There are, unsurprisingly, a few disadvantages to being a pregnant bride. Not drinking is the most tedious one. Doing the first dance on your swollen cankles being another. There’s also that pregnancy glow that has you radiating enough heat to keep the buffet warm.
My wedding morning was given an extra cliffhanger drama called “will the dress do up”, thanks to a massive growth in the two weeks between purchase and aisle. Instead of a happy nostalgic attachment to my wedding dress I feel a rising sense of panic just thinking about it.
But there is one permanent advantage and that is it’s really easy to work out how long you’ve been married for. The bump that was clad in that maternal bridal wear turns seven this week. She’s our beautiful tangible reminder that my husband and I have hit the year of the infamous itch.
Seven years is traditionally thought to be when marital happiness levels decline. Inevitably there’s some debate about timings and variables. Some have put the riskiest time as early as year three, especially if you’ve got children. A 1999 study showed couples with children struggled to hold their marriage together to seven years, and this was backed up by a recent Netmums survey saying “couples with young children are four and a half times more likely to split after three years rather than the traditional seven”. Whilst divorce rates are, on the whole, in decline it does still seem that if you’re going to call the whole thing off it’ll be during the first decade, arguably when the pressures of looking after children are at their peak.
A Google search tells me that thanks to the associated crisis of hitting midlife, the average age for divorce is 45.6 for men and 43.1 for women. That’s, to the month, how old my husband and I were when we celebrated our 7 year wedding anniversary. This is worse than the time Dr Google told me the children had Ebola.
My search also throws up a “How’s Your Marriage Doing” quiz in the Daily Telegraph. Echoing every school report I’ve ever had I scored a “not bad but there’s room for improvement”. A solid 2.2 you might say. As all 2.2 students know all it takes are a few late nights and bunked off lectures and you’re dropping to a 3rd.
A recommendation that comes up over and over again is Date Night. It’s an Americanism that makes me do an internal shudder but using the British equivalent of “going out with each other night” doesn’t really scan.
To put it another way, it’s time we listened to our inner teenager who is still in there quietly seething at the amount of boring adult stuff we have to do and wants to go out for a drink.
We’ve got three children and two busy jobs. We text each other all day but mainly to complain and divide up chores like we’re doing the worst game of tag ever. Our house looks like it’s been burgled, if burglars really liked Lego, hiding shoes and left sticky bits of food around the house. We’ve spent many evenings slumped on the sofa, having compromised on what to watch on TV by settling on something neither of us is that interested in.
We can be found simultaneously scrolling through Twitter, before crashing into bed, hoping the next day won’t start pre-6am. There was a time when sleep deprivation took us to the very edge of an abyss. Not just ships passing in the night but ships firing off their distress flares. We definitely need a night out.
I email my husband a “Date Night” message. He replies immediately. I think that’s the married equivalent of a swipe right. It also makes me think of the usual time lag after I send one of my emails entitled “to do list” but now isn’t the time to dwell.
Babysitter in place we head out. We sit opposite each other, look into each other’s eyes and it dawns on us quickly: neither of us will cook this meal or clear up afterwards. We didn’t even have to remove Lego from the chair before we sat down. I think it’s safe to say we’re de-mob happy.
We did of course, spend most of the evening talking about our children. Let’s face it no one else is as fascinated by your children so you may as well make the most of it. Besides, I’ve heard all his best stories at least fourteen times. We looked at the edited highlights of their lives on our phones, much like the happy montage of “here are your best bits” at the end of Big Brother. We’re able to absorb our lives through the pictures while missing out the tears or bickering. Two and half glasses of wine down and our children look unbelievably gorgeous, funny and happily unscathed by us. They are surviving us, we’re surviving them. By the time we’re eating pudding it feels like I can, for now, give us an A*, a safe First. We head home with the usual hope, that the next day doesn’t start before 6am.
By Emilie Silverwood-Cope
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