But let’s think about it. How many people do you know in long-term relationships who no longer communicate? Days of not talking turned into weeks and weeks into months.  Every second doesn’t need to be filled with chatter, in fact, if you can be silent with your partner and still be connected, that’s a good sign. But, long periods of not speaking because you’re angry or he’s angry isn’t healthy and if it’s happening while you’re dating it will happen more when you get married.

Rachel’s next sentence is what’s known as the call to action. She give’s Shawn some advice:

“Git it together or you will never git mareed and that would be sad.”

Most little girls dream of being married and come with their own expectations of what that will look like. Most of the time they’re all wrong. My parents made it look so easy I had no idea how much work being married took. And what most people don’t realize is that while one person is doing most of the work, the other person could be slacking up and vice versa. A marriage is rarely 50/50. The key is for you both to be equally committed to making it work even when things are going wrong.

And finally, Rachel writes: “You shold git mareed. Just not to me.”

 Boom! That, right there is the gut punch and it’s the most honest, painful and mature part of the letter.

A good number of men and women come to the realization that they’re with the wrong person long before they say I do, but have no idea how to dial back all the momentum forcing them toward their wedding day. It’s so easy to get so caught in the hype that you lose sight of the fact that the wedding is for the day and the marriage is for life.

Don’t get me wrong, jitters are normal, even a pre-wedding argument is not a sign of hopelessness. A danger sign is having a gut feeling that the person you’re marrying isn’t going to be good to you, been unfaithful to you or abusive to you, himself or others.

And even as bad as those things are even they aren’t impossible to overcome.

Rachel’s letter is a reminder that elementary school age might be the perfect time to begin discussing expectations of marriage. And maybe we should prepare them for what to expect if marriage never occurs at all or happens much later in life.

According to the 2008 Census Bureau, 70.5 percent of Black women ages 25 to 29 had never been married but by age 55 that number drops to 13 percent. That gives our girls time to get a good education, establish themselves financially, purchase a home, even adopt…all the things they may have thought would come after marriage.

There’s no blueprint or script to success but someone said victory is the result of preparation and determination. That’s advice all the Rachels of the world young and old can use.

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