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Perpetual Dating

My dear Jack, I don’t get it. You mean you’ve dated your girlfriend for four years and your friends are still insisting you’re rushing into marriage! You’re lucky a more focused candidate or credible alternative hasn’t shown up. You’d have lost her. She’s either a very patient person, or she loves you very dearly or both. Either way, you’re a lucky man.

So how long do you want to date her before you marry her? Or is this a case of perpetual dating, you know, being in a state of date. What exactly do you need to find out about her that you’ve not found out in four years of dating? That question may imply you’re thick, unobservant, negligent or lacking in the capacity for insight. If you don’t know your girlfriend after four years of dating, I’m really not sure you’ll ever know her. You mustn’t be paying much attention or she’s a very good actress. Some people are very talented no doubt but it’s hard to keep a ruse up for four years with utmost constancy. That requires inspired capacity.

I don’t get it. Why exactly are you discussing your marriage plans with your friends? I thought that’s something between you and your girlfriend? Why is your girlfriend a subject of a referendum by your friends? Are you saying if they tell you not to marry her or say they don’t approve of her you won’t marry her? Who gave them, these your friends, the right to determine the length of your courtship or your marriage date? You’re setting a very dangerous precedent for your marriage. Your locus is external. And these friends of yours, do they have girlfriends of the calibre of your girlfriend – stable, loyal, solid…? She seems to have kept your attention for four years. There must be something about her isn’t there? Did you make a PowerPoint presentation to these your friends on the desirability of your girlfriend when you first met her? How come she’s now the subject of a management decision by your friends? And that’s what troubles me about the whole thing – your inability to make your own decision – the turning of a life fundamental into a subject of discussion by the eminently disqualified.

Marriage is a very personal thing. It’s your decision. Has to be your decision. It’s your life. What you’re doing is what gave rise to the era of Governor-General mothers-in-law. (It’s a matter of time before you escalate things to that level). YOU should know when you’re ready to marry. And you should know if you’re not. That’s not something you should be told by your friends. Note however that you can’t keep your girlfriend on a waiting list in perpetuity. You’re running a huge risk.

I’m also troubled by the subtext in the conversation with your friends. There are hints of unsavoury attitude towards women, the degradation and objectification of women. They don’t see the young lady as you in marriage. They see her as external to you, some subject matter whose fate needs to be decided; like they’re the approving authority.

If you don’t develop a mind of your own concerning your marriage you’ll most likely wreck your marriage, or fracture it. Without a mind of your own, nothing you agree with your wife will be sacrosanct. It will always need validation from your family or friends. And women hate that. A woman wants it that when she discusses with her husband, the power of agreement holds. She doesn’t want their resolution to become the subject of a referendum by friends and family. You’ll tear your marriage apart doing that. Study the mistakes of your father’s generation as per marriage. Their families were more important than their marriages. Their mums held sway over those marriages. And because their mums held sway over those marriages the opinion of their wives became secondary, even tertiary. Looking for reinforcement the women appealed to THEIR own family and so those marriages became split in the middle – one half held by the husband’s family, the other half by the wife’s family. Those marriages became stock, the shares held by both sides of the extended family. They had voting rights, held controlling stock. In your case, you even have independent directors – your friends. They seem to hold proxy power in your relationship with your girlfriend. You’ve got to be able to make your own determinations. That’s what makes you a man.

If you can’t even decide when you’re ready for marriage, how are you going to take more important decisions in marriage? I’d advise you don’t allow your girlfriend know this conversation with your friends ever took place. She’ll be alarmed. She’ll wonder about you. And she’s going to dislike those friends of yours. Essentially, they’re postponing her hopes and dreams. You’ve been dating this woman for four years! Of course, there are longer dates. But ask the women caught up in such programmes how they feel. (Unless of course, they don’t want marriage). If you want to marry, the last man you want to date is the man who has no vision of marriage. He can’t move objectively towards marriage. What is amazing in all this is that the matrimonial credentials of your girlfriend are not in doubt. Some people just decided four years is too short to date a woman.

You had first mover advantage on her. As anyone in business knows, an advantage is not in perpetuity. Market forces soon erase the value. You forget your girlfriend is maturing, coming more and more into her own. (I hope your personal stock is also rising). Don’t let her ever reach the conclusion you’re not serious. If she’s as wonderful as you say, chances are one guy is lurking in the wings. May already be toasting her. The law of demand and supply insists such a wonderful woman must be in high demand. Which increases her value. But your friends are treating her like some standard commodity. They’ve commoditised her on their course.

You should be careful about those friends of yours. You don’t seem to understand the nature of man, the rot in human nature. The man simply recognised in history as David wrote about those who praised him to his face but inwardly cursed him. That’s how depraved humanity can be. How would you know if those friends of yours are not jealous of you? You can’t know until events bring out that fact, though a man wisened by life can glean hints if that were the case. You’re young. Life is more complex than you imagine. Humans are more convoluted than we realise. The human soul is a mystery. As you grow older, life will teach you about life – about the duplicity of human nature and the root of envy. If you don’t wisen up but choose to remain naive about life, you’re going to learn a bitter lesson. Not all your friends are friends. May your enemies not be hidden figures. The simple principle is that the friends of the bridegroom rejoice with the bridegroom. That’s a deep saying. Your friends should be rejoicing with you: you found a steadfast and devoted lady. How come they’re putting doubts in you? Which means that principle is also a cautionary tale. Only true friends of the bridegroom rejoice with the bridegroom. People have been known to go through civil friendly motions for decades while harbouring animosity. And then when life presents the opportunity they show their true colour and strike. That may be thirty years down the line! Some band together to pull down a friend.

Be wise when it comes to choosing friends and putting faith in people. A friend is born for adversity. It’s your rough moments in life that show who your true friends are, not the happy moments. Anyone can be your friend when it’s all rosy. Will they remain your friend if the glory dims? Who loses the most if you lose this lady? Your friends or you? She or you? Think.

You imagine wonderful matches are two for a penny, don’t you? That’s implicit in the doubts being cast into you by your friends. Be wise.

Your mentor, LA

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