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Tobi Atte: An Open Letter to Concerned Family and Friends Who Pressure Single People into Marriage

Tobi Atte -



This is an open letter to the biological or self-appointed parents, uncles, aunties, friends, and pastors who pressure singles about marriage.

Disclaimer: This is may be uncomfortable.

I am just a regular guy that just happens to interact A LOT with young adults and singles about life, faith, decisions and especially relationships. That’s why I am writing you: biological or self-appointed parents, uncles, aunties, friends, pastors and yes… even you who don’t “say” anything, but still communicate “a lot” about your concern regarding why that single person needs to get married.

Did I mention that this may be uncomfortable?

Yea…it’s that kind of article.

So why am I even writing this? At the core of it, it’s for two simple reasons.

1)There is so much they (singles) want to tell you but can’t

Perhaps even more important is that:

2)There is so much they NEED from you that you are unaware of, so you are not giving them

I know you want to see them married. You want to encourage them. You want to get them to not be afraid of settling down. You want them to go to the “next step” in life and “settle down”. No problem with that. I am a married man and being married is awesome. However, (if you think about this, you’ll realise you can attest to it) something is off. They are not responsive, and it is backfiring. I am going to help a little bit with that.

Below, I will tell you what is happening, how it is impacting them, and the slight adjustments you can make that will make a HUGE positive impact in their lives and not just get them married but increase their chances of being “happily” married.

When you communicate with singles (especially those who are by all normal indicators ready for marriage) about marriage in the pushy, invasive, matter-of-fact manner and tone that you are using right now;

What’s Happening?
1)You are making them insecure: Wait. Fight the urge to over simplify this. Let me try to explain in progression how this is a big deal:

a)They feel insecure about their ability to “attract” the right person

b)Because insecurity is a part of why they decided to marry, they marry on the wrong foundation

c)When the problems of marriage that invariably come do begin to show up, they are also insecure about asking for help

WHY? Because they already know what it feels like for you to semi-shame them about their relationship life, so they don’t want to open up a can of worms

d)Because they don’t feel comfortable asking for help, things get terrible before they actually ask for help. Usually, it’s too late

2) You are making them focus on being married rather than being happily married. Let me explain. You see, you create a false sense of what it means to be ready for marriage. You simplify it down to age and career level when in actuality, there are so many other elements…character-wise, spiritually, mentally, behaviorally and so on, that go into being “ready for a marriage that is actually fulfilling and lasts”

How is It Impacting Them?
1)They are getting married so they can stop feeling “single”

2)They are getting married alright….but rebelling on the “type” of person they marry, just to have some ownership in the matter. So your opportunities to advice on who to marry is often lost (and if it is not, then they marry who they think you will like and still end up in a fix)

3) Many of them have a mental block about marriage that actually works to delay them from getting married.
They have been pressured so much that it has now planted an unconscious rebellion, disengagement or apathy towards marriage.
3b) This is also because on one hand, they look at how pushy you are for them to get married, and on the other hand, they look at your marriage and conclude that there is nothing special to rush into marriage for. In fact, most young adults feel that most of the people giving marriage advice need to work on their own marriages.

Of course they could be wrong because they could be using the wrong indicators but hey…they could be right.

Going Forward…Small adjustments that will make a HUGE impact
1) Be just as interested in the whole person as you are in their marriage

2) Don’t shame them for “still” being single. Sometimes, praise them for how much they have achieved as a single person and THEN tell them how those achievements can be even more meaningful with someone to share and build with.

3) If you are not willing to build a “relationship” and be there for that single; and are not a prophet, try to refrain from making “absolute” comments or ask pushy questions about a person’s future marriage. E.g “If you don’t marry now,…”
“Single men/women at your age are…” “Stop xyz because it is what is stopping you from getting married”

4) When you do have those conversations, use your own marriage as an example. In other words, KEEP IT REAL. Let them in.

Don’t just tell them they need to get married, tell them you are available to show them how it has worked for you.
5)Instead of only telling them all the answers you think they need to hear, tell them (directly or indirectly) that you are open to any questions they may have.

6) Parents, don’t let your fear that they might make the same mistake you made drive the conversation. I am not saying that it is impossible for them to make the same mistake. I am simply saying that you should remember that:
a)They are different from you
b)They will sense your motivation, and interpret this as though you are sure they will make the same mistake you made at their age and that you don’t trust them…therefore they will not open up to you at the point they need you the most.

Dos and Don’ts:
1) Don’t say “Why are you still single” (unless it is clear you are adding a complement to that). If you are really concerned, ask “What are your thoughts on singleness and marriage” or “what has your dating experience been like?”

2) Don’t say “Your mates are getting married”: Because their mates are getting divorced too.

3) Don’t say “Aren’t there enough good options for you here?” (wherever “here” is – The village, the country, the church etc). You may be right that they have options but saying that sounds like you are saying “You are asking for too much by looking outside of the immediate availability and you should be lucky to have any one of these options”. This will actually make this single person be more motivated to go outside.

Instead, say or add “Any one of these options would be lucky to have you”. This is better because it sounds like you are saying “You are not asking for too much by wanting to make sure you look at all options…and the options available here would be lucky to have you”. This is more likely to make the single person look closer within that environment.

So that’s it. They NEED you. They NEED to pick your brain…they NEED to feel safe doing so. I know that most people may have good intentions but HOW something is said is often time just as important (if not more) than WHAT is being said.
I hope this helps you better provide a safe environment for that to happen

God bless.

Tobi Atte is the author of (The FREE ebook) HOW TO ENSURE YOUR VALUES ARE ALIGNED-A GUIDE TO AVOIDING RELATIONSHIP FRUSTRATION (click to get a free copy) and  the writer behind  – For more on relationships, motivation, personal improvement and more, visit the website. Be careful though… You might get addicted. Also Like the IJUSTMETME facebook page, Subscribe on YouTube and Follow on Twitter He is also the President of The OTaB Group (a consulting firm) and Barnabian’s Cove Inc (A nonprofit organization) Read.Love.Share


  1. Meee

    July 30, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    I have a better idea. How about you talk of other things like career progression, state of the economy (national and international) about their own life’s? Hobbies? Something other than this darned nonsense of still being single. This topic has been over, over and over flogged but unfortunately it will continue to trend.

    • Hotspice_yimu

      July 30, 2017 at 10:27 pm

      There is a menu bar where you can click on “news” and “more” options which will give you the news, career, et cetera. If the issue is “over flogged” please don’t click on the story. If you are uncomfortable, don’t click. This is cyber space and we have the freedom to view what pleases us. No topic can be over flogged when you have the choice to view it or not.

    • Corolla

      July 30, 2017 at 11:50 pm

      @hotspice thank you!

  2. Mz_Danielz

    July 30, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    I had a boss who used to ask me about my relationship status.

    We had a new client and all she kept telling me was that the guy liked me and we could get married and I was sooo pissed.

    I’m aloof by nature and hate intrusion. Please don’t discuss my singleness, it is not your Buisness.

    I won’t be rude to you at all, I’ll indulge you, smile nicely and cut you off.

  3. Dassah

    July 30, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    Well I think I am one if those one that don’t see anything special in getting married anymore.
    The pressure is too much on all sides.
    When my parents ask I when I am just like eeya.. Because I don’t know when and I really don’t care.

    • Dee

      August 1, 2017 at 12:15 am

      I’m with you On this one .although I’ve got no pressure from parents but when others ask I just tell them I’m not interested and they have the the most shocked expression then they go on saying they’ll put me in prayers ??

  4. Mohammad

    July 30, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    Really well written article and a lot of our people will do well to read and act on it as the first step to betterment; but at the end of the day, some people need to mind their goddamn business!
    What if the reason I am not married is because I am gay? You want to come and start preaching Sodom and Gomorrah end time tings to me, knowing fully well that you will not be able to engage fully with a reasonable discussion on why their attitude is wrong? Abeg respect breeds respect; disrespect breeds disrespect.

  5. Samira

    July 31, 2017 at 12:32 am

    Nice article. But the best solution is not to ask us at all. Some of us are facing so much challenges in our career life that it also causes fear we may been pushed to marry because of the so called biological clock or the race of not finding someone close to our age when we are not ready at all. Some of us have fear of child birth and pregnancy yet we want to have kids. So many fears and challenges. Some of us want financial stability to an extent. Some of us are still finding ourselves. We don’t need you talk about marriage. It is at the back of our mind, not struck out at all. Mentioning marriage is you forcing it to be mixed up with all the other fears and challenges that we have. The best solution is to say nothing about marriage, and if you must, just say May God give you someone special and worthy of you, or don’t worry everything will fall in place for you. That’s more reassuring and that’s a hopeful message that can keep us going.

  6. Weezy

    July 31, 2017 at 4:59 am

    I like this. Well said.

  7. Temi

    July 31, 2017 at 5:07 am


    • Wendy

      July 31, 2017 at 5:42 am

      Temi the old witch of Endor. You stay typing nonsense and in caps lock too ??‍♀️ After cursing your own daughter with domestic abuse because of cooking, I pray none of your sons marry and carry on your terrible mentality.

    • chique

      July 31, 2017 at 6:51 am

      44 and steeewpeed?

    • Amanda

      July 31, 2017 at 7:54 am

      44 and birdbrained

    • XYZ

      July 31, 2017 at 8:25 am

      Oh Temi…..

      Why all this? You probably had very valid points and a different perspective. It would have been better if you chose better words. I hope you have no anger challenges. Take it easy. You’re 44 and should be way wiser.

      As for the topic; I seriously wish everyone would just mind their business and be concerned about preparing more healthy meals!
      Yes. They claim to care. “Claim” being the operative word. Asking questions like “ah! What’s wrong na? what are you doing? Time is going oh. No matter how successful you are, if you’re not married you have failed in life” DOES NOT HELP.

      Different people have their different seasons and different life paths. Because you got married at 26 years does not mean the next person who is unmarried at 34 years has lost all hope in life.

      Live your life. Mind your business. And let others live their lives.

      Please! The intrusion I wished would just stop.

    • Temi

      July 31, 2017 at 9:13 am

      Temi were alaso. You are an unhappy soul and I can tell you are full to manure

    • Baymax

      July 31, 2017 at 10:53 am

      Because it’s only unmarried men that have girlfriends all around, abi? The scandals we have been hearing these days, are married men/women not involved? Who are those committing ADULTERY left, right and center? Single people?

      Check ur husband very well. I’m sure he has one or two “edible catering” in his life. Nonsense.

      There are people who got married in their 20s and are miserable the same way there are people who got married in their 30s and are miserable. There are people who got married in their 20s and are happy the same way there are people who got married in their 30s and are happy. It’s not by how early but by how well.

  8. Truth Teller

    July 31, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    It is very FOOLISH to assume that being married makes one Responsible. Being married COMES with responsibilities. It’s up to the individuals to choose to be responsible or not. Married men and women sleep around too. Temi, take note.

  9. Olori

    July 31, 2017 at 1:03 pm

    Excuse me Sir, please can you send this article as a WhatsApp bc so that it somehow gets to my parents? They value everything a WhatsApp bc says no matter how downright absurd it is LOL. By the way BN, could you add email and/or Whatsapp to the share options? Oshey.

    • [email protected]

      July 31, 2017 at 6:04 pm

      I totally second the whatsapp message thingy…it seems every broadcast they received is a message from the HOLY ONE etched in stone!!!

    • Uberhaute looks

      July 31, 2017 at 8:21 pm

      I laffed(sic) so hard when I red your comment

  10. omo

    July 31, 2017 at 1:43 pm

    hmmmm, this marriage thing na wa o. i am in my mid 30’s and verrrrrrrrrrry single. sometimes i feel downcasted and someone will now add to my worry and ask me yeye question. i just dodge them. Some say that i am very selective, maybe .But i think i need to settle down with the best for me. Parents, friends and colleagues we know that you care for us, but can you pls just leave us alone. this is my IG handle feel free to chat me up @ritney1

  11. Fabulous

    July 31, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    Someone once told me I was possessed that’s why I’m still single.

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