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And the clock strikes 20

 | July 22, 2012

All good relationships are based on trust and loyalty, albeit they are both rare commodities, given the fact that we now inhabit in a fast moving world of technology and inventions.


I was just 19 and could barely make up a sentence in French when we met. It was on a windy autumn night in November 1989, when we first struck a conversation. By the act of fate, the bus we rode on got its tyres stuck in mud, in some jungle in Toul, permitting the young Tunisian and Malaysian to mark a new beginning in their lives.

I was then, entering high school in France, had no freaking idea where Tunisia was on the world map, hopeless in Science and couldn’t make out what his thesis on Analytical Chemistry was all about.

To top it all, I was struggling to string a sentence in French, leaving us with no option but to rely on the Universal Language called Love.

Back in the 80’s, we lived in the pre-era of Facebook, Twitter and Emails: communication was nothing but simple. Our thumbs and forefingers were not abused.

Growing up in a dry, cold foreign land, where everybody else spoke a different language was like being thrown into the deep ocean without a buoy. Choiceless, I had to swim diligently to the shore, pacing one stroke with one breath at a time ! He came at the right time, right place and right occasion.

According to the man in question, it was love at first sight – and Cupid’s arrow was shot. Yin and Yang fell into place quite immediately. I fail in Math, he excels. He fails in writing, I excel. Quick calculation : Logic thinking tells me the Delta of the Yin and the Yang will bring about  off springs with the best of both worlds ! Done.

And it was with God’s grace that between the jungle, the dry cold autumn and the bus rides, by default and design, this quiet, intelligent guy took to me like a gull takes to the wind.

Fast forward, three summers later we tied the knot in the most simplest “document signing/religious” ceremony, with investments of just a paper, a pen and Al Fatihah in the Imam’s apartment in Nancy.

Today, I stand proud to announce that we’ve crossed our 20th summer. We’ve gone through thick and thin together, no doubt the paths we’ve ridden were not always rosy, nor sunny. The trials and tribulations were there and they served to deepen the bond.

The secret recipe

If we accept that we’re all human beings, and that all human beings are born imperfect, then we’ve got to plant in the notion of self-acceptance and forgiveness. No keeping grudges, no hurt feelings, no looking back but just keep moving forward.

Ask me the secret recipe of this cake called marriage, and I’d say it’s just truckloads of trust, respect and compromise. Love is just the marzipan on the cake and beauty will eventually fade away. What remains is the make-up of internal beauty, led by the heart, controlled by the brains.

All good relationships are based on trust and loyalty, albeit they are both rare commodities, given the fact that we now inhabit in a fast moving world of technology and inventions.

Similar to your heart’s strength, a strong marriage can be determined through a stress test: it starts off slowly, then it gets faster and faster with time, and according to your level of endurance, some will make it to higher levels, while some will have to give up at mid-way.

Endurance is key, and it’s for this sole reason that very few remain happily married, most “stay married”, some push the reset button, and the braver ones simply “choose to adhere” to the Sunnah.

Some say, Marriage kills Romance. I say, it’s easy to fall in love, but it’s tough to be in love. Falling in love is just a one-off affair, whilst being in love is present, constant and in continuous tense.

The same applies to “loving” a person or “being in love” with a person. Two different states of mind.

However and wherever life leads us to, we know for a fact that we’ll end up being just the two of us again. The exact same way we started off. The children we nurture and love with all our hearts will eventually build their own life, therefore it is with that clause in mind that one should never let work, daily chores, kids, etc. to be in their way.

You’ve got to work at keeping the flame burning, every single day. We can let circumstances rule us, or we can take charge and rule our lives from within.

Truth be told, marriage is not just about a ring on your finger, or a paper that you file and retrieve. You do not want to end up later on in life, with both of you watching a Football Match at TGI Friday’s, with empty conversation or utilizing the phrase  – “we’ve drifted apart”.

When we met, we were both at least 10 kg lighter, no fine wrinkles, no knee problems. As years go by and three beautiful girls later, we patiently accept the appearance of visceral Fat aka Love Handles, Platinum hair and the extra pair of eyes. It is a given that Growing Old Together comes with Growing Fat together.

They say time flies when you are having fun. In psychology, they say truly happy couples will mirror each other in posture and stance. Ours have gone way beyond mirroring. After 20 years, the same thought runs parallel in my mind and in his, resulting in him completing my sentence or concluding with the same answer to the question posed.

When words are no longer necessary to express each other’s feelings and thoughts, you know you’ve crossed the bridge !

Wishing you Happy 20th Anniversary Habibie and May your 50th Birthday brings you more wisdom, wealth, joy and happiness. It’s been a wonderful 20 years, and I certainly look forward to the next 20 years together.

Je t’aime, mon amour !

Sairana Mohd Saad is currently the Director of Corporate Communications, for SME Corp Malaysia, an agency under MITI. Her passion for writing goes beyond professional duties and prefers to express her emotions via words, instead of expensive gifts.


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