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Read Letter

Love Across The Atlantic

My dear Jack,

I think the fundamental problem is love across the Atlantic, not all those issues you raised. Long distance relationships have their challenges, significant challenges.

Some successfully work round those challenges. Some can’t. Email and phone calls have limitations. Even Skype. And you can’t truly know someone through Twitter or Facebook. I know we call them social media but the truth is, conceptually they are de-socialising media. We live through avatars and alter egos on social media. Essentially we’re in a James Cameron movie, not reality. And people hide behind tactile anonymity on social media. Social media makes pretext and alternative realities feasible. In other words people can live a lie on social media. You can’t even be sure of the profile picture! Some pictures are so retouched reality will send you into gratifying coma. And some are not true pictures!

I will advice you at least meet your betrothed in person and spend time together before proceeding with the wedding. As it is you don’t know who you are dating. Neither does she truly know you. Both of you are relying on self-edited testimonials of each other in the court of alternative realism. You ought to realise that in our speeches and letters, we all unconsciously sell the good side of ourselves to others. (Some consciously sell a manufactured image). And many are genuinely deluded believing what they want others to think of them.

Marriage is a huge life commitment. You can’t proceed on self-edited and very limited and narrow spectrum data. Neither should you proceed to marriage based on just the testimonial of others concerning your future wife. Find out for yourself. You’re the one who’s going to live with the bride, not the people feeding you references. That she’s wife material in THEIR estimation doesn’t mean she qualifies as wife material for YOU! They’re speaking from THEIR understanding and taste; and from a perspective of what they THINK is best for you! What they say must ONLY supplement what YOU know, not the other way round.

You know we tend to glamorise the 60’s era when people married on the basis of posted pictures and testimonials. Those were the days when young men living abroad asked their parents to source wives for them. Well, it worked for some and it still works for some cultures, though the young are beginning to revolt in such cultures. Clearly it didn’t work for all or there would have been no marital discord in our parents’ generation. Will be interesting to study the statistics of that era – how many successes, how many failures.

A technical marriage doesn’t qualify as success. A technical marriage is one in which to all intents and purposes the marriage is over; but the partners stay put. The truth is, some of the marriages in our parents’ generation only held because of the painful forbearance of the women. How many mothers have said the only reason they remained in a marriage is because of their children. The man actually goes out and starts another family! He’s left the marriage. He’s only technically married.

Some of the bitterness in this generation came from the consequences of the sociology of that era. But of course many succeeded and went on to have wonderful marriages. No one must dispute that. But the risk factors of marriage by post (or email, or social media) is apparent. And anyway the values of that generation are completely different from the values of this generation. That generation operated on what I term the Rebekah matrimonial agency principle (R-MAP). Remember how Abraham sent his trusted servant to go and get a wife for his son, Isaac? That’s how Rebekah became the wife of Isaac. It’s marriage by procurement – a vintage marriage by post. Interesting that the name of the servant was not mentioned in that narrative. His anonymity holds a lesson: At the end of the day, Rebekah is Isaac’s headache, or blessing, not the servant’s!

Marriage by Twitter and Facebook has grave limitations. You can’t have experiential insight into someone’s hygeine standards on Twitter. Neither do Facebook and Twitter qualify as good thermometers of temperament. They’re poor barometers of godliness too. No algorithm can crunch that. I do agree it seems kinda funny she doesn’t want to post your picture on Facebook or Twitter. Maybe she’s just a private person. Or she doesn’t want the exposure… Or she’s superstitious such exposure may derail the marriage. Some people think that way. But it’s also possible she’s embarrassed by you, or hiding something from someone. It’s possible she’s being careful to make sure all the marriage i’s are dotted before extra ordinary public commitment. She may be coming from the perspective of premature exposure of a past relationship that didn’t work out… Or she may be negotiating her emotions and commitment, holding back… The variables are so many. You can’t be sure unless she tells you; or you discern from corroborating facts. It’s possible her friend’s relationship didn’t work out and she doesn’t want such exposure or embarrassment. At the end of the day it all boils down to trust and commitment, however you look at it.

Understandably you are apprehensive. She’s cautious. Apprehension is dating caution. This is why you should spend time with the person you want to marry. I will say travel to see your fiancé in person. (Or she comes down). Interact with her and make your judgments. Even at this you still have significant hurdles to scale. Essentially you’re going to start your proper courtship in marriage. And you WILL find out things about her you never imagined. She will about you too! Love across a simple bridge span has its own surprises, not to talk of love across oceans or deserts.

Proximity plays a very crucial role in successful relationships. The more time you spend together the better you know each other. You should also talk to those who married under same circumstances. It’s wisdom. They can share practical experiences with you, show you where the trapdoors are.

I’m afraid that’s all I can share with you today. I wish you wisdom.

Your mentor, LA.


©Leke Alder 2013



Tags : Marriage, Long distance relationship

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