Written by Mwabi Kaira
I’ve been in a marriage and a few relationships and always take a relationship autopsy when they end. Of course, I take time to mourn them and eat more than I should, go into my shell and hate every man standing. I don’t want them to look at me, smile, hell even breathe. When I come out of this, I go into my self-improvement mode, and I’m eating right, running 25 miles weekly and doing things I put on the back burner while in the relationship. It’s when I’m feeling fantastic and invincible that I sit and play the tie over in mind and deep dive into where things went left and if and how they could have been salvaged. I’m an observer too and have noticed the same thing plays over and over in why relationships end; couples get stuck and don’t make it to the other side.
I met my ex-husband when I was 19, and things went all the way left when I was 33. Little things I’d ignored or reconciled to be things I’d just live with forever suddenly became things I couldn’t tolerate anymore. I look back now and sometimes laugh at things I could never tolerate back then that don’t bother me at all now. I used to make this man smoke outside of his own house, now burn whatever you want next to me and I don’t care. He brought home a puppy or 3 during our marriage, and I couldn’t stand pets. Their stays were short. I now live with two dogs. Let’s just stay that when it came to my views on everything back then, it was either black or white; there was much of a gray area. These days I live in the gray and give people the grace they deserve. Because we met when I was 19, he always saw me as a 19-year-old even at 33, and we got stuck there. We didn’t make it to the other side. If we had, we’d both be 40 somethings watching our kids become young men and use our newfound freedom to travel the world as we planned by having kids in our early 20’s. We’d have a dog, and we’d be adventurous and try all kinds of new things in all aspects of our lives together.
Couples I’ve seen make it to the other side are DJ Envy and his wife, Gia. I’m an avid listener of The Breakfast Club and their podcast The Casey Crew. I sometimes cringe when I listen to DJ Envy recount his insecure and manipulative ways because triggered. They too met and got married very young. DJ Envy locked Gia away in the Suburbs when he made it big so she could raise their family while he played in the city. It was after Gia confronted him about his cheating and threatened divorce that DJ Envy straightened out. Their podcast discusses how they both put God first in their marriage that grew an entirely new relationship. The respect they have for each other now as grown-ups are evident. They made it to the other side.
The only way to make it to the other side is to receive the opportunity to grow both individually and together as a couple. This whole ownership narrative in relationships has to change. No one owns anyone else. Age has a lot to do with it too. Age gives us the opportunity to evolve into different people. We should not think the way we felt when we were 15 when we turn 30. Experience should change us. Why then do people in relationships expect to be with the same person they met 5, 10, and 15 years later? It makes no sense.
Fear should not be a part of the relationship. You must be able to tell your partner the new things you want to try and not fear their judgment. They should encourage you and allow you to work things. They should be your cheerleader and be there to catch you if you fall and help you back up. Growth is critical, and yes it can be scary, but it is by design that we grow as people. We also have to be clear about expectations vs. reality - we are groomed as girls to live in a fairy tale and are annoyed when our existence is not a fairytale. The gag is you create your fairytale and not the Hallmark and TV version. Boys are groomed to have the same girl forever without factoring in growth and change. Men want women to have the same bodies they had before they gave birth to a human being. It’s impossible, but that’s a whole different story for another day and lots of time to spare.
Making it to the other side is a beautiful thing, and it can be done. The real deep down connection relationship starts on the other hand. You must get through some stuff to appreciate the other side. One day I’ll be saying hello from the other side.