So, “what has married life been like…after divorce…” I can’t tell you how many times I get asked this question…even Zunaid… Well I can tell you, scrap all the self-help books. No really, scrap it.
Just like parenthood, it’s a ride where you take some advice from what you know and learn along the way. I wrote an article on 10 lessons on what divorce taught me but here are 7 lessons being married (again) has taught me.
Lesson 1: Keep date night alive
Heard the saying “don’t ever stop dating your wife, and don’t ever stop flirting with your husband” – this saying is really as true as they come. Zunaid and I have this solid tradition still standing – coffee date night every Sunday at 8pm. Straight after Amra’s bedtime. Doesn’t matter where we go (even if we have it in our room behind closed doors), how long it is, it’s a constant event that has never ever stopped happening. And it really is so important to us as a couple as a just get to relax and chill and not talk anything work or child related.
Lesson 2: Balance is key
When I say balance, I mean you are now married and now you need to juggle everyone’s schedule. There are 7 days in a week, 24 hours in a day and one can only do so much. As odd as it may sound, you are a (blended) family now, no time like the present to get familiar and cosy with each.
Lesson 3: Spend time alone…apart
And by alone I mean, no spouse, no kids. I did it before I got married and once in a month, I like to grab a movie or a meal or a spa treatment by myself. It’s nice to sit back and reflect. And just like you need time alone, so does your spouse. I’m a firm believer of guy time. Your husband does not to spend every single waking moment of his free time with you and the kids. Personally, it will drive me insane actually. More and more often these days, Zunaid and I encounter newly divorced people and the first thing I’ll ask a guy is “When last did you have a guy’s night?” and he’ll look at me flabbergasted and in shock and as if I’ve asked him some foreign question. And Zunaid will just laugh and say “yah bru, those nights exist…” I love when Zunaid goes out with the guys. He comes home so excited to tell me about the fun time he had but he is even more excited to just come home and chill with us. This is so vital to a marriage.
Lesson 4: Not everyone will share your happiness
I say this as it’s human nature. Fake smiles are as real as they come. Not everyone will share your happiness. Not everyone will share your triumphs or accomplishments or the love for your new life and love. And soon enough, the green eyed monster along with the wicked tongue of comments will surface and rear its ugly head.
Lesson 5: Every family has their dynamics
And the best thing you can do is accept it. I’m a family person – driven by loyalty and respect. Zunaid is the same. Only difference between the two of us is that he doesn’t give chances. I’ll give the world of chances whereas he doesn’t. If I say “let’s go visit…” His immediate response will be “did they check up on you and my two kids recently?” and if I say “no” and then his response is “well then we’re not going”. And I’ll always justify and he’ll always respond “I have two kids… I have a wife…”. And I’ve learned that once Zunaid’s stubborn mind is made up, it’s made up.
Lesson 6: Accept the ex
Accept each other’s’ exes and ensure there is always respect to all parties, especially if there are kids involved. Keep communication open between yourself and your partner at all times. He will always stand with you. However if there is one thing my brothers have taught from very early on in my divorce (as young as they were) is loyalty. Ex-spouses are exes for a reason – ex to the spouse, ex to the family. If they are still in contact with the family, as ruthless as it is – accept it as a blatant sign of disrespect in every way – to the family member who left that person and to the new spouse. I could give you advice on what to do but each situation is different and I really have no advice to offer.
Lesson 7: My kid, your kid – the no no terms…
There is no such thing as my kid, your kid. From the day one you say “I do“, instil the term “our kids” into the family dynamics. Never say “this is my kid and my spouse’s kid” – no no no…. these are “your kids” as it’s your spouse – it’s your kid; it’s your siblings’ niece or nephew and your parents’ grandchild. Like my gran always says “no child asked to be part of a situation, don’t punish them, embrace them and do what’s best for them”. The sooner everyone accepts it, the better. People often ask me “when are you having another kid?” – and I’ll always reply “for now, I have my pigeon pair, so we’re in no rush”. And when it comes to disciplining – we’re both go with the flow parents but there are our rules to certain things on what we do, we’ve agreed upon, are non-negotiables and we have learned very quickly that we, as parents, stand together as one.
If I do figure out any more rules along the way, I’ll be happy to pass it on…
Some vital tips that we seem to pick up across the board from people who are divorce that ask either myself or Zunaid for advice…
People, despite being married, divorce people feel we can relate to them… And if we can give you some tips: The “white picket fence” life doesn’t exist – no matter how hard you try to tell yourselves it does – Some people will do anything to achieve it, even if it means ignoring all the signs of their partner being unhappy and when their partner does eventually voice their opinion, it’s too late. The damage is done. Shock, horror!
Keep the kids out of it – “for the sake of the kids” is a cheap ass tactic of a line to use. It’s the shittiest card to play. Don’t do it. Your partner will resent you. Because guess what, your kids are going to sleep out for a night, or grow up and move out, and you’ll be stuck looking into each others faces. And the unicorns isn’t suddenly going to cue music of happiness. Stop it!
If your soon-to-be or ex spouse is chatting to people who hear him/her out and they support their decision to remain single – don’t hate those people. They aren’t breaking up your home. No one in this world can break up something that was already broken. If two people are meant to be, they will work it out, however, when your relationship has reached that point, it’s the point of being a broken vase – you might be able to repair it, but it will never be the same again…