In the next seven days I turn 56 and celebrate my 27th wedding anniversary, which means as we met the year before that I’ve been “with” my wife for half my life. And I suppose if I’m feeling morbid, I’m likely two thirds through life, on the home straight so to speak.
I was thinking about this in Sydney at the weekend where there are lots of same sex couples wandering around. It’s quite beyond me that Australia haven’t legalised “gay” marriage. As one feminist said to me, perhaps mixing metaphors, Malcolm Turnbull needs to grow some balls. It’s good for the New Zealand economy though, in 2016 273 same sex couples from Australia came to the country to wed. As Arthur Daley would have said; “a nice little earner”.
On my own side of the family there are, or were, five siblings, one remains unmarried but other than that I’m the only one still in their first marriage. On my wife’s side there are four siblings, all of whom are on their first marriage, the oldest couple, who aren’t that old at all, are celebrating 38 years, the youngest coming up for 20 years. Their father claims undeserved credit. My own parents lasted 59 years, even though mum threatened to leave my father for years and probably should have. At 79 she had a stroke and as dad was already entrenched in a hospital bed in their small house, mum was off to a care home and enforced separation. We had to set up dates for them both. Pushing their two wheelchairs into a café so they could hold hands rather pathetically.
In New Zealand marriage and divorce rates are on the way down, the latter as a function of the former, over the last twenty years proportionally the numbers seem to be declining at roughly the same rate. There were approximately 20,000 weddings in NZ last year and 10,000 divorces. Of course that doesn’t mean that half of marriages end in divorce as the divorce rates include marriages that have happened in previous years when the rates of union were higher.
I talked to an Aussie guy on the plane the other day who said he was between wives, though there had been three already. I like the story of the father of one of my wife’s friends, married four times but number two and four were the same lady. Another friends father married three times, firstly to my mates mum, then a marriage guidance counsellor then to his childhood sweetheart. The Guinness Book of records says that 29 is the highest number of monogamous marriages. My dad used to say that second marriages were the triumph of hope over experience. What can you say about the 20th – maybe, just maybe, marriage might not be for you.
I’m still of a mind though to make the first one work – keep it simple, that’s my motto when it comes to marriage even though we’re unlikely to break the world record of ninety years.
*** talking of my wife, she’s an artist and is having an exhibition opening in Auckland on the 18th of May 2017 which happens to be our anniversary. All readers most welcome to the private view from 5.30pm on that Thursday.
*** the photo is of my parents in their young courting days at the Nottingham Goose Fair probably in 1950. I used the photo on the back cover of my first collection It’s your Dad.