While seated on the polished wood of one of the benches in her backyard, she thought about their time together. The short period between their courtship and marriage had been interesting. Everyone around them had said they were a perfect match and her age played its part in pushing their relationship to the next level. In simpler terms, he was an eligible bachelor and she was a woman with a ticking biological clock who had just won the lottery. He was not a bad man, on the contrary, he was kind, attractive, and an ambitious man. Unfortunately, she never quite considered him to be the heart throbbing, jaw-dropping soul mate she yearned for. Nonetheless, she said yes when he got on one knee and asked for her hand in marriage.
The idea of her lips soaking up all the conversation on his skin while his hands tasted her secrets excited her. She was excited to be married, they would have so much fun loving each other, supporting each other, and the sex would be amazing. Sadly, the lifetime of chastity had not paid off. Their sex life had turned to an awkward charade of uncoordinated body parts that she mentally labeled “the unrewarding cardio”. Her expectation versus reality ratio was significantly high. A part of her felt guilty for wanting more excitement in her life. Her duty they said, was to love him, take care of him, keep him from wandering to younger girls and build a home. She felt slightly immature for wanting things ‘young girls’ wanted: the excitement, the butterflies, the romance, and of course the sex. Those were not real issues.
Real issues are when he cheats when he is violent when he doesn’t provide for the family. Pleasure and excitement are little girls dreams that you have to leave behind.
The kids! Instinctively, their needs came first and when instinct failed there was a whole society to remind her of her duty. She looked out to the yard and watched her children. There was something very “breakfast cereal commercial” about them running around laughing, in their perfect little clothes, while she and her husband sat in a peaceful trance watching them. That award-winning scene with about ten percent of candid was the trigger she needed to publicly proclaim her truth. She had made the decision weeks before and that site was the catalyst she needed to let it out.
“I’m leaving you. I am not happy; I haven’t been happy for such a long time that I think I forgot how it feels like. I’m sorry but I know I will not find the fulfillment I seek here.”
As soon as those words left her lips she felt free. In the intensity of that moment, she felt something surging through her body. It was a reaction she did not expect, especially not at that moment. There was a slight breeze on her face and she felt her face cool as it slapped her cheeks. Her heart was pounding on her chest and tears were struggling not to run her mascara out. She realized she was laughing. It was an authentic, deeply rooted laugh that carried with it a cocktail of emotions. Her essence was in another world, a different time, probably the same place freedom fighters were the first time they sang their national anthems. He wore a face of utter confusion and for a second she wished she could give him a pinch of what was coursing through her so he could understand.
There is this notion that women are expected to be tolerant in a relationship and that they need to endure the hardships that supposedly come with marriage. These notions are rooted in the sexist notions that pleasure and contentment belong to men while women are the givers of this pleasure and contentment. The happiness, comfort, and pleasure of women come secondary to men’s needs and as a result, many women stick around unhappy situations unable to move on. Women find themselves trapped in loveless marriages and relationships because of the shame that follows them when they choose to leave. They are suppressed by the pressure of responsibilities, their children’s needs, pressure from relatives and the threat of having a tainted image. When a woman decides to leave she is shamed for not being able to sustain her marriage or keep a man and accused of poor parenting is she happened to be a mom. Prioritizing one’s self does not make a woman a bad parent, wife, girlfriend, daughter or whatever role she may play in any given community.
You don’t have to justify why you stay or leave;You don’t have to justify putting yourself first.