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All Letters

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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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My dear Jil, it’s important you distinguish between love and sentimental expression of love. The two are not the same and if you don’t distinguish them you may break your marriage. A man may deeply and sincerely love you but may be poor at sentimental expression. That he is lacking in the sentimental department doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you, he just needs to work on that. Of course, your feelings are legitimate, a man ought to express his love and appreciation to his wife. But you can’t say a man who works so hard to take care of you doesn’t love you. That will be unfair.
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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 Jil, you’re not going to have everything you want in a man, any more than you can be everything a man wants. The man who is EVERYTHING you want has to be someone you made. In which case you’re divinity. Man is the sum total of his genetic ancestry, nurture, knowledge, environment, cultural and spiritual influences. It’s hard to therefore, imagine that a man will be 100% of your requirement. You have no influence on any of those factors. By the time you arrived on the scene the man was already “formed.” Every other modification is now voluntary. And so we marry those who are largely what we want, not everything we’d desired. Or we’ll never marry. That man you want doesn’t exist and can’t exist. You’ll have to create him yourself. And you have to be afraid of creating such a man for yourself considering flaws in your judgment, character and make up. That means whatever you create must necessarily be a flawed individual. You’re flawed in your thinking.
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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 Jil, it’s always better to have certainty in a relationship. You cannot assume someone is going to marry you. You’ve got to know. It’s got to be definitive, or you may have disappointment. I once asked a pilot why some pilots smack the plane on the tarmac as they landed. (Like many I thought this was bad landing). But my pilot friend told me it was the contrary. That the impact gives certainty the plane touched the ground. He said the shock absorbers of planes are configured to handle multiple hard landings so no problem. Without that impact the plane may just be coasting on a thin cushion of air till it runs out of runway, and then disaster. Bottom line, the impact against the tarmac gives the pilot certainty. In the same vein you need certainty about the future.
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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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Dear Jil, I want you to be sensitive in your marriage. It’s the seeming lack of sensitivity that is causing the problems you have in your marriage. Of course, you’re not a selfish person. Forgive your husband for saying that in anger. He ought to have been careful about what he said. He’s going through some tough time in his business. You need to be sensitive about that. To his credit, he’s still meeting all the obligations at home, though he sometimes strains himself. Of course, he knows you’ve been a solid partner, picking up the slacks, doing your bit quietly. He knows you’re understanding, fundamentally. And that’s good.
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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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My dear Jil, there comes a point we must stop digging ourselves in, in a relationship that’s no relationship. If you keep investing emotionally and materially in a relationship knowing your love is not requited, you’re digging a hole. There’s that point in this kind of relationship when we need to cut our losses. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. We’re talking years of life investment. But we can’t keep digging ourselves in, fooling ourselves we’re collecting clay to make bricks to build a relationship. The deeper the hole we dig, the more we’re caked in mud, and the more we disappear from view.
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