After her first marriage ended, Sarah Millican thought she didn’t need a piece of paper to prove she loved a man. So what changed?
I was never one of those girls who dreamt of a wedding. When I was tiny, I decided I would probably have kids but didn’t want to get married and seeing as you only get given children if you lie beside a man in a bed every night, then I made my mind up to get married, get a baby and then get divorced.
I’m so glad when I was 29 and crying on the floors of my mam and dad’s house that neither of them reminded me divorce had been on my To Do list.
Always pretty career focused from my teenage years onwards, I was never sure how my life would pan out romantically. Probably thanks to wobbly self-confidence and being surrounded by boys who valued early tits and a willingness to do anything over good exam results and quiet wit.
Then I met a man who cracked a joke about Jaws that no one got but me. We sparred and very quickly fell in love. He proposed in a cafe six or seven weeks after we started going out, maybe 10 weeks after we met. I said yes. There was literally no reason not to.
I thought this was how it worked. That was it, you know? My parents met when my mam was 14 and still in a vest. My dad was 16 with a plaster on his nose that my mam read as ‘dangerous, sexy, probably been in a fight’ but was, in actual fact, covering up a massive spot. You met someone who was the perfect fit, married them, done. It seemed so simple.
The breakdown of my first marriage made me hate the word forever. And Frankie and Benny’s, perhaps unfairly. That was where the death knell sounded. I have since been back to Frankie and Benny’s, albeit a different branch, and have not got divorced again so pretty sure it was not their fault. I do remember thinking the floor was clean in the ladies’ loos when I was crying and being sick.
“We didn’t need that piece of paper. But we quite liked the idea of it. God knows, I’ve always been a massive fan of stationery.”
After that, I didn’t see the point of marriage. I was in the ‘just a bit of paper’ camp. In the ‘I don’t need a document to know I love you’ gang. But while I do think that ‘I will not be dictated to when I will be romantic to my partner’, I do still clap when I get a Valentine’s Day card.
I met a wonderful man and we lived in separate houses for seven years. At various stages we were living anything from 80 to 200 miles apart but as we were both travelling for our jobs, it was doable. We spent a few days a week together and a few days apart. It was, in many ways, perfect.
It’s very hard for perfect to get better. It’s hard to want to change perfect. But we did. I moved and my new place only felt like a home when he was there. It was just walls and a roof the rest of the time. He brought it alive. When he left, the light dimmed a little. We made a decision. He moved in. And it was better than perfect. It was a slippery slope from there to realising I wasn’t as against marriage as I used to be. That is if the slippery slope was sliding into a big vat of awesome.
We didn’t need that piece of paper. But we quite liked the idea of it. God knows, I’ve always been a massive fan of stationery. As we chatted like adults about marriage, it wasn’t any less romantic. On the contrary, I find making plans about becoming a team a proper turn on.
And that, to me, is the main difference between living together and being married. I don’t do sports analogies as I don’t understand most sport but it feels like now we’re wearing the same kit. I might be centre forward (guessing… netball?) and he might be goal attack (no idea, someone help me) but we’re both trying to get a ball over the H (definitely rugby that, phew).
It was an excellent wedding and the best day imaginable. I like being his wife. Girlfriend feels too new and whenever I hear the word ‘partner’, it always makes me think of early PE lessons when the teacher would tell us to “get a beanbag and a partner.” If only relationships were that simple. I wandered around with a beanbag all to myself for years. Who says I can’t do sports analogies.
I work harder at this marriage. I know I do. And I believe in forever again not because relationships are easy but because some are worth fighting for.
Sarah is currently on tour and tickets are available here.17968 Views
Sarah Millican is a comedian, writer, reformed workaholic, feminist, cat and dog mam, wife and lover of food.