Matters of the heart

Tribal barrier

Dear Gracey

I am a 24-year-old woman who has been dating a 27-year-old man for the past eight months. We make a great couple and we get along so well until the last two weeks when he started talking of marriage and my parents discovered that he is not from the same tribe with us.

I have been told by my parents that I can’t marry him just because he is a Shona man and I am Ndebele. They have two examples of Shona men who lived in the neighbourhood who used to be abusive and dictatorial to their wives. They think all Shona men are like that.

Of all this time I have dated him he has never been the type of man they think he is. He is so respectful, loving and sweet. But I have been told that I will not marry him, they will not bless my marriage until I decide to marry from my tribe.

But this is the man I love; this is the man who makes me happy. Why should I be forced to marry someone else just because we speak the same language? Now I don’t know what to tell him, I’m getting stressed because I love him and I don’t know what to do. I need your advice. – Nolly

Dear Nolly

There is absolutely nothing wrong with you knowing what you want and following your heart. You love this man and your heart knows no tribe or language barrier when it comes to such matters. Tribal beliefs can be stupid at times (no offense).

Marriage should be determined by the love and bond a couple has because it is the strength of their love that will stand to fight all challenges they will face. I know it will disappoint your parents and probably break your relationship with them if you go ahead and marry him. But breaking up with him will also be a great pain to your heart.

Parents sometimes act that way in trying to protect their children; remember the only two Shona men they know were the two “abusive and dictatorial” neighbours and you cannot really blame them for that stereotype. Your boyfriend is the only chance you have to convince them that they are wrongly stereotyping all Shona men. They will come to accept what you both have if they see how committed and determined you are.

You need to let your partner know that this is the challenge he is faced with and assure him that you will be with him every step of the way in convincing your parents he is the man for you. If your boyfriend is truly as great as you have described him they will eventually see the good side of him.

You need to be strong and be ready to face the obstacles together with your man. Otherwise you will hate yourself one day for letting go a man you love and marrying someone you have no feelings for just because he is the one your parents approved of. Follow your heart dear. – Gracey

Is he on drugs?

Dear Gracey

I’m a mother to a teenage son who has had a behaviour change recently. We have always been close with my son and he is always opening up to me. But the past two weeks have been different. He is acting strangely and coming home late and going straight to bed without even taking his dinner together with me as usual.

A month ago, I found two cigarettes in his bedroom and I confronted him about it but he explained that it was a friend’s. I trusted him because he has never lied to me about anything.

But I’m afraid they could have been his and now it may not be just cigarettes he is taking. I don’t want anything bad to happen to him and my worst fear is that he may be succumbing to peer pressure and taking drugs as a result.

But I just don’t know what to do, I feel like I’m losing him. How best can I deal with my teenage boy? – Mum

Dear Mum

I understand your concern and you have every reason to feel this way, especially after such a change in your son. I think you need to talk to him honestly about it, but you need to stop imagining things and do it calmly.

Do not judge him and give him the idea that all that you say is best for him and he knows nothing about life. Of course that may be true but it will be a big recipe of losing him if you treat him like a kid at this age. He is still young and will need your advice – but you will earn his respect more if you treat him like an adult. All teenagers love it like that.

Encourage him to open up like you both used to, maybe by telling him of your own problems you faced when growing up and how keeping them to yourself solved nothing. Give him a listening ear and avoid interrupting him even when he has told you the most shocking things. You want to give him the impression that such things happen in life and can be dealt with.

Make it easy for him to talk to you, he has always been open to you and it is clear that whatever it is that is eating him up is something he is afraid or shy to let you know. Be the source of advice he needs right now and understand that however the issue may sound stupid, silly or easy to deal with, it is not the case with him.

Do not be angry at him if he finds it difficult to talk to you. It may be because you are just too close and there are times we all feel the need to talk to a total stranger with some of our problems. If it is the case then take him to a professional counsellor if he thinks that will be a good idea instead. Otherwise all you have to do is to be patient with him and get him to know that you are ready to give him a listening ear whenever he is ready to talk.

As much as he is keeping to himself and seemingly avoiding you, try to always welcome him home with a smile because he still needs to know that home is the best place he can always be with his caring and loving mother. Good Luck and keep loving and caring, your son needs you. – Gracey

Why no marriage?

Dear Gracey

My boyfriend is currently in UK, we have been together for two years now but he is usually spending six months here and six months abroad because of his job. When he is here with me he is very loving and he takes care of me very well, I’m left with no doubt that he loves me.

But when he travels it appears he totally forgets about me. He never calls and I know with the nature of his job he is flexible to do that, though he claims it is very expensive to call from there. He has never talked to me about marriage and it is something that is now pissing me off considering the time we have been together. He has only introduced me to one of his sisters who seems not to like the idea that we are going out for whatever reason.

But the bottom line is that for the past two months he has been away I have been thinking if he is worth my commitment or not – though I know I will throw away that thought as soon as he is back because of his charisma and loving nature once we meet. But why is he not talking of marriage? – His Love slave

Dear Love slave

I feel sorry for you for the ride you are being taken in. You need to wake up and smell the coffee. I do not want to sound judgmental – but something really tells me that this boyfriend of yours is a married man with a family in the UK.

The big question that both of us cannot answer at the moment is why he does not communicate for six months when he is away? To say that it is expensive to call from the UK is a big fat lie. What I know is nothing gets that expensive especially for the ones we truly love. We make such sacrifices every once in a while for them. So he cannot sacrifice at least five minutes to talk to you just once in six months? That is strange.

His sister probably knows you are simply his “small house” that is why she is not accommodating you as a potential “muroora.” What of his parents and the rest of his family? You have been dating for two years for crying out loud. Unless I am suddenly backward I would expect you to be engaged at least.

Take all that I have said as a clue to solving your jigsaw puzzle, but I will advise you to take time to talk to his sister and get her to understand where you are coming from for a true profile of his brother. Do a little investigation of your own while he is away and get to know him better –believe me, right now you don’t! – Gracey

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