The key is to em­brace the next chap­ter

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Modern Re­la­tion­ships -

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.

LIFE CHANGE

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’

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