Relationship status: it’s complicated
As expected, our relationship has been changed quite dramatically since becoming special guardians. We had only been together for a minuscule three (and a bit) years when we decided to become guardians to our niece and nephew. Although, we think that no amount of time can prepare you for something like that. Or any change for that matter! Understandably, this was quite a significant ‘milestone’ in our relationship and has effected it in a variety of different ways.
Just to give you a little bit of a background into our relationship… We have known each other since we were at primary school together (with aunt and uncle’s sister being in the same school year) and our parents live one minute away from each other. We live in a relatively small town and had a lot of mutual friends growing up and during our teenage years, we spent many of a drunken night busting a move on the dance floor at our local nightclub. However, it wasn’t until 2013 that aunt slid into uncle’s DM’s to question his relationship status. Thus, our story began. After about 9 months, uncle slowly but surely moved into aunt’s family home where we stayed for the next 2 and a half years, whilst “saving” money. Saving is in inverted commas because we did nothing of the sort. Over the next three years we only had ourselves to worry about, spending our money however we pleased and being the “fun” uncle and aunt who were able to wind the kids up and then leave the chaos.
Then all of that changed in a matter of days. We obviously discussed the decision to become special guardians in great detail and it was something that we put a lot of thought and consideration into. We were young, living at home, with no real responsibilities. BUT. Three days to become guardians is pretty swift. Most people have discussed the idea of becoming parents in detail, spend time actually making their child and then have nine whole months to get everything ready. Some would say even that amount of time doesn’t prepare you for parenthood. Even with adoption it is a long process. Well, we can assure you that three days doesn’t prepare you either! Many people ask us whether we want our own children one day. The answer, obviously, is yes. However, this will probably happen at a later date than we originally had in our mind. Theoretically, it will be like having a third child, so we want to make sure that the timing is right not only for us but for our niece and nephew. There’s a lot for us to consider in that department.
You then have to add in bereavement and coping with grief. As her death was sudden, it wasn’t easy for us to process it and deal with the gaping hole that she left behind. Somehow, having our niece and nephew live with us helped us to deal with our initial grief. Probably because we had to stay strong for them, but also because their mummy’s memory lived on through them. This doesn’t mean that it was easier in any way though. We had to support each other immensely during that time, reading each others signals and ensuring that we had enough space to process our grief as well as trying to help. We have to do this on an ongoing basis as grief hits you in the most unexpected moments.
Moving two children into aunt’s family home (where five adults already lived) was definitely the right decision. It really helped us to adjust to life as guardians and also meant that we were able to have regular date nights as babysitting was automatically sorted. This was really important for us in the early days as it meant we were able to spend quality time together away from the chaos and just be ourselves for an hour or so. Moving into our first home definitely put more of a strain on our relationship. Although we were ready to (and needed to!) move out, this change was something we were going through for the first time. Aunt had never lived away from home! Uncle had been to university but that is a very different experience to having a family home. But we had never lived away from home together, let alone with two children. Anyone will agree that maintaining a family home is very difficult; managing money and keeping it tidy is just the beginning.
They say that you take things out on the people who are closest to you. This was definitely the case for us. Our situation can be very overwhelming at times, which inevitably leads to stressful situations where we say things that we don’t necessarily mean. It can also be easy for us to sometimes forget to appreciate each other. We do get through those darks days, but when we are trapped in them they can be nothing short of horrendous. It can be easy to slip into a vicious cycle of moaning and frustration towards each other. But sometimes, it’s understandable. We have been through an awful lot over the past two years. We just have to remind ourselves of how much we love and need each other. And even though we may feel pressure to be the perfect couple (and sometimes it may appear that way to the outside world), it’s okay to admit that we do struggle.
Ultimately, we make an amazing team and we need to remember that in order to support each other. Not many relationships could withstand what ours has and we need to remember to be proud of ourselves.