Daily Archives: October 10, 2008

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.