33 years of putting up with me

What a lot of people might not know about David is that he is very funny. Sometimes, it’s true, we are laughing at him but mostly he is making us laugh.

I love this photo from our wedding day. It’s the only one of David making his speech and it’s clear from our expressions that he has us all in stitches. It’s also a picture of me with the three most important people in my life at that time: my dad my mum and my beloved.

Oh how young and naive we were, mere 22-year-olds! We thought we were so alike even down to the same steel framed glasses but how very, very different we turned out to be.
Irritatingly practical where I am passionately idealistic, I confess sometimes our character differences have driven me bonkers. But mostly they amuse.

Recently, at the end of a long day I climbed into bed and said with feeling, “Oh! I really need to read a poem”. David looked up from his sci-fi/end of the world/aliens invading/doomsday scenario novel and exclaimed “it would NEVER EVER occur to me to read a poem, let alone need to read one”!

He thinks I fell in love with a physicist, the serious scientist who explained the wonders of the universe to a starry eyed Spanish student.  And yes, he did look a bit like Brian Cox, but it was the romance and poetry of the stars that went to work on me not the scientific explanation.

If I might dare to pontificate from this privileged position (achieved by grace alone) of being married for 33 years, I would like to say this: once you accept that the person you married is not necessarily the person they were then and that that person has the freedom to flourish in possibly unexpected ways, you have taken an important step towards staying together.

I say to couples I am marrying “it’s not about marrying the right person, it’s about being the right partner i.e. becoming the best person you can be in that relationship”. I also say that the most important principle to remember is “you are it“. What I mean by this is that once you make a lifetime commitment in marriage “you are it” for that other person in terms of their dreams, their hopes, their fantasies even. No, you cannot be everything for another human being – all of us have our limitations and there are things we cannot control – but problems arise if we deliberately block any reasonable aspiration or calling that becomes key for that person. David never thought he would end up as a vicar’s spouse. But the commitment to be ‘it’ for each other changes ‘what is good for me?’ Into ‘what is good for us?  How will I work around this issue/problem becomes how will we work together to face this reality/pain/issue.

For pretty much the first time in his life, David is facing a situation of chronic mild pain from his shoulder. This is the first time really that he has had something which hasn’t gone away pretty quickly and it’s a challenge for both of us. I have just got so used to his always being upbeat and cheerful that it’s odd for me to accompany him through this. However he has had to accompany me through endless periods of chronic mild pain which brings me back to the appreciation in the title of this piece: I don’t know how you have put up with me honey, but thank you for doing so.


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