I was never going to get married. After bearing witness to my parents’ three decades of misery, I was not stupid enough to do it myself. When my father left my mother for a younger woman, I conducted my own little investigation into married life. I asked all my parents’ friends to give me an honest account of their marriages and explain why they were still together. I suspect the little girl in me, who grew up with fairytales and happily-ever-afters, was hoping to prove the older, more cynical me wrong.
No such luck.
The “happiest” couple of my parents’ acquaintance told me that the reason they were still married was that they had “too much to lose” if they separated. I was asking about their relationship, expecting to hear about love, companionship and soulmates. Instead, I got a cost–benefit analysis. My best-case marriage scenario sounded as romantic and desirable as crunching numbers in an Excel spreadsheet every day until you die.
Naturally, when I started IVF and my friend Stephen asked if I was going to get married, I laughed at him. I was so amused by the suggestion that I called Chris, my boyfriend and the potential father of my children, to share the joke.
Chris didn’t laugh. There was silence on the other end of the phone. I asked him: “You don’t … you don’t … actually … you know … want to get married, do you?”
“Well, yes, actually I do,” he said.
“Because I love you and want to spend the rest of my life with you,” he replied.
Six months later, we were married in the same church where Chris’s parents were married 40 years earlier. I’m still not entirely sure why I did it. The day we returned home after the wedding, I was so freaked out by the idea of having a husband that I wanted to go over to my best friend’s house and sleep on her couch.
Eight years later, I still choke on the word “husband”. When I was talking to my daughter Violet’s teacher about picking her up…