I have friends married for the second time and they tell me, “It’s not easy raising kids and keeping the marriage going. Please share your wisdom!”
I’m embarressed to say that I don’t have much advice to dole out, and happily married for 18 years is hardly an accurate description of our union. I’m still scratching my head, because those successful marriage cliches like “don’t go to bed angry” or “go on date nights” are easier said than done. In the first 10 years of our marriage, I didn’t even have time for proper meals, let alone go out for fun?
Anyhow, OUR MARRIAGE SURVIVED 18 YEARS!
I don’t know how we made it through all those years with 6 kids thrown into the mix. It must be God’s grace.
The odds were stacked against it.
We’ve had (more than) our fair share of arguments revolving around the usual issues of differing parenting styles, chore division, financial burdens, plus we were young. Young, immature and saddled with a child. And then some more. The responsibilities and obligations kept mounting, and statistically, this marriage would never work.
Seeing our brood, people tell us how fortunate we are, and automatically assume that it must have been a textbook marriage. It couldn’t be further from the truth.
We all know what the experts say. Get married for the right reason, find common interests, communicate, communicate, communicate. I totally agree that all of that makes things so much easier.
But relationships are complicated matters. What if most of it doesn’t apply to the both of you?
Friends who know us find us really amusing as we are poles apart in so many ways.
Common interests? The hubs spends hours on the golf course, while I do yoga with some mummy friends. I enjoy watching deep, meaningful movies, while slapstick comedy or battling it out on screen with the kids is his preferred form of entertainment.
He fills our travels with activities while I prefer to simply stroll around and absorb new cultures. When we were up in the mountains of Switzerland, his aim was to make it to the top and take lots of jaw-dropping pictures. Me? I stopped halfway, and I just had to sit there for an hour, letting the vast expanse of the snow-capped mountains envelop me. It was such a profund experience, being transported right into the palm of creation, listening to the sound of silence. When we regrouped, he was ecstatically showing me his amazing crisp shots while I was trying to explain my experience. We both could not comprehend the other.
Time and again, we hear how important communication is in a marriage. Well, the hubs is a man of few words, and when my friends with caucasian husbands sweep them off their feet with words alone, I do wish he was more eloquent. But I guess there are different levels of communication, no? I understand the hubs, without words.
We don’t share the same religion, and in the early years when I saw happy couples in church with their offsprings, how I wished we had the same faith as surely, life would be easier.
I love to read and ponder things. He loves to tinker with gadgets and machines. He cooks, and I eat. Well, maybe marriage experts meant complimentary interests?
|doesn’t this make you hungry?|
In today’s world with social media encroaching into our days, one unfortunate effect is the “if only” syndrome. Suddenly, we are privy to other people’s private lives. Well, the polished parts, mostly. If only we could afford luxurious holidays like the Tans, we would be happy and smiling.. If only you would buy me big, expensive gifts, our marriage would be blissful.. If only, if only.
Over the past two decades, our circumstances have changed in so many ways.
We tried to build a business together, in the hope of giving our children better opportunies, but it failed, and we went through tough times with no money in the bank and several mouths to feed.
We used to live all crammed together, 7 in a room (before Kate was born), together with my in-laws. Now, we have a nice place to live in, with lots of space. And if one day all of these were taken away, I doubt it would matter very much.
Material possessions do not make a marriage fundamentally any better. Yes, perhaps for a brief moment. Soon enough, whatever unhappiness or discontent that was there, will still be there.
Over the past 18 years, we have been through so much. How did we make it this far?
I think it was simply these. Trust, shared values and commitment. A promise to stick together. To try, and try again. No matter how hard the going got.
Happiness can be here. In good times or in bad. In a big house or a small room. In health or in sickness.
Look around us. The institution of marriage and family is being threatened. Raising kids and keeping a marriage going are probably 2 of the hardest things to do.
But they are worth it, aren’t they?
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Lesson #5: Passion vs Family
Lesson #6: Finding our children’s gifts and talents
Lesson #7: Teach our children compassion by little actions
Lesson #9: What must kids do for us to stop pushing them over the edge?
Lesson #10: Who’s selfish? The kids or me?
Lesson #11: Confronting death teaches you about life
Lesson #12: To measure our lives in love
Lesson #13: The day they fly
Lesson #14: Do our kids even know we love them?