My marriage didn’t end abruptly. There was no infidelity or wrong-doing on anyone’s part. It just slowly unravelled, like a ball of wool, metre by metre, until there was nothing left.
When I packed a few bags – under our marriage councillor’s advice – to stay at a friend’s place for some breathing space, the thought ‘divorce’ did cross my mind. It wasn’t that I thought it would never happen to us. I just didn’t realise it would be like this.
Some experts equate the end of a marriage to the death of a loved one. But at the time, almost five years ago, all I could taste was adventure and new beginnings. Marriage at 22 years of age for me had less to do with finding the right person and more to do with leaving the family home and claiming my independence.
I wasn’t allowed to date or have a boyfriend before I married. It was all part of upholding the expectations that come with being female within migrant culture.
Ten years later, after taking out a lease on my first place with my daughter who was three at the time, there was still lingering hope for my marriage. In hindsight it was probably over, but we still clung on, refusing to let go. We were still having regular dinners to keep things consistent for our daughter.
It’s strange, but I feel like we helped each other through the first year, where we weren’t quite sure what was going on. We were still friendly, still attracted to one another – we would have family hugs on each arrival and departure. I was estranged from my immediate family who wanted nothing more than the marriage solidified. I had no real friends to turn to. All I had was him.