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My dear Jil, sometimes it’s good to talk to married women so you learn from their experiences. You have to be discerning of course. Be careful what you listen to. You have to exercise judgment about what is good for your ears and what’s not. We can learn from the bitter marriage experiences of others without imbibing a bitter spirit. A forerunner is a walking traffic sign, a harbinger of news about dangers ahead. So it’s good to talk to those who are married so you learn from their experiences. Save a gifted bachelorette, there’s hardly anything a bachelorette can teach you about marriage. She has no practical knowledge. There’s the theory of marriage, there’s the practical of marriage. Experience matters more.Now, some people marry rather early and it works for them. But for some others it ends in disaster. One of the reasons such early marriages fail is because the parties have not realised themselves or resolved themselves. When you’ve not resolved your identity or what you want in life, jumping too early into marriage can lead to complications down the line. Of course we can’t FULLY resolve ourselves at a young age. That’s presumptuous. Life is like onion peels. You keep discovering, keep learning layer by layer. Fresh surprises await you however much you think you know. But when you’ve not sufficiently resolved yourself, or determined what you really want in life, chances are you will make your partner miserable. Especially when you realise he’s not what you want. You’ll have that knowing that if you had waited just a little more and not rushed you would have met the person you really want or need.

Lack of self-resolution can lead to frustration in marriage. And when we’re so frustrated we take it out on our innocent partners. The man cannot have any answer to the problems in that marriage. The problem is not in the marriage, it’s in a person. Same if it’s the other way round. The woman will be inadequate if the man has not resolved himself.

It’s one of the reasons I warned you against bitterness or carrying pains from the past or from poor relationship with one’s parents. You can’t change your mother for example. She’s who she is. She herself is a product of her past. She didn’t have a good relationship with her mother and so doesn’t know how to relate with you her daughter. It’s best to accept her for who she is, bracket it off. You deal with the brackets on a needful basis; and you don’t open the brackets so the issues don’t spill out. You can’t change her. She won’t accept, she won’t agree. But with age she’ll mellow.

Some are lucky with mothers, some not so lucky. Some mothers don’t know how to be mothers. They consistently undermine their children, say cynical things. You’ve got to be careful not to let that poison flow into you. It tends to want to convert itself into genetic material. And your dad more than makes up for the deficiency of your mum. Whatever you needed from her seems to have been supplied from his agency so no loss to you. But if you hang on to wishful thinking about what a relationship with a mother OUGHT to be, you’re going to end up frustrated. Your mum is not that mother. You have to garage those instincts, restrict them to events concerning your mum so you don’t end up bitter and go into marriage vindictive and angry. You can’t afford to be bitter in marriage. You may develop vindictive spirit. Resolve your issues sufficiently before going into marriage. If you have to see a counsellor or psychologist, go ahead and see one.

Don’t rush into marriage. Develop maturity so you know what you really want and who you really want. Marriage is unending responsibility. You become responsible for a human ab initio. That soon becomes human when a child is born or adopted. You never really stop being responsible for your children. Ask an adult parent. Even after they’ve left home you somehow keep praying for them, keeping virtual watch over them. Marriage is unending responsibility. And so if you don’t have emotional maturity, you won’t be able to cope. That’s because you’d rather someone takes care of you when you’ve graduated into taking care of others.

And why would you rush into marriage? Yes, I know some use it as a get-out-of-home card, but after you’ve left, then what! The imperative expires.

It’s also important to resolve, to some degree, your self-esteem issues before jumping into marriage. Without self-esteem you’ll likely marry below your station in life, or go into a wrong marriage deal. You have to believe in yourself. You have to believe you can achieve, and you will achieve. If you lack self-esteem and you marry the emotionally oppressive type, that won’t bode well for you. He’s going to destroy something in you, degrade future capacities. And sometimes the way to resolve yourself before marriage is to get that education you lack, that training you need. Sometimes, it’s about completing your education. Procreational “accidents” can truncate a dream. Getting a degree after marriage and childbirth definitely requires more effort. You have additional responsibility. It takes more grit. And sometimes, self-resolution means getting a job, being able to stand on your own, take care of yourself, so you won’t be needy.

When you’re mature, resolved and confident, the type of men you don’t need won’t come near. If they do, you can rebuff easily. You’re clear on the type of man you want. But if you go into marriage rosy-eyed with a dependant of a man, that marriage will, over time, prove frustrating. Reality will intrude.

You need to allow a relationship to mature before jumping into marriage. You reduce surprises. Marriage is discovery channel. Nothing wrong with discovery as long as it’s not an unpleasant or nasty surprise. Know enough about your man before jumping into marriage. Unless you like nasty surprises. He must know you too. If your partner doesn’t know you and you’re unknown to him, both of you will become unknown soldiers training guns on each other. Don’t rush. You have your whole life in front of you. Marriage is a marathon, not a 100-metre dash. You have to have faith that the right man will come. Faith attracts quantities and qualities.

I hope you understand what I’m saying. Everything in its time. When it’s the right time you’ll know. You’ll just know. And don’t forget, everyone in their time. You’re not competing with anybody as to who gets married first. Life really doesn’t care. After the excitement of the first year, that rushed marriage becomes stale news. Take your time. Get to know yourself. Know who you are. Appreciate your capabilities and endowments. Then you can be sure of yourself and what you want. And you can be certain of the value you bring to the table.

We’ll talk again soon.

Your mentor, LA

© Leke Alder |

For related letters, search for Self-esteem, Three Contexts and Knowing Your Partner at

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