Five years ago my mum’s second brother departed this world, for the next. A wonderful, generous and kind man who never fully recovered from a stroke he suffered 11 years prior. During the time leading up to his death, his health further deteriorated, which left him unable to attend family functions. But before I got married, he made sure he got to see me, to give me marriage advice.
I often think about this advice, now, because it’s so incredibly true and real. It went something like this: “When you get married, people will talk [gossip]. They will talk about what you do, and how you do it. They will talk about what you don’t do, and how you don’t do it. But don’t pay any attention to that. When you get married, you must pay attention to your husband; focus on him. If he is pleased with you, and you with him, your marriage is a success and there’s nothing else, or anyone else, you should worry about.”
It was sweet and touching. What he actually shared with me that day was the universal secret to a happy marriage.
Our society dictates so much about what it means to be a good husband or a good wife, and we allow it into our lives (actually, we allow it to destroy our lives). We’re imprisoned by a predetermined idea of what makes a marriage successful. But the truth is that a marriage is between two people – and them two alone. And it is only them two alone who can make it a happy and successful one.
When I think about him, and his advice, I’m immediately transported back to that sunny day in Durban, sitting in my sister’s dining room. He sat with his legs crossed, smiling, and animatedly advising me on what I would, from then on, always remember and treasure.
Those who leave us are never truly gone. They continue to live in our hearts and minds, where they will always belong…