If It’s Not For Keeps, Then Why Bother?

Something someone said to me, at the beginning of this year stuck in my mind. Advice that I’m not entirely sure didn’t have a slight tinge of bitterness and malice. However it was given, the advice was to the effect that I should never let myself become dependent on a man.

Because – what happens if things go pear-shaped with that man – and suddenly you’re left with nothing. I assume that’s the reason. And I assume that ‘being dependent on a man’ is a euphemism for “don’t let yourself be some man’s housewife, and then get fucked over and left with nothing, a decade down the line because all you were was a housewife, you made no valid contribution to the household”.

That bothers me very much, now that I’m in a long-term, serious relationship. In fact, long-term/serious doesn’t even begin to cover it. This is the man I’m going to marry, and spend the rest of my life with, and if I go into it thinking these sorts of what ifs, I’ll only be spending my life doubting my commitment.

Let me explain. I’ve always been a very independent person, and would far rather try to solve a problem on my own, with what I have, than ask for help. Stubborn, yes. Even if I know I’m bound to get it wrong, I want to make my own mistakes, and I don’t want someone else telling me how I should do things. Asking for help, and not being able to do it alone – a sign of weakness – the way I saw it. If you had to ask someone to do something for you – not cool.

I didn’t need anyone besides me, and I was enough for myself. I managed. I might have managed things in completely the wrong way, but I did what I could. Until I met the man I was to have a son with. And he was different. He was the total opposite of what I was, and it surprised me when he made demands on my time, and didn’t accept me brushing him off, if I felt I had something better to do. It surprised me that he did things for me, without having to be asked. It surprised me when he took my bullshit in his stride and didn’t gap it first chance he got.

It surprised me when he gave up his dreams of being in film and television and took on the responsibility of the family business, when I told him he was going to be a father. It surprised me that he changed his entire life plan, for me. Within two months of knowing me. That he bought a house, organised medical aid, filled the house with furniture and set up the nursery. That he set up house with me. That he loves me and adores his son.

It was no surprise when he asked me to marry him. What did surprise me, was how I felt. And how he’d changed me. How being a mother changed me. Yes, I am dependent on a man in that I am no longer a full-time employee and he earns more than me – but we’re building a life together. And building a life together has meant that I’ve had to learn to ask for help. Because I don’t, in actual fact, know everything and sometimes someone else (read: he) knows better than I do. And yes, I am a housewife. I cook three meals a day for my family, and attempt to keep the house tidy(ish) and I do things like gardening and grocery shopping and laundry – and I’m happy with it. It’s a peaceful life and my priorities have changed. I’m happy with the idea of marriage, and being someone’s wife (read: his wife) and I’m happy with being dependent on him for certain things – because if you don’t need someone, why bother having them around at all?

I always thought I’d go into marriage with a heavy ante-nuptial, if I ever went that way at all. That I’d have all my ducks in a row, and a clear vision of the EXIT sign, in the event that an emergency evacuation was required. Now I get that what I’ve said might sound naive, and I’m totally aware of this. But if commitment is based on need, and you don’t need each other, then why even go there in the first place?

I say go into it with no doubts and no reservations. All or nothing. No conditions, no compromises – it’s together and it’s toward the same goal – start as you mean to go on, and all that. Enter into marriage as equals.

Or did I miss something important??

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12 Responses to If It’s Not For Keeps, Then Why Bother?

  1. Denise says:

    I think its usually peoples own insecurities that lead them to criticise your life and choices. You are quite right about being a ‘team’ in marriage, if you go in with your exit plan then what exactly is the point of getting married in the first place.

    While, yes, its important to stay true to who you are when you are in a relationship it is even more important to remember that in order to be truly happy together both partners do have to compromise on certain things – that’s what makes it work. Stay true to yourself and also be willing to bend a little when it counts.

    Kahlil Gibran on Marriage in the Prophet really puts it so beautifully

  2. lauren says:

    I completely agree with you! When I was a younger, before I met B, I was adamant that I’d never rely on a man too.
    Then I met B! Life changed radically and I let it. For the first time I ever, I was happy to give someone everything. I was happy to do what he wanted and he was happy to do what I wanted. Even to the silly things.
    (We met and were married within a year) we also went in with a forever mindset. As a result we are married Community of Property, a move that raised many eyebrows and ruffled feathers. But we’ve always said its us forever. So why have a means to an exit?
    Personally, I think the rest of the world is missing something important. People are to quick to find/look for an out.

  3. tanya says:

    An ante nup is very important when it comes to ur estate and the event of death. It is worth going to see someone who specialises in this… We went to a great lady who explained all the options and benefits of each. The emphasis of all the options was on *death*, not divorce.

  4. Nadia says:

    It’s amazing to see how much you’ve grown and changed since you started blogging Tam… Did you ever think you would feel this way? πŸ™‚

    I’m really happy for you my friend, it’s wonderful that you are going into this with your everything! I think most people are scared to be *that* vulnerable but I think it’s amazing. Good for you πŸ™‚

  5. cassey says:

    I agree why do it if not for keeps, but it doesn’t negate the need to plan for seperation through death. That, and the fact that a business is in my husband’s plans meant thinking about how to best go about being the team without it putting what we achieve together at risk because of indivdual achievements and dreams. I look at it like this, we’re making sure that we can do things as the team, but still do things alone without putting the other one at risk. Either way do what works for you and your relationship. πŸ™‚

  6. Here’s my 5 cents worth- you marry forever. There is no maybe or what if. It’s forever. You make it work – you adapt, you mold each other. You try your best. We went into our marriage saying that divorce does not exist – we will be forever. In tough times that frame of mind has been a great support.

    But on the non emotional very business side – no simple anti nuptial – even if only married out of community but with accumulation. In terms of business and the protection of your family and their finances, this is important. Also if one of you passes away – a simpler way to move on.

    I hues what I am trying to say is it is forever – you have to put your trust and effort into it. From both sides. But an anti nuptial is for more reasons than divorce – so do it for that and no other.

  7. LadyB says:

    I really needed to hear that…

  8. Tania says:

    Marriage is meant to be forever, but shit does happen. I have seen some of my friends go through hell lately.
    BUT. Having that knowledge keeps me on my toes and helps me not take my relationship for granted. And I envy you, you lucky lass for being able to stay home πŸ™‚

  9. Ankia says:

    Some advice from the lawyer in me: You have to have an ante-nup! Our’s is 2 pages just stating that we are married out of cop. No accrual system nonsense. It’s absolutely not to assist in case of a divorce as we in any case live as if married in cop ie what’s yours is mine & vice versa, but especially because your man has a business and also in case of death. It’s a legal thing that protects you against 3rd parties and imo it’s irresponsible not to have one. I get the fairy tale, I have it, but life is hard & you could find yourself in a very tight spot if you finances had to pear shaped (and anybody’s can) and you share an estate (legally)… I’ve seen it a million times.

  10. Angel says:

    I agree with you about going into marriage as equals. Its about love and respect for each other. It has nothing to do with being dependant on or needing someone, and if that’s why you’re getting married its not going to end well.
    And an ANC is not about preparing for divorce, its a lot more than that and its very important.

  11. Dawn says:

    I’m with Ankia and Angel on this.
    I married for keeps, most of our family marries till death yadda yadda and i have no intention of being any different… hell if we made it thru everything that’s happened then the years ahead will be easy peasy… We specifically married ANC in case of businesses failing, and also so you don’t have to be dragged with every time anything is bought on any kind of HP.

  12. blackhuff says:

    Going to comment on the newer explained version you posted

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