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If we were dating, we would have broken up

I’m sobbing now as I write this, firstly to think how far we’ve come, secondly because I know how easy it would be to go back there and thirdly because I know that had we not addressed it wholehearted, we would never be where we are today.

 

Let me back track a little.

I was 2 months pregnant with Noah, had undergone surgery a week back, was home with a catheter in and had recently been told by a second gynae that we were likely to lose our baby. Sarah was 1, on the dot, woke countless times a night and had just started walking. I was in the starting stages of designing a new company (now Flourishing Fit Moms), and was trying to prep for Varsity lectures which were due to start in a few weeks. I was sitting on my couch, as graciously as one can with a catheter hanging out of you, and I announced to a close friend that if H and I were dating now, we’d break up. But we weren’t, we were married and that made all the difference.

Marriage is hard work. Add kids to the mix and it’s like doing a 1000 piece puzzle with gloves on and your eyes closed. We all seem pretty comfortable with the idea that in life we progress, change even. We evolve as time goes by; develop new interests, new friends, and leave old jobs for new ones, let go of our six-pack for a preggy belly, leave the comfort of home for a bond we’re bound to. And yet we expect marriage to just work; that two people married in their early 20’s will always love each other. Well, this hasn’t been our story.

I was 22 when we wed, he was late 20s. I was completing my honours in Clinical Psych, living in a digs with my besties, in a beautiful town. Life was rainbows and butterflies; we danced under the stars, we held hands and spun round and round ‘til we fell over in giggles on a wine farm. We were young and free and happy. And in that stage of life, we worked. But fast-forward 6 years and here we were, parents, business owners, homeowners and with stress levels that were unrealistic yet almost normal for young adults. And somewhere amidst the chaos of sleepless nights and work stress, we’d forgotten who WE were together. Life had become about me surviving and serving my needs; and he about his. It wasn’t a bad time in our lives, we weren’t depressed, we were simply caught up in a life that required us to play a dozen roles to a dozen different audiences. We were mom, dad, boss, employee, runner, cell group leader, pregnant. We were living past each other and connecting only when caught up in a heated argument (usually due to exhaustion) or passed out on the couch watching a series we didn’t care for. In our quest to master life and parenthood, we’d forgotten that we were husband and wife too.

It took one massive argument that landed us both in tears for us to pause and face the facts. We were nowhere, and in marriage that only meant one thing. We were going and growing in different directions from each other. The question of  “Were we still right for each other” surfaced it’s head, only to be stood on by a resounding promise that we made on an alter on the 3rdMarch 2012; “We would choose love. Even when the other seemed unlovable.”

Having kids didn’t just change us, it changed our marriage too. And it was time that we admitted this. In an attempt to not complain about the greatest gifts we’d ever been given (our kids), we tiptoed around the topic of marriage being different after kids. As I feel that many do. But it was time we faced the facts. Our marriage would never ever look or feel like it did pre-kids, again…and that was okay.

This moment of significance triggered for us a process where we began what I call, our journey together again.

 

  1. We packed our bags

But not like that. We merely realized that we needed to get out of our routine, our space, our stuck-ness. We head to Cape Town every April for the 2 Oceans but usually rush straight off to family after the race. That year, we decided that we needed a holiday with just the 3 of us and so we headed to Simons Town for a few days instead. To say this is just what we needed is an understatement. We spent time doing what made us fall in love with each other so many years before. We spent long days on the beach with our Se bear, we went for walks, we had afternoon naps; and once Se was down we enjoyed slow dinners outside with a drink in hand.

 

  1. We became happy people to live with

Whilst we were both pursing careers and exercise goals, neither of us was in a particularly happy space. H would return home from gym every evening to an irritable wife, and likewise he would complain when I worked over a weekend. In our attempt to build together, we chatted realistically about what each of us could do to re-establish happiness, and how we could support each other in this. H signed up for a few races and I launched a new company; both due to the other’s encouragement.

A close friend of mine borrowed her parent’s mantra and took it into her marriage, the challenge is ‘to be a happy person to live with’. This is something that H and I now challenge each other on almost daily.

 

  1. We embraced that we’re a TEAM

Whilst it’s easier to back yourself, we admitted that it’s more beneficial for our marriage for us to back the US, over the I. This sounds like a little decision, and it was, but it had huge ripple effects on so many areas of our lives. Backing US meant saying goodbye to bitching to friends about each other, it meant embracing our in-laws and valuing them as we do our own family. It’s meant keeping our mouths shut at times, and arguing for the other at other times. And the over riding reality check that I personally have had from this change in attitude, cos that’s what it is really, has been that I feel supported, and in that, accept criticism far better as I feel it’s coming from a loving perspective.

 

So are we hunkey dorey now? Gracious no. Some days we get it right and others we don’t but if hitting a rough patch taught us 1 thing, it was this: “Marriage is a test match; it’s no one-day game. Every day we have to make a choice to love each other.” And so, we do.

18 Comments

  1. Roxanne on July 17, 2018 at 6:47 pm

    Oh Kit this was such a great read! Exactly what i needed to hear today. Thank you for your honesty- its difficult sometime to share the not so nice parts of our lives with others. Its brave but our vulnerability shows others how strong they can be too.
    Children indeed change our relationships. My partner and I were young in our relationship when we fell pregnant, i realised that things would change and in some way i felt i would need to mourn just the two of us. Its been better than I thought but I always remind myself and him that we need to make an effort with each other. Our son is delightful and has added a new element of love to our relationship but loving our son does not mean i automatically show love to his father- for this i need to refocus my attention and make the effort. Is not always easy as we are both tired and neither of us have family near by to help with care taking but i know that we have come this far because of love and that if we choose love and each other everyday we go much further.
    Thanks again for the reminder. Much love xx

    • Caitlyn de Beer on July 18, 2018 at 7:27 am

      Rox, relationships post-baby are HARD! Well done for being so intentional with your man and your little one is gorgeous. Sending so much love

  2. Debbie Landers on July 17, 2018 at 6:49 pm

    Loved the blog. So true! Well done to you both & all the best going forward. May you inspire many young people who believe in the romance without the hard work
    Some of us walk away & if that’s the choice, may it be made for the right reasons .

    • Caitlyn de Beer on July 18, 2018 at 7:27 am

      Thank you Debbie and yes absolutely <3

  3. Nics on July 17, 2018 at 11:50 pm

    You hit a chord. And for so many of us, I’m sure. It’s good to know the adventure of marriage has all sorts of hurdles to over come for everyone. Very encouraging words of wisdom.

    • Caitlyn de Beer on July 18, 2018 at 7:27 am

      Thanks for reading this post my friend <3 x

  4. Saskia Wiese on July 18, 2018 at 8:07 am

    Being a newly wed (hehe) I often just want to absorb good notions for marriages and include them in ours. Thanks for these tips! Reading The meaning of marriage by Tim Keller I am also reminded how covenantal marrigae is and that even when our feelings aren’t in line with rainbows butterflies and unicorns we can fall back on the promises we made. Thus post especially reminded me to build a good foundation before kids arrive🤪
    Good read Kit. Thnx

    • Caitlyn de Beer on July 19, 2018 at 7:52 am

      Thanks my Sas <3

  5. Kelly Evans on July 18, 2018 at 8:24 am

    Wow Kit! Thanks so so much for your honesty. With so many friends getting married now, it’s always on one’s mind how this marriage thing works!! What a beautiful blog. Loved it

    • Caitlyn de Beer on July 19, 2018 at 7:52 am

      Thanks Kel <3

  6. Christy on July 18, 2018 at 3:14 pm

    Absolutely loved reading this Caitlyn!
    Thank you for sharing! <3

    • Caitlyn de Beer on July 19, 2018 at 7:52 am

      Thanks Christy x

  7. Jen on July 19, 2018 at 7:03 pm

    A really great read and so true for many to relate to , thank you!

    • Caitlyn de Beer on July 20, 2018 at 11:10 am

      Thanks Jen x

  8. Bridget on July 19, 2018 at 7:07 pm

    Lovely encouraging read. Thank you

    • Caitlyn de Beer on July 20, 2018 at 11:10 am

      Thanks Bridget x

  9. Anna on July 20, 2018 at 9:15 am

    This is so good! Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. My husband and I are busy growing our young business together and raising small children together and all the things you say here are so true. It would be so easy to let these things turn us ugly and selfish as we feel drained and alone sometimes, we have to push through – together and for US. I relate to what you say about ‘if we were dating we would have broken up’ – that’s why marriage is so great (if both understand and by respect the commitment), we are just kind of stuck with each other, no way out but through. Takes a lot of grace and a lot of willingness to recognise our own flaws. Thanks for sharing!

    • Caitlyn de Beer on July 20, 2018 at 11:10 am

      Absolutely Anna. Good luck with building your business <3 xx

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