The girlies have been asking why the men they built never stuck around when they made it big. Well, firstly, who was the wrong one in Acrimony? Now that you’re emotionally hyped up, let me ask you another question. Did you marry all the people who helped you up from the most difficult of times? No? Then why did you think the man you built owed you something? Girl, your reward is in heaven. Pressed down, shaken together, thank you for doing the Lord’s work. Here’s a badge for being an amazing destiny helper. The problem is you are building men prematurely. You should build a man in marriage so that you can walk away with half. Should I teach you everything?

The food you eat when you’re broke, isn’t the food you crave when it’s payday.

Jesus helped people with much greater works than these and he still died without having taken a wife. You have relatives, friends who you’ve assisted and they never even said thank you. Like the ten lepers Jesus healed and only one came back to say thank you. My question here is, why do we hold prospective life partners to an impossible standard? For example, living with another human being is breeding ground for conflict. How is living with a spouse any different from growing up living with your siblings? Both are hard but in marriage, we are swift to tap out, hit the buzzer and opt out.

There’s a joke my dad and I used to make reference to. It’s a story about a man on his deathbed rehashing all his life’s misfortunes and how his wife was there beside him through all of them. The punchline is, he says, “you’re my bad luck.” There’s people I cringe when I bump into because they met me at literally the worst version of myself. I am so ashamed that they even saw me in that state. The humiliation is further compounded by the deep internal shame I already carry (working on it). So, why, pray tell, would someone marry a person who is a walking, talking reminder of the worst chapters of their lives?

I had a pair of light grey slacks that make my booty pop in a corporate kind of way but I could no longer wear them. I had to give them away because every time I laid eyes on them, the trauma, the shame, the discomfort I experienced the last time I wore them would come flooding back. If an item of clothing can be so powerful in bringing back difficult memories, what more, a person? There are songs you don’t listen to today because they take you to a bad place. There are places you no longer go to because the flashbacks are heartbreaking. For me, when we were less privileged and living in the ghetto, we ate sweet potatoes a lot. Now, most of my relatives can’t stand them because they are a painful reminder of a horrible time. I don’t even eat cabbage because it’s a funeral staple food.

Another reason why your little fixer-upper project doesn’t stay is due to emotional discomfort. Have you ever felt so moved by someone’s kindness to the point where you can’t even express it into words? And every time you see that person, you feel so indebted to them. Like there’s nothing you could possibly do to return the favour and that vulnerability makes you so sick you start to avoid them? This does happen. You find yourself staring at the ceiling contemplating how you could ever repay them and you know there is no way you humanly could. It almost makes you ashamed because you feel like an ingrate. Would you marry someone who you feel you owe something to every single day?

There’s a woman who risked her career for me when I had the whole sexual harassment problem. The whole thing was radioactive. She was also bullied and eventually lost her job in the process. As someone who grew up in chaos, it didn’t make sense how a stranger can put their neck out for me in that way. I felt small, unworthy. I felt awful that I was the cause of her discomfort. The mixture of overwhelming gratitude and guilt for her sacrifice haunts me to this day. I don’t know how I will ever tell her how grateful I am and how much her kindness brought me discomfort because I was so used to people just coming through and hurting me. My body doesn’t know how to process unconditional kindness. That warm fuzzy feeling is terminally nauseating to me.

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As we tidy up the mess I’ve just made, I want to refer you back to the blog post I wrote about how we are messing things up by sleeping with our destiny helpers. A man you have built from scratch doesn’t owe you marriage. The prophet didn’t marry the widow who was instructed by the Lord to feed him after the ravens had stopped. Do nice things for people just because it’s the right thing to do, not because you want to earn their love. Don’t you want someone to love you for you and not because they need to credit the giver? The problem with earning love, and a living, is that you’ll always be working towards earning it. Love is work but not that kind of work.

I’d love to hear from the men why they didn’t marry the women who ‘built’ them. You can WhatsApp me on the ‘Text Thembi Terry’ button to your right.