x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Married life: Falling head over heels

Just over 18 months ago, a new arrival in Abu Dhabi unexpectedly found a husband.

It may have been just over a year-and-a-half ago, but the memories of my old self are still as vivid as a child's imagination. I bid my collection of over 2,000 books adieu in favour of carting around some 100 pairs of shoes I was adamant I could not very well live without, let alone embark on a new, adventurous chapter of my life sans footwear. I had packed my bags, said my goodbyes, shed my tears, and tried to curb my excitement, in vain. I had done my research on the stifling humidity, the exorbitant rents and the best places to see and be seen in the UAE, in preparation for the active social life I was going to dive into, head over heels.

I was scared but eager to leave the familiarity of home and family behind. It may have been for the umpteenth time in my life, but this was not for the necessity of pursuing a higher education or taking off on a work-related trip. This was a personal choice, as an adult, to seek a life far from home, a life of independence and career focus. I had exciting plans. I arrived in Abu Dhabi on September 1, 2008. On September 2, a Tuesday, over an evening coffee after breaking the Ramadan fast, I did fall, head over heels. Granted, it was not a tumble into the life of a social butterfly, as I had previously planned, but a fast fall for my coffee companion, who today I call my husband.

Now, I am living an altogether different type of adventure than the one I had envisioned when I chose to move to the UAE. This one involves learning to grocery shop and cook for two people and not one, saving money for a home, not a pair of Manolo Blahniks, struggling to find a balance between a passion for career and a passion for a life partner, and deciding on the right time to have a baby, instead of the right time to plan that girls' trip to Ibiza.

It has certainly been a bit of a learning curve, facilitated by the fact that a) my husband is the kindest, most patient, most easy going man in the world and you cannot convince me otherwise, and b) pretty much everything is a learning curve when adjusting to life in a new home, whether the new home is a literal new abode with a spouse, or a whole other country. Having a partner with you to navigate the ups and downs, whether you're smack in the middle of "single in the city" or "married in the city", simply cannot hurt.

That, perhaps, has been the hardest to adjust to. We are taught that "sharing is caring" from quite a young age - kindergarten, if I remember correctly. But sharing the complexities of life is no easy feat, especially if you had chosen to get married after you had tasted independence and worked hard on experiencing the varieties of what life has to offer. Suddenly, you are in a partnership that requires you to share, from the mundane details of your daily life during all those moments when you are apart, to the story and memory behind every past wound and scar. You no longer have to carry your burdens, responsibilities and expectations alone, and yet it is not as easy to share those burdens as you would have thought.

But then again, I never got married because I thought it would be easy. I got married because I knew it would be worth it.