Darren asked…

Darren was on the phone to a work colleague and she teased and enquired when he would give her the opportunity to buy a new hat. It is a phrase I heard many a time and often when I was young. It set Darren thinking, so he wrote a piece about Love And Marriage and asked for our thoughts.

I come from the dark ages. My father saw a woman’s place as in the kitchen. A third level education was seen as a waste for me as I would only go off and get married! Back then I had no interest in marriage because it only meant drudgery and work and I had plenty of that already with my father and brothers. Why would I ever willingly take all that on?

My working life started in the Civil Service. Back then girls working in the Civil Service in Ireland were required to resign from work on marriage.

I know that my own mother would have liked to keep on working after she married. She had a good head for figures and indeed earned ‘a Man’s Wage’ back in 1941. My father announced that “No wife of mine will go out to work” and so my mother became a full time wife and mother.

Time passed and along came Jack and changed the whole canvas of my thinking. He was old enough to be my father, a widower, from a different religion and ‘English’! It may only be across the water to the next island but it was seen by my family as a very different culture. Heads nodded and tongues wagged, it was sure to be a disaster. We were more than expected to fall at the first hurdle.

While out with my mother one day shortly after we became engaged, I met a friend of mine. My friend was delighted and excited for me and said as much to my mother. To this day I still remember my mother’s reply “I hope she doesn’t miss out; he is a lot older than her you know!” There was no warmth or affection in the remark. Perhaps the way my mother uttered those words was the best thing she ever did. I knew that if I stumbled along the way, there would be no point in going home to mother! I would have to stay and work it out.

I didn’t expect to stumble and in fact never had any doubt that I was making the correct decision.

Within a week of the engagement my father produced a list! It was a first draft of wedding guests. It numbered 70 and that was only our side. I tore it up and said that we only wanted immediate family to share in our day. I had no desire for relations that only came when they needed feeding, to dance at my wedding. I in fact went on to say “Anyway, what is wrong with having the wedding out there in the back garden that you are so proud of”! I have no idea where that came from, but once uttered I began to really think about it and like the idea. A friend of mine was a chef and I asked him to look after the catering for us. He did. Every cup, glass, plate and chair was imported for the day, and he produced a mouth-watering buffer for us. A friend of one of my brother’s worked in a pub and organised to have the Guinness on tap for the boys (it was a great hit) we bought the wine wholesale.

My outfit cost £75 pounds and was way less than a traditional wedding dress. Jack wore a suit and we asked our witnesses to wear whatever they were comfortable in. My Godmother, a florist provided the flowers and I gave a couple of rolls of film each, to my eldest brother and my cousin and told them to just click away. No formal groups required. My Uncle officiated at the ceremony.

The sun shone brilliantly on the day and for most of the time thereafter. Marriage is not always a bed of roses; you only get out of it what you put in. It is a work in progress and we learn to change and move along with life’s seasons. You learn to live with the toothpaste being squeezed in the middle, the cushions being fluffed up the second you stand up from a chair, or the hours spent washing and polishing a car. Having a soul-mate to start the day, share worries and joys, kisses and cuddles, before snuggling close to as evening draws to a close is worth all the tea in China, as my grandmother used to say, or indeed all the modern day technology! A kiss or cuddle does not depend on broadband or electricity to work!

As someone who was married until death did us part, I know that the love and strength of my marriage has carried me through the black abyss of bereavement. In the dark days of Jack’s illness I regularly repeated silently to myself the words of the wedding vows I had made many years earlier and thought of how I felt about Jack when we first fell in love. It helped!

Sadly not all have a marriage like mine and I have watched with great pain while some have crumbled before my eyes. Nowadays there are so many distractions and modern working hours are no help. Laptops and mobile phones surgically attached are a curse of the highest order. No good saying I wish… when a marriage is over or a soul-mate has died. The time to do something is NOW!

I remember many decades ago, Gay Byrne had a Jesuit priest on the Late Late Show, talking about marriage and its problems. His advice (to the horror of all the little ‘Holy Marys’ round the country) was two hours on the couch twice a week! Best advice I ever heard.

Now close up that Laptop, switch off the mobile and tell your soul-mate how much you love them!

Amen.

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26 thoughts on “Darren asked…

  1. Beautiful post Grannymar, your ceremony sounded perfect! Although your marriage story has a sad ending, it is an honour to hear you share it and learn from you. I’m only six years in and can use all the advice I can get! 🙂

    I was kind of sad reading some of the comments on Darren’s post. So much cynicism for such a beautiful and special thing. I think people get put off by tradition and religion and indeed the wedding itself. Marriage has little to do with a wedding.

    Himself and I were chatting about the post and comments last night (me paraphrasing, because he’s too cool to read blogs, see!) and he said, in all his “wisdom” *cough* “If marriage doesn’t make complete and utter sense to you, you’re with the wrong person!” Don’t know how true that is, but hey, I was flattered! 😀

  2. this is just such a beautiful post, it brought tears to my eyes! my wedding is in less than a month and i just can’t wait! it will be a very small ceremony and i can’t wait to be a missus!

  3. Marriage is not always a bed of roses; you only get out of it what you put in.

    If I take nothing else from this lovely post, it will be that. And, just to so you know, I did tell the person I’m with that I love them. Cos I do.

    @Deborah – “If marriage doesn’t make complete and utter sense to you, you’re with the wrong person!” He’s obviously not. What a lovely sentiment.

  4. Beautiful post. The polar opposite of my cynical drivel.

    I guess I just haven’t been exposed to anything resembling a successful marriage across my life, so my cynicism is natural. Although looking through some of the comments on my post (particularly from Deborah and Tatty) and reading your post here, I can see that there are some people who enter into it for the right reasons and with the right intentions.

    I’m glad the post inspired such varied reactions. It’s been an interesting read.

  5. @Deborah – ‘Marriage has little to do with a wedding’ this is so true! I too was saddened by some of the comments on Darren’s post. I see it as part of the ‘I want everything, and I want it now’ world. Nobody, but nobody has everything.
    You don’t marry someone you can live with – you marry the person who you cannot live without. ˜ Anon ˜

    @tatoca – What a wonderful time it is in your life. Enjoy every moment of the lead in to the wedding. I wish you well for the day and the life ahead. Remember:
    A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person. ˜ Mignon Mc Laughlin

    @Darragh – I hope you turned off the phone first. 😉
    Marriage is not a ritual or an end. It is a long, intricate, intimate dance together and nothing matters more than your own sense of balance and your choice of partner. ˜Amy Bloom ˜

    @Will – ‘Marriage is a bed of roses. Petals and thorns.’ I like that and remember that:
    Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction ˜ Antoine de Saint – Exupery ˜

  6. Grannymar – what a great post. I love hearing about other people’s experiences in marriage and love (so nosey!). You’re completely right that you have to work at things though. If we all gave up at the first hurdle we’d never get anywhere. I think the important thing to do is look at the big picture (if you’ll excuse the awful corporate speak there!) If you love the person and they love you, you should be able to work together to make things work.

  7. She knows who she is Grannymar.

    So, for when she comes here, as she does:

    I love you.

    But now I’ll just go and tell her for extra effect.

    Beautiful post, as usual.

  8. Lovely post and I enjoyed reading all the comments too esp re thorns and petals – how true.
    The Gay Byrne episode on marriage I remember hearing about was when he asked a woman what she wore on her wedding night – there was uproar in the country apparently when she replied ‘nothing’!
    Joking apart, Marriage is having someone to share the good and bad times with as well as everything else you’ve all mentioned.

  9. @Nutty – We learn from other people’s experiences, example and stories.

    @Anthony – 😀

    @Gray Wright – Welcome on board. Glad to be a message board for you today. Never assume that somebody knows you love them – TELL them every day!

    @Lorna – I think I saw that Late Late Show as well! Marriage is all about sharing and putting yourself second.

  10. A lot of food for thought….I tried to add my six penn’orth but my browser decided to lie down and die and demand a bug report…then my machine died. I guess I’m not meant to say the things I was saying.

    Marriage is a big step but
    when our eldest sone decided to get married (well the two of them did but you know what I mean) I did the father thing and said, ” Are you sure? It’s a big step.” (or words to that effect) he replied,”It doesn’t seem like a big step to us. It just seems to be the natural thing to do.”
    Thinking about it, that’s what it seemed like to us…but by golly it’s been hard….an emotional roller coaster but that’s a story you wouldn’t read in a novel!
    On a different note….ancient law in Scotland said that all you needed to do to become wed was to “know” each other (in the biblical sense)…there must have beemn alot of bigamy about …and I understand that there is something in the bible on the same lines!

  11. thats beautiful 🙂 I have been engadged to the man of my dreams for 2 years, known him for 12 years before that, getting married next year and Every day we tell eachother how much we love eachother, every time we kiss and every time we hug, we always make time for a little, “I Love You”, and each and every one is filled with meaning and is never taken for granted.
    I can only work hard and pray it lastes as long as we do 🙂

  12. There’s lots of eating and drinking in this post, Grannymar

    I just loved it! 😀

    But you forgot to mention one thing…

    having to learn to live with the loo seat being left up! 🙄

    Now, I’m off back to the couch…byeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!

  13. @Magpie – I never asked Elly that question, I suppose I saw them together for a long time and felt they were right for each other

    @Lette – I am sure it will if you keep working on it and never take each other for granted.

    @Judy – 😀

    @Steph – I came from a house with five men so the seat was never down for long!

  14. Beautiful post Grannymar, your experience mirrors mine to a large extent apart from marrying someone old enough to be my father!

    I believe in Marriage as an institution but not necessarily straight away. Here, once you have lived with someone for 12 months in a defacto relationship, there is no financial safety net, you are considered ‘married’. But it’s having the courage to take that big commitment that is important in my view, to tell those close to you that you have met the perfect man and have the balls to go through thick and thin together. Then, I came from an incredibly stable family and happily married parents, I guess that ‘colours’ your view.

    I take Darren’s point about exorbitant weddings though. Such a waste of money and so many people who you will never hear from again.

    I know that Adam can’t wait to marry Amy but they have good heads on their shoulders and a few goals to achieve first and Clare will marry eventually but probably on a beach in bare feet!

  15. Well, she is from the USA and had spent some time here commuting between Cambridge and out home for week-ends and we did find her different in several ways!

  16. @Baino – I realise our roads are similar in some respects.
    Like you, I believe in Marriage as an institution and for both Jack and I it was part of the commitment we made to each other.

    @Magpie – That was just the way my parents felt about Jack. Mind you they never actually said so to me, but it came back to me!

  17. Carrie and her ma in law now go out together to see musicals…and she is changing her eating habits…she’ll even eat stir fried vegetables! Before all she would eat was mashed spuds and sweetcorn! And meat!

  18. Regarding my tongue in cheek posting …. it’s the best I can do. As a single 40 year old male I can honestly say that I’ve never come close to having a long term relationship with a female.

    Reckon I’ll keep the laptop open!

    All joking aside …. a great post Grannymar ….. and a great story of love … well done!

  19. @Magpie – Glad it is all working out!

    @Paddy – Never say never! None of us know what magic is around the corner!

  20. Lovely post. ‘Two hours on the couch’? He means speak to each other for two hours? That would make perfect sense…

  21. Walls

    Two hours on a couch with your partner but without the chores of the day, the children or the stresses of work or daily life.

    Just sit in stillness, talk, caress and cuddle and try to remember Why you wanted to be together in the first place. It works!

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