Hubby and I share a rocky relationship.
We fight and make up with alarming regularity. Part of the problem might be my “vinnige bek”. He is of the old school variety and would perhaps have fared marginally better with a hausfrau. Instead, he hit on me in a club 13 years ago this April, and now here we are.
Our fights have a common theme:
- He’s sensitive. Too much so. I’ve had to learn to temper what I say. It’s hard because like I said before, I run at the mouth.
- I’m impatient. He likes to do things perfectly, and I like to get things done.
- He believes in “spare the rod, spoil the child”. I would rather eat my own head.
- He’s a homebody and family is everything. Me, not so much.
- I’m a city girl, he’s a campmeister who wants to go on road trips in caravans and sleep in the wild(!).
Whatever. We usually sort stuff out and plod along happily until the next time. We don’t subscribe to the “make up before bedtime” idea and prefer to sleep on things. They always seem better in the morning, don’t they?
But sometimes things get away from us. There was the one time we separated. It was about 5 years ago. Let’s just say it was unavoidable and a combination of the factors above.
Things had been tense for a while. Work had driven a wedge between us and I guess he felt unappreciated. I felt stressed and combative. He wasn’t working at the time and I felt like I was the only one carrying the family financially.
He was at home, a house husband. He cooked, collected G from school, took her to ballet, swimming, and horse-riding lessons. He did laundry, managed the maid, and drove me to all the conferences, workshops, etcetera, I had to attend.
I was working for a Crazy Canadian lady who did her own thing, left me to do the actual work we were being paid to do, and who then took credit for everything I did.
Crazy Canadian also played up hubby’s lack of work, and generally making me feel like I was worth more than what he was giving. I stupidly fell for her fakery, hook, line and sinker. Coincidentally I was also promoted, lauded and applauded at work while working harder and longer than I ever had before.
I realized things were fraught in my marriage and booked a holiday to Cape Town. I thought the family would provide a nice sense of balance and also get us out of our bubble.
That didn’t work quite as planned. My family is very hands off: you do you, we support you as needed, but your marriage is your business. Hubby’s family is the opposite. ‘Nuff said.
Long story short: after a month at home, he decided he didn’t want to return to the UAE. I was shattered, but, “Boy, bye!”.
G and I boarded the 9 hour flight back to the UAE. It was bad. I was trying to figure out how I was going to do all the things he had done while working a full time, demanding job. She kept asking where her daddy was. I held it together until she dozed off.
Hubby stayed in Cape Town for a month. In that month I had to parent by myself. Taking care of the house, chores and so on was easy since our amazing cleaning lady stayed on full time and her husband became our driver. The UAE is a boon to single parents everywhere. Reliable help is freely available.
It was the times when G and I were alone that were the hardest. Explaining what was going on was hard. The fact that hubby had ceased all interaction was the hardest part for her to digest. I don’t lie to my child, not ever.
She understood, as well as a 4 -year old understands grown up things. She became super clingy and developed issues at school. Her teacher was amazing. I told her the truth and the school rallied behind us in the most amazing way.
Ironically, the Crazy Canadian didn’t.
Instead, she broadcasted the breakdown of my marriage to anyone and everyone, including the meanest rattlesnake in the pit, a Tunisian scum bag who was after my job.
Imagine my horror when said snake asked during a disagreement,” Why are you so upset, Karin? It’s not like your husband left you or anything!” I asked Crazy Canadian if she’d told the snake and of course she lied. In fact she tried blaming my nanny for spreading the rumour!
Told you she was crazy.
Hubby and I started communicating again. He wanted to come home. I wanted him to come home. Both of us were too proud to admit it.
Eventually we did. It took a while but we started talking. And then all the issues came out: good, bad and ugly. A month after we separated, he got on a plane and flew back to us.
So, what did I learn?
- “You only miss the water when the well runs dry.”
- You can do it. All of it, but you’ll need a support system.
- Strangers can and do support you, but you have to ask for it. “It takes a village…”
- Pay attention to your child. They need to understand as much as you do.
- Someone’s got to be willing to start talking.
- Family will take sides. Expect to lose respect for and contact with quite a few.
- Gossip will abound. There’s nothing quite as salacious as a family falling apart.
- Trust will need to be rebuilt. Be kind.
- Cut off ties with the outside world in order to focus on getting your family back together.
- Sex is not going to happen for a while. It’s going of take a lot to get back to the physical stuff. Don’t rush it.
So there you have it. There’s nothing quite like family and protecting it should be your no.1 priority.
Until next I blog,