It's my 25th wedding anniversary today.
Of course, I was a child bride...
Well, actually I was 23 year old when Mark and I got married...he was only a year (and still is, funnily enough) older than me. I tell you...if my daughter came home and said she was getting married in a year's time at the age of 23 ...I'd go ballistic!
Falling in love
I was nearly 19 years old when we met...six months into my nursing training. We met at a party in the nurses' home. I fell in love with his very cute butt, which I have to say he still has. And the fact that he had a black JPS Ford Capri helped a lot too. He would pick me up from Salisbury General Infirmary in the summer when I'd finished an 'early' shift and we'd drive down to the beach at Bournemouth...with the car windows wide open..wind in our hair (that was in the days when we both had hair) and 'Earth, Wind and Fire' blaring out from the tape deck.
Once we decided to married, we did it in three weeks. I think everyone thought I was pregnant although no-one ever came out and asked me. We had very little money so we got married in the local registry office...I wore a nylon dress I bought in an ordinary dress store...and we had sandwiches in the back garden with just our close family.
What money we had we spent on our honeymoon -we went to Greece and stayed in a resort just outside of Athens. The only snag was the beach was right in the flight path of Athens airport and Mark spent most of his time plane spotting rather than romancing me! He even started giving lessons to the other guests about how to identify the various planes. I got horrible heat stroke and was extremely sick on the door step of an outdoor restaurant, in front of all the diners. My other memory of our honey moon was Mark buying a huge water melon from the market and bringing it back to our hotel room, on his shoulder because it was so heavy. He only had a knife from the resturant to cut it up so he ended up making a terrible mess all over our room - everything was really sticky. He ended up giving pieces to other guests because there was too much for us to eat.
We lived in Salisbury, UK until I finished my midwifery training. When we decided to think about having children, we moved to Pitton which is about 12 miles outside of Salisbury. Ellen came along when I was 26 and Andrew was born when I was 28. Life continued to be pretty hectic especially when we both had jobs that meant we were commuting and I had to get a live-in au pair to look after the kids. It was at that point in 1996 that we decided to move to New Zealand to have a change of life style. And here we are...years later ...with two beautiful young adult children and a new lease of life to our marriage now they've moved out of home...even though it's only five minutes drive down the road!
When I reflect on those early days of our marriage I wonder how we ever stuck together all these years. We were so different...came from very different backgrounds. He voted Labour and I supported (much to my shame) the Conservatives. He was an atheist and I came from a staunchly Christian family. He left school when he was 16 and I have never really stopped studying except when I had children. He loves to be active all the time...I can lie on the sofa all day doing nothing except read.
But if you were to ask me what achievements in my life I am most proud of, I'd say there are two things that I immediately think of. The first thing is that I breastfed my children for a year each, giving them the best start to their lives in an environment that did not support breastfeeding. The second achievement is our marriage. I am incredibly proud of the fact we are able to role model a successful marriage to our kids at a time when 1:3 - 4 marriages end in divorce.
Secrets to a long marriage?
So what is the secret to a successful marriage?
My reply is probably nothing you haven't heard before.
1. Be friends as well as lovers.
2. Spend time apart to follow your own dreams and have 'me' time - don't be upset when your partner wants to go off and do their own thing at times.
3. Never let the sun go down on an argument.
4. Keep the romance going - please would someone kindly tell my husband about this rule!!
5. Have a laugh with each other every day.
What do you think is the secret to a long marriage or relationship?