Recently, it was the sixth anniversary of husband and I becoming a proper couple. Not long after that, it was the sixth anniversary of our engagement. Our relationship perhaps didn’t have a conventional start. The anniversary of the beginning of the year when we went from best friends to being married with a baby sparked quite a bit of conversation between us. I thought it would be interesting to write a joint blog post on the subject. So one day, we both wrote about our views on relationships and specifically marriage. Here’s the result:
My writing will be in regular font. Husband’s writing will be in bold.
When looking back and deconstructing my choices, and in particular those that have led me to my present situation as a happily married family man, I can’t help but wonder what the reasons are for people to get married usually. Some people get married because the circumstances dictate it as a sensible choice, for example with an unexpected pregnancy so usually, thats a leap for people already in a relationship to make things more formal before the baby comes, they might have got there anyway, but pregnancy is still a known reason for a short notice wedding. Other people get married, because they are in a whirlwind relationship filled with passion and sensuality. I always wonder if this is a high risk strategy , peoples looks will change, as will their sexual appetites over time, its apparent that for some people, this does not leave a lot left.
When I was five years old, my best friend asked me to marry him. I was at his house and we’d just been told that I’d soon be going home. Neither of us wanted me to leave so he hatched a plan: if we got married, we could be together all day, every day. It sounded like a stroke of genius to me so I accepted. Now, if you’re hoping I’m about to say that, at the age appropriate time, we did get married, like some lovely romantic comedy then I’m sorry to disappoint you. In reality, I think I last saw that boy when I was seven or eight. But that idea of marriage, of marrying a best friend who you could spend all of your time with forever, really stayed with me. All through childhood and into teenage years, my female friends spoke of wedding dresses, bouquets and Mr Right, who would sweep them off their feet and they’d marry within days and live happily ever after. Meanwhile, I was thinking about marriage. I was thinking about having a family of my own. How much did one day really matter when marriage lasts a lifetime?
There are people who get married after a long relationship who want to formalise things and have a big lavish party. Its nice to go to a big wedding, dancing , drinking, high emotional attention and at some you can really feel like your sharing in a choice well made, and this is clear in the case one case I am thinking of as the same pair are still happily married over a decade later. But for others, its often the case that they are looking forward to the fairytale wedding with little thought to the marriage.
At sixteen, my best friend was George. We talked endlessly. He made me laugh. He supported me through the worst parts of my life. We started a strange little casual relationship. I suppose some people would call it ‘friends with benefits’. But I think if we both look back with a bit of honesty, it was always something more than that. When this occurred to me, I took the rather bizarre and stupid step of ending the whole thing and making a misguided attempt at a relationship with someone else. That only served to make me realise that I actually loved George and any other relationship was going to be utterly rubbish by comparison. Luckily, George worked this out as well and we finally got into a proper relationship. When I was 19 years old, my best friend asked me to marry him. I accepted. We also decided that as we both wanted a family and both felt completely ready for one, there was little point in waiting and so my contraceptive pill packet was thrown in the bin. Little did we realise how super fertile we were and that only two months after that, I’d be pregnant.
Looking back at my own choices, I can understand why some people may have had doubts. Although I had known Amelia for many years as friends, we had not been a couple long before we got engaged.
There are a couple of reasons for this. For starters we were never single at the same time, save for a day or two in which time admittedly we had been somewhat physical. We were clearly attracted to each other but had not been considering a relationship as we were very close friends. Another reason is our age with Amelia being in her late teens and me in my mid twenties, I was a stage or two ahead. I had lived with woman before, and been in long term relationships and Amelia had little experience other than kissing, so there was a certain disparity.
One day, after much discussion and a lot more demonstration that we were physically compatible, we talked about our relationship, or more to the point , why we didn’t have a relationship of more significance. We agreed that we wanted the same things in life, we were attracted to each other, we trusted each other and the key thing, the thing that was very clear and almost ignored, we had loved each other for a long time. we had spent so long focusing on the reasons we couldn’t be a couple that we had wasted time in actually embracing it. We were already sexual, affectionate, supportive and had lived together (as friends) before. It now seems stupid we waited so long, but as I said, outside influence and the disparity in age had previously been off putting. Once we accepted that we were entirely foolish, entirely in love and entirely unable to ignore this further, we started dating as a couple. After a day or two we told people that we were together, and after less than a month we were telling them that we were engaged and to marry less than 6 months later. To some this seemed sudden but to us, this seemed intuitive.
We decided to get married before I had a bump showing. I had absolutely no shame in being pregnant before getting married, if anything it felt like everything I’d ever wanted was happening all at once and that was pretty brilliant, but I was already getting comments that hinted heavily at the idea that we were getting married because we were having a baby as the ‘right thing to do’. If that was annoying, I could only imagine how annoying it would be if those comments kept coming every time anyone saw me in a picture of a wedding dress with a lovely big baby bump. There was a slight issue with planning the wedding. Aside from never going dreamy-eyed at the thought of my own wedding, I had also never actually been to a wedding either. I had absolutely no clue what I was doing. But it did all come together quite well. We both wanted a fairly simple and, bearing in mind that a baby was on the way, inexpensive wedding. I bought a beautiful wedding dress that, due to apparently being last season (not something that I care about in the slightest), was reduced from £500 to £250 and I managed to haggle further down to £150. We got married at the local registry office with around fifty guests, all family. The reception was held at the home of a relative who very generously offered it as a venue. The catering, decorations, flowers and photography were all very kindly handled by family members. It was a wonderful day and I do look back on it fondly. I’ll never say that I regret it being a small event or that I wish we’d had a big hall and hundreds of people there – I’d never have remembered all of them anyway!
I did have a few concerns. This type of relationship was new to Amelia and we had no way to know how she would adjust. I was very concerned (in the face of constant reassurance) that with no real sexual experience other than myself, as for one reason or another Amelia had chosen not to sleep with anyone previously, that in a few years time she would regret not making the most of the opportunity to experience more. I am assured now these years later, that I am still foolish to think like this and that it was pointless worry. Thankfully.
The other issue I had however, and probably the reason I felt that the first issue was even an issue, was my track record with woman. I had been in several relationships, and had even more lovers, and had not been known for being shy or restrictive with my affections. I was old enough think I had done enough, sew my oats as it were, and got it out of my system. I considered that if I were a 19 year old, I would never get married, so why was she so keen? I also worried that I would not be able to live up to the “forsaking all others” element of the marriage. Could I really do that? Could I get bored in 6 months and move on like I had so many times before? No I couldn’t. I was marrying my best friend, I was having a small wedding because I cared about the marriage, not the party. I was open and clear with my intentions, I wanted to be a husband and a father and put my life into something worthwhile. I knew what I wanted and I had no right to assume Amelia was wrong in her estimations. She was 19 but was more grounded and mature than me and she wanted to be my wife, and have a child (which came not long after the marriage began in fact). She was right, I was wrong to worry and I’ve never been happier than I am now.
Five and a half years later, we’re very happy for the vast majority of the time. Yes, we have arguments and we’ve had a couple of pretty rough patches but we get through it and I really think that being best friends has helped enormously. We have to be grown up and responsible sometimes but we can be silly and immature too. We have fun. We laugh a lot.
People often think that five years into a marriage, especially when you’ve also become parents, your sex life isn’t going to be as exciting or active as it once was. I completely disagree and I’d say our sex life is as good as, if not better than, it was when we were first together. I know this is partly down to luck – luck that our daughter sleeps through the night and has done for a few years. We’re also lucky that we happen to very compatible in this way. We enjoy the same kind of things. We’re both pretty open minded. And that’s where I’ll stop this topic before I start offending anyone!
I genuinely believe that people, and particularly women, need to focus more on a marriage than a wedding. Yes, it is a very important day but it is just one day. We might well have 60 years or more of marriage. That’s 21,900 days! It’s so much more important. And it takes a lot of commitment and effort to not just keep it going but to keep it being good. And if you marry your best friend, it means you get to spend every day with someone you enjoy being around. That is brilliant.