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Letter to Jack

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Dear Jack, inter-tribal marriage shouldn’t be an issue. There are many thriving and successful inter-tribal marriages. You can’t focus on someone’s tribal identity and totally ignore the person’s qualities. She has no control over her tribal identity. And you can’t hold someone responsible for what someone from her tribe did to your uncle thirty years ago. How does that make sense! If we go by that standard who’ll ever qualify to marry anyone in the cultural and historical cauldron your country is. It’s almost like setting up an excuse to permanently bar inter-tribal marriage. That’s not saying tribes don’t have psychological and cultural traits. It’s why they’re called tribe. It’s a cultural and psychological subset. But every tribe has a grouse against the other tribe in your country. Even INTRA-tribally there are issues. Humans just haven’t learnt to live and let live, to get on with each other as subsets. It’s why there’s ennui for inter-tribal marriage.

Clearly the problem is not your girlfriend. By your own account she’s a wonderful person, someone any sensible man would want. You’re going to lose her because of her tribal identity? What exactly do you want her to do about her tribe? It’s what it is! If we scale things up a little would you like someone to condemn you for your racial identity despite your sterling qualities? How can you rave against racial discrimination but enforce tribal discrimination? The problem with inter-tribal liaison is many times not the parties themselves but the prejudice of third parties. If you do find something terrible in this lady I can understand. But to lose what’s good for you to someone’s prejudice? And you’re working totally from anecdotes. You don’t have factual data on the issues in question. Even if you do it’s narrow data. How many marriages in your tribe succeeded solely based on tribal identity? Give statistics.

The advantage of intra-tribal marriage of course is common cultural philosophy and psychological profile. Beyond that there’s no other advantage. And that advantage is wiped off if the other party is disagreeable. If you marry someone from your tribe who gives you no peace what benefit common cultural origin? If someone from another tribe makes you happy but the lady from your tribe makes you unhappy what advantage tribal unison? When it comes to picking a spouse, we’re individuals first before our tribal identity. If you’re a terrible individual, that’s who you are even if you’re from a “wonderful” tribe. You’re still who you are! And who marries tribe? You marry an individual. If the individual is terrible you have a terrible spouse, tribal or no tribal identity. We are who we are. As individuals we have been conditioned by sociological, economic, psychological, cultural and political factors.

This prejudice against your lady’s tribe has nothing to do with her. It’s so obvious. It’s a prejudice carried by someone in your family based on another person’s experience, someone you hardly even know. And you don’t know the full story. All you have is somebody’s colouration, which at best is hearsay. What makes for successful inter-tribal marriage is first of all the qualities of the individuals not the tribal identity. The desire and ability of the couple to mesh and forge a union goes a long way in determining their marital success. I’m sure you know there are terrible marriages in your tribe, just as there are good ones. Prejudice defies scientific rigour. What’s amazing is how someone can formulate a philosophy about an entire tribe based on interaction with just one individual. Those with working inter-tribal unions are very accommodative of the other person’s cultural conditioning, or they buy into it. Many times however those inter-tribal marriages succeed because they agree to be regulated by neutral or higher code. For some that code is the Bible (or some other religious tome). And yet for others secular humanism. If you lose this wonderful lady to the prejudicial disposition of your family, you’ll have regrets. You’ll always be thinking back to what could have been. If you ditch her I hope you find her equivalence. It may be hard. Why can’t you for once stand up for what you believe and help to educate these people with the success of your marriage? You forget most of these prejudices were bred in the cauldron of internecine conflict that consumed your nation even before you were born!

If you insist on judging her by the cultural rules of yesteryears, have the nobility to be consistent. Allow the same rules to govern your life. You should throw away your mobile phone and log around a rotary phone for instance. You have to live in the 1960s. What if her parents also reject you on the basis of your tribe, would you consider that fair? You better concentrate on the most important things in marriage – peace and joy! A young man can’t easily appreciate those spiritual quantities until he’s married the wrong person and for all the wrong reasons. Tribal identity CANNOT be the basis of your union. It has to be your individual qualities. Now, if you’re from the same tribe all well and good. But if you’re going to go ahead with her despite these prejudices, you’ll have to be strong. You have to protect her. Something as basic as deliberate late conception will be attributed to witchcraft from her tribal enclave. If your mum dreams she’s being chased by a rat it will be attributed to her tribal identity. Even if she chased a rat during the day! Such is the power of prejudice. And we’re not yet talking about naming the child that is even yet to be conceived! Your peace and happiness should be paramount concern when choosing a spouse. You won’t do well without marital peace as a man. Men don’t do well without peace. Your health will suffer.

You need to sit down with your parents and explain to them this lady makes you happy, gives you peace in your heart and mind. Many times in these circumstances there’s another lady being put up for consideration by the family. In other words, your mum’s happiness is the issue, not yours. And she may want to forge a marital union with her friend’s family. You can’t be rude during this discussion with your parents. You honour your father and mother despite divergence of opinion. Given the facts, your parents at the end of the day want your happiness, at least their version of it. It’s why their own prescription. But you don’t abdicate responsibility for your marital choice to prejudices and biases. You’re the one who’ll suffer from bad choice. We’ve spoken about this tribal issue before. Go to http://jacknjillive.com/2014/07/inter-tribal-marriage/

I do wish you backbone.

Your mentor, LA

© Leke Alder | talk2me@lekealder.com

You don’t abdicate responsibility for your marital choice to prejudices and biases. Click To Tweet

Dear Jack, it’s important you discern the spirit of someone you’re considering dating. Rather than just being moved by superficial realities. What’s on the surface is being projected. The nice dress, makeup, the affectations, the sexiness…all those are projections. Those projections won’t give you a true picture of somebody, just an impression. Projections are independent of character. Projections won’t give you insight into the spirit or real nature of someone. A devious person can wear fitted skirt and look attractive. The prettiness of the skirt is not the true knowledge of the person. And anyway mass media has sold us an imagery of a cosmopolitan woman. You’ve been programmed by reality TV. That someone looks fine, dresses fine can’t tell you the character of the person. You have to discover that. The character is independent of the dressing. The dress is mere fashion, an artistic endeavour. So you may find yourself appreciating a dress rather than evaluating the character of the model you’re considering dating.
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My dear Jack, I think you need to sit down and ask yourself what this woman means to you. It’s something every couple should do – both the man and the woman should ask what they mean to each other. Such an appraisal helps one uncover the true value of a partner. We tend to get lost in all those “husband” and “wife” titular stuff. We use the phrases so much they hardly mean a thing anymore. A “wife” (or “husband”) is after all someone you married. It’s taken as the result of an activity – the taking of an oath. It’s like “Mr. & Mrs.” It’s what you write on an envelope. Simply identifies sexes and marital status, nothing more. It can’t and doesn’t give depth to marriage. In fact, it has no usage inside marriage. In the same vein, “husband and wife” has come to represent co-joined status. If care is not taken it can be devoid of depth.
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My dear Jack, you can’t marry on another person’s timetable. You marry when you know you’re ready. The problem you have is that you’re dating someone four years older than you. That has its own pressure. To be sure, she’s also under pressure from her family. They want her to marry fast. What she’s simply done is transfer the pressure to you, but you’re nowhere near ready.
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My dear Jack, you shouldn’t be careless with your marriage. Your wife is at an emotional inflection point and you’re not even aware. That’s careless. Yes, I know you’re working so hard to take care of the family but if you lose the family, what’s the point? If you keep going this way you’re going to get blindsided by life. You’re setting yourself up for a nasty surprise. I know you love her but you’re not paying attention to those things we spoke about.
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Dear Jack, a marriage can quickly become stale as a couple “settles down.” Anything stale and mouldy can’t be good. As with bread so is marriage. Yes, the courtship stage is over but it’s important to keep the momentum in marriage, even if it’s not exactly same quality. Life can be terribly busy but you have to create special occasions. You have to enjoy yourselves as a couple. Life will never end. It just keeps going and it will outlast you. You can’t overtake life. So sometimes, it’s best to get off the bus as a couple, get away from the chores of life and enjoy yourselves. The responsibilities of life never end. You have to create space to be a couple. It can be anything from going to the movies, to going for a drink together, to going to an informal party or hosting one.
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My dear Jack, I’m sure you’ve heard about The Seven Deadly Sins. They’re the stuff of legend in Hollywood. There’s even a movie with that title, though of a disturbing nature. The movie is about a psychopath. (Why do they always have those psychopaths for these things?) The seven deadly sins are Solomonic actually. They are the seven abominations. Though “The Parson’s Tale” in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales as well as artworks like Dante’s Purgatory, help illustrate the sins. If you want to have a successful marriage you have to be mindful of the seven deadly sins.
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My dear Jack, you have to be careful about escalation. Escalation is always potent in marriage. The thing about escalation is, what started out as something trite that can be swiped like a fly might end up growing into a movie monster. And it starts with hardening of positions, often preceded by silences and disregard. Instead of discussing the issue both of you withdrew into silence, each not talking to the other. Be fearful of escalation of small quarrels in your marriage my friend. Be fearful of escalation.
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My dear Jack, didn’t you know what she looked like without make-up before marriage? If after marriage you’re complaining about what she looks like without make-up, I then wonder about the quality of your courtship. Some women look pretty with or without make-up. Your woman in your estimation does not have that grace is what you’re saying. But that begs the question about the quality of relationship you had and how real you were to each other during courtship. It means you never saw her in unguarded moments. Means you never saw her without that mask. How do you court for a year and all you saw were only made-up versions of your girlfriend? What’s the quality of that courtship? Surely you must have known she went to bed without make-up. So it’s reasonable to assume she has an image sans make-up. And it’s also reasonable to assume she won’t always have make-up on after marriage.
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Dear Jack, she isn’t the prettiest of girls but she’s kind. Something about her drew him to her. She is not in his social class either. Very few would be. His father is rich. Very rich. She recognized early on he could date other women – very beautiful women, and yet it was her he chose. He trusts her implicitly. She’s selfless. It was that selflessness that created the trust. Selflessness creates trust. There are no airs about her. She’s as basic as a piece of pancake. No, not American pancake with all its embellishments and retinue of excesses. She’s just a basic person, a good soul. She couldn’t even dress well. Her sartorial taste was terrible and passable in equal measure. She is a friend, a girlfriend and mother all rolled into one. It was to her he turned at the critical juncture of his life. He trusted her with his data and emotions. Not that she totally understands him. But she loves him and cares for him.
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