Yes I'm back, at last! I'm still trying to work out why I seem to have not had much time to "blog" recently. What's been happening? Well, the Lollipop started "Kindy" but you all knew that already. I can even say with some confidence that I made it through chicken pox with a minimum of fuss. Oh, we moved house too, under duress I might add, but now we are so happy we had to. The Butterfly missed two weeks of school having navigated through chicken pox, flu and a chest infection one after the other. I was amazed I made it till the end of those two weeks with what sanity I have still intact. Basically it's been life as usual with a few changes and yet no "blogging" time. Perhaps, if I am honest, it boils down to the fact that I haven't had the need to vent or share lately. Until today that is!
The end of September marked twenty five years the Mauritian and I have been together and on Friday we celebrated sixteen years of marriage. When so many of your friends and family are divorced or in and out of relationships it's difficult not to be proud of our "achievement." On reflection and with relief I have realised that we are not in an exclusive club, among so much destruction and heartache there are those among my friends and family who can boast the same achievements. So why do I bring this up, because I have an overwhelming urge to vent. Now, it is important that I qualify that this is a general vent! I'm am not focussing on any one person or couple I am merely voicing an opinion. I know that some relationships should never have happened and that others turn to poison and the only way to fix it was to get out but there are those out there who want the bed of roses without the thorns.
On Facebook recently there have been so many of those "words of wisdom" about how to love or have a successful relationship. You're subjected to those sickening sentimental stories of "loving with passion" or how you treat your partner if you love them. Now I admit sometimes I read something and agree with the sentiment but most times I find myself almost gagging from the over sweetness and gushiness of it all. I'm sorry but a relationship is not all sweetness and sentiment, relationships are real and only work if your expectations stay within the bounds of reality.
After twenty five years of being in a monogamous relationship, here is what I know to be real:
- "Love is not a feeling, it is an act of your will!" (Don Francisco) When all is said and done, the Mauritian and I would not be together now if we had not made a conscious decision to love each other unconditionally. Our "courtship" was never about romance and roses or moonlight walks on the beach. It was about learning about each other, learning how we expressed ourselves and from there how to communicate, learning our likes and dislikes and so learning how to compromise. We got to know each other and then chose to love each other. You never stop learning, you never stop growing and you never stop choosing to love.
- "…For a relationship to last always remember to give, give, give!" I have based my entire relationship on these words. The Mauritian and I had only recently started dating when one of my Aunts spent some time in Durban and consequently shared my room with me for that time. (I wonder if she remembers.) When she left for home I was at school but I came home to a thank-you gift and a note with the best relationship advice. When we chose to "give" all of ourselves to our relationship, to give truthfully and completely, when we focus on our partner's happiness we grow closer and our love strengthens.
- "…stand together yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, and the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other's shadow." (Khalil Gibran's The Prophet) I know no other way to be in a relationship because this is the relationship my parents have. Never be anything but who you are, do what interests you, have your own hobbies, your own circle of friends, be independent to your partner. My parents have very different personalities, the Mauritian and I couldn't be more unlike if we tried. Yet our relationships work because you have to accept that your partner is not you, they don't think like you act like you or even at worst agree with you. Accept your difference, embrace your differences and allow each other to live completely different lives. Then when the day is done, in that silence before sleep you will have something to share that puts a twist into the "rat race" we call life. But, more importantly, it makes those moments when you do, think or speak as one more memorable and so much more important. When you are true to yourselves in a relationship the unity you share is what others remember.
- "…When you love you should not say, "God is in my heart," but rather, "I am in the heart of God…." (Khalil Gibran's The Prophet) I learnt this lesson from my mother-in-law, she loved her husband because she truly put all her faith in God's love for her. For those less religious among you let me put it in more cynical terms: I often said that my mother-in-law should be canonised because she willingly and knowingly married and stayed with my father-in-law regardless of how much of a prick (sorry mum) he could be. The truth is, she chose to love him unconditionally and she trusted in her faith to give her strength in hardship and she meant every word of her wedding vows and lived them every day. Through the years I have also learnt that despite his roughness and really bad attitude, my father-in-law's love for his wife came from a place of pure passion, she really was the "be all and end all" of his life. When you make a promise it only works if you really mean it and you make an effort every moment to fulfil your vow no matter the circumstances. But we cannot do it alone, faith is necessary. For the Mauritian and me it is our faith and belief that we were joined by God that keeps us choosing to love each other. For you it may be your faith in yourself or the promise of your partner or even in fate or karma, whatever you name it there is a higher power guiding you. Trust in it!
You see I do not believe that a relationship survives on sentiment and romance. The infatuations and "butterfly" moments of our youth, though memorable and heart-warming, never last because they are not real. For those feelings to last in the reality and monotony of life you have to choose to fall in love every morning with the person lying next to you and to love them more because yesterday you learnt something new about them.
Tonight I learnt that my Mauritian would willingly sacrifice the comfort of his bed to sleep on the floor in his daughters' room because they asked him to and now they have a memory they will always share. Today I learnt how proud he was of how long we've been together because his colleague's at work complained about how many times he's told them about it. No matter how many years pass he never ceases to surprise me.
So join us as we raise a glass to sixteen years of marriage, whether you agree with me or not, you have to admit we're doing pretty well!
To those of you still searching, believe!