Written by: Phindile Le Bris Sithole-Spong
I cannot deny that being a parent has its moments, for me however, if compared to my marriage, parenting seems slightly easier to manage. As far as one can judge, my husband and I are two rather different people. He is a white man from the French countryside, I am a black woman from a South African township. He grew up in a world where violence, pain, suffering and even death only existed in movies and on the news, while, for me, these were traumas that I regularly had to deal with. But please don’t get me wrong, my life was not all doom and gloom, in fact, it is my painful past that made me more resilient to life’s challenges and elevated my sense of gratitude. But let’s not deviate too much; let’s bring the focus back to my marriage.
Like I said, my husband and I are very different and we’ve had separate life experiences. However, regardless of our differences, our core values continuously bring us together. These values range from respect for all humans, a love for adventure, values with regards to food and music, to values regarding the general curiosity about the world, and most importantly, values embedded in the fact that we are both extremely family oriented. I recently discovered that my marriage put all these values to the test. For me, this test was unquestionably evident during the brunt of the COVID 19 pandemic. Yes, both my husband and I are eternally grateful that we managed to keep our jobs when job insecurity was commonplace for most people, and yes, we are even more grateful that we were able to buy a second home. However, our jobs as well as other ‘priorities’ led to the neglect of our own personal wellbeing, and even the wellbeing of our marriage. It seemed like our marriage became secondary.
Realising that our marriage needed some attention was not an easy pill to swallow. But I can say that I am happy we came to this realisation and that we are both working through it day by day. Furthermore, this realisation meant getting a nanny so we can both go out TOGETHER, instead of taking turns to look after our daughter, it also meant spending nights watching shows we both love, instead of being glued to two different screens. These are just some of the many examples of how we are slowly and continuously removing the “secondary” status that has been attached to our marriage.
It is important to understand that the COVID 19 pandemic not only highlighted that we are all living in unprecedented times, but also proved to have affected millions of people in one way or the other. For me, I try to remind myself of this everyday: “Forgive yourself for the things you did when you were trying to survive”. And that’s just it I guess? Yes, the pandemic tested our core values as husband and wife, but it also showed that we were both simply trying to survive. We were both trying to be parents, and employees, and homeowners, and COVID free and, and, and…. the list goes on. So while we may have lost ourselves, and allowed our values to be tested, we also acknowledged our challenges and entered into a new season of growth in pursuit of a fuller and a more balanced life.