Breaking the Marriage Rules

Picture this, your marriage has its own personal umpire. The umpire is there to make sure none of the cardinal rules are broken. And when I say rules it’s more than in sickness and in health. It’s the down and dirty, the murky stuff that we know is wrong but we just can’t somehow help ourselves. The tiny little dig, the raised eyebrow, the silent treatment, the eye roll. The deep sigh that’s sometimes questioned with a “what? what’s wrong?” only to be followed by the excrutiatingly passive aggressive….”nothing”.

We have one rule. Don’t blame each other, blame the situation. It’s a piece of advice that was passed on to me by my mother in law and one that I’ve muttered under my breath through every international move. Every new first day in a sea of unfamiliar faces, every new school run where I’ve managed to get lost and arrive late. Every new baby on foreign soil with a taxi that didn’t arrive for a doctors appointment or a dodgy internet connection that left you feeling more isolated.

I broke the rule.

The situation got the better of me. G has to go back to Qatar and I can’t go back with him. It’s simple, and it has to be done. His job is there and it’s time to go back, our children are here and with the current quarantine laws and travel bans I have to stay in Australia. I can’t sign a statutory declaration that I won’t return to Australia for three months, I have a mother who is having heart surgery, a child in year twelve, a son settling in to a new school.

Our situation is not unique. We, like thousands of other expat Australians have found ourselves having to make some tough decisions. That direct flight that was always so convenient, the thread that held us together with our family is now broken. Cancellations are a common occurance, quarantine for those who are lucky enough to get on a flight is expensive and long. We’re not complaining – this is our life, our choice and the situation we find ourselves in. Acknowledging this doesn’t make it any easier – it just makes it real.

I’ve been watching the active cases in Qatar, the numbers are rising. To be fair so are the vaccinations so logic tells me good news is on the way – but it’s those rising numbers. In the past twelve months I’ve watched G go through chemo and then radiation, his tired eyes, his aching body. There were months where he’d drag himself out of bed and shuffle to the kitchen, every inch of him aching. Fast forward to today where he’s been for a walk on the beach and is now paddle boarding. He’s recovered and it’s time to go back to work, he leaves tonight.

The marriage umpire arrived yesterday with a whistle and a red card in hand. One of us was offside, okay, I was.

I couldn’t help it. While he’s been getting ready to go I’ve been quietly willing him to stay without saying the words. Instead of “I love you, I’m scared and I don’t want you to leave” I say things like “did you see the numbers today? Fifteen thousand active cases?! That’s not good” or “did you see the video with all the people standing shoulder to shoulder?” I sigh out loud as I read updates and articles. I roll my eyes when there’s talk of further restrictions. I mutter under my breath about why you’d go back now and not just leave it for a little while.

The whistle was loud. The red card went up. I was about to be fouled off for unfair play.

If it were Australian Rules Football I’d definitely be accused of playing the man and not the game.

G pointed out that I wasn’t making this any easier. With tears in his eyes and his voice shaking he repeated “I don’t want to leave you, I don’t want to leave the kids, but you know I have to go back to work. We have a life there, we have things that need to get done. Our car is there, our house, our resident permits have expired. I have to go back to our life.”

We sat in silence together, broken but all the better for it. We know how to do this, to keep putting one foot in front of the other until we get there. Going back is the first step to getting back to where we need to be.

And so, here I am, hours from that dreaded trip to the airport. I feel positive, I know that this is a step forward to our life returning to what it once was. People will keep getting vaccinated. Numbers will ease and I will return to the mantra. Don’t blame each other, blame the situation.

I love you, I’ll miss you, I don’t want you to go – but we’re okay, we’ll do this, again and again. We may not by physically together, but we’re closer than ever before.






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