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Letter to Jack

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My dear Jack, every relationship has an equilibrium base. It’s a place of tranquillity, a place of rest. At that equilibrium there’s peace in a relationship, there’s harmony, there’s joy. Things are settled, nothing worries you, you’re happy. And you want things to continue that way. There are no fights, just love, appreciation and understanding. It’s in that state of equilibrium that you can better appreciate the great qualities of your spouse. It’s a place of deep appreciation. It’s at that point you say to yourself, “This woman is just perfect for me; she’s just made for me.” You can see her happy and contented. It’s like she’s floating in happiness. You can see the wide smile on her face. There it is lurking just beneath her skin, making her soft and tender. There’s a glow. She’s open to collaborative love, wants to hear appreciation from you. She teases you no end. You make fun of each other. Think of an afternoon at the beach, only this time the beach is located right inside your home. There’s airiness and lightness in the house, the house is suffused with a potent mixture of joy, peace and harmony. She wants to take care of you at that base, and you want to care for her. There are cuddles, and there are bubbles of quiet joy. She’ll want that stretch of moment caught in a bottle and sent off to sea, unviolated and bubbling to the dance of the waves till forever. That’s the vision of marriage everyone ought to have; it’s a vision of a weekend – easy, peaceful, happy, contented, joyful, loving, caring. You work hard to keep your relationship at that equilibrium. That’s the work cut out for you. It’s why it’s important to love the person you marry. Love makes the job unbelievably easy. You won’t be “doing” anything. Things will just be.
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Jack, there’s a balance somewhere and it’s not always easy to find. You don’t want to be isolated as a man, but at the same time you don’t want your wife feeling threatened and insecure. Both of you have to work out a balance, you have to develop and nurture mutual understanding. Put first things first – your wife has to be #1 in all you do. That’s non-negotiable. You’ve got to set your priorities right. If you truly love her, that shouldn’t be an issue. It should come naturally. Everything else proceeds from that fundamental fact. In the same manner, you should be her #1 priority. Everybody else has to be secondary. In the hierarchy of prioritisation therefore, both of you come first for each other. Then comes every other person. You’re one. This can be a hard thing for many people. But every other logic does not lead to a good place in the long term. Your job is to make your wife know in word and in deed she’s your #1. You have to constantly assure her she’s your #1 any day. That is a very important piece of job you have to do – every day by the way. She needs constant assurance. You have to let her know you love her; SAY it to her. Tell her she’s so special, she can’t be compared. Faith comes by hearing. Don’t just expect her to discern your love. Tell her. SHE needs those words of assurance. It’s a woman thing and you can’t understand. Any more she can understand why men are boastful, or like cars. Husbandry is a fulltime job. It requires emotional commitment 24/7. You have to tend to her emotional needs.
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Jack, come on you should be smarter than this. You should be! Just when you wanted to terminate the relationship she suddenly showed up at your house, late at night. Do you think she came for Ludo? Or you think she came to watch TV? Come on! You knew what she was up to and you attempted to take advantage but she outplayed you. And now she’s pregnant. Did you say she coughed out the contraceptive you administered the instant you turned? And almost to the day, barely four weeks after your copulation she announces pregnancy. Clearly you underestimated her. She knew you wouldn’t be able to resist free flesh despite your feelings so she set you up. You were too smart for yourself, weren’t you? If you didn’t want to date her anymore, why did you sleep with her that fateful night? “Last sex,” “Good bye sex,” “Parting shot sex” – they often turn out to be “Congrats on your new baby” sex.

However since character has been introduced as a factor, I’d advise you carry out a paternity test. It’s very possible she was already pregnant when she showed up at your house that night. In Biblical terms she might have given you Uriah Challenge. Remember the story of Bathsheba? The woman who slept with David? Uriah Challenge is when someone tries to pass off a pregnancy as yours by making you sleep with her knowing she was already pregnant. That was the stunt David tried to pull off on Uriah after impregnating Uriah’s wife. Well, it backfired. The point being made is, you want to be sure the pregnancy is yours, given the circumstances and the deliberateness involved. It’s not impossible it’s yours, but when a suspicious pregnancy follows sex with mathematical accuracy you want to be sure. She might have slept with another person who rejected the pregnancy. Who knows in this game you both played. Her showing up at your house late at night and out of the blues lends credence to the need to be cautionary in accepting responsibility.

Now, that’s not saying if the child is yours you should deny paternity. That’s irresponsible and unmanly. If you impregnated her, take responsibility. That’s being a man. Yes, I know the pregnancy alters all sorts of things in your life. These things do. You have to recalibrate your life. Having a child out of wedlock as a young man tends to make you sober. Fatherhood arrived prematurely. Truth is, the average young man knows when he’s being set up. It’s just that opportunism gets the better of him – “free sex!” And it still boils down to what I told you earlier: Don’t date whom you can’t marry. You may end up marrying her. Her family is of course going to be insistent on marriage. You’ve been roped into a grand scheme of opportunism. And they’re going to oppose paternity test. It’s a cultural taboo they’ll say, casts aspersion on their pristinely daughter. If you buy that legend you’ve been had, and you don’t drink Legend Stout. Those “cultural” traditions are only quoted when it suits the agenda. You better let your parents know what’s going on before you’re fully tied up with the ropes of “African culture.”

Her parents are going to try and rush you into commitments. You’re a good catch. They’re going to talk of marriage as fait accompli. Since the question of entrapment has been raised I’d be wary of proceeding into such marriage if I were you. No one can force you to marry anyone. It’s your choice whom you choose to marry. But you must take responsibility for your offspring however the child came about or the motivation of his mother. Responsibility defineth the man. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. But you create problems if you take the tortuous route of patent denial. You can’t eradicate the fact of the child. It’s here to stay and it’s going to be in your life till you die. Whatever plans you make about your life going forward you have to factor in the child. And the mother. She’s using the pregnancy as it were as a bargaining chip for marriage. If that fails she’ll use other chips. Though to be honest women sometimes resort to such desperate measures when they feel used and are about to be dumped. I’m also not saying that’s what you did. I don’t have the full facts from both sides. Just a thought that popped up. If she felt that having slept with her all this while you were then preparing to dump her, she can pull such a stunt. It’s why I tell you to pursue wholesome relationship rather than taking an opportunistic approach to women.

Relationships are not 3D cardboard cut outs. There are emotions and feelings involved. You shouldn’t take people for granted, whether in life in general or in a relationship. If you take someone for granted in a relationship you may set off a vengeful mood. Men obviously view sex different from women. Young men in particular tend to imagine sex from the fleeting perspective of a butterfly. It’s why they imagine they can go from flower to flower in nectar indulgence. But sex for women is a very deep and intensely emotional thing, the perspective being sexuality is a valuable asset. A woman views her sex as asset not just activity. Her virginity is a major asset for example. Has to be given to the deserving. It’s why the woman feels you robbed her of something, took “something” away from her when you sleep with her gratuitously. That “asset” is supposed to be given in trust in exchange for something worthwhile. It’s a wholesome perspective. As it is you both have crossed views –you have a liberal disposition towards sex, while she has a conservative disposition. When sexual dispositions clash you have the kind of situation you’re in. You’re feeling set up, she’s feeling used and about to be dumped. So she resorted to protecting her “investment” over the years through pregnancy. But all that is water under the bridge now. All the hypotheticals are theoretical.

For the next nine months or so you’re acting father. After nine months you take on the full office. Of course the paternity test may say otherwise. We don’t know what that will throw up. If it’s negative you’ll probably breathe a sigh of relief. However if positive welcome to fatherhood. Like I said the choice of marriage is yours. I’m however worried about a marriage contracted under these circumstances. The feeling of being entrapped may haunt the marriage, which will of course evoke in her a sense of injustice. You don’t go into a marriage under the tyranny of coercion. It’s antithetical to the idea of marriage. However, whatever the outcome from all this, I hope you’ve learnt your lesson.

Your mentor, LA

© Leke Alder | talk2me@lekealder.com

You don’t go into a marriage under the tyranny of coercion. Click To Tweet

My dear Jack, seems to me you’re speed-dating women. No, I’m not talking about the other variety – those events in which you’re given two minutes to consider dating someone. Or is that the date? You can see the conceptual paradox. You can’t achieve a reasonable objective in that context. At best those programmes are about eliminating whom not to date, and such a person must be an obvious misfit. The whole thing seems like guess work on a multiple choice exam paper. You go for such events with the attitude of “Who knows!” rather than “I’m sure to meet someone.” It’s really not that efficient when it comes to qualitative decisioning. The structure favours certain stereotypes – guys and babes who can make their case in two minutes flat. There’s just something rushed about it, something superficial. That’s why I said it’s at best an elimination exercise. You’re at the mercy of the quality of the pool of prospects. But that’s not what I want to talk to you about.

I said you’re speed-dating because you’re rushing through girls like someone out to exhaust a pool. You’re going to get a bad reputation among the women folk doing that. Life you’ll soon learn is a very small pool. Because you’re not looking to commit, ploughing through girls, you’re going to hurt a lot of people. You’re going to leave a lot of hurt in your wake. Yes, conventional male wisdom is that this is macho stuff, but you’re going to end up confusing even yourself. And you will become numb to feelings. All you’re thinking about is sex with as many women as possible. Of course you run a huge risk pursuing that course. You may end up the father of multiple children simultaneously. Your children from multiple women may end up just days older than each other if you keep ploughing through girls. But let’s even assume you were careful and there’s no biological outcome. There’ll still be soul inundation. You don’t need to run through so many women ostensibly to make a choice. Unless of course, you’re committed to self-delusion.

What usually happens when you finally make that choice is that you begin to wonder about the adequacy of your choice. All the other options will withdraw once you choose. You’ll begin to miss the aggregated supply of the plurality of women. Which then makes it hard for you to be committed to your choice. Before you know it you’re back on the “streets.” Truth is, what you set to accomplish is defeated by your methodology and approach. And the paradigm you’re using is faulty. That’s partly the problem of approach with the other speed-dating. You’re using prospects’ interests as a basis of choice. That’s a faulty methodology. You can both have the same interests and still be unsuitable for each other. That’s the falsity in the approach. That’s not saying mutual interests don’t and won’t strengthen a bond, but it’s not a good basis of choice. Humans are deeper than the interests they pick up along the journey of life. Many of the wonderful marriages you see hardly have partners who share common interests. You may love tennis and she has no idea what an ace is, and yet you’ll make a wonderful couple. At the end of the day, all those subject interests matter less than your interest in each other, your love for each other. She may or may not follow you to Wimbledon for that tennis final, as exciting as that may be, yet love you to bits. If you truly love each other, that lack of understanding of tennis becomes an amusing anecdote in your relationship, the wonder of it all.

By very definition commitment in a relationship can’t be a surface realism. Commitment speaks of something deeper, something stronger, something tested, a resolution, an exercise of strength. In choosing a partner you ought to pay attention to emotional and behavioural qualities, as well as values. You’re not really going to detect these qualities fleeting from flower to flower, plucking nectar like a butterfly. In speed-dating women you’re likely to focus more on physical and cultural factors. And you’ll miss the person. You don’t choose a life partner like an item on a restaurant menu! Life is not a restaurant. Don’t allow yourself to be fooled with projections and affectations. Focus on values. They’ll give you insight. If because you’re the one paying for the food she proceeds to order Heaven, Earth and Texas, that says something. But if aware of your income bracket she is mindful not to go for the most expensive items on the menu, that says something too. In other words, is she considerate and kind? Or is she greedy, selfish and self-centered? Those considerations are more important than the ability to pronounce foie gras, or wear long painted talons and weave-ons. Pay attention to the person not just the looks and affectations. Values and character give you insight into a person. Is she a sincere person? Is she a manipulative person? Do you feel she’s laying a trap for you? Can you trust her? Is she planning to dump her living expenses on you? Is she looking for a Kardashian lifestyle financier? Is expression of endearment in her phone call a prelude and foundation for demand for money and fashion finance? Is she a “user” – you know, one who uses you and is certainly going to dump you when your usefulness expires? If she’s a user, you know your relationship has an expiry date, right? Do you wonder what exactly you’re gaining in the relationship? Do you feel cheated? All these go to character. As it is you’re dating formats – women who look a certain way. In this age of universal fashion you’re probably dating a wig style.

A fantastic choice of partner is not determined by the number of women ploughed through. Chances are you’ll make a wrong choice. Bracketise your desire. Don’t go off on tangential exploration you already know is unaligned to your matrimonial dream. Why date someone you already know you can’t date (or shouldn’t date) and shouldn’t get married to? You may get stuck. Dating the wrong person is the start of the journey into a bad marriage. Better to pray to just meet the right person than to dissipate so much energy and resources on so many wrong prospects. It’s the right woman you should be looking for not women. Or you’re going to have a blood bath of emotions and bad conscience. Take it easy young man. You don’t want to learn what it means by “it’s a very small world” from a vengeful perspective. I hope this straightens out some of your issues.

Your mentor, LA

© Leke Alder | talk2me@lekealder.com

Values and character give you insight into a person. Click To Tweet

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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