I would like to thank the contributors of this story for being brave enough to share their story with us all. To protect their identities, we have not included names or any details about the individuals involved.
How did you meet?
We met at work and got together after about six months of working together. We’ve been together for 19 years and married for 14 years.
What were the challenges you had to overcome to be together?
Probably the most significant challenge we had to overcome to be together was to accept that it was up to us decide that we wanted to build a life together, regardless of other people’s attitudes towards us. Once that decision was made it was a case of going through those very hard steps of telling my family that this was happening, that we would go through with the wedding whether they came or not- which they didn’t. I was ok with that as I knew they were never going to come. My wedding day is still the best day of my life! I had a lot of good friends who supported me through our wedding and my husband’s family always supported us, so that wasn’t an issue. I went through the heartache of walking away from my family- I’ve, of course, never stopped loving my family, so it was painful and lonely in the early years. But there’s no way to avoid that grieving process if you take such a big step. You just have to go through it and eventually it gets easier, time moves you on, and hopefully, your marriage withstands it all. Ours has to this day, and I’ve never looked back.
After that, it was a case of standing firm, putting our marriage, and each other first. So while I maintained albeit a very troubled relationship with my parents during those early years, there was never a question that I had made the right choice. We’ve built our own community made up of friends and families who share our values. So even though I left one community, we were building another.
What has been your family’s/community’a reaction?
Of course, my family was against me, marrying outside of the community. It was simply unacceptable, and I was the first of all my cousins to do so. They voiced their disapproval and made it clear we wouldn’t be a part of the extended family. Even to this day, we are not invited to religious occasions, family birthdays, and so on. Of course, that stings. But I was clear in my choice to start a life elsewhere. What you have to realise when you step away from your community and family, is that you live with the consequences of those choices- the good and the bad. For me, the consequence was a life spent with the man I loved, building the kind of life we feel is right for us, with values we both believe in. So in the end, the sacrifice is totally worth it.
How have things changed over the time you have been together?
Things have changed massively for the better. The turning point was when I had my daughter. Children really do bring families together, and luckily, my parents have accepted her as one of their grandchildren. We spend time with my parents occasionally, and we are civil with my siblings. I speak to my mum on the phone almost every day. Yes, at times, there is the elephant in the room- that I made choices that they never wanted for me. And we are still outsiders. But because we have chosen our own path and wish to raise our daughter according to our values, not theirs, we actually maintain our distance at times. We are very clear about our boundaries, and we work hard to maintain them. You can never let your boundaries and values be compromised. Yes, I do wish that I could be closer with my siblings and their children, but that was never going to happen for me- that would be a totally different lifetime, and I’m very clear that I don’t want my daughter confused about their values versus ours. So the distance is to our advantage.
My advice to the AWMB family is to never give up on what you believe is right. When you feel like the world has turned its back on you, remember there is always that one person there who still has you; for me, that was my husband. Even in your darkest moments, remember there is always light at the end of the tunnel. I wouldn’t change my life for anything or anyone, and you should never have to sacrifice this kind of love or happiness. Be brave and just be true to yourself.