THE S U N DAY C O O K
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John and Jackie Parmiter, married 45 years
We met in Malta, in 1968 when I was 16 and John was 18, and married in London five years later. Neither of us had a background of long, stable marriages but we had a foundation of commitment. Now, we’ve been through highs, lows and mediums I realise it is this that gets you through the tough times, rather than feelings.
We had four children and even in the depths of parenthood we’d always spend some time, just us, together in the kitchen in the evenings.
We don’t have everything in common: John enjoys going to museums, and looking at buildings, while I’m not so keen – but we’ve always enjoyed planning holidays together and have had a mutual love of raising our family together. JOHN: When we were abroad, our children used to get hacked off with us for daydreaming at estate agent’s windows but we’ve always enjoyed thinking up new ways to have fun. We had a timeshare in the Caribbean for 20 years, which gave us an opportunity to recharge and now we enjoy city breaks and holidays with our 11 grandchildren. JACKIE: The most difficult adjustment was when our children left home. We booked on to the Marriage Course, which really helped us to see things from the other’s perspective, and then we renewed our vows in front of our friends on our 25th wedding anniversary – it’s so important to keep celebrating milestones. JOHN: Our friends have been an intrinsic part of
We were really good friends for five years before we got together, and when we married aged 27 we agreed there was no escape clause. This has proved to be the bedrock of our marriage. PHILIP: Soon after, we had twins, which meant I had to be very involved from the start, which was a good thing. We muddled through together, and had two more children. MOYNE: It wasn’t plain sailing with four young children – there were pressure points. We tried to make a distinction between daytime and evening, getting the children in bed on time so we could have a glass of wine together. If we’d focused all our attention on them we would have ignored each other. PHILIP: It’s also important to remember that small acts of kindness and gratitude can go a long way. MOYNE: We’re in a new season of marriage now the children have left home:
NICKY: I’m crazily in love with Pippa; I still feel excited about seeing her. Not many people say this, so I keep quiet – I do believe I got lucky. PIPPA: Nicky was 22 and I was 23 when we married, and I think our naivety helped. There is so much pressure now to have a Hollywood-style wedding but ours wasn’t like that. We married at Holy Trinity Brompton, the church we’ve worked at our whole lives, in a hall which looked like a gym, and then honeymooned in Scotland. We believed that God had brought us together. NICKY: Our first house was a one-room studio, with a gas cooker at the end of the bed. We’d never even been out to dinner before we got married. PIPPA: When our three children came along, we hadn’t got a clue how to be parents and it was hard work – but at least no one was watching. There’s so much pressure to be a good parent these days. I’m sure date nights would have made things even better, but we didn’t know about them. When we travelled for work we went as a pack, with the children. NICKY: The d-word has never been said in our household, not even as a joke. The vicar who married us said it’s really important never to think of the alternative. PIPPA: Our shared passion has always been our job, which we’ve done together since the beginning so we haven’t had to search for joint interests. We also have our own hobbies: Nicky plays squash and goes to the gym and I do Pilates. If I’d been living in the country when the children moved away it would have been harder – but we love our job and have people around us, so there’s never been an empty nest. We now have seven grandchildren, so our children need us again. NICKY: Pippa is my spiritual adviser, my best friend and there is a romantic side too – it really is quite unusual. PIPPA: Our older friends have shown us that there is nothing sweeter than a marriage that lasts all your life. It is so beautiful to have gone through life and to feel peaceful together at the end.