“I do,” she exclaimed, as he took her face into his hands and kissed her gently on the lips… or at least that’s the way we expect the story to end. That is how Ballito-based Christo Barnard, the Director of the boutique conveyancing firm CBA Inc., and Enneagram Coach Tracey Fowler expected their story to end when he took to his knee one chilly July evening. Instead, what they found was that as the save-the-dates were sent and the venue was booked, their response to forever became “I do, unless I can’t, I don’t or I won’t”.
It was thus that just a few weeks before their wedding, they found themselves sitting over a morning coffee at a local coffee shop when Tracey suddenly exclaimed that she could not go through with the wedding. Christo breathed a sigh of relief for the pending nuptials had started to slowly feel like a noose tightening around his neck too.
Three weeks and a few days before their Love Party was set to take place at the whimsical Grand Exotic in Salt Rock, one would never say that they are not counting down their days to forever. They clearly adore each other as they cannot get through a cup of coffee without holding hands or excitedly speaking about their future together. Why then not simply say “I do” and be done with it?
Marriage, in some form or another, has historically been seen as the necessary step to take in a couple’s relationship progression. Entering matrimony for love instead of economic reasons is a reasonably modern-day concept as it only started to emerge in the Western world during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Traditionally, marriage was entered into to bind a woman to a man and thus ensure his continued lineage. The matrimonial union provided a vehicle to cement familial alliances and ensure the economic security of families.
Marriage continues to be a beautiful union in which many couples choose to partake. It provides both spouses with a certain amount of legal and economic security, especially young couples who are building a family together. The advent of antenuptial contracts has also ensured that couples can structure their matrimonial property regime in such a way that their bottom line is protected. Despite all this, there has been a global upswing in divorce rates from the 1970s with the younger generation choosing to enter wedlock much later, if at all.
Along with this trend, there has been an increase in alternative forms of happily-ever-after, such as the Love Party Christo and Tracey celebrated on 18 November.
Christo was married for 35 years until the death of his son and the reality of an unhappy life forced him to seek out his own happily-ever-after. He was raised in a culturally and religiously conservative community where divorce was heavily frowned upon. His choice to divorce came at a cost to his emotional well-being. Fortunately, he went in search of peace in the years following his son’s death and his divorce, finding mindfulness and breath work as mediums to forgive himself and release his pain. During this time, Christo founded his second business, Space to Breathe. Space to Breathe mediates for couples on the cusp of divorce and allows individuals an opportunity to grieve the trauma they face in a supported manner. He is using his own experiences to give back.
Tracey has also used her trauma and life experience to give back. She lost her father at a young age and found that her matrimonial happily-ever-after never wanted to stay forever. She is an Enneagram Coach for individuals and corporations, helping them better understand themselves to live more fulfilling lives and work better. Recently, she has started to apply her skills to families by mapping out parents’ style of parenting and their children’s enneagrams, giving parents insight into their children to parent more effectively. An enneagram is a type of behavioural test that outlines your strengths, weaknesses, fears and driving motivations. Tracey uses the results of this test, together with her years of coaching experience, to help people live and work better.
Together, Tracey and Christo make a beautiful and in-love couple, so why not then say ‘I do’?
Well, for them, marriage is not off the table but there are other options that they may consider exploring. This includes entering into a cohabitation or life partnership agreement which is a legal alternative to marriage. This type of agreement allows you to formalise the way you share finances and divide assets both during and after the end of your relationship.
Whether or not they ever say ‘l do’, one thing is for certain – this couple epitomised the words by Rumi, “Be foolishly in love because love is all there is”, when they decadently celebrated their love with their nearest and dearest. So, whether you are choosing to enter into a marriage, a life partnership agreement, or merely happily cohabitate, don’t let the fear of matrimony stop you from celebrating each other or your love because life really is short.