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Marriage? The other Big M!

half way to the danger zone......!

I've been TRYING to watch, a new short tv series in the UK called 'Marriage'. I say 'trying' because it's been excruciatingly boring, as are most long term marriages. Arguments over which chicken to buy in the supermarket? Ouch, but I guess thats the point they are making. It's not all 'Bells and Whistles", the joy is often in the comfort, routine and the mundane, the ordinary.

I have been married over 33 years and yes, I was a gym slip bride, too young to know my own mind! However I really thought I knew everything and we grabbed each other as our favourite human and stuck with it. Over 3 decades later, here we still are, we've matured together and managed to adapt with every challenge and every change.

Him and I? We've been through the mill and back again, had happy and sad times and generally plodded along beside each other, sometimes reluctantly, I'm sure. We've both made mistakes and we've both forgiven each other and moved on.

A long term marriage is mostly a blessing, I mean who would want to date at our age? 54 and swiping right? No thanks, that said, I know that some people find a 'forever new love' on the internet second or third time around, but I also I believe one could equally end up with a serial killer! The thought of dating completely horrifies me frankly. I'm sticking with my first choice thanks.

Yes, a long term marriage is indeed an assault course of emotions and if asked how we have survived? I mostly look perplexed and say "I have absolutely no idea". It's not true, I do know why.

It's mainly gumption!

We got married in April 1989 and we've often discussed renewing our vows at the 35 year mark, which is fast approaching. In the late 80's we were young and care free, but our wedding was pretty much a clone of his sisters fabulous wedding and planned by my lovely mum. No complaints. Still, we'd love to do it all again, our way, to suit who we are now. Small, intimate and a celebration of our growth as a couple and as individuals.

Marriage to me, is a series of bonds and boundaries. These bonds and boundaries have to be able to stretch a little here and there as we are human after all.

Marriage is not easy.

Love can grow deeper with age, but it also changes with each passing year, each passing decade. It can also suddenly fade and never recover. most of us don't want that, I certainly don't.

I was 20 when I got married and our first child followed within the year. I'm 54 now and entering the next exciting phase of married life, if only the children would leave us permanently. Haha!

There are many things that can upset an otherwise good marriage along the way and the three main issues are:



Child birth/raising children

It is only with hindsight that I can tell you, my husband and I lost each other for a while in the small child rearing years. Also money, wether there be enough or distinct lack of it, has definitely defined our marriage and lets face it, we've moved way more than is good for anyone! Too stressful!

The other things, that can obviously play a big part in bringing down a decent marriage are:

Loneliness and or neglect


Third party interference - ie: the in-laws

We've experienced some of the above. I've learnt to have my DIL's back always. Not to have an opinion or interfere in my son's relationship. They are an important part of our family, but they don't have to live their lives our way to be accepted.

Marriage is certainly a never ending learning curve.

Does what doesn't kill you make you stronger eh? Who the fuck knows! I just think a willingness to sort problems out could help?

The biggest issue a marriage can ever face is:

Lack of communication!

Clear communication without rancour is key to any marriages survival and success, but is often the biggest problem. We don't rush down the aisle with a 'how to stay married and happy' manual, now do we? Theres no need to be brutal or nasty when communicating, no, but a couple does have to learn to communicate the truth without fear, screaming and or blame in order to be harmonious (most of the time).

Marriage is a lot about expectations.

Our marriage has faced many challenges along the way, but we have both been on this adventure 'warts n all' for the long term. We expected to say together. We are aware of each others expectations, but realise it's more likely to be a lot of compromises in the end.

We both wanted a life partner. Yes, with hind sight there are things we would both do differently, better even, of course. We've been friends and we've been foes. One has struggled and the other has taken the reigns and vice versa. It is a partnership, even if we do things differently and sometimes don't feel like we are on the same team. We aren't perfect, we are flawed but ultimately we just want to be each others 'someone special'.

Our own long term marriage is a grown up version of us, the young kids that skipped down the aisle together, with nothing but hormones in play are a distant memory, sure, but sometimes we revert right back to the stupid kids we were.

Mostly, these days our hearts don't rule our heads that much. Back then, we didn't discuss having children, we just had them. As the years have sped by and by god they do speed by, we've realised that if we had our time again, we'd definitely be more selfish and probably NOT have kids, but that's the gift of hindsight. We weren't the best of communicators back then and anyway we did have them and they have been both the joy and frustration of our lives.

I just asked my long suffering husband about the 'Bells and Whistles' needed in a marriage and what he thinks, is the one thing required in our marriage right now?

"A caravan" he says and he's not joking, but I did laugh and laughter is very important in a forever partnership, I am so aware of it. He knows I don't like hotels much, he also knows I don't like travelling much and so his solution is to put the home shell on our backs, so we can move around comfortably together. Little wandering tortoises, awhhhhhhh!

Then after a bit of thought he also added...... "For me, its a garage space to escape to when you are fed up of me".......a nice way of putting it and he didn't have to duck this time! Bless. I guess, at least, I know where he is when in said man shed!

All joking aside, hobbies are super important. Time for self and time not to be a couple, but to be at peace with who we are as individuals. We must not be stuck like glue to each other even though many of us old married cohorts enjoyed just that during lockdown. Time apart doesn't mean separate holidays to Ibiza and a cheeky affair or two, it means enjoying our friends and interests alongside our committed partnership!

In sickness and in health. If you tied the knot in a church and went down the route of vowing to Blah, blah, love, protect and care for each other no matter what happens, you won't have realised back then, what it is you were promising until it hits down the line. It's when you see your partner at their most vulnerable that you get it.

Love is hard but it shouldn't be cruel. It feels cruel when one of you is sick, it adds a strange new dimension to your marriage, a deeper love. The need to protect and wrap your love around your other half is natural and instant. You will also fear loosing the other half of yourself and the terror of death rears its ugly head for the first time. Life without your partner becomes a real possibility. Thats often when you realise, what you have can't be beaten and you are brutally made aware of how precious your love is.

My husband has looked after me after a couple of terrifying, serious operations. I couldn't even go to the loo by myself and whilst he did almost starve me to death, I've never loved him more than in that moment. He hardly slept, putting his job on the line to ensure my every need was catered for. I still remember to this day, standing as best as I could in the shower, naked, vulnerable, nothing hidden and his big clumsy hands trying to be gentle with my hair. No complaints when his sleep was constantly disturbed by my need for pain relief or a visit to the loo! Love reveals itself in many, many ways throughout the years.

I'm not going to lie to you. There have been days when I could run away. There have been days, many days that I have felt lost, lonely and indeed unheard. The thing is, I'm sure he has too! It can be as difficult in a marriage as it can be wonderful for both. Its learning to take the rough with the smooth that helps.

Is the grass greener on the other side? I guess it could be? I mean it's easy to look at younger, fitter bodies and feel that might be a bit better than the rather older, scarred version of us. It's important to understand and embrace the ageing body of our beloved partner. The scars are indeed part of the journey, part of the story and it's worth finding out what the next chapter will bring.

Sex is super important in a marriage and when that goes, it can be difficult to repair the rest. Yes even in our mid fifties sex is very important to us both and will be as long as we still can and or there's a prescription to help. You need to get your love and care at home and then the eyes don't tend to wander, so date your spouse forever. Make time for them. Make them feel wanted and special. I know it's tough in the young child rearing years, but make it happen anyway you can.

Emotions ebb and flow in a marriage. It's ridiculous to expect it all to remain the same and silly to demand perfection. You have to learn to love your partner at their best and at their worst. I'm not talking about giving into abuse, but I am a huge fan of a good row to clear the air. I've always doubted the health of any marriage that doesn't erupt from time to time. One or both is holding way too much in and marriage is about sharing, not hiding.

Soul mate?

Yes. I feel luckier than most. Despite our very own marriage being a bit of a rollercoaster at times, my faith remains in my husband and our partnership. My love is a given, even in the times I feel like I might murder him.

Our marriage is turning the corner into the halcyon Autumnal years, were he repeats things constantly and questions wether I have memory issues (I don't, I just don't listen), mansplains (way too much) and reads the news to me, even if I tell him twenty times a day I can read and hear quite well thank you! We are happily throwing ourselves into the 'comfy slippers' period because we need it to be calmer and slower now.

My advice? Never go to bed on an argument, but do go to bed with your partner and agree to talk about it all the next day, when the dust has settled and the anger has dissipated, even if you do build a pillow wall between you!

Do listen and do pick your battles. Don't continue to focus on your children when they are grown up, encourage them to fly and support from afar. Do make time for each other. Do talk and do build lives you can be proud of. Do forgive, but don't be a push over. Do a little or a lot of what makes you happy because it's no one else job to make you happy, it's yours.

Get up everyday and love the one you love. Learn to fall in love with your chosen human and the new version of them again and again and again. Love and be loved. You won't ever fail if you try.

P.S I swear if I couldn't cook I'd be out on my arse! lol.

D x

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