Growing up I believed that the children of divorce fell into two categories: those that abhorred marriage and swore off it, and those that wanted desperately to create their own unbroken family to heal their childhood. I fell into category one for a long time.
I remember my Grandmother advising me at 16 that you had to be married before you had children. I argued against the proposed merits of the quintessential 'bit of paper' and she fought back on the premise that unless you had that 'bit of paper' then you didn't have the man tied down to his responsibilities. I tartly replied (much to my horror in retrospect because it was unnecessarily hurtful, no matter how accurate) that the 'bit of paper' didn't do a damn bit of good in tying down any of the men in our family.
Broken homes are something of a legacy on both sides of the gene pool. I knew I wanted to have children one day (my ideal age range being remorselessly shunted back with every passing year) but I didn't want to get married. I didn't know that many people 'happily married' growing up and as I reached adulthood most of those had degenerated into hateful and bitter partings. The remaining ones fell spectacularly to pieces during my academic exploits. Couple this with a string of relationships that died in the dust of my own and by my mid-twenties the anti-marital principles were firmly cemented.
So, with a chip on my shoulder and not a penny to my name, I found myself single in 2009 surrounded by friends who were happily cohabiting, getting married or having babies. In an office of 20-odd staff, I was the only singleton. Third-wheel was fast becoming my middle name. There or there abouts I chanced upon a website called Plenty of Fish. I started chatting regularly to a Canadian here in Edinburgh on a working visa. He would not be looking for a relationship, it would be 'safe' and it would be fun to hang out with someone not perpetually answering the phone/texts from their other halves while sharing a G&T with me.
The single Canadian happened to be far too cute to hold to the 'friend' category. For the first time I was with someone who let me be myself in all my unabashed bonkers glory. Someone who knew from the outset that I was a carb-addict with wobbly bits and a self-confessed bookish geeky fiend. Someone who could smile adoringly at me if I had a melt-down and laugh at my ranting antics and my ability to lose my use of the English vocabulary half way through a sentence. Someone who would take me home and feed me a pint of water before bed when I'd indulged in a whole three glasses of wine. But this was someone who was living here on a visa and our romance was tinged with some uphill struggles; stress, money, accommodation, leave to remain etc. My thoughts on HM's immigration control doesn't bear touching on here but I hold to my belief that International Relations in general would prosper from a bit of humanity in the Borders Agency.
Cut to August 2010 and I walked down the aisle (in an honest-to-God wedding dress with train and a tiara of all things) to the side of my best friend, my partner in the Immaturity Pack, my husband: My Canadian.
Have I swung unintentionally into category two of divorce offspring? I don't think so. I have come to think that my issue is not necessarily with marriage. Issues seem to arise from who you marry and at what stage in your lives you take that step. Furthermore I do not fear divorce: divorce is not inherently evil. Relationships break down for a multitude of reasons and for some people trapped without love, commitment and contentment, divorce can be an amazing if turbulent adventure to real happiness. I know some happily married couples, and some unhappy ones. Happiness is not intrinsically related to the relationship status of the individuals involved. I'm under no illusion that I can 'fix' my familial history by writing my own chapter. But being with My Canadian (MC) brings me a great sense of contentment and I want for nothing much (excepting a lottery win, maybe). Marriage is the vehicle that allows MC and I to continue our adventures together.
Like many a blonde before me, it just took me a while to find the car.