Saturday, 7 December 2013

Dear Beloved...WE are forever newlywed

I’ve been silent. Words evaded me.  Concepts and ideas filled my mind but the excitement to share had escaped.  I’ve been faced with a conundrum; do I write the known story or do I write the unspoken story?  The known story – the comfortable truth that has been learnt before that will conjure up the usual smiles, gentle words of encouragement and a couple of likes on facebook; or the unspoken story – the uncomfortable outpouring of my heart, unadulterated with no bars held.  

Writing my blog each week is like you asking me: how are things?  I don’t want my answer to be like the ‘church howdy’; when a well-meaning fellow church goer asks ‘how are you?’ and even if your house has been the sole target of the worlds’ onslaughts, you simply answer – ‘fine, thankyou’. 

So, how am I?

If I’m completely honest it’s been foggy over here, cloudy with a downpour of ‘the miserables’.  The most frustrating thing is that there’s nothing new about what we’re facing. It manifests itself in different ways but, it always boils down to the same issues.  Same story with the same stars just a different front cover. 

Many marriages are the same.  The issue is never really the in law visiting, it’s that your values on how to treat family members are different.  The issue is never really that there’s no money, it’s that your approaches to financial planning are polar opposite.  It takes maturity to look beyond the symptoms and find the root cause of the problem.  What’s the point of curing the headache with paracetamol, if the root cause is dehydration? Yes, the paracetamol will cure the headache but eventually another symptom will arise that paracetamol can’t cure.  You can both increase your salaries but, it doesn’t change cause your mindsets to align.  That takes time, time and effort, with a whole heap of perseverance. 

This time can be days, it can be months or years, a minute is too long to wait for someone who’s hungry.  During that wait it’s hard to see that glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel.  So, I’m painting a picture of the future.  I’m creating the dream that will warm your heart when bitterness freezes the home over. 

Dear my beloved,

I’ve not been myself lately; I know, you know, these four walls know. My head has been caught up, trying to use my brain cells to cook up theories, strategies and methods to get you to understand me.  My efforts have been fruitless, forcing me back to a dark place of doubt.  I can only imagine how this has appeared to you.  All the time focusing on what should be and not what is.  This time has taught me that I have to let go of comparison. We can’t keep up with the Kardishians and we don’t bend it like the Beckhams. If we were to chase the dreams of Hollywood, we’d end up facing the treturous heartache of a divided home.

I’ve not been fair to you.  Expecting immediate changes at my say so.  You’ve been you in all your splendour for much longer than you’ve known me and all my complex complexities.  I guess we just have to allow each other to ‘be’.  I beg you to please be patient with me, I’m still learning. I’m fallible. I react too fast and forgive too slowly.  My heart is still adjusting to this walk we’ve embarked on.  It’s still beating to the old tune and it occasionally misses your steps and sometimes has to sit the entire song out. 

So, today, I’m taking to our life like Michelangelo to an easel because the sky is our beginning, there’s no Sistine ceiling.  I’m painting a new picture, one that allows me to focus on what lies ahead and not the missed opportunities or failures of the past.    

I see us walking hand in hand, with our palms entwined and partnership of mind. I picture us as best of friends, sharing thoughts, ideas, hopes and aspirations of building a legacy.  And in those times when we don’t agree, we won’t force our hearts to disagree. We will be able to separate the issues from the love we have for each other. No longer will we compound our issues, confusing arguments with that of the past so that our future is spoilt. We will no longer punish the future for our present state.  The truth will be spoken in its purest form and our hearts will be prepared to accept it. 

In me there’s a renewed, dangerously fierce resolve to not allow the devils’ divisive devices and distractions to claim this home.  We’re not going to stand up and be counted in the world’s woeful wedded statistics.  Despite what the world tells me, I am equipped to love you. I didn’t marry you on a whim or without watchful eyes because I didn’t marry you in isolation.  It was a prayerful decision so, in that case, all I need to love you is already in me.  The power to forgive and forget, the strength to overlook offence, the grace to give when it seems all has been given, it’s all here and more. 

I see us old and grey, still painfully passionately in love surrounded by our children – those who came from us and those we have raised to be part of us.  They will all be inspired by our love for each other; using our marriage as a blueprint for them to build their own family from. 
We aren’t there yet but, it doesn’t mean we won’t get there.

I’m saying goodbye to forever complaining, endless measuring up and comparing with internal and external expectations.  Goodbye to wishing, wanting and praying for change to occur in you.  And to the past (in the words of Taylor Swift); we are never ever, ever, getting back together.  That’s the essence of being forever newlywed; ever evolving, ever renewing.   WE are forever newlywed.

Thursday, 24 October 2013


Lesson 2: submission is a sign of strength and not the omission of it.

‘Name me one organisation that doesn’t have a hierarchy’.

Those words sunk right into my mind like coffee to my sleep deprived soul.  They were so profound, so deep, made so much sense. That was the phrase, those were the words, right there was the imagery, that completely summed up what I had struggled all week to write.  Bunmi Olabode’s blog radio show had just injected fuel into my blog entry on submission.

I am part of the Spice Girls ‘Girl Power’, Destiny Child’s ‘Independent Woman’, TLC ‘No Scrubs’, generation.  Further enhanced by my background of incredibly strong and knowledgeable women, for many men I’d be way too much to handle.  I know my mind and can communicate it with little effort.  Problem is, my Jagged Edge ‘Let’s Get Married’ kind of guy had found me and in order to keep him ‘Miss I – dependent’ had to die. And die she did, a most brutal death.  One where she realised that her way was not the highway, the motorway or the freeway. It was a way and it could or could not be taken.

This ‘submission’ has been a journey for me and I don’t think I’ve quite reached the destination of unreserved submission. I’ve been travelling there for 5 years now and I’ve encountered conflict bumps in the roads and question filled roundabouts; wanting to move forwards but seemingly endlessly disagreeing with my beloved on which road to take there.

My beloved often says that no one is born a readymade wife.  And it’s so true! When asked what your lifetime ambition is, how many braided haired little girls do you know would cutely answer ‘a submissive wife with a calm, gentle and quiet spirit’.  Fast forward to today, change the braids to three bundles of your finest Brazilian/Peruvian/Malaysian/Cambodian/not-your-hairian hair and ask if their lifetime ambition is to be sincerely submissive.

In this generation the word submission is a swear word. The carefully drawn brows of millions of women arch up in pure rage.  They are angered at the notion of being thought of as weak and less important.  It conjures up images of women who are subservient, ‘yes sir, yes sir, two bags full’ kind of women. Weak women. Women who are so very afraid of speaking their minds that they are willing to look like clowns to please their beloveds.  Women who sheepishly walk behind their beloveds with their heads bowed, relinquishing their own identity.

But, I say that submission is not losing who you are. It is this misconception that has pushed anything that resembles submission out of the wedding vows.  When was the last time you witnessed a bride gleefully vow to love and obey their groom? Last I heard them they were spoken through slightly gritted, slightly smiling teeth.   And why is this?


Fear that agreeing to submit would mean that you would lose who you are.  Husbands and wives worldwide have abused the word submission, turning it into a curse rather than a blessing.   It is no wonder that submission has this vile reputation, when there are women who prior to marriage are vibrant and full of life and then they sadly transform into a shadow of themselves.  The men they fell in love with deem it fit to squeeze out every drop of life they have, controlling their every move.  This is a form of abuse and it should not be tolerated. This is not submission.

Not only is there the fear of losing your identity, there is also the complex fear of things going wrong, of negative consequences, of missed opportunities, of failure.  I’ve learned that even my best worked out and most strategic plans also have a risk (no matter how small) of the same disastrous outcomes.  On the reflection I think this fear has a lot to do with pride, the ‘I know better’ syndrome that plagues us all at some point in time. 

For me, submission is very simple… 

There can only be one driver of a car, one captain of a ship, one cook to stir the pot.  Like the guest on the radio show said, every successful business has a leader.  We aren’t both leaders but we both have functions, a leader isn’t a leader without a highly effective ‘follower’.  This does not mean that I do not offer suggestions or that I agree wholeheartedly agree with everything that my beloved decides.  God helps me with that.  I feel that in those moments, I need to refer back to the manual and manufacturer – the bible and God.  I cannot expect my beloved to selflessly, undyingly, undoubtedly, love me the way Christ loves the church, if I am not willing to play my part.  If I’m willing to bite my tongue when I know I have every right to speak or not to force my opinion when I know that I am right, I hope that I will enjoy a much happier and fulfilled marriage.

I was reminded this week of what a dear friend told me; it takes a while for you to build up credibility. Truth be told, your beloved has been the way he is for longer than he has known you. If you had two employees and you’d known one for 20+ years and another for 5 years, whose word are you likely to believe more?

Today, being a submissive wife today is not fashionable, it is not vogue and certainly isn’t worth it. I believe we need to revive the submissive wife. Don your submission like the vintage dress you’ve been craving to showcase.  It’s your strength and not the hand-me downs or ugly cast offs from your big sis.  I am willing to play my part to achieve the overall goal.  I am backing the mission of our family; I am forcing my opinions to be of less importance than the overall mission.  Me and all my self-glorified, self-appointed expert opinions, is sub (under, beneath) the overall mission of the family.    


Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Money talks!

Lesson 1: When money starts walking, keep talking

Sitting at my desk freshly bronzed from honeymoon, butterflies fluttered in my tummy when I heard ‘your husband is on the phone’.  Still reeling with excitement from hearing the words ‘your’ and ‘husband’ next to each other, I picked up the phone to hear my husband’s voice. Something was different, he sounded like he was outside. It was midmorning – that was unusual. 

‘Honey, guess what? I’ve been made redundant’.

The earth moved.

Time stopped.

Sounds around me silenced...for reasons different from the previous week (wink wink). Our feet had literally just landed from our sunny honey on the moon. We had just distributed our thank you cards and were working down the list of thank you calls and visits. The wedding photographs and video had barely been edited.

We met up to talk for lunch after that miserable midmorning message. I was a new wife with a new husband with new news and not a word of wisdom – this was not the newlywed bliss we had anticipated.  I’d like to say that we instantly formed an unstoppable team facing financial struggles together but I’m strong believer in being open and honest so, here’s the truth… that was one of the most silent years of our marriage.  The tension in those ‘spoken silences’ were unreal.  Budget discussions never ended well, our priorities were different and we were both unwilling to open the letterbox for the next red ‘gentle reminder’.

By silent, I don’t mean we didn’t speak at all. I mean our words fell on stony ground. Neither one of us spoke words to each other that took root.  Being the sole bread winner for our family, I made very poor decisions that didn’t edify my husband in any way.  It was after one of these fatal financial decisions that we realised that we needed to talk.  This would mean that one of us would need to be still and quiet whilst the other was talking.  Reactions would need to be processed fully before a response uttered.  It’s like that saying goes; we should seek to understand first.  Both of us were in our individual cocoons, coping in the ways that suited us both – individually. 

When difficult situations arise in marriage such as financial disasters or health concerns, you begin to see the character of the person you married in totality.  Prior to marriage, you don the rose tinted glasses that make errs look like charming quirky features. A very laid back and relaxed personality which seemed so wonderfully accommodating before the wedding day, instantly transforms to a lazy nonchalant disposition.  A full of life, bubbly people magnet becomes a busy body who has an irrational fear of being on their own.  The very thing you loved about your beloved becomes the thorn in your side.  You’ll hear cries of ‘you’ve changed’ or ‘you’re not the same person I married’ from many newlyweds across the world.  Time has brutally taught me that it is not that your Prince Charming has morphed into Darth Vader; it is that the amorous smoke screen has evaporated. 

We were no stranger to this journey of realisation.  And after dealing with the initial shock of who my beloved was, I also learnt a great deal about myself.  I had an inflated sense of self-importance; my job was the only source of income and I stupidly thought that I was entitled to more control.  I was stuck in a job that I absolutely hated and felt that I had no other option but to keep working so as to keep the family afloat.  A very heated conversation with my beloved changed my mind.

‘You are not the source of our income. It is not your job that is keeping us alive’.

Those fatal words, shot through my psyche. Though I didn’t want to admit it at the time, he was right. It dawned on me that God had kept us afloat. We were living in the height of a recession; people were going home every day to create coping strategies on one income.  I was not good at my job; it was grace that was keeping me.  Many who were far better at the role had been fired or made redundant and I was still there.  My pride was ground to smithereens.

I gave it some more thought…

I decided that income is always subject to change and that change needn’t be negative. A career change may result in a dip in income due to retraining at university; a short term price for a long term gain.  And as a woman my income may be more susceptible to change, as it is more likely to be affected by child rearing. Just because you are earning more money than your beloved now, doesn’t mean that it is a permanent fixture. All parties must understand that any income is for the benefit of the family and not for the increase of pride.  Let’s let our hearts and not the money do the talking.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

D.A.T.E : Romance Keeper

Baby J dropped off, heels forced on and lipstick sexily applied; I was ready for our first baby-less date night. Putting the finishing touches to my date night face, I was relishing the idea of holding hubby’s hand without a baby limousine between us. It’s a night that is a weekly tradition that we have carved into our marriage for the past 5 years.  So strong is the tradition that our family and friends politely avoid calling / visiting / messaging / emailing / facebooking / whatsapping / tweeting / skyping (many are the ways to contact human beings) on date night. And on the rare occasions when we can’t make that particular night, it becomes breakfast on a Saturday morning. The usage of phones or any electronic device is frowned upon and missing it for any reason bar health, results in penalties! It’s amusing to think that something which I STRONGLY opposed to at the start of our marriage has become a much anticipated and fully enjoyed pillar of our marriage.

Yes, I opposed it. Strange but, sadly true. Prior to marriage I strongly believed that routine was the killer of romance.  Over time I’ve come to understand that having concrete plans on when ‘romance’ will happen doesn’t snuff out romance rather, plans give romance an opportunity to breathe. It removes the ‘has it really been 4 weeks since we last spoke’ from the equation.  It means that you can focus your energy on a particular day. It’s once during the week that you’re guaranteed a conversation, that isn’t centred on red bills or family drama. This isn’t to say that my beloved and I go through the rest of the week with our hearts on mute. This is to say that we are each of assured of devoted, unadulterated attention for each other on that one night – date night.

True romance for me at that time, was meant to be spontaneous. It would be born out of an insatiable desire to please your beloved and it would be demonstrated in an elaborate way; a single red rose delivered by a singing telegram, tailed by a pure white dove with an invitation in its beak to a candlelit dinner on a roof terrace with a view of the twinkling picturesque city skyline.  I know, I’ve watched far too many soppy movies; Hollywood had done it again by creating unrealistic expectations.  But isn’t this true of most of us?  Haven’t we all based our notions of what romance really is on what we have seen and read? 

As I drove to pick up my beloved from the station, I wondered where HE was going to take me, what HE had planned, what HE would like to eat.  It suddenly hit me – why was HE setting the scene, why was HE the romance keeper? In the self-directed movie that I had conjured up, I always ensured the spotlight was always on me, the only receiver of the rousing romantic gestures. I am not alone in my directorial ambitions; most romantic stories are filled with chivalry and demonstrations of love all from the man. 

Surely, in a world where women are campaigning for equality, we should jump at the chance to partake in romancing.  Any feminist takers? Equality in the workplace and politics – yes please. Equality in romancing and wooing – err… #hehasgottoworkforitbecauseiamnotcheap. The truth must be uttered.  For decades we’ve seen many relationships suffer because the man has failed to meet the romantic expectations of his fair lady, possibly citing irreconcilable romantic differences. There are thousands and possibly millions of women who are masterminding punishments for the husband who is zoned into their football frenzied evening instead of, whisking their beloveds to a love filled evening.  I wonder if the longevity of relationships would increase if they would both take the responsibility of keeping things fresh.  The immeasurable soul destroying pain of a divorce/separation outweighs the pride lessening effort of planning a night of love. 

Rewinding our marriage back to our courtship, I remembered how my beloved had always initiated dates and romantic gestures. I was surprised with gifts and constantly being dined.  To my embarrassment I don’t recall planning anything elaborate or as thoughtful.  And as we crossed over into matrimonial land, there are few occasions where I have been the romancer.  I question now whose job it really is to create the romance. I believe this role of romancer should be as fluid as who washes the dishes or who drives the car. In society, the traditional roles and duties of husband and wife are not set in stone. It’s not unusual to see the husband as the cuisine technician or to see the wife as the domestic DIY construction manager.  Should it then be taboo for a wife to sometimes take the lead in keeping romance?

‘Me? Initiate romance? Make some effort?’


I dare you.

This needn’t be a daunting and arduous task; romance defined is a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love. I’m a strong believer in keeping it simple and tailored specifically to the likes and dislikes of your beloved; playing snap with a bowl of popcorn and dimmed lights, surprising your beloved at work with his favourite take away meal, doing something they always asked you for but you were previously unwilling to do (wink wink). Date night has taken on many forms during our journey. In times of financial famine we have; picnicked on our living floor, gone for a long walk, put a thousand piece jigsaw together. It doesn’t always have to be the same thing and in many respects it doesn’t matter what you are doing – so long as what you’re doing is Devoting Attention To Each other.