The key is to embrace the next chapter
Beneath the bravado, I’d always been looking for love
[continued from previous page] Cornwall with friends and met Bill, who was 45. I was drawn to his substantial shoulders and kind face and we kissed a few months later at a festival, but I decided we weren’t compatible. I had slowed down but was still an ambitious Londoner, while he was laid-back and lived in Poole. He also didn’t want children and I thought I did.
I dated other people but never found anyone I liked as much as Bill. At 43, I realised I was unsure about motherhood but certain I wanted a shot at happiness with this lovely man.
I rented out my London flat and moved to Poole. Less than a year later we bought a house. A year after that, Bill proposed in the French Alps with a make-do ring from a Haribo packet and I said ‘Yes’. His timing was impeccable: I’d just published a relationship guide called How To Fall In Love.
I was over the moon. Bill was a wonderful mix of manliness and gentleness and his calm, steady nature was the perfect counterbalance to my rollercoaster personality. When I lay in his arms, I felt like I could stay there for ever. Marriage to Bill would give me the sense of belonging I’d always craved. After years of going to weddings alone or attaching myself to my brother’s family at Christmas, I’d finally have my own family unit.
Yet memories of my old life kept flashing through my mind – a solo camping trip to Spain or a return to Mexico a few years earlier, when I went salsa dancing with the local woman who waxed my legs and spent Christmas Eve with an Australian surfer dude. Getting married would signal the end of these adventures and of the fierce independence that had defined me.
I wonder if my attachment to my single identity slowed down our wedding plans? I thought I’d rush to set a date, and buy a dress and a diamond ring. Instead, I, or we, dragged our heels. This was partly because we prefer to hang out at the beach than make plans or shop, and because I struggle with big decisions. But was it also a way to hold on to my former self for a bit longer?
Any benefits of singleness pale in comparison, however, when I think of everything I’ll gain through marriage. I am looking forward to lifelong companionship, daily laughter, a deep sense of security and regular sex; to feeling our love deepen as we grow together and learn more about each other; and to explore the world as a couple. After decades of doing life on my own, I am so excited to be part of a team.
And when I feel nostalgia for my single days, I remember the truth: I chased excitement and adrenaline highs to run away from my feelings, and often felt empty after flings. Beneath the bravado, I’d always been looking for love.
Marriage doesn’t have to mean the end of my adventurous spirit, of course. We can holiday together and apart. Bill recently went mountain biking in Italy with friends, while I’m running retreats in Spain and Turkey next year – I know I’ll love being away and meeting new people but I’ll also be delighted to come home.
So my tears about my Vespa weren’t any cause for alarm or a sign that I didn’t want to marry. Rather, I was experiencing the natural grief that accompanies all identity shifts, whether we’re moving from singleness to relationship, or from work to retirement. The key is to feel the feelings and then embrace the next chapter with an open heart, which is what I intend to do. That’s why I am selling my dear Scoots and returning to my comfortable, secure car. And that’s why I’m looking forward to the companionship of marriage and of being a first-time wife at 48. Our wedding is set for next June and we’re busy making plans.
Katherine: ‘Marriage doesn’t have to mean the end of my adventurous spirit’
High hopes: Bill proposed in the French Alps
Katherine with Bill: ‘I am so excited to be part of a team’