Marriage not ‘pap en vleis’

Mo and Phindi
Mo & Phindi are cast members of M-Net’s Power Couple SA, radio contributors and co-authors of the book Love Isn’t For Cowards

 

 

 

In a couple of months, we’ll be celebrating our 12th wedding anniversary. The greatest blessing about it is that we are truly happy together. Not only have we decided to find our rhythm early in our relationship, but we are growing into each other and as such are becoming more alike.

But wait! Before you label us as just another naïve couple in love with the notion of a romanticised and trouble-free marriage, understand our story. Unfortunately space would not allow us to do it justice trying to articulate it in 800 words.

Mo was born and raised in Port Elizabeth. He was abandoned not only by his biological father at birth, but by his mother as a pre-teen. He was raised by four different relatives, who each had different concepts of family, especially marriage.

Phindi, on the other hand, was raised by both her mother and father in her birth city, Durban. Yes, she’s Zulu and Mo is Xhosa. Although her parents divorced when she was about 10 years old, she distinctly remembers the severe influence of alcohol in her now late father.

The key defining moments of our relationship can be summarised into four landmarks.

  1. Mo has a son outside wedlock;
  2. Our relationship survived infidelity due to Mo’s indiscretions;
  3. We come from totally different family and cultural backgrounds, and
  4. Our relationship survived one of the nastiest financial meltdowns where at one point we both literally had no monthly income despite the fact that we had three school-going kids and other household responsibilities.

Married life hasn’t been pap en vleis for us. We’ve had to consciously make a series of life-changing decisions to achieve our level and depth of happiness together.

Couples who make it aren’t ones who never had reasons to throw in the towel, but ones who simply decided early on in their relationship that their commitment to one another was always going to be bigger than their differences and flaws.

Love isn’t for cowards

When challenges occur, the first or second response shouldn’t be to call it quits. Love isn’t for cowards.

Sometimes during conflict, couples are tempted to throw in the towel because “I just don’t have any more energy left” or “my partner has hurt me so many times, I’m actually numb and I want to take my life back” or “I just can’t live like this anymore. I’m frustrated. He won’t change”.

But how much stronger would your marriage be if both of you consciously resolved to fight to keep your relationship together? We certainly believe it’s worth it.

Indeed we know it takes both parties to work things out, but sometimes just one person needs to take that first step that could motivate the other into pulling in the same direction.

Never grovel

But never grovel. Never allow yourself to stay in a relationship with someone who clearly doesn’t want you in their life. Grovelling not only cheapens your cause, but gives your power away, thus leaving you vulnerable to being somebody’s toy.

When you grovel, you become manipulative and unfairly cajole your partner into staying with you against their will.

Before you throw in the towel, consider the reasons why.

Secondly, is there willingness to resolve issues? Are you also to blame for the state of the relationship? Is what drew you together much weaker than what’s pulling you apart? Could it be that you are just emotional? Are you really ready for the consequences of divorce and life apart?

If you feel your partner is pulling in the opposite direction, instead of jumping the gun assess your rationality in the situation – by even involving a neutral third party you can both trust.

It could be that you’re the one going in the opposite direction or contributing to your partner going in the opposite direction. It’s very easy to misjudge.

Resolve conflicts, swallow your pride, forgive, build a friendship, accept your partner’s personality, agree to disagree, involve God and move on. All of this is deliberate and is done by couples who understand love as a verb and as such involves work.

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