5 Ways to seriously ruin your marriage

My marriage didn’t work because I forgot who I was. I expected too much, says Elsjene Burger.

We expect marriage to fail because of the normal stuff like cheating and domestic violence.

It has been almost two years since what I thought was a dream crumbled into a billion tiny little pieces. At first there was complete disbelief. There was none of the normal usual reasons. I thought we were getting along just fine.

Having gone through most of the mourning stages and looking back (more clearly, I believe) and looking back I can see why it really takes two and not one to seriously f up a marriage.
 
Some background
How many times have you heard this:
They are the perfect couple.
There are no two better people for each other.
Etc etc...
 
That was me and Nick*. We met at drama rehearsals (almost like band camp, just without the flute but with a lot of miming).

At first I didn’t like him very much. I thought he was too tall. Too odd looking. I was intrigued however.

6 months later we were THE couple. Even one of my gay friends told me that she could fall in love with a guy like him (which today I know she didn’t really mean, it was just her way of giving her approval).

Anyway. It was beautiful. Extremely romantic, extremely passionate. There was tons of love. Sometimes it felt like too much.
 
In 2009 after being together for nearly 4 years, we got married. On the beach. Barefoot and invincible.
 
And then it started. I realised constantly that a lot of stuff is wrong or just made me feel uncomfortable, but I put it down to work stress and life just carrying on.

In July 2012 he came home one night, told me that he doesn’t love me anymore and that it is over. It took him another 3 weeks to tell me he wants a divorce.
 
I won’t go into the mind-numbing heartbreak, pain and rejection here. I want to talk about what went wrong:
 
1.    Expecting that tomorrow will be better
We get caught up so much in the day to day toil, that we forget to make things happen. We think there will be a defining moment that will tell us when our life starts; when better things are coming.

It is almost as if we are expecting a voice to say: “Here it is! Your life will be better from this moment on…” The truth is, however difficult; our lives start every single day and it remains our choice to live it up.
 
2.    Ignoring the differences
This is an interesting one. Opposites attract and fools never differ. We have heard this time and time again. My grandmother used to say that you have to take your kids with when you go visit like-minded friends, because your kids will marry their kids one day.

You have to take someone from your own stock. I thought that this meant that if his parents are still together, we are from the same type of family. I was seriously mistaken.

The truth is, it has nothing to do with being a traditional family, but everything to do with the communication skills you learn as a child. The manners you are brought up with. One of our biggest fights were about bringing up our mythical not-yet-conceived kids with or without manners.

He was against it. He thought it was an unnecessary social evil. I saw quite early on that his social manners were lacking, but oh the roses smelt so nice, so I filed it deep in my brain in a compartment marked: “Love is Blind”
 
3.    Not saying when you are upset
Probably the mistake that we all make because we are afraid of upsetting the other person or making them angry. If this is your fear and you cannot talk straight with your husband/partner whatever, then it goes deeper.

For a lot of people it can mean different things, but for me, it meant that subconsciously I didn’t trust this person with my heart.
 
4.    Expecting that if you are the right couple and true soul mates, marriage won’t require work (aka, being lazy)
This goes hand in hand with the first point. You need to do stuff for each other. By stuff, I am not only talking about sex. (I can assure you, this was not the problem…) I am talking about walking, dancing, singing, going out to dinner, actually making food and not buying take away after take away.

Always say how much you love the person. Go on honeymoon every year. Do date night. Go for couples counselling. Take communication classes. Do whatever you need to. Divorce is a total bitch.
 
5.    Not listening to your inner voice
After my divorce I found a piece I wrote in one of my many diaries while I was married. I was mourning the death of my inner child. It was quite an angry piece. I was angry at myself for not standing up for myself even sometimes necessarily to myself. 

In fact, I think I lost so much of myself during my marriage and it was not all his fault, I let it happen. I allowed the toil to eat away at my soul.
 
Lessons learnt?
I don’t know, but I can say this: My marriage didn’t work because I forgot who I was. I expected too much. I gave too much. I gave myself away, expecting myself back all shiny and new and beautiful.  And I think this was what my ex also did. And in forgetting ourselves,  we forgot each other as well.”
 
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2014-11-20 12:16
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