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Read Letter

Snow Black

My dear Jil, I don’t know if you’ve seen the movie, Deja Vu. It’s a 2006 movie. Stars Denzel Washington. It’s about an ATF agent who travels back in time to prevent a domestic terror attack against a ferry carrying 543 US Navy sailors, their families and crewmembers. (ATF stands for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and explosives). The amazing time-travel technology employed was a program called Snow White. It enabled the investigating team to fold time four days backward – precisely 4 days, 6 hours, 3 minutes, 45 seconds, 14.5 nanoseconds. They could do this using several satellites to triangulate image of events. But the system had a limitation. It can only see past events once, and there’s no fast forwarding or rewinding, though it can record. Snow White is actually a time window. And with it you can alter what we ordinarily call destiny.

Now, unlikely as it seems I am your Snow White program. You can call me Snow Black since I’m not white! Like Snow White, you can record me but you can’t fast forward or rewind me. I am your time window, and since I’m older than you I’ve been to the future. Unlike Snow White however you can’t use me to alter the past, but you can use me to alter the future, if you listen to me.

I want you to know however that there’s not one future. Instead there’s a menu of futures generated by our decisions. We have possible futures any of which can play out. The “future” is a menu of possible outcomes of your life. Whatever decision you make in the present will produce a future outcome according to the logic of that decision. Every decision plots a future.

Having seen the future I can tell you, you have one of three probable outcomes from your marriage decision:

1) I wish I had married that guy

2) I wish I hadn’t married that guy

3) Thank God I married that guy!

The three possible outcomes can actually be divided into two broad categories: regret and thanksgiving. There is no neutral category in the evaluation of the outcome of a marriage. It’s either regret or thanksgiving. If you have a neutral emotion about the outcome of your marriage it’s probably managed regret – the wish for better.

Regret is not an outcome you desire from a marriage. Regret makes us sigh inside, ages us prematurely. Regret is an acknowledgment of waste of life’s resources – time, opportunity cost, potential, spiritual energy, trust, emotions, physical energy, hope. The basic raw material of marriage is life. Marriage makes use of our life, and it is deterministic. It will determine the outcome of your life. That’s how potent marriage is. Unfortunately that’s not so obvious to a young man or woman. And it cannot be to a wooly-eyed young woman wearing rose-tinted spectacles; whose head is filled with romantic notions from movies, romance novels, magazines and TV.

Happiness is important in life. Happiness is important in marriage. You see, the opposite of marital happiness is not unhappiness, it is depression; and depression is not something you want to toy with. You won’t be able to get out of bed in the morning. You’ll feel tired, drained, like a danfo bus battery on display as business description item at a battery recharger shop in Somolu. No amount of Lucozade Boost or Red Bull can compensate for that energy loss. Depression just depletes you, pulls you down. It’s a psychological gravitational force. You won’t be able to stand up and walk. You’ll feel dizzy. I’m describing extremes of depression now. You won’t be able to stay under the sound of loud speakers, like in this auditorium. You’ll be so sick you’ll retch. Depression is extremely dangerous. It can lead to suicide. What I’m saying is that marriage has the capacity to determine not just what we ordinarily call happiness but your mental health as well. You can’t approach marriage carelessly. Which is why it’s foolish to pick a marriage partner based on animalistic instinct. You can’t stake your life and destiny on clitoral stimulation and sexual titillation.

That’s not saying sexual attraction doesn’t matter. It does. But it can’t be the sole basis of a marriage decision. It’s too narrow to accommodate the full dimension of marriage. Unfortunately that’s what TV sells to us. There are all those shows about sexy hunks and babes on desert islands. But in the real world nobody lives on a desert island. And certainly not in a bikini! And nobody walks around with a hairy chest and khaki shorts, looking for tilapia to kill, with a cameraman in tow.

There’s always that initial euphoria of meeting someone new if they fit into our concept bracket. And we always want to make a mating decision in a semi-closed network, like in a church, or at a party. Put seven girls and seven guys in a room and everyone will start imagining pairing off. But the pool is limited and may lead to choice remorse on exit from the closed network. Which is why a guy can date a girl all through campus and suddenly cool off during youth corp. University is a semi-closed network. It compulsorily binds people in a set together for a number of years. The texts become less frequent, excuses emanate and then comes that envelope of silence that signifies the death of relationship, unlike a funeral in New Orleans. Proximity breeds desire for relationship.

Come with me.

If you’ve watched too many movies there’s a tendency to forget those things are movies. It’s why many people believe in the concept of love as tragedy. There must be pain and disappointment, or it’s not love. On Telemundo there’s always a girl who tragically falls for a most desirable guy whose father is rich. But he hides the fact in order for him to meet the girl who truly loves him. Only now he must marry the daughter of his father’s business nemesis to signify the end of a generational feud. He doesn’t love her but if he doesn’t marry her he’ll be cut off from the family fortune. Our poor girl’s heart of course breaks at the news; but she understands, accepts it as fate. If it’s yours it will come back to you. Sorry, which book in the Bible did that famous quotation come from?

In the real world no girl understands such nonsense. Who lets go of a rich handsome dude with a private jet? Not an African woman! And certainly not a Nigerian! And horribly broken hearts are not in Season 2, they’re in mental asylums. Learn to distinguish art from life. Stop all this talk about my one true love. Are you Fiona in Shrek? All the senseless convolutions in those soap operas are just to extend the life of the series. Life would have terminated the series after three episodes. Episode 1: Boy meets girl. Episode 2: What did you say? We must marry! Episode 3: Naming ceremony!

And if you think Zee World is reality tell me where you’ve seen a family holding a meeting on an upcoming nuptial and suddenly the boy and the girl break into dance choreography and twenty other dancers suddenly emerge from nowhere. And they’re all synchronized. I’ve been to India and I didn’t see dancers on the streets like in the movies. Or are you saying there were no family meetings while I was there! Indian movies have interludes but life has no interlude. Zee World is Zee World. This is the real world.

The thing about youth is that whichever way you cut it you’re going to be taking a critical decision about your life from a disadvantaged position – you don’t know enough about life, you haven’t figured out yourself, and you don’t know much about the human condition. You haven’t accumulated enough data for analysis. The only way to minimize your disadvantage is to resort to wisdom. You listen to those who know, learn from other people’s mistakes, study best practices. These still won’t guarantee marital success but at least you have a leg up. You need to ask for God’s guidance and mercy. That’s the person who wrote the book on marriage. He created the program. We know it’s a program because there’s no marriage in Heaven. The program runs only here on earth. Since God instrumentalises the left side of the electromagnetic spectrum, which is essentially the energy configuration of his essence, he’s able to see men in time-dimensional x-ray. God knows the heart of men relative to slices of time. Only God can know what a young man will turn into. He knows whether you want to date a potential monster.

There was this beautiful undergraduate who fell in love with a handsome dude. She was a brilliant all-rounder, from a good home. He was every girl’s dream on campus. Perfect match. And then she got pregnant. Fast-forward ten years and this guy was in full blown manifestation as a demoniacal. He would bring women home, sleep with them on the matrimonial bed, while the lady was at home. He would beat her up mercilessly, tear her clothes in public, strip her naked. He would have been a horrible imaginary creature except that the bruises were real, and the women were real, and the cries were real, and the humiliations were real. You can’t project that that wonderful guy on campus would become the monster he became. Just as you can’t imagine Michael Corleone becoming the dreadful Godfather. Only God can see such things. He’s precognitive. It was as if someone flipped a switch in that guy. The rest of that story you don’t want to hear. It will traumatize you.

Don’t make determinations about marriage on surface realities. Listen to your heart. Your heart is more intelligent than your head. The head rationalizes, which means it’s capable of lying to itself, even fool itself. It has the ability to sweep truth under the carpet, just to forge ahead with a bad decision. The head doesn’t like to deal with inconvenient truth, shies away from it. Values matter. Temperament matters. Disposition matters. Don’t overwrite the data, confront the facts.

And please make sure he loves you and you love him too. Love matters! Marriage is too intimate for the absence of love. If you marry someone you don’t love you’re going to punish him unimaginably. You’ll barely be able to tolerate him, which will of course affect the sex, which may force him to go out there, which then becomes your reverse justification for hating him. There’s villainous hatred – the type you see on Crime TV. It often leads to the murder. Then there’s civil hatred, the type you see in mechanically functioning but unhappy marriages. It leads to a psychologist’s couch.

And the world has gone cuckoo. Values are upside down. We now live in word-opposite. The Good Book says love is patient and kind, but we’re being programmed to go for the unkind good-looking heartbreaker who’ll treat us badly and damage our psyche. The kind, generous, respectful and caring guy is “Bobo Nice!” Not worth marrying. And so we devalue courtesy and go for ecstasy. We’d rather infidelity than stability and long-term viability.

The Good Book says love is not boastful, but we’d rather date the guy who convinces us to compromise our values, sleeps with us and then goes to his friends boasting about his conquest, even rehashing graphic details of the sexual liaison. And our social worth depreciates like the Naira to the Dollar.

The Good Book says love is not envious, but we insist on marrying the guy who can’t stand our progress in life, who begins to strategize how to curtail our ascendance. He moves into our apartment, begins to complain about our work, just to force us to resign. He can’t pay the rent, can’t pay school fess, can’t feed his family. The only contribution he makes is his genitalia. Yet we call this love. What’s wrong with us!

The Good Book says love hardly notices it when the other does it wrong. But we nag and complain and wear the other person down with fault-finding. And we keep a filing cabinet of offences and infractions, with annotations and dates. Some of our cabinets are larger than those at the Ministry of Justice. And some people say they forgive but can’t forget. Yet if I ask these people what happened at 2.39pm yesterday they can’t remember. It would seem therefore that forgetfulness is the natural order of life; that it takes effort to remember offences. It would seem the natural order is entropy. If you can’t remember what happened at 2.39pm on Friday Sept.16, 2016, how come you remember what your boyfriend said at 5.34pm on Feb. 23, 2014, and at 2.23pm on June 30, 2015? That you can remember such details shows you hold grudges against people. Which is why you can’t forgive your parents for whatever they have done to you. That spirit of unforgiveness will eventually wreck your marriage. One of the leading causes of divorce is unforgiveness of parents, especially fathers. The husband is treated as surrogate. He bears the brunt of emotional lashing for things that happened one decade BEFORE he met his wife!

It’s impossible to keep a record of wrongs without pride, as well as blindness. What about the many infractions YOU commit against God, daily? How does a sinner begging for mercy refuse to forgive a fellow sinner?

And yet marriage is a beautiful thing. It’s such a beautiful thing. There’s nothing like a marriage full of love. It’s so assuring, so warm, so fun, so comforting.

But how do you know someone is right for you? It’s simple actually. It just feels right, just seems…effortless. Everything just fits. If you have to be justifying a relationship to yourself, or “something” is just not right, or “something” is off, or your mind is not at rest, or it’s contrived, or you’re trying to make yourself like someone, or you’re trying to force yourself to love someone, or can only like the person if you put yourself in a state of sexual desire, chances are that relationship is not right for you. And if you’re constantly fighting I’d advise you take a critical look at that relationship. Loving someone is one thing, workability of the relationship is another. Don’t confuse the two. If there’s no peace in a marriage, the marriage will fall to pieces.

A home ought to be full of love…joy…peace. It’s a sanctuary, a private sanctum for two. There are really few surprises in marriage. If he’s the temperamental type be careful. You may be dating a wife beater. If he’s already hitting you, you better run. Once the line of violence is crossed it becomes easier with every succeeding altercation. That’s how people become punching bags. Violence will damage your psyche, pummel your spirit. You should never be in an abusive relationship. And that includes emotional abuse.

Marriage is not magic. A marriage vow does not cast a transformative spell. People don’t radically change because they say, “I do!” Invariably what you marry is what you courted. The husband you marry is the boyfriend you dated. Now, I’m not saying miracles don’t happen. But God apparently doesn’t make a habit of knocking people down on the road to Damascus when there’s no road to Damascus in their country. You’re taking a huge risk believing Lekki-Epe road will transform into the road to Damascus so God can knock down your Paul, transform him.

You’ve got to be honest with yourself about your boyfriend. There are some very talented deceitful young men no doubt, but God ALWAYS warns us when we’re walking into a bad marriage. There’ll be THAT fight, there’ll be THAT text from THAT girl, there’ll be THAT photograph, THAT underwear that was explained away as a mistaken handkerchief, THAT lie, THAT disagreement, THAT flare of temperament. Every divorcee remembers THAT moment they should have walked away. Even if you’ve done your introduction you CAN still walk away. The cost of breaking up with a boyfriend is nothing compared to the cost of breaking up with a husband. No one comes out of marriage unscathed. For some the psychological trauma is so terrible they keep having nightmares years after divorce.

Now I know I’m beginning to sound like Don Corleone in the Godfather when he was warning Michael how they’re going to come after him when he assumed the office of Godfather. He kept on repeating the same instruction, telling him what to watch out for, so I’m going to stop.

I’m just saying you’re a beautiful and bright young thing. Marry a wonderful man. Don’t marry less than your potential foretells. Marry a man who respects and loves you, a man who’ll sacrifice for you. If he won’t respect your parents or has no respect for authority be careful. Oh, I’m sounding like Don Corleone again. I’ve got to stop.

Don’t forget to hang out. Have fun!

Your mentor, LA

© Leke Alder |


Tags : Decision, Regret, Marriage

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