The realities of marriage

Divorce is definitely a hot topic here at AOW at the moment and Alex’s take on what a marriage has the potential to be or not be is a refreshing and honest one. 

 I picked the line ‘the realities of marriage’ from Alex’s piece as the title because it really intrigued me… I think that everyone’s realities must be very different, no? Ultimately though, as far as divorce is concerned, I find myself agreeing with Alex. This is her very personal story, and why the reality of her impending marriage will mean being ready for anything….

When I met Mr M, who is now going to be my husband (in just under 3 months EEEEEEKKKK!) I was firmly in camp Anna K on the whole marriage ideal. I didn’t really believe one person would love another person for the rest of their life, forever after the end and all that jazz. I was always happy to stick two fingers up at the idea, and made no attempt to hide this from Mr M at all, as early as a month in I think I pointed out there would be no forever. How lovely and not at all scary mary for your new fella to hear eh? Mmmh quite.
Mr M would always tell me to stop being so pessimistic and he would always say “I will love you forever” and I used to say “Shut your piehole, you can’t possibly know that, and I am so not saying it back!”

Now then, the reasons behind this little ones objection to marriage was that typical cliche of parental divorce. And not at a young age either like most of the statistics will probably show. No no no, my parents got divorced in their mid 50s, and after 34 freaking years of marriage! I shit you not! (Sorry for the language…it is my worst feature!) I was 15 at the time and up until this point always was your typical “can’t wait to be a bride” sorta gal, dressing up in my mum’s wedding dress (or anyone else’s I could get my mits on whilst pretending to go to their toilet). I would even pretend to toss a fake plastic flower arrangement to the guests who had come to watch me marry my prince charming! THAT is how much I longed to be a bride and a wife, I wanted to be all homely and lovely and wear silky lace slips for nightgowns (is that weird as a child?) and suits to work and wait for my husband to get home.

I guess in reality divorce happens to almost everyone’s parents at school and you probably think it’s a bit drastic to turn against everything you believe in just cos your parents split up? The thing is, it wasn’t just your run of the mill breakdown/arguing/screaming divorce. My dad actually had another life! With another woman, another house, a child on the way and a whole load of friends who knew him and his “mistress” as a couple. They didn’t know of my mum, my sisters or me and abracadabra my dad was a cunning master of adultery! He had also, we later found out, had an affair with a 19 year old whilst in his early forties and met this “mistress” on the rebound from her, and he had been with this “mistress” for a good 8 years. Oh yes, a modern day charmer my pa, for someone who smokes like a chimney, drinks like a fish and had real money issues he certainly had a way with the laydees!

Needless to say, it all came out by accident as my dad had a nervous breakdown due to probably his “mistress” being about to go into labour and also him withdrawing from heavy alcohol abuse cold turkey. God knows how long it would have gone on for if this hadn’t happened, my mum and me lived in France so we were well out of it all, I wonder if that was his plan all along?

Anyway, long story short he totally and irrevocably ruined my mum’s life. He is still with his “mistress” and at 64years old has a 9 year old and a 12 year old with her and is now married to her, I have very little to do with them. He divorced my mum after they had been separated over 7 years as he knew once you have separated for that long the other person can’t dispute the divorce. My mum lives in a house my sister bought for her and is still alone in terms of partner, I don’t think she will ever want to meet anyone else. Deep down, I think she still loves my dad for some strange reason, she once did say to me “your feelings are not like a tap you can just switch off regardless of how many people think you should”. He left my mum with nothing but me and the things she had on her, he never paid a penny for me and never gave my mum anything since then. She had a really tough time, she even went and spent a new year with my dad and his mistress and child in some bizarre nervous breakdown way, that is how much she tried to cling on to him. Heartbreaking. Literally she pulled all her own hair out one day, can you imagine?! I couldn’t. And I certainly couldn’t risk that ever happening to me. No way was I going to entrust my life to another so completely for them to go and shit all over me and leave me for dead. I was much wiser and stronger, I didn’t need that in my life after seeing what it had done to my mum.

So there I was, and then Mr M came and turned my world and all I believed in upside down. He made me the very thing I was desperate not to become…truly and madly in love with someone to the point that you feel you can’t quite function right without them. He is my all and as much as I hate to say it, if he ever left me, be it affair or just got fed up with my constant worrying, I would have no idea how to fill the void he would leave. I would probably empty ASDA of all its biscuits – that’s a given. I feel incredibly sad imagining what my mum must have felt now knowing how I feel about another human being, and this is only 3 years in. I can’t imagine it after spending 35 years together and having had three children.

Am I deluded enough to think I am impervious to any of the realities of marriage? Lack of sex, lack of time, family stress, work stress, getting older, saggier, greyer? Nope. But I sure as hell am going to work my arse off to make it work, Forever??? Who knows, I still think that is impossible to say, but I know I want to believe it’s forever. He really is the man I always dreamed of meeting and I get to marry him and that makes me happier than a huge tower of cheese and wine!

So I know this isn’t your lovely fairytale story but it is real life. And I think divorce can happen to anyone at anytime regardless of what you think.

Categories: Divorce, Family, Friends and Relationships, Marriage
9 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Vics
    Posted January 10, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Alex, this is really moving and heartfelt. I too went through a similar thing at 18 and it broke my heart to see my Mum at her lowest.

    I then went through a number of failed relationships, never really trusting anyone until I met my boy. Just like you, he made me realise what love is and I treasure him with all my heart.

    None of us has a crystal ball and sometimes it’s hard to put all your eggs in one basket. But ultimately, that’s what love is. And I'm a sucker for it :)

    I hope you have an amazing wedding day – you deserve a lifetime of love and happiness! x

  2. Becca
    Posted January 10, 2012 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    Your poor Mum. How awful. And for so long. He's also the subject of a divorce, and he admits that his parents handled the whole thing really well, but it took eight years of being together for him to propose which I think stems from the divorce.

    We always say that statistically there is a chance we could get divorced. You can't go into a marriage thinking it might never happen, because you don't know, and statistically, there are pretty good odds it might (he's a mathmatician-the first time we talked about it I went mental obviously).

    What you can hope for is that we're on better odds having been together 10 years already from the ages 20-30, when you do a great deal of changing as people. We've learnt independence together, seen all our university couple friends split up, meet other people, marry those other people (there may have been one case of WILL IT HAPPEN TO ME??! EVER??!). Simply, you can't go into a marriage blinded by the idea that it's going to change your relationship and make it 100% perfect. People are never perfect and you have to be open to that.

    But it doesn't mean we won't damn well try to not be another statistic.

  3. Tom
    Posted January 10, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    This is a perfect blog post because it manages to be funny, tragic, insightful and thought-provoking all at the same time.

    There's a famous quote from Mark Twain: 'Put all your eggs in one basket, and then WATCH THAT BASKET'

    I think marriage is a bit like this – it's a risk because you could lose everything, but if you work on it, enjoy it and remember why you got married in the first place then you stand to gain so much more.

  4. Posted January 10, 2012 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. Posted January 10, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    This is such a great post. Brave and honest and kind of inspiring.

    It is braver to enter a marriage knowing that it might fail than it is to blindly assume it never could. It is braver because you know what you're risking, and you're saying that you are prepared to risk that for the chance to be with your person. For entirely different reasons that would take too long to explain here, I was/am extremely wary of loving someone 100%, and giving them the power to break me. But when G came along, it was a bit like an irresistible force. I would just rather risk it all ending, although I'll do everything in my power to prevent it, than live without him.

    Your post is what love is really about :-)

    K x

  6. Posted January 10, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    Love is a gamble, and anyone who thinks it isn't is naive. Like any gamble, you need to give yourself the best chance at winning by going with great odds and your gut instinct. Listen to your heart AND head. And then go for broke.

    Life is meant for living after all.

    Great post.


  7. Posted January 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Any couple that enter into a marriage expecting a fairy tale are almost certain to divorce.

    Being aware of one another's faults and being willing to work hard at marriage is behind all successful unions.

  8. Posted January 10, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    Hi lovely ladies! Did not know my post was out today how amazing!
    I feel I might have shared too much but that's what happens when you use your heart as a pen lol!

    Thank you for all your comments, I have to point out I don't hate my dad, it sounds a bit like I might. Oddly I don't but I don't like what happened and what my mum went through.

    I still see him and he will give me away, but he won't stay long after that. He will go back to his lot. And that's fine, it would be more odd for him to be there all day.

    Thanks again and thanks AOW for sharing my thoughts and experiences! Xxx

  9. Posted September 19, 2019 at 9:48 am | Permalink

    It’s important to explain to your kid what’s the reasons that stays behind divorce. Marriage is the beginning of family, so we must talk more about parenting and importance of having a second half in life. In case of divorce it’s very common when child blame himself for failure of relationships of his parents.

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Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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