“We struggled a lot with our relationship for the first twelve years and were on the verge of divorce several times. I was eighteen and seven in a family of eleven children. As the daughter of a pastor, I was not expected to live together, but my husband came from a broken family with A sick father and he went to boarding school at the age of 13 to escape tensions at home, not setting a good example for marriage.
You bring your separation into a relationship and we immediately felt: We have to go abroad, or we’ll never be separated from the family. We left for Scotland. There it turned out that I was six weeks pregnant, so I became a mother at the age of twenty. We were still young, we were still broken and we were out together: there was no other choice but to talk a lot.”
“Two years later we came back to the Netherlands with a wrecked car, a broken washing machine, and a one-year-old baby. That was all we had. No house, no things, no money. Because my husband felt so failed because he is the breadwinner for his family, he fell into a deep depression. He felt a huge responsibility to take care of his wife and child, while I lacked growth and couldn’t do anything with a toddler around me.He left for the night and I worried called the police,while it turned out he was hanging out at the bar.
Then we decided: we’ve been married for two years, we’re parents, and even though we don’t feel love anymore, we’ll fix this and stay together. If we want to make something out of our lives, we have to take steps. I thought of a note from the church we had just received in the mail and this is where we asked for help. We had to learn how to lay a good foundation, how to raise children and how to interact with each other.”
Brother and sister relationship
“If you break yourself, it’s almost impossible to do. We made a conscious commitment to a brother/sister relationship and after a while it changed again and the feelings came back. It’s very hard to talk about, but it saved us.”
You often assume that you will be rejected if you are vulnerable, but it also makes the other person vulnerable and creates the connection again. A little later, I became pregnant with our second daughter.
“Our marriage has been through many seasons. My husband was very strong physically, but when he contracted the virus a year and a half ago, he faced his weakness. It’s no surprise that at 62 you don’t lift the washing machine anymore, but she did something about it.”
In the meantime, I also caught the virus and went into a coma, which was very sad and unsafe for him. On the advice of the ICU nurse, keep a diary and keep it at the end for 100 days. Two weeks later I was slowly brought out of the coma. After I woke up, I became very delirious so I didn’t recognize Bart anymore, and I had all sorts of horrible delusions and nightmares. This often happens after a coma and instead of arguing with me, Bart started asking questions. Little by little he helped me get the story right.”
Big streak through dreams
“This recovery process took months. Once we got home, we had to give him a place. My husband had a hard time with all the changes because he suddenly became his wife disabled. I am partially paralyzed on the left and only have 60 percent lung capacity as a result of the coma and corona.
And that while we were at a point in our lives when we moved from the Randstad to the country to run a bed and breakfast and a cooking school together. Suddenly a thick line was drawn through our dreams. With some outside help, we found each other again in conversations, also on the basis of his IC notes.”
“This whole period has been very traumatic for us and our children. We both resigned ourselves to who we were before and wept about it together. We could never have done this if we hadn’t consciously chosen and learned to be vulnerable. We are now very much equal partners again instead of of informal caregivers, but it did not go smoothly.
We are fortunate in that we also have two adult daughters who have dared to ask many questions, even difficult ones. “How are you and what is happening to you now?” They wanted to know, and that helped us. Unfortunately, there are now new medical developments, which means that future prospects are uncertain. But we will get through this together.”
Nurturing love the right way
“You don’t get a good marriage alone, you also need people around you and you have to work hard for it. Keep seeing each other, talk to each other about your weaknesses, your strengths, your dreams and desires. Watch how you bring out the best in each other. You love. each other and never give up on each other.
Even if you don’t feel love sometimes, the same love won’t go away as long as you continue to nurture it the right way. together and with a little help when needed.”
Wanted: Lessons of love
For the Love Lesson section of RTL News Lifestyle, we’re looking for love lessons that are beautiful, fragile, funny, inspiring, and honest. An insight, a moment of reflection. Preferably with a hand on your lap. Did you finally turn out to be the one who fears commitment? Should you have never migrated for love or did the composite family turn out to be an illusion after all? Journalist Hanneke Mijnster would like to ask you all about it. It is allowed to say anonymously. Mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org.