll enjoy this insightful episode.

Episode Highlights with Dr. Aneesah Nadir:

  • The effect of your relationship on your mental health
  • How to prepare for a healthy relationship
  • Benefits of planning for a healthy relationship

To implement what you learn, join our Wellness Surge Family here: https://bit.ly/3hYbFvy. Stronger together 😃

Show Transcript

Introduction: [00:00:00] Welcome to the Wellness Surge podcast with Dr. Adeola Oke. Each week we discuss our wellness journey with real people like you and me. We have conversations about food, fitness, mental health, financial wellness, and much more so you can get back to the real you. To make sure that you’re up to date with this and other wellness topics, visit wellnesssurge.com. Information presented here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose or treat any disease. Please do not apply any of the information presented here without first speaking with your primary care provider. Now let’s head onto the show.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:00:36] Hello, everybody. Welcome to the Wellness Surge podcast. I am your host, Dr. Adeola Oke. And I have with me the wonderful Dr. Aneesah. Nadir she was like a mother to me. She’s just awesome. Today, she’s going to be talking about ‘what’s your relationship’s got to do with mental health?’ All right. What your relationships, got to do with mental health? Say hello Dr. Aneesah -I’m sorry- Dr. Aneesah say hello to everybody.

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:01:03] Well, good afternoon, everyone. It’s my pleasure to be here. Thank you for inviting me Adeola. Dr Adeola..

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:01:10] Appreciate it. Alrighty. So Aneesah Nadir is a social worker. 40 years experience. She’s also,  , a social work professor.

All right. She’s a cofounder, volunteer, and president of Islamic Social Services Association, which has been in existence for over 21 years. That’s a long time. She’s also the owner of Dr. Aneesah Nadir and Associates, which provide social justice and diversity advocacy, education, training and consultation.

She also teaches a premarital education in a course called Before the Nikkah. She is currently working on a premarital education book. So we’re all looking forward to that. Alrighty doctor? Yeah. Okay. So you’re talking about relationships and mental health. What do our relationships have to do with mental health?

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:02:03] So it’s so interesting that you asked that question. I had a chance to participate in the Muslim Mental Health conference that’s going on right now. And that question was asked and it has everything to do with our mental health. Our relationships have everything to do with our mental health. Our relationships in our family life and, and like, you know, parents and children, spouses.  I tend to focus on the spousal relationships and I try to work to help prevent problems.

A marriage gone bad. Can reap lots of different mental health problems. Post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, grief, and loss. just, they’re just a number of different, mental health challenges that people face back in the day. They, one term they used to use, they called it, having a nervous breakdown, you know?

So, so when marriages, especially go bad, everyone is impacted. And the mental health and emotional health of everyone in the family, the friends, the community, I mean, people. It’s it’s really tough. And so I try to work to prevent that.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:03:21] Very good. Very good. All right. Yeah. So true. It seems like people just don’t get it. Right. You hear about somebody that they went, maybe a, not even a divorce, right. Just heard about the husband, cheating on them or something. And they…start to lose it. Right. And it’s not because it’s not their only domain. They can’t help themselves. I’ve heard about people like playing games with themselves or doing things out of the ordinary. But they need somebody like they need a provider or somebody to listen to them, to get them where they need to be again.

And so Dr. Aneesah Is an expert at preventing and stuff like that right before we get there.

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:03:56] Right. Because that’s my work. Yeah. That’s,

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:03:58] I’m always about prevention is better than cure. If it’s worth an ounce of gold. If I can learn to prevent it, then I’d rather not go through the heartache. I’d rather do the hard work to prevent rather than having to cure. Okay. Alrighty.

So, okay. Big question here now: can you please discuss how to prepare for a healthy marriage?

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:04:20] Yes. Thank you. That’s one of my favorite topics. So one of the things; there is this whole segment care and it’s a preventive segment called marriage preparation. Okay. And under marriage preparation includes education, educational workshops and stuff, seminars.

It includes  premarital advisement, coaching. It includes premarital counseling. So I really, I work more in the premarital education and coaching and advisement kind of portion. And then I refer people to the counselors. So  what I do. I work more in the premarital  education and preparation and coaching and advisement kind of portions.

And when people have more advanced kinds of issues, then I refer them to a counselor. And so. How do you prepare? I think the thing is to spend time at it and to recognize it’s important. More people spend more time planning the wedding than they do planning for a healthy, a long and healthy marriage.

And  often times of people come to me with concerns or issues.  Because I had my own practice and I saw couples and I saw individuals and they would…. and I’m like: Did you all not talk about that? You know, I mean, so it was, it was clear that they one party or the other had some expectations and they never talked about it.

So, so those are some of the challenges, but also another piece of this is the it’s the education, but it’s also the mate selection and the vetting of the potential, the prospective spouse. And I mean, deep vetting. I mean, you know, part of this is getting to know yourself, how you, how do you get married when you don’t even know who you are?

You know, people kind of get married, they’d some meet somebody and he seems like a good prospect and they get married and they don’t know who they are and they don’t know who he is. And I mean know, with a capital K  N O W, KNOW! Most people don’t know. My husband used to say each town….furnishes its own mates. So it’s, you know, we grew up in villages and neighborhoods and we married the boy or the girl next door, you know, or at least in that, on the block. We don’t know these people, you know. People are coming from different places and spaces and I mean, even like, for instance your homeland  is Nigeria, but you, your kids have been growing up here and this is a different place from there. My, my kids grew up in New York City, but they’ve been here for, you know, all of their lives. You know, this is different, you know? And, and so I think that’s really vetting. I’m like really big on one self-analysis. Getting to know that perspective and really doing some vetting background checking, really observing, spending some time…

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:07:16] Background Check!!

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:07:18] No, I’m serious. I am so serious about that. Cause you don’t really know a person until you really get to know them. And, and in Islam we know that, you know, you get to know somebody by spending time with them, you know, living with them, doing business with them.

I think there was one more: traveling. If you haven’t done any of that, you can’t claim to know that person.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:07:40] I think, I think in the Christian world, they usually have like a premarital education thing. Right. I think like for Christians, right?

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:07:46] So the Catholic community requires it before marriage in the church.

Some of the other Christian denominations may require it before marriage in the church. But Muslims do not require it. And I’ve been working for the past maybe about. 15-16 years trying to get our community to require it. So overall there may, I think there may be a couple of masjids or imams that require it, orthey say they won’t perform the marriage without some premarital education. But most premarital education is like, you know, a few minutes with the Imam or an hour with the Imam, that’s not enough.

That’s not enough. And, you know, I really recommend getting, this knowledge and education even before you’re ready to get married. So I, I like to start it like high school, 14, you know, they’re not ready to get married. They’re not thinking about getting married, start there. And then when they get like, You know, 18 or 19 or 20, and they’re really starting to look, then they take it again.

And then, you know, I really do, because this is one of the hardest jobs we’re ever gonna have and the job for which we at least prepared. Yes. Yes. You know, got you have prepared for your profession. I spent between, four- six- six and another one… like 14 years becoming a doctor and social worker!

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:09:17] Every time  there’s always this funky patient. You’re like, Oh, this is something I learned new today. And so yes. Day and age, where we have a lot of devoces. Right? I think this is  education that is really important. And I never thought about a 14 year old, but okay. 

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:09:33] I do!

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:09:34] Like 14 and 16 year old,

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:09:37] The world is changing so much.

There’s so much going on in the world and. And there are a lot of things that they’re, they’re being exposed to that we weren’t exposed to. But also they have a lot of questions and they need to…..so like I said, that’s the first level and then they start there and they get like some basic. And it’s like, when we started out in undergrads, Or no junior college.

So they take it at kind of their junior college level and then they come back and take it at the undergrad level. And then, you know what I’m saying? And because it takes all of that, it really does.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:10:14] It’s big because you talk about knowing yourself, that’s a big deal, right? If you know yourself, you can do wonders.

Right. And then I think there’s a financial aspect to the course, too. Right. Because if you start getting in tune and thinking about money and things like that. That’s a big deal. Then they make better decisions at a young age and that can serve them a lifetime. Right?

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:10:37] It can absolutely, I mean, the course that I teach actually is a 12 week course, and it’s two hours per week and it’s interactive. There’s homework and exercises that my students do and, and are engaged in. But this first six weeks really is. a lot of getting to know themselves, getting to know what they’re looking for in a prospective spouse, but also, legal issues, red flags that they need to be concerned about.

They’re going to be learning even about, abuse, emotional abuse, narcissistic abuse. I mean, different things like that up to communication. And then the next six weeks, we start back with communication, but then they learn about health and wellness. And they learned about finances and sex and intimacy and parenting and in-laws and cross cultural, or, you know, marriage. Also, there’s a ton of stuff to know, so that they can begin to make a good decision about what it is they’re looking for.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:11:39] Okay. So is your course online or is it…do you have to physically be there?

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:11:42] Yeah, so we started out in the classroom and I tend to be a more in-person instructor, but we started pivoting before COVID. So we would kind of like a hybrid online and in the class and now we’re available. We can be fully online or, you know, if things open back up and in a healthy manner, we can do both.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:12:07] I think, I know people that took your course and be like, Oh, it’s it’s our last day. We have to dress up . I was like ‘oooohooh’. That was so fun because they really enjoyed it. They’re like, Oh, are you going to come? I’m like, I’m sorry, I can’t make it today. But be like, Oh, go dressed up. So that was pretty good. Like they were excited about the class.

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:12:24] Yeah. Cause we, when the, when we finished the 12 weeks we have a graduation..

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:12:30] It was the graduation

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:12:31] We had an opportunity. And also they get a certificate of completion. So if you don’t complete the 12 weeks, you don’t get the certificate. Even if you do six, you don’t get  complete 12.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:12:45] What are the benefits? Right. So we’ve kind of like danced around you, right? Can you like give us like some. Core benefits of preparing for marriage.

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:12:55] Some of the core benefits of preparing for a marriage are just so many benefits actually, but. When you have a sense of who you are, you have a sense of calm finance, you are feel empowered.

You know, you don’t feel like, your, your voice is going to be just taken away from you. You know, we see too many people getting married and the, and I’m talking about women right now though. I have sons too, and I care very much about our young men too, but oftentimes women wind up getting married and they become someone’s wife and someone’s mother.

And, you know, they don’t really understand what that means. And another benefit is really understanding what the core values that Allah has said, you know, in a Surah Rum. Ayah 21, he talks about Rahma mercy. Muwadah, love and Sakina. Those are the three core values that ought to be in a marriage.

So that means we ought to measure our marriage life against that. Well, how are you going to measure it if you don’t know what that is? So understanding what marriage is and healthy marriages. And then also, he says that we… the husband is a garment for his wife and the wife is a garment for her husband. You know what kind of garment do you want?

You want that, you know, burlapy kind?Or you want the smooth and silky kind. You know, those are things that you need to have some sense about and understanding about. With some of the other benefits, include learning, good communication skills, you know, learning, your love language.  Getting to  understand  well, what, what should you look for in terms of what his love language might be .

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:14:31] I’m like what? Love language? First time I heard it I was like what are they talking about?

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:14:37] We love differently. You know, my love language is acts of service. You know, I love it when my husband does something to help me out in the house or with my activities and things, you know, he loves, I mean, I also like at words of affirmation, you know, so I feel really supportive, you know, so, but we, there, some of us love gifts, you know, gifts made that make them feel loved.

How do you, how do you love to be loved? You know,

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:15:06] you have to be able to tell somebody that because they would not know. If they give me all the flowers in the world, give me all the gifts. Blegh!

You’re right. You need to be able to tell the person, this is what I like, and this is how I like to be appreciated and loved.

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:15:22] So absolutely. And you need to know how to do that. so, and the other benefits are like, if you have… I mean, you’re going to have in-laws how, how do you make a whole and happy, life with your in-laws? You know, I really admire, your family  with your mom and  how your husband treats your mom, like his mom, you know?

And I think that’s just so beautiful, but we know that there are situations in which in-laws and daughter-in-laws, or son-in-laws don’t get along. And that doesn’t make for a happy, healthy relationship. So, so benefits wise it’s you feel, you feel  more, alive and energetic, enthusiastic , rather than depressed.

I mean, people, even when things go wrong, I mean, people even have suicidal thoughts. I mean, we want to prevent those kinds of things from happening. We want to prevent bad marriages. And I’m not just saying reduce divorce because sometimes divorce is the best thin g.  Especially if you can amicably, divorce. I’m not saying that that’s what I’m shooting for, but I’m saying that sometimes people don’t get divorced. They stay together 20 years or something and they’re not happy. And the, and they’re role modeling, very poor relationships and bad behavior. And then the next generation sees that and they pick up on it and they emulate that. So.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:16:40] Yeah. Yeah. You hear about stories about mothers saying I stayed because of you. I’m like, please don’t do that. Don’t do that.

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:16:48] Yeah. Where do I go? Well, I don’t know what else to do. I’ve been, I’ve been his wife and his mother all my life. I don’t know anymore.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:16:55] Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. True, true, true. And I think, yeah, most important mental heart rate, because if you feel, if you’re loved, right.

If you have a good relationship, then you can produce lots of stuff in the world. You can be a contributing member like contibuting. And not just like living life, not just surviving. You actually live life and that’s what you like you do. I remember like sometimes when you just have even just like a disagreement, your whole day’s wacked up. It is all messed up.

Right. So can you then imagine if that’s perpetuate right? Cause goes on and on it just drains you. So I totally get it. Because it has a big impact on your mental health.  You just don’t think about it, we are all like ‘oooh’ love is blind! Don’t remember to think abot that. Love is blind. Yes, I got that. But let’s get to know you better, prepare and learn about what we need to do to be able to live a long happy life.

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:17:54] We want to thrive. We don’t want to just survive. You know, we want to be creative.  You can be much more creative when you’re happy. And when you, and, and that happy energy, you know, and they say even men benefit even more from marriage than women.  The research seems to indicate, but we know, I know myself, , when, when things were not right between us, , if there was situation not right. I couldn’t think of doing anything else.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:18:20] Yeah. That’s what I’m talking about.  We’d like per day, just I just can’ think straight. It looks like, today’s not a good day. Don’t talk to me like.

Things are not right. Today’s not  good, I’m not a nice person today. Don’t talk to me until you straighten things out. So. Alrighty. So what have, like, you’ve been teaching this course, right? What outcomes have people seen with your recommendations?

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:18:42] So it’s so interesting that you say that I’m trying to think. So, so one woman who’s happily married. She went, so she took my course, maybe like 20, over 20 years ago and

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:18:57] 20 years? Wow.

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:18:59] Yeah, I’ve been teaching it off and on over 20 years. Yeah. And about two or three years ago. Yeah. Her daughter turned 16 and she sent her daughter.

To the course, because she was able to seek good results with her relationship in terms of communication skills and  how to work together. You know, cause they’re problem solving skills, even so that was. I think that was quite a testimony when the mom sends her daughter and the mom is happily married.

That was good. Another situation was when the, one of my students took the course, she was divorced. She then she, she took the course and she’d remarried. And then she brought her new husband to take the course and they completed the 12 weeks together. So that was really good. had another situation when, a couple. They we’re kind of in their newlywed phase, but they were having some difficulties and they didn’t hadn’t had premarital counseling or education or anything, but in my class they got to know themselves better and they got to know each other and they decided actually.

That  it wasn’t the best fit, you know, but they amicably , divorced amicably. So, and they’re both recommending the course. They are saying people should take this  course, because they  should learn what we learned about ourselves and about what would be a good fit for us and what, what, what would be compatible.

So that was good. Another, young woman said that she learned for her, she learned prevention. You know, things that would, help to prevent problems in the marriage and the negative consequences, but she also was able to recognize a toxic relationship. Early cause some, like you said, some people will stay in a relationship for years and years.

One, cause they don’t know what’s going on. They don’t know what else to do, but, but she had the skills to know this isn’t right. I’m not being treated well, you know, there’s something wrong with this. And I don’t need to stay in this. And so that was, that’s a good thing. So you’re going to get different outcomes depending upon the person and where they are in their journey.

You know whether or not they’re married or they’re older, are they younger or where they are in the journey. So I’m quite pleased then. And there’s some folks that have taken it many, many years ago and they’re still recommending, the court.

Alrighty. So when is the next

one? So the next one is starts September 14th, Monday, September 14th.

It’s a two hour course, so 6:30 Pacific, Arizona time, and, till  8:30.  And we’re going to be on zoom on, I don’t know if anybody’s going back in person anywhere anytime soon. Yeah.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:21:38] You have to start thinking, you know, we have to start thinking big, you know, if we want to offer this worldwide, right.

It’s something needed everywhere. So like, we need to make it available. I, I feel it is a need. Okay. So I’m talking to them. On behalf of people here. You need to make this online, available all over the world. Alrighty. Are you with me? That’s on ISA.

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:21:59] Well, it’s so interesting you said that. My daughter in law is marriage and family therapists. And my daughter is, an attorney. And so my daughter has been helping me to co-teach this for a while. And then my daughter in law is going to take the course. And I was just saying, you know, let’s start looking at how we can train some other people. Cause I got to clone myself. And so I hear you. Plus I’m getting, I’m getting ready to write a book Adeola.

Yeah to capture some of the things that, that we’ve been talking about and learned, and Inshaallah to be able to share it into a wider audience.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:22:36] Absolutely so I will be looking for your online class so I can share with the world. Seriously. There’s a lot like …people are going through a lot of pain a lot of divorces. Sometimes it’s absolutely needed. But if you can learnprior. Right. And it’s hard work. Nobody says it’s easy, but we just need to do the work. So do the the work prior, and hopefully you’ll be okay. Right. You’ll be able to see the telltale signs that yes, this is not possibly. Maybe it’s not, it’s not a good idea. So I’m just talking on behalf of people. I love that. I really appreciate if they could take something like this online that’s all. That’s all.

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:23:12] That’s it. I agree with you. And that’s part of why I’ve been doing this, all this years. She is because, you know, I wanted certainly my children to have this and I, and my friends, and I didn’t want to keep this information to myself. I wanted us all to, because you know, if my friends are in a better place, And I’m in a better place and my children in a better place than, than our society, you know, marriages, the cornerstone of the family and the family is the cornerstone of society.

So we’re looking for healthier families and healthier relationships. So inshallah

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:23:46] So how can people get ahold of you after the show? If they want to find out more about this premarital education, right? And just the mental health.

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:23:57] Yeah. So, you can certainly email me, D R A N E E  S A [email protected]

draneesah @hotmail.com. I’m also on fake Facebook, D R MSW, dr. MSW, on Facebook. you find you can get my name, but if you looking it up on, you know, kind of a link it’s at @ D R M S. W, and then I’m on WhatsApp, so yeah. So you can Facebook message me WhatsApp or email me stuff.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:24:27] Awesome. Awesome. Thank you so much, Dr. Aneesah. I’ve learned a couple of things today, so thank you so much. I’m always happy to learn. That’s like my biggest hobby learning and passing that knowledge. And so, yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Aneesah Nadir: [00:24:40] So I wanted to thank you for doing this because you’re right. You’re you’re helping to educate and, and, helping us all to be healthier in the process. So thank you so much.

Dr. Adeola Oke: [00:24:51] Thank you. I appreciate that. I appreciate being appreciated. Alrighty guys. It was wonderful show. I think, I hope you think of the same too. And I will see him the next year. Have a good one. Have a good week.

Bye bye.

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