Sitting in a stifling marquee, listening to my cousin Sally’s husband making the traditional father-of-the-bride speech, I was overcome by a feeling that was part envy, part guilt and part regret.
My cousin’s marriage, which has lasted for 25 years, is by no means perfect – what marriage is? – but against the odds, she has achieved something that is now, and always will be, beyond my grasp.
As I looked at her sitting happy and radiant at the top table, laughing uproariously at her husband’s far from funny jokes, I realised that, in a world that has horribly devalued the institution of marriage, she was reaping the benefits of putting the love and security of her family first, before any disagreements she might have with her husband in the rough and tumble of daily life.
Watching her united with her husband on such an emotional occasion reminded me sharply of exactly what I had lost – but had no idea I was losing – seven years ago, when I got divorced from my husband, the father of my three children, after 25 years together.
Our relationship had broken down, I can now see, not because of any petty irritations such as his lateness or my untidiness, but because we had both moved irrevocably away from each other.
In the past few years of our marriage, I was more absorbed in my children and my career than I was in my husband while he, feeling increasingly isolated, simply switched off.
It’s a scenario that will be familiar to many couples. But how many of them choose to separate, and how many have the gumption to stick it out?
The trouble is nobody tells you the truth about divorce.
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