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Read Letter

Starting Small

My dear Jil, I can understand why your friends want to marry a ready-made man. They don’t want to struggle, don’t want inconvenience. The truth however is that most of the girls in your set won’t marry a ready-made guy. The statistics can’t support that desire. The ratios of life won’t support it. At the starting block of life for your set there will be more broke guys than guys who have succeeded. Available ready-made men will tend to be widowers, divorcees or older gentlemen. Overnight success is a rare phenomenon. It’s even an anomaly. It’s more likely a “ready-made” guy in your generation is reliant on family fortune. He has to maintain that inheritance, grow it; or he’ll be overtaken by serious-minded disadvantaged guys. They eventually find their feet. It happens all the time. And people throw away family fortune. That’s probably because they didn’t experience the circumstances that produced the fortune. If you work hard for it you don’t fritter it away.

The advantage of the guy who starts poor is that he has a motivation for success. That’s the point of all the hardship. Hardship motivates. Given the possibility you may not end up dating a ready-made guy, what should you be looking for in a guy who has nothing? Let’s dispense with the basics – you’re attracted to him, he’s attracted to you, he definitely wants you, thinks the world of you… And you love him, want to be with him. You get along with each other, can live together. If we assume all those basics, the number one thing you should be watching out for in a young man who has nothing is potential. But potential is demonstrated. Potential is not just talk about dreams. Anybody can dream. Just close your eyes.
The second thing you have to watch out for is hunger. Is he hungry for success? Is he self-propelled? Does he want to make it? There has to be drive. It can be frustrating being married to a guy without motivation. It will either drive you nuts or into depression. Unless you don’t have a vision of a successful husband. You don’t want to marry a lazy guy. They take things too easy, believe life will sort itself out, somehow; they believe everything depends on luck. The lazy guy has vision of grandeur. But he won’t put his hand to the plough, won’t work for his dreams. He’s too lazy to even lift his spoon to his mouth. There are guys out there hoping to rely on a woman’s industry. There are those who live off women. When they drive the woman’s car you’d think it’s theirs! There’s all the pose. A guy starting out in life must be willing to get his hands dirty. He must be industrious, not be proud. Be careful about mere talkers. These guys just talk. They’re fabulists. You’ll find them in watering holes yarning away. Fabu will jam fabu. They prop up an imaginary sense of importance. You’ll hear about near misses on millions of dollars on non-existent contracts.
It’s also important you watch out for a sense of responsibility. Without that sense of responsibility a man won’t pull his weight in marriage. He’ll be nonchalant, waiting on you to carry the load. You’re default. You want a guy who’s going somewhere. You want a guy who has vision. He may not be able to articulate it succinctly but there’s something he’s pursuing on the inside. Something is driving him. You want a guy who follows up. You don’t want someone who’s constantly abandoning projects. He’ll waste your earnings on hare-brained schemes. Completion is part of the journey.
It’s not what a guy has at the beginning that matters. It’s potential and drive that matter. His drive will propel him to increase his earning capacity. That he doesn’t have much at the beginning doesn’t mean he shouldn’t give you gifts however. Chances are a stingy boyfriend will make a stingy husband. If it’s important enough to him he’ll figure out a way to give you a birthday gift for example. It’s a creative challenge. If you give him expensive birthday presents but he makes no effort to get any present for you on your birthday think twice. Saying “I do” won’t suddenly make a man generous. To be honest it can be very tough at the beginning for a young man. He’s trying to find his feet, trying to secure an apartment, trying to settle down. Some come from families that demand too much of them too early in life, ensuring they’d never balance in life. These are some of the challenges young men face. It takes a lot of determination and courage to make it given these facts and circumstances. Life can be tough on young men. And so I’m willing to make a case for the industrious young man but not for the lazy bum who just talks and expects things to fall into his laps.
You also want an appreciative young man, one who’ll appreciate your contributions and efforts during the tough period. You want someone who places value on you. If you marry a guy with nothing it’s going to be a little tough at the beginning. But if he works hard things will progressively get better. It’s never easy to start. This means you have to be sensible about managing the money you have. You have to be more creative about furnishing your apartment for example. Don’t bother trying to impress anyone at that stage. You’re young. If any one can’t appreciate you are just starting out in life he’s not worth being impressed. What you want at this stage is to stabilise the marriage, find your rhythm. Go about basic acquisitions methodically. Don’t rush. Those things will come.
You want to make sure rent, utilities and feeding are taken care of. And when the baby comes you want to make sure he/she feeds. As time progresses of course you’ll be talking about schooling. Send your kids to schools you can afford. You don’t want to be pulling your kids out of school for failure to pay fees; or sacrificing one child’s education for the other. Pace yourself. You will gather strength. What you can’t afford yet don’t do. Go at your own pace. Life is a marathon. This you’ll soon find out. If at the beginning the only curtain you can afford is the one for the sitting room and the bedroom start there. Do the other rooms later. Put a cloth or bed sheet over the space. Next month do the rest.
It’s important you maintain unity at the beginning of your marriage. You have to keep the pressures at bay. Everyone is a third party. It’s also important there’s confidentiality in your marriage. Because you don’t have much at the beginning the man is going to be very sensitive. He’ll want information about your circumstances sealed. Don’t betray his confidence. Avoid discussing your husband with your friends. If others want to discuss theirs’ it’s up to them. You be wise. Soon you’ll be noted for wisdom. Cover your husband’s shame. He’s a striving young man. Soon you’ll be proud of him. Some of the things you do at the beginning will determine the fortune of the marriage, determine the growth of love between the two of you. You need to bond, you need oneness.
There are battles he ought to fight on your behalf. If his mum is aggressive or intrusive for instance it’s his duty to sort it out. He shouldn’t thrust that on you. You shouldn’t be facing his mum. You’ll come across as rude and not well brought up. However, deal with your mother-in-law with respect. Honour her. She’s your parent. You have to develop patience and be very accommodating. Some mothers don’t know how to cope with the “loss” of their son to his wife. They go into panic mode, want to reassert proprietary affection. Such situations have to be gently managed. Be firm however.
Again I reiterate, don’t bring in third parties into your marriage, be it your parents, his parents or your friends. A marriage can’t accommodate third parties. The space is just enough for two. Help him manage his money. Learn to stretch the budget. It’s required at that early stage of the marriage. You’re starting from nothing. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat yourselves once in a while. That’s important so you don’t feel life is one perpetual labour. You don’t want to feel you’re suffering. Someday the break will come. It always does for the diligent. The maturity you learnt in the lean times should help you handle your promotion.
A young man with nothing can’t be complacent. He has to keep striving, keep pushing. There’s no place for complacency in life. You don’t start a journey and go to sleep. Which is the point I was making earlier about a sense of responsibility. A responsible man doesn’t sleep at the wheel. What we all pray for, what you should be working towards, is that someday you’ll be able to laugh over these things. It will be your legend. You can then boast about those bed sheet curtains. Look at you now!
Life can be an arduous journey. It is full of challenges and difficulties, but also victories. Never despise days of small beginnings in a young man. You may be looking at a great man, it’s not just apparent.
Your mentor, LA.
© Leke Alder |
A marriage can’t accommodate third parties. The space is just enough for two. Click To Tweet
Potential is demonstrated. It's not just talk about dreams. Click To Tweet
Tags : Vision, Potential, small beginnings

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