A marriage rocked

Yesterday evening I was reminded that my routine failure with females may not be THAT worth the constant whingeing.

Marriage is terrifying both as a concept and in practise: the bond you’ve made, the contract you’ve signed, supposedly for your whole life with all the people you love watching you.

The average age of newlyweds is getting older with generations and there’s less of a stigma attached to singletons and divorcees in their thirties, forties and fifties.  It happens.  You might argue that it happens because we communicate better, or we communicate more, or because we’re less willing to simply keep up appearances.

Yet there still exists an implicit pressure on twenty-somethings who have been together a while to do just this; those who look – to all extents and purposes – like they’re ‘made’ for each other.  If they’ve been together long enough, their families want to see some semblance of security,  maybe children; they’re nudged in that direction and if they’re happy and solid, then why not?

But if they are childhood or university sweethearts who haven’t known many, if any other relationships, does there always exist a tiny glint of attraction towards the unknown, towards the other?  Is it an innate undercurrent fear which those sort of couples learn to deal with?  It might lie blissfully dormant or never be realised (safety first).  But it might equally just need an unknown figure to appear and prise the edges apart, so that glint becomes dazzling, hot, scalding.

My former colleague was an amusing, bumbling and self- effacing guy who often exercised pleasing amounts of self-doubt.  (I always warm more easily to those who exercise self-doubt). You might have thought him slightly quirky if you only saw him loping caveman-like around the office in his baggy striped jumpers, or at his desk hiding behind a giant box of cornflakes and coffee pot, but.  In conversation though – one-to-one or in a group – he engaged indiscriminately with everyone, he was funny and candid.

After living with his long-term girlfriend for four years, they married and bought a house.

Our roughly four-monthly pub conversation kicked off as usual: work, the office, colleagues and former colleagues, my move.  Then I asked about married life and he gave hints which I entirely failed to pick up on, only later realising that he was trying to use it as a segway.  What do you think keeps couples going until they’re old?  How do you keep making a relationship work?  What is it?  Don’t all couples get bored of each other after a certain time?

I gave bland answers: separate and shared interests, doing new things, travelling, planning, shared experience, family.  Our chat progressed to a point when I mentioned my curious evening on the night of the USA-Ghana World Cup match.

“Yeah, I had a..  a strange evening then too.”

“Really, what happened?  You go first.  You’re not being..?”

He breathed in, looked down and away.  He was being..

“You ok mate?”

He wiped his increasingly glassy eye.  Did he just wipe his eye?  Fuck.

“Hey really, don’t tell me if you don’t want to tell me.  Shall I go first and..?”

“Yeah, you go on.  Just need more to drink then I’ll..”

I went on with my commentary of that evening, aware that he wasn’t really paying attention, glazed over, trapped in his own world and whatever was going on in there.

“And that was that,” I concluded.  “Now you?  If you..?”

“Mate, I’m totally fucked.”

He did the breathing, looking down, eye-wipe thing again.  His eyes looked full.

“You told anyone about this?”

“One.  Best mate.  This girl in the office: over the past month we’ve started sort of going out, I’ve taken her to places and we’ve stayed out together until three four or five in the morning.  She’s exciting and different and likes me.”


“Married too.  But it’s shit; she hates it, and him.  They’re getting divorced, selling their house and she’s moving back to America soon.”

“How old?”

“25, so only a few years younger.  Got married when they were stupidly young.  But mate, she’s so different and like nobody I’ve ever met: hobbies and interests and.. drugs.  I’ve always been liberal about that stuff but never tried much.  We’ve done lines of coke at lunchtimes.”

I looked at him quizzically, laughed.

“Yeah, scored them off some drunk on the train back from Brighton.  It’s overrated to tell you the truth.  But she’s just..  You know those shit montages in films which show couples getting together, doing stuff and falling in love?  It feels like I’m in the middle of one of those.  Thing is, I don’t know if this is what it’s like meeting someone new, if this was what it was like when I first met.. and everything about her was new and interesting.  I can’t remember what it was like.”

It sounded amazing, the bastard.  I shovelled back the encroaching jealousy.

“And your wife?”

“She suspects.  I slept on the sofa last night.  Probably tonight too.  Doubt she’ll believe I’m here with you, with good reason.  Before it all got to the stage it has now I’d talked about not knowing what I was doing with my life, and our marriage.  We’ve barely spoken for weeks.”

“But this girl is moving back to America?”

“I’ve said I’ll go with her but I don’t think she took me seriously.  She’s impulsive and spontaneous. She likes me, we’ve done – although we haven’t slept together.  Mate.  I’m totally obsessed with her.”

We sipped our drinks.

“You’re sure you’re not a convenience for her?” I asked.  “Attention from a decent bloke and something to do while she sits out the dregs of a crappy first marriage, and before she ups and leaves for home?”

“No.  No, I’m not sure at all.”

He held his head in his hands but was no longer on the brink of tears, at least.

We continued to bat it back and forth, speaking of little else for the remaining two hours until closing time: life’s too short, you don’t want to live life regretting.  But I also voiced my suspicions that he was being played by some sort of whimsical Zooey Deschanel in 500 Days Of Summer character (although subsequent Facebook snooping revealed a crazier looking girl), and also that he could have ruined his marriage.

This seemed to be less of an issue: he was tired of his marriage, or so obsessed with the new, exciting girl that he couldn’t be bothered to resuscitate it.  He was scared but prepared for whatever will happen in the next few weeks.  Weakness and that glint of unknown attraction, boredom with his wife; it could easily contrive to make him a single man again in a short period of time.

Fuck David Cameron’s family policies. Marriage shouldn’t be legal until you’re 30.

Viewed through this lens, failing to persuade females to see me more than once might not merit constant whingeing.  Relationships and marriage bring levels of stress that single, one-off meetings can’t really match.

Perhaps I should be relieved.


3 Responses to A marriage rocked

  1. Blonde says:


    The poor guy. And the poor wife. That situation is only going to hurt everyone.

    But for the grace of God, huh?

  2. swashbuckled says:

    Nope, doesn’t look too pretty at all.

  3. Pingback: Marriages rocked (p2) « Swashbuckled

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