16 years ago today I started dating this chap…
This is a fairly recent photo as I’m not sure he’d thank me for putting an older one on here! I can’t quite believe it was 16 years ago and I’m pretty sure there are a fair few people out there that are quite surprised that we’re still together 16 years on. I met Andrew on 21st May 2001 when I started working at Bannatyne’s Health Club near Middlesborough. I did notice him on my very first day but I’d had a previous bad experience dating someone I worked with so had promised myself I would never do that again. I managed to keep that promise for a whole 3 months before I gave in on a day trip to York on 19th August 2001.
2 months later we moved in together and 2 months after that on 28th December 2001 he asked me to marry him – on another day trip to York. It wasn’t a surprise…I’d actually had to buy the ring as he couldn’t get the credit to get the one he wanted! Don’t worry…he paid me back! I’m not sure where the following 16 years went after that and today, 16 years later we’re still not married. We went through a few tough times over the first 5 years of our relationship and getting married definitely got put on the back burner.
We had definitely always planned to get married eventually…I even had a scrap book with lots of ideas I’d cut out of magazines. The dresses I liked, the flowers, the invitations and the types of venue, I had it all planned out. We even had a date set but at the time it just didn’t feel right so we cancelled our plans and I’m really glad we did. In the UK the current divorce rate is around 42% which is on the decrease but I’m pretty sure if we’d done things the ‘proper’ way we may well have added to that statistic. I have 3 siblings and 2 of them are also in long term relationships (20 years plus) and also not married so I’m in good company in my family. I’m not sure my parents are too bothered, they’ve never said that they wish more of us had got married – it’s certainly saved them some money!
People are always quite surprised when I say we’re not married…I thought it was more common but actually there are very few couples that I know, of our age, that are not wed – in fact quite a few are on their second! Andrew already had a son when we met, Harry was nearly 3 years old, and we both knew we wanted more children. In my opinion there is definitely no need to be married before having children especially if you are committed in other ways. Neither of us are religious and I appreciate that if we were the story may well have been different but to me, a piece of paper doesn’t encourage me to stay with a person – it’s our own determination and commitment to each other that keeps us together.
Do I wish I had got married at some point? I guess in some ways yes…I would love to have had the ‘big day’ and the special memories that go with that and it would certainly make things easier if we all had the same name (but that can easily be changed anyway) but other than that we’re pretty happy the way things are. The problem is, weddings are never cheap. Even the cheapest ones are expensive. Once you have children and have a mortgage and all the expensive things that come with that they always need to come first when it comes to finances. If I was going to get married now it would have to be a pretty big occasion otherwise why would I bother? A big occasion needs a big budget and all I can ever think is ‘imagine the family holidays we could go on with that money!’. It definitely makes sense to get married before you have a house and kids as that’s when you have most of your disposable income. Later in life there are always more important things to spend your money on. Our children would love us to get married…I’m pretty sure they just want the big party, there really is no other reason. We are fully committed to each other and in every way, other than on paper, we are a married couple. A big party would be lovely but it’s not going to change anything.
So I called this post ‘Why I’m never getting married’ and I suppose you should never say never…a lottery win might change my mind but right now it’s something that I’m not planning for our future. We have a little ‘Yay us!’ moment on the 19th August every year as it’s not been an easy 16 years – we’ve had a lot of crap thrown our way but we’ve had some pretty incredible times too. We bicker and argue and fight but we laugh and have fun and love life too and I think that is the essence of any strong relationship and why we have stayed together even when life was suggesting we shouldn’t. I know every marriage is different but I personally feel a lot of people think that a relationship should be wonderful all the time and at the first sign of trouble they throw in the towel. I read a great quote once that said
What comes easy won’t last and what lasts won’t come easy
Anything worth keeping is worth working hard for and as long as the good times outweigh the bad you’re onto a winner in my opinion. So Happy Anniversary to my soulmate, the guy that drives me crazy, is more child than man but is the most generous, kind hearted and loving person I have ever met. Many people don’t see the real Andrew and I feel so lucky to know him and have him in my life forever. Yay us!!