Saturday, 20 February 2010

‘...and welcome to Britain’s Worst Wife.’

I sat for a few moments, utterly puzzled. I felt the same way when I watched Jerry Springer for the first time, wondering if people like ‘Shaneqwa’ really existed. You know the type of guest that felt bold enough to engage in a full scale girl brawl, knowing that they’d failed to secure their wigs with hair grips and glue.

The semi-balding presenter spoke with the kind of delight villains in superhero movies had, when explaining their evil plans. Husbands around the UK had nominated their wives for the accolade and the ‘lucky’ nominees had agreed to be part of the programme!

‘...those are grounds for divorce!’

My hubby shouted in utter disgust, as scenes of what possibly could have been ‘Britain’s Dirtiest Home’ were shown. Kilimanjaro sized mounds of dishes, coffee cups which frothed with mould; the nominee had simply refused to clean and rarely cooked. She even sent her children to bed in their school uniform so, that she did not have to get them ready in the morning! To think that I had felt guilty earlier about the paper carpet and the cookie crumbs I had created. Those ghastly scenes made me feel as clean as Mary Poppins.

‘Grounds for divorce’…I repeated the phrase. I rationalised that my hubby could only be joking because we both know that I am a far cry from the wives on Wisteria Lane. Sometimes the laundry basket competes with Mount Everest and a pile of correspondence often becomes a game of featherweight Jenga. Besides, we had made the vow ‘till death do us part’ and something as trivial as a dirty laundry couldn’t break us...would it?

What does that mean – ‘till death do us part’? What does it mean today? In a time when sportsmen and musicians are stripped of titles they’ve worked their entire lives for, is this vow still valid? The football industry appears to be awash with scandals and the media fuel their indignity with infidelity and divorce rumours. Someone needs to tell the WAGS* that they need to find strength in a higher power because it’s too much of a trend to be a pure coincidence. In some parts of the world where Zebras and Zulus are plenty (mentioning no names) they would have been whisked off to all sorts of priests and pastors for ‘deliverance’.
Philosophically it could be said that ‘death’ does not necessarily mean till you are six foot under. It could be from the moment a couple realise that their lives are on two different paths wanting different things. Until all signs of intimacy have disappeared and ‘Hussein’ the security guard at work knows more about your next step than your beloved.

Intimacy – the ability to step into each other’s soul, walk around their thought world and leave everything intact. In the words of those giant Smurf things in Avatar it’s the ability to ‘see you’. Its decline and sometimes unfortunate death can be a result of several things; overbearing personalities, infidelity, lack of trust...the list is endless. A marriage without this Columbus like exploration of souls is like KFC chips - tasteless and dry. The depth of conversation can determine the level of intimacy in any relationship. This can’t be taken as a golden rule as there are plenty of couples that do a lot of talking...talking about everything and anything else other than what lies beneath the expensive cologne and bronzing powder. True intimacy requires open hearts, that does not tie visitors to visas with terms and conditions – ‘don’t go there’... ‘you know I can’t talk about that’...conditions. Though it is hard to keep the barriers of entry open when discoveries have been treated unfairly.

Young in marriage and landing from honeymoon, I use to struggle to understand why people would divorce. But spending time with all sorts of married people – those enduring and those enjoying – my eyes and mind is wider. I have seen that sometimes for someone to step out, someone did not step up. When you have a need that someone is not meeting, it’s like your heart is aching and all that you want to do stop the pain. For that person if that means employing a vampire who sucks their financial line dry (a divorce lawyer), then so be it.

The day Michael Jackson died will go down in history. You’ll remember where you were when you heard the news and the sheer shock that swept through your musical database. I knew exactly where I was and how I stared at the TV screen, begging for Sky News to report that it was all a fabrication. I hung onto every word that the presenter delivered, pleading for her autocue to bear a different story. Not many will forget the day that Michael Jackson died but who will remember the day they heard the death of intimacy in marriage. There are marriages die silently every day; unspoken pains and joys, half smiles instead of full belly laughs, headaches instead of...

Call me old fashioned but, I take my vow literally.

We do what we can to ensure that we are not ‘the marriage walking dead’ and keep hope alive. Marriage is the life sentence in which the prisoners are bound by commitment and love. It is the most sacred form of community service that truly benefits society. It pains me to think of the end of the journey so soon after it has just begun but, I do. I have pictured that on the day our numbers are called, we’ll reminisce on wonderful years gone by and pronounce blessings on our children like the fathers of old. Grey haired and decoratively wrinkled, we’ll cross over to heaven hand in hand. To me that is the aim, the dream, that’s till death do us part.

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