I know sometimes I appear a bit blasé about this entire “getting married” thing, but it is really a bit of a big deal for me.
Kennith and I have been together for so long. Both of us were very anti-marriage in the beginning. We tended to stand on our soap-box and preach how unnecessary it was and that we would not succumb to the bourgeois ways of the masses.
If I heard someone was getting married, I would ask them “but how you do you know you have found the right one … how do you really know…” it would often lead to a rather frightened bride-to-be who just wanted to get as far from me as possible, in as short a time as possible.
As time marched on our relationship evolved.
Our kids joined us, our world shook and cracked a little/a lot. We realized that sometimes “loving someone” is not the same as “liking someone” – and sometimes it is okay to want to kill them and bury their body in the backyard.
We went through several difficult years, that included screaming, shouting, not talking, couple counseling, more anti-depressants, and fairly destructive behaviour.
I am sure if we had been offered an easy escape clause, we both might have opted out and left – it really was hard, and there were few good days, and no guarantee that going through all of this was going to make it any better at the end of the day.
I think Kennith and I do tend to move cautiously on certain issues and do not give up easily. We sort of plod on, and believe that things will get better if we just give it some time (it’s a character thing.) This might have been what kept us plodding on – though we were really walking two totally separate and lonely paths.
We did however manage to eventually reach the same place at about the same time, and made a decision that we could see ourselves walking the same road.
I do not want to try to paint a romantic picture of long-lost lovers and rekindled flames, and skipping through daisy fields.
There was none of that, there was more listening, being more attentive and maybe trying not to be so angry all the time.
Here is the key – it was not that one of us tried hard and the other went about their normal day. I think we both realized that we both needed to change, and find ways of finding each other again. We had both made mistakes, were both to blame – in different ways – but we equally shared the carrying of the proverbial bucket.
We both made a conscious effort to give it a go (when I think we both thought this is really the last chance of chances as things did seem almost unfixable.)
It took a lot of work to reach this point. Kennith and I are not naïve enough to think that now it is all going to be white wine and green olive/biltong days.
We still get annoyed with each other and find it very easy to flick into the “well fek you then” frame of mind.
And here is where I must give Kennith his due – Kennith is able to say sorry, where I struggle. Kennith is always willing to extend the olive branch, where I hold resentment close to my heart. Kennith is always willing to forgive and move on, where I struggle to bury the hatchet. Kennith is definitely the sunny disposition to my rather dark self.
Yesterday I was chatting to someone who really is going through the darkest point of relationship hell.
If you are looking for advise and are hoping for platitudes, I strongly suggest you go somewhere else and not come to me. I do not set out to say mean things and hurt someone, but I do tend to state things truthfully as I see them. I will not volunteer my opinion, but if you ask, then I take it that you want the truth and not the sugar-coated version, then I do say what I think.
With relationships, we are led to believe we should hook-up, and stay together come what may – “for the children”.
The reality is that the father or the mother of your children, might not be your partner for life, life is just not that way. Staying with someone when it is actually driving you inch-by-inch into the mouth of madness “for the sake of the children” is just not a feasible way to live your life.
I appreciate that when you bring children into the picture the stakes do get higher.
Suddenly there is more to lose, the fall out is so much more, and there are going to be casualties – in the form of little people. At the same time, if you cannot look after yourself because your relationship is killing your soul, you really cannot look out for the good of your child or children, no matter how good your intentions are.
The problem with relationships that are in distress, is that we get so caught up in the craziness of the situation and literally get sucked into it. It consumes us. We are unable (or unwilling in some cases) to step back and really take a look at what is going on. This distress might last a day or two, but in some cases it can stretch to years, and then we totally lose ourselves in “it”.
We cannot rationalize, or take the time to look at it with a clear mind, because we are dealing with the day to day fall-out of what is hell-on-earth.
I think, if you have ever been in a relationship that is sliding into the abyss, you will know what I am talking about.
We are not talking about a mild disagreement here, we are talking about a relationship that is starting to bleed your soul, and all you can think is “I have to get out … I have to get away…”
At some point – some where – somehow – one finds the energy to take a moment, take a breath and step back.
Usually at this moment, we can look at what is going on, and try not be so reactive and emotional. We can also take the time to think “why should I stay in this relationship?” I think if the only reason you can muster is “because I love him” then maybe it is time to find a bag and start packing.
If you ask me why I stayed with Kennith when times got so dark? Well, the truth be told, I was on my way out the door. Things had hit the (very) bottom of where ever they could have gone.
I had taken that moment, that breath to think – and for me the thinking involved facing my biggest fear.
My biggest fear was not losing Kennith, he was all but lost anyway, my biggest fear was that I would have to leave without the kids. That was what I had to face as my reality and the outcome when all was said and done.
I had spent weeks trying to work out how I could leave, and take the kids with me. No matter how much I tried to do the math and tried to work out the logistics, it just was not financially or logistically possible,without causing chaos in their lives.
The moment I had that realization – that “what is the worst outcome” and accepted it, suddenly it made me free to make my decision – it was like coming out from under a wet, heavy blanket where I had been suffocating.
I am not trying to say that it was not painful. I sobbed and cried, but when I worked through all the options, the best solution to be able to leave, was to let the kids remain with Kennith.
Once all the hair pulling and chest beating is done, and you accept that the worst outcome, the one you have been hiding from, the one you know in your heart of hearts is the right answer, and you accept it with your soul and a brave face – suddenly you do reach a place of calm, and then can decide “well what now…?” in a rational more adult way.
As things went, Kennith and I did not go our separate ways. Things did change – the changes were gradual and slow, they were hard, but our relationship did manage to survive.
But here we are. We are 9 days away from making a public commitment to each other – how do I feel now?
I feel proud that Kennith and I have gone through what we have. We have endured, we have walked through when most people faced with what we were faced with, would have walked away.
Our children are happy, seem to be well-adjusted (waiting for test results) and know they are in a loving family.
We are walking in to this marriage with our eyes wide open. We are not being swept along by hormonal euphoria of how magical it is all going to be. We have years of experience under our belt, and gained many battle scars of wisdom.
We know that when it is all done and dusted, and we get in to bed at night, my foot will always find his and we will drift off to sleep, knowing that no matter what happens our feet will always touch when we go to sleep at night.
In nine days time, we are ready to stand in front our of our closest friends and family, and say the words that we have been avoiding for sixteen years … “today I will marry you…”