QUESTION

I AM a 25-year-old lady, dating a 39-year-old man. When I met him, I had dated several men who just looked like boys compared to him. They were either mama’s babies, always asking for permission from mom before they could do anything at all. Or they were the types who just had no direction and no ambition in life. Then I met this man who is strong, commanding a presence and very decisive. I loved that about him. When we met me he told me that I am the woman that his ancestors want in his life. Yes, he is a very traditional man. Soon after we started dating, he told me that he is ready to pay lobola for me. I was so happy. A man who not only talks, but takes action. A week later, he went home, so he could talk to his elders and make the arrangements for ilobolo. To my surprise, when he came back, he told me that he would not be going ahead as planned. Apparently while at home, he also consulted a traditional doctor who told him that I am bewitching him. I have never been so shocked in my life because I am a Christian and I steer clear from anything of this nature. How do I deal with this? SHOCKED LOVER

EXPERT ADVICE

FRIENDSHIPS, relationships and marriages get tested by how a friend or partner reacts to accusations, prophesies and opinions of others about you. This is actually the time where you discover whether or not your partner truly trusts and respects you or not. Let me tell you what I would do, if I were him and anybody ever said anything at all about my partner, I would defend my partner with all that I have. Then I would go talk to her and tell her about the vicious accusations being spread about her. Such is my level of trust in her.

UNILATERAL DECISION

And such should be your level of trust in the person whom you truly love. For him to take a unilateral decision on your entire future, based on the opinion of one person should tell you that actually, in many ways, this man is no different to your ex-boyfriends. They were mama’s boys, he is not decisive as you point out. This is no different to a rumour, so treat it as such. Here are my suggestions on how you handle rumours and situations like yours:

? Ignore it. Often, if you ignore a false rumour that is being spread about you, it eventually dies down and goes away. Where the rumour doesn’t really change your life either way, that is the best course to take. In your case, that may not be possible since your relationship hangs in the balance, on the strength of this accusations.

? Do not deny it too hard. Human nature says that you must stand up for the truth. But sadly, human nature also says that the harder you deny something, the more guilty the person listening sees you as. So, do yourself a huge favour. Tell him it is not true and you are shocked at the allegations against you. And then say no more on the matter.

 ? Make your accuser realise just how absurd the accusations are. If you take ridiculous accusations seriously, he starts thinking that he is making sense, even when he doesn’t. Make him feel ridiculous.

? Remain calm amidst the chaos. Panic and anger make you lose your composure, which makes you sink to the level of the accuser. Stay above it.

?In the case of a rumour, confront the person who started it. A liar will usually back down when they are face-to-face with the person they are making up stories about. Needless to say, I wouldn’t recommend that you go confront his traditional doctor. That will not end well. But, here is the pivotal question; Do you want a marriage and a future that can be destroyed by an outsider’s opinions?

DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIP

Always remember that in a relationship and any other kind of domestic partnership, it becomes the two of you against the world and all its perils. Whatever the world throws at you, you need to be strong enough to present a united front and stand against the challenge. Those are tests on your relationship. Those are tests of just how strong and just how much longevity your relationship can have. So, back to your question; How should you handle it? You have two choices: Break your back, trying to convince him that his traditional doctor is wrong and you are right. And live the rest of your life with him, walking under a cloud of suspicion. Or; Accept that this is a sign of bigger and worse things to come. Accept that you are actually lucky that this happened at this stage, rather than after you got married. Either way, as long as your conscience is clear, the truth needs no defending.