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Letter to Jil

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My dear Jil, you have to be smarter about life. You have to be wise about your relationship. You must protect your marriage. Evil communication corrodes good manners. As that African proverb says, the sheep that fellowships with wild dogs will take on the habits of wild dogs.

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My dear Jil, there are things that create relationship. Just as there are things that destroy relationship. If you want a relationship you have to do the things that create relationship. What you’re doing will destroy your relationship. And they will destroy any marriage from within. There are marriages that implode without a single fight.

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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.

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My dear Jil, let me tell you a little bit about life. It’s important you understand life. I’ll tell you a little story. There were four friends, all female, all beautiful. Each was building her business, and each turned out successful. They were all married by the way. Let’s call them Mrs. A, B,C & D. They had this friend. He travelled out of the country. He kind of bound them together. They wouldn’t see him for the next ten years. They didn’t communicate in those ten years. Why? Life can be like that. It’s strange but true. There was no reason they didn’t communicate for ten years. No reason in particular. It wasn’t as if there was a quarrel. It just seemed their friendship was for a time and a place, something like a program. The program got suspended.

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My dear Jil, one of the most painful things in life is when a young man or woman seeks counsel on a life issue, is given sound advice but then decides to follow the contrary; only to write a few years later with regrets for not following the advice. But the damage is done. A young man or woman who is wise in his or her own eyes and so refuses to take counsel and tow the path of wisdom is a painful episode to watch.

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My dear wonderful Jil, you can’t inherit a man. That you’re friends with someone doesn’t automatically mean he must marry you. It’s still his choice who he chooses to date.

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My dear Jil, I think you’ll be making a huge mistake if you go ahead and marry this gentleman. The issues will only get magnified in marriage. He’s not satisfied with you, you’re trying to adjust furiously, you’re not really yourself in the relationship. And in spite of all the adjustments things are still not okay. No adjustment can cure the fundamental problem in this relationship. And the fundamental issue is, you don’t love him, you just want to marry. You’re tired of waiting for Mr. Right. That’s never a good basis for a marriage. Essentially you’re marrying any man. It could have been anybody within a certain range. There’s no proprietary affection. Here’s the problem with such arrangement: once the wedding is over your strategic objective is fulfilled. There’s incentive for wedding, no incentive for marriage. But you have to cope with marriage. You don’t wed and walk out. It’s not wise to marry someone you don’t love. It soon shows in marriage. After some point you’ll get irritated. The alternative is for you to put up with the situation but that’s risking your emotional health. You’ll be flirting with depression.

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My dear Jil, it’s unfortunate, and I quite empathise with your situation but that ship has sailed. You’ll have to accept the reality. He’s gone! Another woman has him now. Prized guys don’t hang around for too long. You were late in appreciating his worth. He waited on you for two years! That’s a long time for a guy to be waiting for a response. But he wanted you and so he persisted, patiently, hoping you’ll come around. He was just hanging in there. You never said yes, and you never said no. His fate was hanging in the balance, his future suspended. It’s a credit to his character and conviction he hung around for so long. Which was kind of a technical rejection. Rejection hurts. Not many people can take it, but this guy persisted. After two years he probably just gave up, believed you’ll never say yes. And so when this other lady showed specific interest he did what any reasonable guy in his position would do. He asked her out. He was under the pressure of shame. Everyone kept wondering, asking what’s going on, some mocking his faith. The other lady saw what you didn’t see on time, though some will say what you refused to see. She saw value in him and grabbed him with both hands.

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My dear Jil, I know what the average man will do as regards this situation is condemn you. But I have seen life. I have seen life happen. I have seen that matters of the heart don’t always proceed rationally, that things do happen. I have also seen the power of need, that emotional needs are powerful. And that these needs are not easily understood by a bystander or third party. Our needs are invariably a catalogue of our history. They are demands made by us for the shortcomings in our life. Sometimes you meet that one person who ticks all your boxes – he’s all you want, only he’s married. Sometimes needs cross, like a pair of scissors – needy single girl meets needy wonderful man in a bad marriage. These are realities of life, one we’re not always willing to acknowledge despite the facts before us. Continue reading

My dear Jil, there’s that sense of responsibility a young man ought to have. You’ll be hugely frustrated if your husband has no sense of responsibility. There’ll be constant disappointment. You will have to resort to self-help to cover the gaps and shortfalls if your husband has no sense of responsibility. There WILL BE gaps and shortfalls.

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