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200 Couple “Must-Ask” Questions

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200 Couple “Must-Ask” Questions.

Whether you are a new couple, or you’ve been a couple for years and years, we’ve got loads of
questions for couples that will be perfect for getting a great conversation going.
Some questions are more serious than others so have a look through and see which questions for
couples are right for you and your partner. Infact, with the valentine season fast approaching there’s no perfect time to get to know your partner better.

Let’s go!

Getting to know your partner questions
One of the most important things in a relationship is learning about your partner. You can know what to
expect from them and can figure out if you two are a good match.

What’s your ideal way to spend a vacation?
What makes you dislike a person?
Do you think you are a confident person? Why or why not?
What about yourself are you most proud of?
What would the best version of you be like?
What life experiences did you miss out on?
When are you the most “you”?
How did you fall out with some of your previously close friends?
Are you happy with the people you surround yourself with? Why or why not?
What musical instrument do you wish you could play?
When has a mundane occurrence or chance completely changed the course of your life?
What is the nicest compliment you’ve received?
What age would you like to live to?
If you could travel to any country in the world for one month, where would you go?
What is your favorite memory of someone who isn’t in your life anymore?
How superstitious are you?
What has been a recurring theme in your life?
What was your most inappropriate or embarrassing fart?
What do you think happens after death?
What are your top 5 rules for life?
What’s your favorite thing in your / our house?
What book or movie do you wish you could experience for the first time again?
If you had a friend who spoke to you the same way you speak to yourself, would you keep them as a
friend?
What petty thing that people do really gets on your nerves?
What brings meaning to your life?
What is something you wish you could say to people but can’t?
What are some of the most attractive traits a person can have?
What’s a secret you’ve never told anyone?
What small pleasures do you enjoy the most?
Who is the most irritating person you know?
What has been your biggest screw up so far?
What have you struggled with your entire life?
What is the most significant change you would like to make in your life?
What do you want out of life?
What calms you down the most?
What are kinds of things do you find repulsive?
What would your perfect life look like?
If you received a salary to follow whatever passion you wanted to, what would you do?
What’s your most embarrassing story about being sick?
What friend have you not thought about in a long time?
What’s the craziest thing that has happened at a job you worked at?
Who do you act nice around but secretly dislike?
If money was no object, and with no input from me, how would you decorate your / our house?
How good are you at reading people?
Are you hopeful about your future?
Who do you want to be more like or who do you look up to most?
What were the healthiest and unhealthiest periods of your life?
What’s the worst emotional or mental anguish you’ve endured?
What do you like most about where we live?
What do you worry about?
What’s something you screwed up and then tried to hide?
What’s the scariest / creepiest place you have ever been?
Do you think the world is improving or getting worse? Why?
How do you think society is changing? Do you think we’ll change with it?
What’s the worst thing that people are proud of?
What’s the biggest betrayal you have ever experienced?
What would be the greatest gift to receive?
What is something that you are dreading?
What makes you feel super fancy?
What would you want your obituary to say?
What has taken up too much of your life?
What’s the most disheartening and heartening realization you have come to?
What was the hardest lesson you’ve had to learn?
Would you take 3 million dollars if it meant that the person you hate most in the world gets 9 million?
What part of you as a person still needs a lot of work?
What are some words of wisdom that have stuck with you all these years?
How well do you know yourself?
What is your best (not worst) flaw?
How forgiving are you?
Tell me about a time you almost died.
Are you ashamed of anything you did in the past? If you are comfortable talking about it, what was it?
Do you prefer living in the countryside, in a town, or in a big city? Why?
What’s your fondest memory of a tree?
What are some of the most pleasant sensations for you?
Are you happy with the career path you chose or do you wish you had chosen a different career?
What’s the most unethical thing you do regularly?
What is way more difficult than it sounds?
What job do you think you were born to do?
What’s the biggest financial mistake you’ve made?
What makes you lose faith in humanity when you think about it?
What was the most painful thing to hear?
What biases do you think you have?
What are you battling that you don’t tell anyone about?
What luxury do you enjoy treating yourself to?
What do you most like to do when you have alone time?
What is normal now that will be considered unethical and barbaric in 100 years?
When you’re gone when you want to be remembered for?
If there was a horrible accident and you were unconscious and on life support, how long would you
want to be on life support?
Do you believe in good luck and bad luck? How about things that are lucky or unlucky?
If you had a million dollars to give to any charity, what type of charity would you give it to?
What’s something that a lot of people are afraid of, but you aren’t?
If you could open a business what type of business would you open?
What can someone do that makes them immediately unattractive to you, no matter how attractive they
are physically?
What untrue thing did you believe for an incredibly long time?
What were the three most important turning points in your life?
What animal are you most afraid of?
What scandal happened in your neighbor or town when you were growing up?
How well do you think you would handle prison?
What’s the most awkward social situation you’ve been in?
What is something that scares you on a daily basis?
When was the last time you cried?
What’s the most peaceful/restful night of sleep you’ve had?
What’s the most dangerous, thrill-seeking thing you would consider doing?
What’s your biggest regret?
Is it better to trust people or not trust people? And why?
What do you think your best and worst personality traits are?
Who do you miss the most?
What is the hardest life lesson you’ve had to learn?
What do you take for granted?
What’s the most stressful situation you’ve been in? How did you handle it?
What’s the most ambitious thing you’ve attempted?
How often do you change your opinions or how you view the world?
What’s the biggest opportunity you were given?
What is something we should enjoy more because it won’t be around for long?
What’s a question you wish people would ask more often?
What is the saddest thing about your life that nobody knows?
What are you most sentimental about?
Do you think people more people look down on you or up to you? Why?
What question do you most want an answer to?
What are some of the telltale signs of a shallow person?
What do you look forward to most in the day?
If you could instantly learn a talent or skill, what would you want to know how to do?
When is your favorite time of day?
What are the best and worst things about the period of history we are living through?
What’s the most rewarding thing in your daily routine?
What weird thing stresses you out more than it should?
When do you feel like you are really in your element?
How likely are you to believe in conspiracy theories?
What are some alcohol-induced stories of your younger days?
What’s the best way for someone to improve themselves?
What was the most productive time in your life? How about the least productive?
What three words best describe you?
How well do you function under a lot of pressure?
What is your weakness?
What are two of the most important events in your life?
What is something you know is bad for you but you can’t seem to get away from it?
What’s the biggest favor you’ve done for someone?
How does your current morning routine compare to your ideal morning routine?
What brings you the most joy?
What are you purposefully ignoring even though you know you should probably deal with it?
What do you wish you were better at?
Is there anything you did wrong for years and years, only to discover later that you were doing it wrong?

Questions about their family and childhood

When you are looking for relationship questions, it’s always important to ask about family and
childhood. Knowing where your partner came from can help you understand how they are now.

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What is something your parents did or used to do that really embarrassed you?
What small seemingly insignificant thing did your parents, or someone else say when you were a child
that has stuck with you all this time?
What is the best or worst thing you inherited from your parents?
What made you realize that your parents were just human like everyone else?
What habits do you still have from childhood?
What family vacations did you take as a child?
How traditionally “normal” was your family?
Children are often very similar to their parents. How do you want to be different than your parents? And
how do you want to be similar to them?
What school subjects did you like and hate most when you were in school?
What unique game of pretend did you frequently play as a child?
What movie seriously scarred you as a child or as an adult?
What irrational fears did you have as a child?
What toy played the most significant part in your childhood?
What are some of your earliest memories?

Relationship questions
Here are the main questions for couples that deal with the relationship itself. It’s important to be nonjudgmental when asking and answering these questions. It’s not about telling your partner the things
they do wrong or the things you want from them. It’s about working together as a couple to build a
healthy relationship.

What is something I did that you thought was exceptionally kind or thoughtful?
What new hobbies or activities would you like to try together as a couple?
What’s our greatest strength as a couple?
What could we do to make our relationship stronger?
What is something small that we can do daily for each other to make our lives better?
How much space / alone time should people in a relationship give each other?
What questions should partners ask each other before getting married?
What do I do that makes you the happiest?
How important is it for individuals in a relationship to maintain their own separate identity?
What makes our relationship better than other relationships?
What do you think our life will look like in 10 years?
What do you think would bring us closer together as a couple?
What kind of memories do you want to make together?
What do you think the most essential thing in a successful relationship is?
What’s your favorite way we spend time together?
What’s your favorite gift I’ve given you?
Where do you want to live when we retire?
In what areas do you think our personalities complement each other? (i.e. One is too reckless, and the
other is too cautious, and it balances out to a happy medium.)
How well do you think we communicate?
What adventure would you like to go on with me?
What’s the best relationship advice you’ve received?
What are some things you really like about me?
What do you think the hardest thing about marriage/being in a relationship is?
What can I do to most help us?
What do you see as your role in our relationship?
What would be a deal breaker for our relationship, something you couldn’t forgive?
What makes us different than other couples?
What do you think would be the best way to strengthen our relationship?
What are some of your relationship goals?
How realistic do you think couples in movies and TV are?
What does a happy and healthy relationship look like to you?

Couple questions about sex
Sex is an important topic to talk about in any relationship. It’s important to know what each of you
considers a healthy and enjoyable sex life.

How well do you think our sex drives match up?
How important do you think sex is in our relationship?
What are you into, but haven’t told me about?
What do I do in bed that drives you wild?
What is the most adventurous thing you’ve done sexually?
Besides orgasms, what is the best part of sex?
What’s the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you while having sex?
When am I at my sexiest?
What would you like me to do in the bedroom to spice things up a bit?
What’s better than great sex?
What do I do outside the bedroom that turns you on?

Couple questions about having kids
It is vital that a couple is on the same page when it comes to kids. There can be a lot of strife and
heartache in a relationship if one partner absolutely wants kids and the other doesn’t, or if you both
have wildly different expectations for raising children.

Do you eventually want to have children? How many children do you eventually want? Why?
What’s the worst parenting mistake a couple can make?
What is the best way to raise children?
How would we know if we did our job as parents well?
Do you think it is more important for a couple with kids to focus on the kids more or each other more?
Why?
How do you think having kids will / has changed our lives and relationship?

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FOOD & CUISINE

14 Ways to Eat Less Sugar Without Missing It

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This article was made available courtesy of eatingwell.com

A life without any sugar is a life we don’t want to live. And thankfully, experts say you don’t need to eliminate it from your diet. But shaving off some grams here and there is something most of us should be doing. “I’m not of the view that we should be draconian about this,” says Mattes. “Sugars do add palatability. And the most nutritious diet, if it’s not palatable, will have no health benefit—because people won’t eat it.” These strategies can help you find that balance.

1. Utilize the new added sugar line on labels

“Always check the Nutrition Facts panel to see how much added sugar is in a product—like cereal or yogurt—and compare it to other brands,” says University of Thessaly nutritionist and epidemiologist Renata Micha. “Between two or three options, you can aim for the one that has less added sugar.”

2. Target your weaknesses

In the U.S., most added sugar comes from the following five sources: sweetened beverages; desserts and sweet snacks; sweetened coffees and teas; candy and other sugars (jams, syrups, toppings); and breakfast cereals and granola bars. Figure out which category you tend to get the most added sugar from and start cutting back there. You’ll get the greatest reduction in overall sugar and boost in health benefits, says Ewoldt.

3. Look for high-quality carbs

Many packaged products—tortillas, granola bars—fall into a nutritional gray zone. They may be made with whole grains (good) and still contain lots of sugar (not so good). Even more stealthily, the front of the package may declare “no added sugars,” but the manufacturer has replaced this nutrient with something else, such as refined starches that have no fiber and affect your body in ways similar to added sugars. “So it’s important to assess overall carb quality, not just sugar alone,” says Micha.

One simple way to do that: use the 10-to-1 metric. This means for every 10 grams of total carbohydrate that a product contains, 1 gram or more should be fiber. (It’s based on the ratio of total carb to fiber found in whole wheat.) Micha and her colleagues discovered that when they applied this trick to U.S. supermarket foods, it quickly identified items with higher-quality carbs that also happened to be lower in sugar. And they were healthier in general—lower in sodium and higher in protein, fiber, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B , vitamin E, zinc and iron.

14 Ways to Eat Less Sugar Without Missing It

4. Don’t drink your sugar

You know that soda is potum non grata, but other sugary beverages may slip past your nutritional radar. Coffee drinks like a bottled Frappuccino can have 34 grams of added sugar, and one 20-ounce sports drink packs as much as 48 grams—which is just about 100% of your daily limit. (For comparison, a can of Coke has 39 grams.) “Sports drinks serve a purpose for elite athletes, or let’s face it, when we’re sick with the flu or prepping for a colonoscopy. But for everyone else, just choose water,” says Nancy Farrell Allen, M.S., RDN, a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. And let’s not forget cocktails. Alcohol itself contains no or very little sugar, but when you add the coffee liqueur to your ‘tini—that’s when the grams can go through the roof.

By eliminating even one sugary beverage a day and instead sipping water with a squeeze of lime or orange for flavor, you can dramatically reduce your sugar intake—especially given that sweetened beverages are the single largest source of added sugar in the American diet, says Micha. You could also try drinking seltzer in fun flavors, infusing your water with fresh fruit or eating an apple or orange alongside a glass of ice water. We love the Strawberry, Basil & Lime Infused Water pictured above.

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5. Take your time

All of our experts recommend weaning yourself off sweetness slowly. Do you add sugar to your coffee or tea? Then use a little less tomorrow. A few days later, dial it back a bit more. Studies show that reducing sugar by 5 to 20%—equivalent to deleting about 4 to 12 grams daily—is not noticeable, and that over time your perception of sweetness intensity changes. In one trial, people who limited their sugar intake for 2 to 3 months rated pudding as much sweeter than those who did not.

6. Be wary of packaged bars

We love the grab-and-go convenience of them, but granola and energy bars supply a lot of the added sugar in our diets. So scan for ones that are low in sugar and as minimally processed as possible (short ingredients list of recognizable whole foods). They often taste just as good and can save you 5 to 15 grams of added sugars (that’s between 1 and 4 teaspoons of sugar) per bar! Even better, put a handful of nuts, seeds and oats, plus some unsweetened coconut flakes and a few dark chocolate chips (11 of them only have 2 grams of added sugar) in a travel container for a snack that’s packed with nutrients, protein, fiber and very little sugar.

If you want to go above and beyond, make your own. It’s a great way to keep sugar in check and customize the flavors to meet your preference.

7. Swap your yogurt for skyr

This Icelandic-style yogurt is made using different types of cultures than the standard kind you may be used to, giving it a thick, creamy consistency and less sour taste. And even the flavored varieties of skyr tend to have about one-third less added sugar than other flavored yogurts—which can be quite high in them.

8. Get enough sleep

The average adult needs between 7 and 9 hours a night—yet more than 35% of Americans get less than that. Missing out on zzz’s can monkey with your hunger hormones, making you crave sugary foods (and salty ones too). However, in a review of seven clinical studies published in the Journal of Sleep Research, participants who increased their sleep duration—by anywhere from 21 minutes to 3 hours a night—had better insulin sensitivity as well as reductions in appetite, sweet cravings and sugar intake.

14 Ways to Eat Less Sugar Without Missing It
CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES / PETER DAZELEY

9. Trick your palate

Studies have shown that sweetness can be amplified by concurrently stimulating your other senses, says experimental psychologist Qian Janice Wang, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Food Science at Aarhus University in Denmark. One strategy to try: Sniff cinnamon, vanilla, cherry, almond, caramel, pineapple, pomegranate, strawberry or banana before a meal or with your food. It can make you think what you’re eating is 5 to 25% sweeter than it would taste without one of these aromas. “The smell-taste interaction together form this perception of flavor. And that’s because when we smell something, the mind is already forming expectations that it’s a sweet food,” explains Wang. “So if you have cinnamon-vanilla oatmeal every day, and you gradually reduce the sugar, by the end it may be enough to have the cinnamon and vanilla without the sugar.”

10. Avoid sneaky sources

Sugar isn’t just added to make foods taste better. It also acts as a preservative that extends shelf life and prevents staleness, makes pastries tender by preventing gluten formation and encourages fermentation by providing food for yeast, allowing breads to rise, among other qualities. For these reasons, food manufacturers add sugar not just to traditionally sweet foods, but to tons of savory ones, as well. “For example, the other day I picked up a tofu, broccoli and brown rice frozen meal—can you get much healthier than that? But when I looked at the label, it had 17 grams of added sugar, most of it from the sauce,” says Andromalos. Check out our list of sneaky sources that can easily add up. Another reason to read and compare labels!

14 Ways to Eat Less Sugar Without Missing It
CREDIT: THE VOORHES

11. Use less sugar in your baking

“Recipes for things like cookies and cakes often call for more sugar than is necessary— so you can play around and see how much you can simply leave out,” says EatingWell recipe tester and developer Laura Kanya, who suggests removing a small amount and going from there. She was able to use one-third less sugar in the Raspberry Swirl Brownies here compared to a typical brownie recipe. The cocoa and pureed raspberries add richness and natural sweetness. “Sugar does impact the moistness, texture and browning of baked goods, so you may notice a difference there,” adds Kanya.

12. Roast your veggies

Rather than steaming or sautéing vegetables and relying on dressings and sauces (which often contain added sugars) to jazz them up, pop them in a 450°F oven. It caramelizes the natural sugars and makes them taste sweeter and more intense, says sensory scientist and dietitian Sungeun Choi, Ph.D., RDN, an associate professor in the department of family, nutrition and exercise sciences at New York’s Queens College.

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13. Add it on top of baked goods

Sprinkling a small amount of coarse sugar on homemade, lower-sugar muffins, quick breads and cookies “delivers that extreme burst of sweetness and crunch with each bite, so you’re less likely to miss the sugar within the cookie or muffin,” says Andromalos.

14. Bake with natural sweeteners

Replace some of the sugar with mashed bananas or other fruits, unsweetened applesauce or blended dates, cooked sweet potatoes or prunes. This will also add moisture. “It’s a great way of getting some extra vitamins and minerals as well,” says Andromalos. “We used pineapple to sweeten our Pineapple Morning Glory Muffins—slashing the sugar content in half compared to similar muffins,” says Kanya. “And grating it incorporates the fruit into the batter.”

15. Trade flavor for sugar

The more taste you’re able to eke out of every recipe, the less sweet stuff you’ll need. “Our Cider-Sweetened Apple Pie contains less than half the added sugar of a typical recipe,” says Kanya. “How did we do it? By reducing already-sweet apple cider into a concentrated syrup.” It counts as added sugar, but the difference is we don’t need to use as much sweetener overall because the syrup’s intense flavor fools your taste buds into thinking the pie is sweeter than it actually is. You can apply this same technique to other recipes—and experiment with reducing different juices.

This article first appeared in EatingWell, September 2021

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HEALTH

Grief and Loss, How to Cope with Them

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Losing anything of value is never easy. Coping with grief and loss must be done your right way. Sadly, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Regardless of the type of loss you are faced with, the only thing required is that you understand the stages of grief and where you currently are on them. This understanding will provide you with healthier coping options.

WHAT DOES GRIEF MEAN?

When you lose something of great importance, your natural emotional and painful response to it is grief.  Sometimes it comes with various reactions such as guilt, disbelief, deep sadness, health disruption, insomnia, inability to eat amongst so many things. Everything i mentioned here is normal when you are faced with grief. Your grief could come as a result of losing your health, a job, a relationship, a loved one, a miscarriage, a career dream, a friendship, a safety net after infidelity or even moving homes amongst many other reasons.

I see many couples and individuals sit across me and narrate their experiences with grief. Despite the many responses to grief, one thing that you cannot take away is that the intensity of your grief is always directly proportional to the significance of your loss.

Due to the personal nature of loss, i do not expect you to grieve like any other person. This means that there is no shame with how you decide to grieve. The only thing i want you to understand is that there are stages to grieving and you must understand what stage you are in to enable yourself transition from that stage, get a new perspective on the matter and then begin to move on from the heaviness you feel.

The Sad Honest Truth About Grief

Be it the loss of a parent, child, partner, spouse, relative, friend or colleague at work, It’s all pain and you may not ever get over this loss. However, time is what truly does the magic for you because your sorrow eases, you face the loss and then gradually begin to move on from that point.

Now that you understand how unique grieving is to every individual, you must also know that what separates everyone in grief are their beliefs, their faith, previous experiences with grieving, their coping styles and lastly their personality. Do not expect to recover immediately with actual loss of a loved one, or try to heal after replacing the job, house or opportunity you lost with a new one. It takes time. While some start to feel better in weeks and months, the measurement for others grieving is usually in years.

THE PROPER WAY TO GRIEVE

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You must understand somethings about grief as this gives you an edge;

A) IF you feel pain, do not pretend it does not exists simply because you want to appear strong. This act will keep you trapped in one stage of grief longer than expected. Weakness or Strength are not the consideration at this point. Pain is.

B) Do not try to grieve the way you have seen a sibling, spouse, parent or someone else go about it. That is their own way. Trying to emulate them in this regard may not work for you and could end up doing more damage than good.

C) It’s not time to be alone with yourself and misery. Get the support of your loved ones and others who truly care about your well-being. Staying alone is not the solution to numbing the pain.

D) The feeling of grief will make you laugh, cry, smile, talk to yourself and so on. In extreme cases, clients have mentioned that grief made them romanticize with thoughts around death and suicide. Especially for individuals who lost a spouse.

E) Your emotions are not stable when you are grieving. This is what grief does to you. Forcing yourself to stabilize your emotions is not the key. Recognizing the emotions you feel is the real solution.

Available on Podcast:

Learning about the 5 stages of grief

Denial: This is the phase where an individual hasn’t yet come to terms with what has happened. The associated shock or emotional overwhelm dissociates the victim in such a way that the circumstances look like an unfolding movie plot with them as spectators.

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Anger: At this point, a realization dawns on the individual. This comes with an intense anger that has the individual lashing out angrily and questioning a lot of things.

Bargaining: The need to have this happen to distance oneself from the flurry of negative emotions suddenly triggers an emotion that wants to pass on the grief to some other person, place etc. With this comes a negotiation where depending on the spiritual beliefs of the individual sees them bargaining , going on a spiritual deep dive all in a bid to reverse the situation.

Depression: This is a phase characterized by intense sadness that comes once you start to understand the situation isn’t particularly going anywhere or changing.

Acceptance: After healthily negotiating the first phases of grief, the individual now understands that the situation truly occurred. At this point, you come to terms with the pain and truly start to own the emotions you are feeling. It is from this stage that healing starts.

Despite the fact that I have listed these phases, it would be important to note that not everyone navigates grief by following these exact steps. Kübler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist who first intimated us with these stages of grief never intended for these stages to be a rigid framework applicable to anyone mourning. I have seen clients who went straight to acceptance from the denial stage and just when everybody else affected was struggling with denial, these individuals were already available to assist their spouse, partner, siblings or friends with their own grief.

Coping with grief and loss by temple obike

Dear therapist

Grieving and loss is a bespoke experience for everyone. The circumstances may be similar but the effect on the mourner is unique. Hence for younger therapists, there is a need to make clients identify what stage they currently find themselves in. As important as this is, it is better to allow them speak first, tell a story, relive their experiences with the deceased and as you listen with your ears and observe with your entire being, you are bound to start discovering for yourself, where exactly they are with the grieving process (even if it doesn’t quite tally with any of the stages.

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I truly hope this piece throws a lot more clarity on your current struggles with navigating loss. We are here to support you through your loss and believe that your complete healing is not too far away.

Written by Obike Temple.
Temple Obike is a licensed marriage and family therapist, speaker, author and psychotherapist who has counseled over one thousand, two hundred clients comprising of couples, individuals, abuse victims (substance, physical, emotional and sexual) and grief-stricken clients. With over 100,000 in-counseling minutes accrued in practice.
He runs his private psychotherapy & counseling practice out of Lagos, Nigeria and has counseling centers in Abuja and Port-Harcourt. His practice also provides options for both online and on-site services. His private practice has positively empowered lives through his online counseling, podcasts, free advisory services and free online materials.  
Readership of his articles also receive a growing number of visitors alongside subscriptions to his email newsletter at templescounsel.com. His passion for empowering and uncovering the secrets to lifelong marriages and personal development led to his new book titled “Soul Bodega” available on amazon and across other online and traditional stores.Never give up on yourself! You are a journey happening through various destinations. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and visit our website for more info!
https://templescounsel.com/how-to-find-your-real-purpose-in-life-stay-authentic/
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BUSINESS

Advertising Market Leaders Give 5 Marketing Musts for 2023

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1. Recognize the increasingly important role of video Raja Rajamannar, chief marketing & communications officer at Mastercard talked about how video is a critical component of his business’s marketing mix. “It’s where you’re able to evoke the right emotions,” he said. “You’re able to connect with consumers to tell the story the right way, and to impress upon them the message you’re trying to convey. Video is front and center in whatever we do.” Twitter’s director, client services – retail & travel, Alex Kennedy, agreed: “Video is core to any good strategic marketing plan. Whether your objective is awareness, consideration, or even priming consumers for lower-funnel objectives like conversion, there is a role for video. And the reason is because consumers are consistently watching more video, specifically online digital video.” Kennedy also stressed the importance of understanding both the customer and their viewing context to get the most out of video. “You have to reach your consumer where they are and how they’re watching,” she explained. “That means you have to create bespoke content for the environment. That’s what’s going to be key.” 2. Make the most of the data mix, utilizing both first- and third-party data The level of understanding Kennedy described requires a data strategy that recognizes the role all the different types of data have to play. This point was picked up by Sean Popen, executive vice-president, outcome navigator at Interpublic’s activation intelligence company Matterkind. “A tactic that we’re seeing working is using a combination of first, second- and third-party data, which allows brands to tap in and get that additional reach,” he said. This view was echoed by Dawn Williamson, senior vice-president, head of sales development at Comcast’s advertising sales division, Effectv, who stressed the importance of using data to target audiences: “It’s going to be less about ‘I want to be in this show’ and more about ‘Where’s my audience, and where are they consuming content?’ because, as an advertiser, that’s where I want to be.”

3. Overcome the challenges of a fragmented viewing audience According to Dave Pajeau, executive director of programmatic/advanced TV for Effectv, video advertising will only continue to get more fragmented as more providers come in. For him, the key will be to integrate the traditional and streaming experiences, enabling measurement and targeting against the two together. “There’s a tremendous amount of viewership that still exists through traditional linear channels, and that now co-exists with new viewership through streaming platforms,” he said. “They work best together, but you have to know the right allocation for your brand and audience. So in 2023 we’ll start moving towards true cross-screen delivery, audience delivery and measurement.” 4. Understand how the consumption of advertising has evolved Brian Wallach is head of revenue for programmatic TV sales platform AudienceXpress. In his view, successful advertisers are those who understand there’s no longer one single consumer journey, no matter what the brand or sector. “Successful advertisers are consumers themselves, and oftentimes they admit they watch content in different ways,” he explained. “So now their planning and execution of media is adapting so that, if their desired audience isn’t all coming from traditional linear TV, they’re able to optimize and adapt and run media against other channels. We call these fluidity deals in the industry, where it’s less about whether it’s linear TV or digital, and more about reaching the right audience in quality programming.” For Effectv’s Williamson, it once again comes back to understanding your customers. “Clients and advertisers are really focusing on consumer behavior, and they’re studying where ad consumption is happening. So it’s less about connected TV or video-on-demand (VOD), and more about looking at the entire TV ecosystem to ensure they’re targeting the right audiences as they’re looking to get their message out there.” 5. Value a ‘one viewer’ solution Being able to track and measure viewing behavior across multiple platforms is the crucial piece of the puzzle. It will improve brands’ understanding of their customers, solve ad frequency problems and allow sequential messaging. It will also allow more accurate attribution, improving media planning and increasing efficiency. That’s why Elizabeth Luciano, senior vice-president, marketing & brand strategy at broadcaster A+E Networks, is keen to encourage everyone in the video advertising space to work together to make the ‘one viewer’ solution happen. “It’s going to be so important,” she said. “We want to deliver content when and where people want to watch it. In order to do that, we need to see how they travel across platforms.”

Table of Contents

Learn from your experiences

Perhaps the final word goes to Soyoung Kang, chief marketing officer at beauty brand eos. As marketers start to think about the trends that will define their 2023, she urged them to also remember the lessons of the last few years. “As we try to understand how to navigate this macroeconomic climate, it’s really important for us as marketers to continue to push forward,” she said. “We have to stay agile. We’ve built all of these muscles during the pandemic where we needed to be able to shift investments as circumstances changed. It’s time to exercise those muscles again.”
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AGRICULTURE

How to Start a Cocoa Business in Nigeria and Make Money From It

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People born between the ’60s and ’80s would definitely know the value of cocoa production in Nigeria. Cocoa is a crop Nigeria once banked on as its major exported cash crops before the oil boom. Nigeria was the biggest exporter of cocoa in Africa and one of the biggest in the world. Then Crude Oil came and poor agricultural management set in, costing the Nigerian economy badly and allowing Nigerian to lose the prestigious spot to a fellow African country, Cote d’Ivoire, who is now the largest cocoa producer in the world, followed by Indonesia.

When cocoa production and export are concerned, Nigeria only lives in past glory and if care is not taken, Nigeria might end up losing all it has gained from the export of what is touted as some farmers as the ‘Wealth Seed.’ The demand for Cocoa now is significantly higher than what the demand was, back then. When the agricultural spotlight is focused on Nigeria, foreign countries can vividly see the potentials in Nigeria and would quickly act fast in taking advantage of it, while Nigerians sit on a goldmine and yet they can’t see it but only look forward to foreign aid and investments.

Anyone looking to delve into Cocoa production business in Nigeria is in for a bit of a fortune if he really knows his onions. For a long time, Cocoa has been and would for a really long time still be one of the fastest-selling agricultural products in both the international market and the local market. As stated earlier, there is a high prospect for cocoa business to thrive in the country. This is because it is in high demand all over the world as it is used in the manufacture of different things such as candy bars, chocolate, cocoa powder as well as drinks and several others. Cocoa farming and beans extraction are labour intensive and the beans are fragile. This pushes many people from the business, especially in a country like Nigeria where there are deficiencies of preservative facilities.

Although Cocoa is not the easiest of crops to manage, once a potential merchant can sacrifice the time and the effort to have it planted, groomed and nurtured to its full maturity, he can keep getting attractive returns on it for a time as long as decades. Truth be told, cocoa production in Nigeria is one very under-exploited and under-utilised sector and Nigeria still needs as many farmers in the cocoa production section as possible, since demand continues to outweigh supply. There are still thousands of acres of fertile lands that can still be used for the planting and cultivation of cocoa. Just like any other business, a potential Cocoa merchant must have a well-designed business plan that will guide the cocoa business. This means that he must first sit down and work out things involved in the cocoa business and have a road map on how to go about it.

Delving into Cocoa Farming and Production

Starting the cocoa farming and production business in Nigeria isn’t as hard as it seems, especially if one can endeavour to gather the right information and knowledge about the business. Armed with the right knowledge on cocoa farming, botany, industrial value and demand chain, a potential cocoa merchant can be able to utilise and exploit the huge profits associated with the business, and with time he might soon become a big player in the cocoa production business.

It is also worthy to note that the returns on cocoa business start small but grows on bigger and bigger with time and the right amount of effort.

 

The first major step in delving into Cocoa Farming and production is Financial Planning

Anyone who has an interests in cocoa cultivation must first work out the different costs. Different costs are involved and fundraising for the business is also important.  Furthermore, research has shown that cocoa can grow together with other cash crops like Coconut and Cashew so combining the production strategies is a good way to maximise profits.

Capital also plays a large role in the kick-off of this business. A potential merchant has to decide if he would be going into Cocoa cultivation large scale or small scale. This decision would influence the amount of capital he would be investing in the business. This is why a good Business plan goes a long way in determining the success rate of the cocoa cultivation business.

Other things needed are:

  • Piece of Land: If the merchant wants to see through his business from start to finish, he would unavoidably need an area of land to start his cocoa business, but it all depends on what he can afford. For a small scale business, he doesn’t necessarily have to get farmland, as he can simply buy fresh cocoa seeds from farmers who’ll sell it at a much lesser price.
  • Storage and Drying Space: The merchant would inevitably need to have a store or warehouse, secure enough to give his business (the cocoa seeds) the required safekeeping it needs. His business is his cocoa seeds, as he has no business with the pods. Also, the store needs to have enough space outdoors for him to spread his seeds. Cocoa seeds need to be dried in the sun for it to be usable. The drying period normally takes a period of two weeks.
  • Relevant Equipment: The merchant would need equipment like the scale for weighing the bags, normal sacks and heavy-duty sacks, for conveying the seeds from one place to another, and a wide water-proof material that can be used in drying the seeds in open air.
  • Cocoa Seeds: There goes the tiny but most integral part of the business. The cocoa seeds can either be bought from cocoa farmers or harvested if the merchant already has access to a cocoa farm, an option which is advisable later in his business when you have the money.

 

Land Preparation

Cocoa is a crop that cannot do well in all kinds of soil. This means that before a potential merchant commences the business, he must test the soil to determine the type of yield he would be able to attain during harvest season.

Crop protection and nutrient management are also important in this kind of business. Cocoa is known to grow well in some parts of Nigeria, especially the western part of Nigeria. One can consider acquiring land in any of these places to grow cocoa.

 

The Type of Cocoa Variety to Invest in

Another aspect a prospective merchant will pay attention to is the best variety to plant. This is that the reason soil test will help him discover the types of cocoa species that are compatible with a particular soil or environment.

There are at least three varieties on the market and they include the Trinitario, Forastero, as well as the Criollo. Apart from that, there are also some improved varieties, which can be gotten from other parts of the world, and these can do well in Nigeria.

 

Planting Process

Method of Propagation

When it comes to Cocoa cultivation, there are two options available to the merchant, which include the Vegetative and Seed propagation. A lot of people prefer Seed propagation because it seems to grow faster than the Vegetative propagation. Germinations starts within a week of propagation and moreover, a greater percentage of it can germinate (at least ninety per cent or more of the seed). The survival rate is higher in seed than in vegetative propagation.

Also, this stage is where the main business starts. A Cocoa merchant can also engage in mass production of cocoa after the seeds have germinated, he can transplant them using a perforated polythene bag. He can also sell some of the seedlings. Other merchants who deal in Cocoa seedlings will like to buy it.

On the other hand, many large-scale producers prefer the Vegetative option than the seedling option. Vegetation is grown through such methods like grafting, root cuttings, as well as stem budding and so on. In Nigeria, many cocoa farmers prefer the budding option.

Planting
When it comes to planting, the merchant has to be careful the way he plants it to ensure that it survives. If after testing the soil and he discovers that it is not that fertile, there are still other alternatives.  He would have to dig a pit of about 50 by 50 by 50 centimetres. This advice is very important if he resides in the lateritic zones where the soil is known to be low fertile.

After digging the holes, he must make a soil combination of organic manure and topsoil and fill the pit with it. This is to enhance the survival rate. Those in fertile areas have nothing to worry about.

It is always recommended to plant it on a soil surface. The cocoa root grows well in surfaces irrespective of the depth.

After-cultivation Care
There are a few must-dos that attract a bumper cocoa harvest, time and resources are of the essence when taking care of the cocoa. Once the planting is finished, the next thing to do is to mulch the basins using organic manure.

Shoots emerging from the lower portions must be removed.  This is to ensure healthy development and growth of the shoot. The planting can last three to four years, but the process always has to be weed-free.

Fertilisation and Manure
The essence of the soil test is to determine soil fertility. This can equally assist in determining the right type of manure to apply. In Nigeria, NPK fertilizers are popular and this can be applied in two equal splits.

The dose to apply depends on the yield wanted. For species that yield up to sixty pods yearly, the dose must be doubled.

In addition to that, the merchant can administer dolomite to each plant yearly. This can start from the third year of the cocoa plantation. The best method to administer fertilizer to the cocoa crops is to mix fertilizer with soil in a basin and administer it to the plant.

Pruning
The cocoa plant requires pruning and it grows in tiers. If properly managed, the plant can produce five fan branches. It is better if the growth is restricted just to one-tier. Because of that, there is the need for constant pruning.

Irrigation
Irrigation is necessary if there is no adequate rainfall distribution. Naturally, it grows well under well water. Supplemental irrigation is a necessity if the merchant stay in areas where there is no adequate water supply. Water is necessary because it helps cocoa plants to grow very well and makes the yield better.

Protection
Cocoa like other cash crops needs to be protected from diseases, pests, and vagaries of nature. The most important thing is to protect them from those harmful insects and pests around. There must be an adequate arrangement for chemical spraying and other ways of protecting it.

 

Harvesting
This is the time to yield the benefits of labour. It takes about one hundred and seventy days for the cocoa to be ready for harvesting. After harvesting the pods, the merchant can store it for four days. This facilitates fermentation. Furthermore, it makes superior quality cocoa beans possible.  The pods should not be overripe before harvesting.

There are two harvesting seasons in a year; light and heavy harvest.

After harvesting, it is time for fermentation. With a good cocoa processing unit, the merchant is sure of producing different varieties of cocoa beans.

 

Marketing and Export

The target markets are food and beverage companies, soap making industries, chocolate producing companies etc. A ton of cocoa seeds is sold between $2195 – $3130 in the International market. Locally cocoa has a standard price of 50kg selling for ₦55,000.

There are a variety of ways that cocoa is exported from Nigeria. In some cases, one or even two middlemen are involved between the Nigerian farmers and cocoa exporters. The Nigerian trade begins with farmers working to harvest cocoa beans from the local crop. The following are ways in which cocoa beans are exported from Nigeria:

  • Farmers to Small Buyers – Small buyers visit individual clients (farms) to purchase a share of the cocoa crop. In this method, small buyers may sell the crop directly to exporters, but more commonly the small buyers sell the cocoa to wholesale buyers who make the final sell to exporters.
  • Farmers to Co-operatives – Farmer co-ops combine cocoa from several farms to sell to different agencies. The co-op purchases cocoa directly from farmers, and in some cases, sells it to exporters directly. In other cases, the co-op may also export the product directly.

Nearly half of all Cocoa in Nigeria is exported to the Netherlands (45%). Germany and Malaysia are ranked second and third in cocoa imports from Nigeria, importing 22% and 6.2% of Nigeria’s cocoa output, respectively. Other top importers of Nigerian cocoa include Spain, Italy, Belgium-Luxembourg, and China.

Nigerian cocoa and cocoa beans are usually exported in the raw or unprocessed form to chocolate processing plants in these countries. The cocoa is typically exported to confectionary companies to make chocolate bars and other chocolate products, such as candy, cakes, and chocolate beverages.

 

List of Cocoa Exporters in Nigeria

The International Cocoa Organization (ICCO) based in Ivory Coast maintains a directory of farmers, exporters, and other professionals related to the cocoa industry. Although Nigeria was a member in 2010, the country is not listed among the organisation’s members in 2018.

Cocoa Exporters in Nigeria

The list of cocoa exporters in Nigeria include:

  • FTN Cocoa Processors Plc
  • Ideal Risku Global Limited
  • Saro Agro-Allied
  • Tosmega Cocoa Nigeria Limited
  • Akeen and Kamoru Nigeria Ltd
  • Berveek Limited
  • Cocoa Products (Ile Oluji) Ltd
  • Remedy Crown Investment
  • Shinwillcrown Cocoa Producing Company

The list of cocoa bean exporters of bulk and wholesale cocoa beans from Nigeria include:

  • Agro traders Ltd
  • Crystal Green Ltd
  • Gbemtan Investment Ltd
  • Olatunde International Ltd
  • Agebelere Cocoa Farm
  • Okon & Sons Integrated Services Ltd
  • Ose Global Bizness Links Nig. Ltd.
  • Terry Cocoa Merchant
  • Yinka Akintilo Enterprises Ltd

 

Cocoa Production in Nigeria: Feasibility Study
The feasibility study included in this guide is for a medium cocoa production business, from the start to the sale of 500 bags of cocoa. The Capital covers from store set-up, land acquisition, seed purchase, production, and marketing.
The selling price of cocoa is the same almost everywhere. Each bag (A standard of 50 Kg) is being sold for about ₦55,000.

For a start, all the materials needed (Renting a store depends on location, purchase of needed equipment, planting and tendering, and so on, is approximately ₦3,500,000)

If the merchant starts harvesting after 18 months, (he can start harvesting as soon as that if he had planted the early-maturing, high-yielding and disease-resistant cocoa beans seed to boost his farm’s production in a short period of time).
₦55,000 X 500 = ₦27,500,000

(Return on Investment) ROI = ₦27,500,000 – ₦3,500,000 After 18 months of cultivation, the gain is a staggering ₦24,000,000; which isn’t bad at all especially since selling cocoa beans seed doesn’t take much marketing.

 

Issues Affecting Cocoa Export in Nigeria

Before you engage in the cocoa trade in Nigeria, it’s important to consider how to overcome common challenges affecting the cocoa trade and cocoa exporters in Africa. These concerns include everything from adequate production to transportation. Educating yourself on these issues may not eliminate the concern, but can help you determine a plan of action before engaging in trade.

  • Roads and Transport – More than 30,000 tons of cocoa were found delayed in transit in the capital city of Lagos while en route to ports for export.  Specifically, traffic, craters, and floods are to blame for the delay. This delay put strain on local businesses and some even sought loans to cover expenses while waiting for exports to be shipped and paid by buyers.
  • Delays in cocoa production – For many years, Nigeria ranked fourth behind Ivory Coast, Ghana, and Indonesia in cocoa production, but a recent drop in production has lowered Nigeria’s position in the cocoa production chain to fifth, tied with Cameroon. Lack of support for farmers, including access to cocoa seedlings, price risk management, and pest control training are just a few factors that have led to a decrease in cocoa production. Many small farms harvest most cocoa in Nigeria throughout the southern region.
  • Lack of farmers – Several news reports outline both the lack of younger farmers and the lack of interest of younger farmers in cocoa farming. This lack of interest has led to a decrease in the number of cocoa farmers. While there have been calls to stimulate the cocoa economy, the Nigerian cocoa production efforts faces significant challenges to its growth if enough young farmers don’t participate in the cocoa trade.

 

COCOA PRODUCTION: RISKS INVOLVED

  • Managing a cocoa farm takes time, effort, patience and energy.
  • Constant guard and protective measure against rodents and infectious parasites.
  • Setting up a cocoa production plant is very capital intensive.

COCOA PRODUCTION: ADVANTAGES

  • Cocoa sells faster than almost every other agricultural produce.
  • The merchant would inadvertently be contributing to the nations GDP.
  • A lot of beverage companies rely on cocoa for production, making it very profitable.
  • As a young person, you can leave the circle of the unemployed.
  • The ROI from cocoa and production is very attractive and is enough compensation for the merchant’s time, energy and money.
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