Yesterday I had the honour of talking to a young mum about her journey in marriage. Coming from a Tongan family, brought to New Zealand because she was a bit of a rebel, only to fall pregnant to an equally young man.
Talking to her I could sense the pain but certainly no regrets of what unfolded.
Mary came from a typical Tongan family with high morals and expectations of its children. A strong loving mother whose husband passed away when Mary was young. Mary’s mum tried her best to bring up Mary and her little brother and sister.
In her young teens Mary chose to break out of the conservative family environment and went to parties and became the despair of her mum and extended family.
To show Mary that she was serious about her behaviour, Mum sent Mary to New Zealand where relatives with tough Church values became her guardian. This did not stop Mary from her fun, and in no time was doing similar things to what she was doing in Tonga.
Inevitably like most teenagers a young man came on the scene. He was tall, muscular and handsome and soon they became boyfriend and girlfriend.
In the mean time Mum and the brother and sister came to New Zealand to settle here and be with Mary. The family settled with the family and all lived in a tiny house in Mangere.
Mary was 17 and school was just a memory, and was continuing to have fun like her friends at the time. Mary reaffirmed to me on a number of occasions throughout our chat that it was entirely her choice with her behaviour. She came from a loving family, and she chose her friends.
One day Mum came in to Mary’s bedroom to have a talk about something, and when her mother walked out she heard her mother say on the phone, “my daughter is pregnant”.
When Mary heard this she was alarmed as she had no indication that she was pregnant except for missing her period. When Mary confronted her mother about this, Mary’s mum decided to take Mary for a pregnancy test.
Mary’s worst nightmare came true. She was 16 weeks pregnant and still at home. Mary’s mum was so supportive from the start, that Mary had no doubt that she would have the baby.
Mary’s next hurdle was to tell her boyfriend who was a party guy and very popular. They were both young but very much in love.
Mary’s partner decided to share the pregnancy news with his parents, and all hell broke loose with the future mother in law. This was not her sons fault. It was Mary’s and Mary will bring shame to the family. Oh what will the family say?
Mary went away from meeting the partners mother feeling very ashamed and unloved. Tony, Mary’s boyfriend stayed quiet as well as Paul’s father.
Mary went home in tears and confided in her mum. Her mum sat Mary down and said that you and this baby are going to be in a loving family, and we are going to be proud of whatever the outcome was. Mary pleaded with her mum not to go straight to Paul’s home and confront the mother.
That night Paul and his father came over to Mary’s place to discuss the situation. Because of Tongan tradition the father felt that there should be a marriage. Mary’s mother made it quite clear to both Paul and his father that there would only be marriage if there was genuine love between the couple. Paul and Mary loved each other so the wedding went ahead.
The wedding is generally every women’s dream but the guilt and shame that Mary felt being pregnant added to a day that should have been special, ending in tears. It was a church wedding but there was no warmth from Paul’s family, so not the wedding that Mary deserved because she was carrying the baby.
The night of the wedding Mary was terrified to go home to the in laws so faked feeling very sick. Mary just wanted to go home to her mum, and feel the security of love. Mary left the ceremony early just to get away. Mary stayed the night and wept all night with her Mother and sister.
The next morning Paul picked Mary up and what was to be for Mary, hell for which seemed like eternity. Mary’s job at the home was to do all the cleaning and cooking around the house while Paul brought his mates home to drink and party. This happened nightly and when their beautiful son was born, nothing changed-in fact it got worse. Mary and baby living in a prison while Paul partied with his friend’s home and away.
One time Mary was allowed to go out with friends, and within an hour Mary was found and told to come home by Paul’s family because baby was crying.
This continued to happen until one day Mary with baby left the home and decided not to come back. Mary gave Paul until seven that night. If he didn’t come to see her, the marriage was over.
At 6.30 that night Paul came over. He wanted Mary to come back. Paul promised to change his ways, and has not gone out to parties with his friends again, stopped his drinking, and became the husband and father that Mary cried for.
Mary and Paul have their own home now, without the pressure of Paul’s family, their marriage has become a wonderful one with three beautiful children.
Even the mother in law has come around and Mary can’t do wrong. Every Friday Paul, Mary and the children have date night. This is a chance for the family to get together to eat, laugh and communicate.
A number of people have stories to tell. This one really touched me as it showed the commitment of Mary and Paul to make it work and become a marriage that has a foundation of love.