Saturday, 24 November 2007

Adoringly Oxford

The very young couple in front of me were arm in arm, having eyes only for one another and with leg movements in perfect syncronisation. They were both about twenty years' of age. She looked adoringly up at his eyes as he spoke; they laughed a lot and bumped into people along the way, oblivious of everything and everyone around them.

When I was twenty years and four months of age, I was getting married. Why? Haven't a clue, except perhaps it was the 'thing' to do back then. Despite being in the seventies, living together wasn't an option for most of us. I'd only known this man a short while; I didn't know him at all, just that he was quite attractive, not very witty or funny, but, according to my fellow Wrens, 'quite a dish'. I remember saying to myself as we stood in front of the Registrar, 'if it doesn't work out then we can get a divorce.' I meant it too. That's how young, stupid and naive I was.

Two babies within seventeen months' later I knew I'd jumped into marriage too soon and for all the wrong reasons. Nevertheless, I decided I would make a go of this marriage and that (even more stupidly), I could change him. Two more babies later and round about when my Dad, then my Mum died I realised I didn't, couldn't and wouldn't love this man no matter how hard I tried.

Luckily, he spent most of our marriage away at sea while I thoroughly enjoyed my lovely babies who are now lovely women. It wasn't until I'd left him and had found my real love that I discovered what marriage should be like. For the first time, in my forties, I experienced affection, consideration, respect, laughter and wonderful, great sex that wasn't just sex. I gave and received love unconditionally; no bullying or controlling; no shouting or sulking. I thought of all these things as I walked behind the young couple in Oxford today, wondering if they would still be together in twenty years' time. I hoped they wouldn't jump into marriage too soon, but thinking about it, my first husband and I never walked arm in arm, never looked adoringly at each other, nor did we hang on each other's word.

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