The longevity of our togetherness

Like minds: Harold and Hilda
Like minds: Harold and Hilda
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How much time do you spend with your partner?

Or should I rephrase that and enquire how much together time you can stick?

Maybe you hate each other’s guts and are only lasting out because you can’t face the cost of a custody battle for the kids, the dog and the caravan.

Or are you two independent marrieds, happily pursuing your own interests and giving each other the freedom and space you need to keep your marriage alive?

If you’re the latter, you probably think all those joined at the hip, 24-7 couples are co-dependent saddos; Harolds and Hildas destined to wear colour-co-ordinated anoraks and identical handknits at Christmas. That being able to finish each other’s sentences is a damning sign of how mundane and predictable your pairing has become.

Well, don’t. You see, I feel that, inadvertently, Bloke and I are hurtling towards Harold and Hilda status.

We garden together, we cook, clean and shop together (he’s that rare breed; a man happy to sit in the corner of a dress shop, occasionally raising his eyes from a magazine to offer an opinion on demand, knowing full-well I’ve already made my mind up).

It feels like the only time we’re apart is when we’re in our respective offices. And even then, we drive to and from work together.

Though don’t be fooled; all of this togetherness is not always spent blissfully. Whether we’re weeding the allotment or potting on seedlings in the greenhouse, there is always debate on whose way is the best way.

Even while cleaning the bathroom or putting on the laundry, there is what you might call a “lively” difference of opinion. We even hate the way the other stacks the dishwasher.

And when I’m carefully packing up our identikit Klip & Lock lunch boxes of a morning, he’s jangling the car keys impatiently.

He’d so like to bellow: Klip, Lock and go.

But how could our marriage have been anything other? The 65 years’ wed Sheffield couple Ray and June Shaw, who set off my marital musing when they told the Star this week: “Our secret for a happy marriage? Never be apart” met as teenagers.

They were young and malleable; they were able to meld into one as tightly as honeysuckle and rose on a trellis.

We were second-time-arounders. We met in middle age, by which time we’d already formed cast-iron views on whether a 40 degree wash was better than a 30-degree with pre-wash, which way to peg socks on the line and whether you polish before Hoovering.

Unlike the lovely Ray and June, we will never get to Diamond, of course.

We’re too old, though we are hoping for Silver and beyond. We should get there, provided we’re still giving and taking. And can afford the Sanatogen.

Though, I kind of reckon that’s enough. When ‘til death do us part was written into the wedding vows, life expectancy must have been the age at which we met. Our ancestors surely never expected to be wearing matching monogrammed jerkins and remaining monogamous for three score years and ten.