NOTE to READERS:
As I mentioned in my post, I am starting a new series on my page.
My blogs will all say [Blog] before the titles. This series will be opinion piece articles, on issues of marriage, abuse, children and all other aspects of being a woman. Of course, these posts will be identified with the word [Article].
Some will be written by me, but I would also love to share the space with other women who have stories to tell, and opinions to share.
April 22, 2018 marked my 1 year anniversary.
And what a year it has been.
Whatsapp messages from 2016
Shana: Hello baby. I missed you so much today. Work was boring, but I bought us the Sally Williams Nougat so we can have that after the kids sleep.
Riyaahd: Okay baby. I’ll get you the chocolate wine that you like. I love you.
Shana: I love you too Bae
Whatsapp messages from 2018:
Shana: Why the fok do you always leave the cool drink bottle open when you use it? Must the ants vriet us?
Shana: My stomach is working, I don’t feel like going out.
Shana: Buy bananas on your way home.
Riyaahd: Ya. In a meeting.
Trou issie perd koepie.
My dad said this to my now husband, Riyaahd, when we told my parents that we were going to get married.
Riyaahd nodded, out of respect… but I am 100% sure he still has no idea what it means. I don’t think anyone does… not even my daddy.
It is right up there with other coloured expressions:
“Dik hou is Tjoklits”
“A touch is a move”
And my favourite: “Jy’s old Fashioned”.
In my father’s defense, we did only mention it to him three days before we ‘eloped’.
To clarify: This hoe is dik because of tjoklits. I have touched many a move. And I always thought that marriage was old fashioned.
I have obviously been interpreting things wrong.
You see, my dad’s generation has always held marriage, and abstract expressions, in high esteem. To me, my announcement was a simple “Hey I am gonna get hitched”.
To my family, it was the end of an era. My dad was earning his stripes as the father of now two, proudly married women.
His wayward daughter, who had no doubt allowed at least two men to cum inside of her in the last few years had finally found a man willing enough to hitch his wagon onto her.
Oh. Now I get it.
“Nou wanner is die wedding”, my mom chimed in on that Thursday.
“Hoe mean jy dan nou?”
Ever since I can remember, weddings were lavish events.
I recall my sister, cousins and various other grown women who have crossed my path all either stressing over their imminent weddings, or imagining what they would do once a man proposed. They spoke of hypothetical catering, venues, guests and those who would not be allowed to attend out of spite.
I also clearly remember them exchanging in hushed tones just how cheap other women’s weddings had been. One could be penalized for anything from salty biryani to “daai hoener het baie kak geproe”.
The same women who spoke of their casual- sexcapades, envisioned white dresses with veils of deception… and lace.
For my ‘wedding’, I wore blue. A statement of my bruised vagina.
I am joking. The truth is I have always been too mossag to wear white.
I digress, in these talks of ceremonies and honeymoons, and sticking it to the in-laws… I have no memory of anyone ever speaking about what MARRIAGE would be like.
Apparently, the rule is that one does not speak out of the marriage.
A rule I found both counterproductive, and dangerous.
No. This post won’t be about abuse. But it is a fair point to make that many women have kept secret the inexcusable violence bestowed upon them by their husbands, to merely avoid the shame of speaking out of wedlock. That is a topic of its own.
The silence I am referring to is the lack of education that many women need, from women who have been married for years. Healthy advice. Healthy validation. A sort of checklist as to what is normal, what is okay and what should be tagged as a red flag.
As a child, I remember thinking that you are only a grown woman once you are married.
A ‘getroude vrou’ was a title that seemed esteemed.
On Christmas and other special occasions when the family gathered, you had the honour of dishing up for your husband.
You were allowed in the kitchen with the other women when they would talk about sex and other grown things.
You were even allowed to be unemployed, without shame.
When I had a baby at 21, with no husband, I still wasn’t allowed in the discussions about ‘the struggle of having a family’. I was a child, with a child, because I didn’t have a man at my side.
This was unchanged when I had baby number two.
And then, I got married at 28… and everyone decided that I was an inspiration.
The marriages I saw around me all looked the same.
My aunties and uncles, my parents and my friends all had similar stories.
“I need to get home before my husband”, so many would say with feigned anxiety. It was more a prideful boast really.
“No my food is always ready when he comes from work”.
“I must bath the kids before he gets here… he doesn’t like them to be restless when he is home”.
“If he wants sex then I must give it [giggle giggle]”.
And so I thought the norm was that the man was the authority that flaps in the night. I mean, the priest tells you to obey’ him as the head of the house. Your wedding vows say submit. Even your dad will look the other way when your husband gives you instructions.
I asked my very close friend about her experience as a married woman. She is recently divorced, and I asked her about the best times, and the worst times she experienced.
Her answer rang true with the other women I approached.
She said to me; “The worst time in my marriage was when I found out my suspicion of him cheating was actually true. Finding myself asking the question ‘why am I here?, why am I with him?, does he love me?, is it worth it to be in a relationship with someone where you are so unhappy that you cry yourself to sleep and cry in the shower and every minute with him you spend thinking about how much better life would be without him?.
Him being cold and emotionally abusive with his manipulative ways and slowly but surely breaking me down with his lack of communication.
There were so many things. The thing that got me to leave the 2nd time was him hitting my kids. He was getting physical and I didn’t think it was safe for them or me to be there. He would constantly threaten to hit me and he kept swearing at me in front of the kids.
The best times were having the kids. Though it was difficult. It was the only good thing about being with him. He didn’t inspire me or uplift me or act like a partner in a relationship – we didn’t complement each other. We were too different and it was a mission constantly trying to make a diamond out of a pebble”.
This is what I expected.
All the women I spoke to about marriage gave the same answers to the same questions. All chose to remain anonymous, and though some had generally happy marriages, they did mention similar struggles and themes that came up as the years went by.
When I got married, I held my breath in the beginning, in fear that now my relationship with my husband would change. He now had full control of me.
This may have been due to me being abused before. This may have been due to the horror stories married women would let slip. It may have been due to just straight out fear of the unknown territory that being a WIFE is.
Until I realized that I had married a man of character.
A man of integrity.
A man of God.
Now, everyone knows that I entered this marriage with two kids. I am also aware that I was deemed unworthy by many, because of this.
Something I never said, was that because of my choices, and the fact that my husband didn’t come with the same ‘baggage’, deep down I deemed myself as unworthy too.
Here is what I was taught, by merely being loved.
To be continued.