Sunday, 27 November 2011

A Divorce

Someone I know has just decided to file for a divorce. The couple has been together for 20 years and have accumulated all the usual things one would expect from half a lifetime together. Home, assets, children, memories et al. He is angry, defensive. She is disengaged. I have a loose connection to this couple. But this decision still saddened me. It raised questions about the divorce statistic so often mentioned in editorials and news articles. What lies in the decision to get a divorce? Are the common complaints of

He doesn't listen to me
She isn't interested in making an effort
He doesn't make me feel special
She's only ever interested in the kids
He's always at work
I feel invisible


Can one person cause a relationship to completely break down? Surely the problem is created before the symptoms are presented? I confess my naivety, however, I simply cannot accept that the responsibility for success is not shared equally. A fair split. 50-50. Label at your leisure.

And with this naive, though firm belief, I think and worry over my brand new marriage. I worry that divorce is...inevitable. Two people, from two different backgrounds, two different personalities and experiences and views on life, coming together to start a new life. The kinks get worked out in the process. However, people change. We mature, we gain wisdom (hopefully), we change our dreams as we achieve our goals, we require different things from our partners as we go through life. Our partners, going through their own journey, may or may not be travelling at the same speed. They may not be maturing at the same rate, they may not find wisdom in those things that give us wisdom. They may find joy and excitement in things previously unexplored while we steadfastly pursue the 3,5, & 10 year plan.

And so, the question hangs, foggy and uncertain. Is it inevitable? Having a life long, successful marriage seems akin to winning the lottery. It happens, to be sure, but so rarely. It'd be foolish to assume that we too will win.

I pray, I talk (a lot), I make him talk (as much as possible) and I think (too much). I value what we have, I analyse it, I give thanks, and I hold loosely the fear. The fear of losing a relationship in the way so many others have done. I'm not fear mongering, I'm not over analysing and I'm not seeking out anxiety or drama.

The fear of divorce and late-adulthood loneliness is a valid one. I come from a family of divorcees. Not just my folks. My grandparents, my aunts and uncles too. Once, twice over. Wonderful people who just couldn't make it work. Wouldn't make it work? Its debatable. As the younger generation I really cannot make a judgement as I have never been privy to the details. It does make me aware of the way that people grow apart, the way that people put themselves first, the way that children's needs come before those of husbands, the way that discontent creeps in, settles itself and lies in wait until it can be joined by mistrust, boredom, selfishness etc.

So....what can be done in the face of certain unhappiness? I think the appropriate response is "damned if I know", but ironically it'd be a blessing to know. So there isn't much to do about the fear but acknowledge it and keep it at bay by being attentive, sensitive, open, passionate and humble. And I can thank God for keeping me humble. A double edged sword to be true, but what peace I gain from knowing that someone always has my back. Even when I don't know that I need backing.

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Paralysing Expectations

I was one of the girls who's parents told her that she could be anything in life, that she could do anything she wanted with her life, that the world was her oyster.

I was one of the girls who believed her parents growing up. It was a healthy message, filled with promise: if there was something in life I wanted, I had to work hard in order to achieve/acquire it. I still believe this to be true. In some sense, the belief that my intelligence, work ethic, personality and education would combine with the modern view of the woman today and the global village, makes this quite plausible. However, for me, this meant expectation.

I'm not going to be melodramatic and blame my parents for expecting too much of me and ruining me forevermore. It simply wasn't the case. I was expected to try, try, try. And that's really all.

The expectation was of myself. I can be anything, I can do anything and therefore I should! The difficulty is...what exactly am I meant to be doing. I've read a few articles in the recent months about how this might be a generational issue. The expectation to be able to grab life by the horns and ride it until you're completely and utterly dead creates a lot of pressure to do just that. But where to start?

The adventure requires money, money comes from a job, a job requires an education, an education requires decision. Ah huh. The crux of the matter. Decision.

The modern woman can be dedicated to her career.
The modern woman can choose to be a domestic goddess.
The modern woman should enjoy life and seize the moment.
The modern woman can do triathlons, marathons, half marathons, spinning classes 3 times a week oh and yoga. (lest we forget the ever increasing mania over yoga and Pilates)
The modern woman loves her body, her mind and her self.
The modern woman is ambitious in her life's goals.
The modern woman is educated, financially secure, and socially apt.
The modern woman should be successful because she can.

Hm. Obviously there could be paragraphs written for each statement above, but the tip of the iceberg seems pretty large to me. It would seem that a modern woman, with the advantages of freedom of speech, freedom to vote, freedom of education, and social freedoms should somehow juggle every aspect of life, successfully.

Now some are quite content to focus on career. Others are happy to give Martha Stewart a run for her money. This woman wants it all. Is that so wrong?

I want a career, not a job. I want to further my education and continually learn. I want a well put together, modern, clean home that we can enjoy spending time in. I want two healthy children, that are emotionally and physically provided for. I want to be fit, healthy and toned (oh I want to be toned). I want a PB for my half marathon. I want to make more friends. I want to have fun with  my friends. I want to be able to afford to go on holiday with my husband. I want to be a good partner for my husband and a mini-Martha. I want to be able to cook an excellent roast. I want to throw together a baked dish with the ingredients that I have in the kitchen. I want to be financially able to support my family, save for my children's education, pay for house maintenance and updates, drive a nice car (yes, I do like nice cars), save for my retirement and go on holiday once a year. I want to please God with my actions and my intentions. I want to spend more time getting to know God. I want to be an expert at training my dog. I want to be able to install my own t.v. I want to be funny and witty. I want to be successful but easy-going. Is that asking too much?

Its laughable really. The idea of being everything to everyone, the notion of having it all. And yet, I cannot let it go. I feel the expectation to be all those things coursing through my veins.

And it paralyses me. Most days I can't decide what type of lettuce to buy. Spinach is high in iron and fibre, but romaine is fresher and better suited to sandwiches. Baby lettuce is nice and flavourful but goes off too quickly. I struggle to decide what to eat for dinner. I am a NIGHTMARE to take to a restaurant. Just ask my husband, or my sister-in-law, or my brother for that matter. I cannot decide on a menu item because I want little bits of most dishes. (PLEASE  do not comment on this blog advising me to attend a buffet...its not the point).

This paralysis extends to the decisions about our lives. Do I focus on a career, study university part time, start having children, focus on savings, go on a holiday while we have no children etc etc. My mother (bless her) sees a bit of this in me and offers advice along the lines of "prioritise". The problem. I think I can be everything. I really, in my deepest bone marrow, believe it. So there are no priorities, only a timeline.

I hope that others in this generation who face the same struggle have found some solice in their own solutions. My solution remains a flexible timeline that will allow me to fulfill these expectations in intervals. And may God bless me with time!

Monday, 7 November 2011

Blogging realised

So, today I checked my blog post "views" - yes, I am one of those. I saw that one of my previous blogs has today been read by someone in Russia. Russia! I don't know anyone in Russia. The fact that someone I do not personally know is reading my blog is really exciting for me.

Its not that I blog for the sake of views. My dear friend Vanessa and I discussed the benefits of blogging recently via Skype and laughed over how cathartic blogging can be for the blogger. Its wonderful to be able to think and type in whatever fashion without having to be concerned about boring or offending someone. And it works for me! Its like speaking to a wall, without looking odd.

So if I don't know you, but for some reason you find my blog interesting, thanks!

Friday, 4 November 2011


My husband and I are very good friends. Granted, women feel differently about this sort of thing to men, but to me, he is my best friend. We are also very good partners. We make a good team. It is the reason we've been able to slog through two manic years of redecorating, wedding planning, house selling and immigrating while avoiding the 50% statistic.

Yesterday I received a bit of advice that, at the time, seemed odd. I was advised to be diligent in romancing my husband to ensure that we don't become "just friends".

A bit of context is required here: I have seen many couples come together for the sake of children, finances, rationale or because they'd been dating for a period of time that deemed "marriage" as "the next step". I have also spent time with many couples who are happy together, but who are not friends. Before I met James, it was always a priority that whomever I dated and finally married, would be a friend, someone I can walk alongside for the rest of my life, after all, we've all heard the oft spoken words "the spark dies, there's more to a marriage than romance, you have to build a better foundation" etc etc. I really believed those words and put it in my mind that I wouldn't give romance a second thought. (Aha! Here I am giving it much more than just a second though.) The idea of "romance" was nice, but it seemed a bit cheesy and a bit superficial. After I met James, I reiterated my lacklustre for romance and I'm sure he was more than happy to oblige.

Now though, I am beginning to see wisdom in romance. Yes, it is superficial, and yes, it can be cheesy. But I'm starting to believe that there is something invaluable about taking the time to "woo" your spouse.

That being said, I have no idea how to be romantic. Candlelight, fireplace, music and wine just brings to mind an older generation and a vino-headache the day after. Watching the sunrise is something I often do when I get up early for a run, its not something I often share with my husband since he is not fond of early mornings. Romance still feels silly to me. Its not how James and I interact. We speak openly and often about all things, we connect when we're having fun and spend a lot of time with each other at the moment. I am starting to feel concerned that maybe we are missing an essential component in our relationship. But I remain stuck at the definition of romance. It has to be something that works for us.

Maybe, our understanding of romance is changing. Maybe we need to explore what romance could mean, rather than what it should.

This marriage lark is far more complicated than I realised - and I'm only on the first little bit!
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