Published in Identity Magazine – May 2016
My younger sister was just proposed to by her very sweet and loving boyfriend. My whole family loves him, but I am a bit worried because they have only been dating for five months and it sounds like they will be getting married quite quickly. I want to tell her to wait and have a longer engagement so they can know each other better, but I don't want to discourage her. Can you help?
A concerned sister
Dear Concerned Sister,
Let me share with you the story of the Chinese Mandarin!
In the old days, Chinese girls who wanted to get married would pick up a mandarin, peel it neatly, eat it, write their name and address on the inside of the peel, and float the peel in the direction of the current in the river.
Men who wanted to get married, would sit by the river waiting for their chosen wife-to-be to arrive in a floating mandarin peel. The man would happily pick up the peel, learn the name of his bride, go to the address, and propose showing the peel that led him to their house.
Her family would immediately accept destiny’s choice for their daughter and start preparing themselves for parting with her; she is to go wherever the man came from, or the man could choose to stay wherever she is. In all cases, there is no stalling or hurdling; there is only gratitude and acceptance.
The woman who wants to get married knows and understands the hardships of starting her own family and accepts it by eating the bittersweet mandarin. The man who proposes knows and understands that this woman whose name is in the peel is his destiny and that he has to willingly and submissively obey the call of fate. For him, she is a good wife because she ate the mandarin and for her, he is a good husband because he accepts fate.
When I first read this story I was flabbergasted!
Here we are today, hundreds of years away from the Chinese mandarin, and struggling with our relationships! We have ruined our genuine nature, collectively, by over-analyzing, over-doubting, over-doing, over-bearing, over-thinking, over-complicating, and over-estimating!
The best advice you need to give your sister is:
- Marriage is a journey into the unknown, have faith and strength
- Make having a child a conscious decision not a course of nature
Give her a mandarin, or a grapefruit, have her eat it, accept it, and enjoy it. Her role as a wife will be to eat grapefruits; she will endure the bitterness and enjoy the benefits.
Give her fiancée the peel with your sister’s name and address written on it. Tell him that your sister has accepted the responsibility and hardships of marriage, and that now he has to accept his fate, respect his word, and honor this commitment.
Back from the fairytale dreaminess, there is nothing more your sister will know about this guy. In five months, she has seen most of what there is to see. What’s left to learn about one another will only be uncovered once they share the same house.