As Valentine’s Day approaches yet again, it makes one all dewy-eyed about one’s wedding day – especially, if like me, you married on Valentine’s Day.
Being married on Valentine’s Day is a wise move, as that way you and your love tend to remember your anniversary. I guess that’s why I find that particular wedding anniversary so easy to remember. The other two I keep forgetting. For like many people of my generation, I have been married for almost 24 years – but not to the same person.
The first wedding occurred when I was too young to know any better. He proposed in the car on the way to a meeting, I seconded the proposal, it was passed and we drove on. It was an early sign of how much romance I had to look forward to. I spent months choosing the dress and finally settled on cream lace (size 10). He turned up on our wedding day wearing the only thing that was left on the rack at the hire place the day before: a purple velvet suit with matching bow tie. And that’s about as much effort as he put into the relationship for the next seven years.
The second wedding (cream lace again, size 14) was the epitome of romance: We’d only known each other a few months when it became clear that we should spend the rest of our lives together, so we flew to the United States where we married on St Valentine’s Day. It was on our honeymoon that it became even clearer that this was mistake. “But I made you feel like a million dollars, didn’t I?” he said plaintively after I walked out. Yes, but it cost me thousands.
By the third wedding (midnight blue satin, size 20) I was older and wiser, and by that time, I had a child, (but not to either of the men I’d married), and was expecting another. Nearly 10 years later, we’re still married to each other, so I guess this is the real thing – perhaps because this time, unlike the first two, I spent more time choosing the husband than the dress.
But I’d be less than honest if I didn’t admit that, even third time lucky, marriage is hard work. Of all the men I know, he’s the only one I’d bother with at all. But it is hard to keep the romance alive when neither of you bothers to apologise when you fart in bed; when hanging out together just means not holding your stomachs in and when the chief topic of conversation is the kids or money.
In these circumstances, you must rely on the forgiveness of candlelight and the mellowness of good wine to turn frogs into princes or princesses yet again.
So after three “I dos” and two “I don’t any-mores” here is my advice to young lovers:
First of all, size matters. The size of your bank balance, that is. Don’t marry for money, but don’t marry at all unless you both have some prospects of getting any, especially if you have kids. It’s easy to hand down booties but you can’t hand down education.
Secondly, familiarity breeds contempt, so perhaps the ensuite next to the bedroom is not the ideal situation after all. And if you must use the haemorrhoid cream, do it in private.
Thirdly, get a life, and not just a family life. Do something for yourself occasionally apart from go to the dentist or the gynaecologist. Nobody wants to be married to a martyr or a bore.
Fourthly, don’t wait for Valentine’s Day to say, “I love you”. Better still don’t just say it, show it and not just today but every day. But don’t bother with trashy bears with red satin hearts. Show it by sharing responsibilities, not just your bed.
And finally, if you must celebrate, remember that St Valentine was clubbed to death and died a martyr – not a good omen for any marriage. So if you still want to sanctify love and marriage, how about commemorating St Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) on October 15? Although she never married, it seems she had a mystical insight into the pressures of married life as she is the patron saint of headache sufferers and her symbol is a heart, an arrow and a book.