In 9 days it will be 57 years since I walked down the aisle to marry a man whom I should never have married.
It is a long story and one of which I am not completely proud of...how did it happen? It was sheerly by accident that I first went out with him...he wanted someone to partner him to the wedding of a mutual friend and so we went together. It was a great wedding and I thought that would be that but no, for some reason this fellow kept on wanting to see me and even after my folks built a new home several miles away he would ride his pushbike (young people couldn't afford to own a car back then) over each and every night. All a little overpowering you might say and, thinking back on it, I think it was exactly that. A habit that should have been broken but was not.
I could do nothing alone and my mum could see this becoming very serious and, in her infinite wisdom, she unfortunately suggested he and I become engaged. Her reason was because the two of us had decided to buy a block of land together and she felt that this was not right for an unmarried couple. People had strange ideas then as you can see. It wasn't as though we decided to move in together as young folk do these days!! It was just a block of land as an investment for the future.
Trying to cut a long story short....we became engaged on 19 July, 1952 and we were happy (I think) and to be honest I now feel that it was more a physical attraction than a mental one. Plans were made for my 21st birthday party early in 1953 and then plans for our wedding in July of that year.
The reason I say we should not have married is because he was incredibly jealous of everyone, male or female, who wanted to share any of my time and one good example was when a school friend came up to Perth for a few days. She was invited to our home for dinner and when I explained to 'you know who' that perhaps he might not come over that night as she and I had not seen each other for some time I thought he would take the hint. No, he turned up as usual and immediately tried to take over the conversation. I tried to politely suggest that he give J and I a chance to chat but he then started in to tickle me (anything to get my undivided attention) until I gave him a playful slap on the cheek and told him to stop it. Wow, what a reaction. He jumped off his chair and on his way out slammed the front door so hard that my mum came running down to us to see if we were OK.
It was then that mum and my friend sat me down and tried to talk sense to me and said I would be making a rod for my own back if I married this man. I knew they were talking a lot of sense but all I could see was the hurt that would be in those big brown eyes of his and couldn't bring myself to do break off the engagement. You can pay dearly for being a softie.
Anyway, the wedding took place on 18th July, 1953 in St George's Cathedral in Perth and we spent our honeymoon at Yanchep Inn. The next sign of severe jealousy on his part occurred several weeks after our wedding when I received an invitation to a girlfriend's Kitchen Tea. He asked me when we would be going and when I explained that it was a girl only thing he couldn't believe that I would even contemplate going anywhere without him or that he hadn't been invited!!! I couldn't believe this but I did go to that party without feeling in the least guilty about leaving him on his own for a couple of hours. I was still thinking it a bit of a joke that anyone could react like that.
Several things happened in the next few years where jealousy became a real stumbling block in our marriage and yet when our daughter was born it was OK for him to go with a couple of mates to a dance at the Embassy Ballroom. Also on my 24th birthday he went off fishing with friends and left me to my own devices. It was obviously one rule for me and a different rule for His Lordship. (this a nickname family members have bestowed on him over the years).
Eventually he went off on his own more and more, fishing, shooting and yes, drinking too although when we first met he didn't drink much at all. Perhaps I drove him to it but I don't really think so. He came from a family where all the men enjoyed their beer and I think the habit was catching.
We had been married barely a year when he asked his mother why she never asked us to her home for a meal and her answer was "because you make every meal time a misery". His grandmother also reprimanded him and told him "if you are going to talk to your wife like that you need not come into this house". This, after all, was their son and grandson and I was only an in-law and I began to realise they were sticking up for me and not for him. Something wrong here was my thought.
When our second child was about 18 months old I had had enough and walked out and went to stay with my mum. A few nights after this he met an uncle and aunt of his and told them I had left him and the aunt's reaction was "I am not the least bit surprised!"
Don't get me wrong, I am no whited saint and have done things I shouldn't have done as we all do through our lives but I do know I have faults and make mistakes and try to admit to doing so but this man was never wrong, at least not in his eyes.
Eventually things came to a head in 1966 when one night he was going on and on and I knew that if he didn't stop I would hit him with something and being a non-violent person this was not my way of resolving a problem. I walked out the door at about 11pm and never returned. I was wrong to leave the two children there but I just had to take the iniative and go, go, go away...as far from him as I could on foot. (His mother had actually said to me one day that I should pick up a heavy frying pan and hit him with it if he didn't behave himself).
I ended up at my mother's home and explained to her what had happened. He brought the children around and asked where I had been and I told him to mind his own business. He had the audacity to say I could have our daughter but he would keep our son and that his mother would help care for him. This backfired on him as she said she was well past the age of caring for a child and so I had the two children with me which I felt was likely to be the case anyway. It was a risk I had taken and which turned out for the best as I could never have lived without the two kids being with me.
One more risk regarding my children was when speaking to the excellent lawyer I had he suggested I tell my husband that he should have the children. I was aghast at this idea as I would never have forgiven myself if I lost custody of them. The lawyer said that from what I had told him he doubted my husband would want them. He said I should suggest to my husband that he engage a housekeeper to help care for them himself and the children and this I did. The reactiom? "Do you really think I want somebody in the house to spy on me and know what I am doing?" It was a risk I took and it paid off thank goodness. Big sigh of relief on my part and my sincere thanks to a very good legal person.
A divorce took place in 1967, I married again and have been happy with my second husband for going on 43 years for which I am very thankful. Even the Supreme Court judge chided my husband at the time of the divorce in regard to actions on his part and I was more or less made to appear blameless.
Some of the above seems to have had a delayed recation with my son as he decided eight and a half years back that he wanted nothing further to do with any of us although prior to that time he had more or less fallen out with his father anyway.
I realise now that I should never have married A in the first place and the biggest regret is that my daughter has to bear the brunt of it as she still tries to do the right thing by her father and sees him when she feels she must. She tells me that he is still as arrogant as ever he was and to me he sounds as though he is even worse. To her I say I am sorry for any agro she has to go through at his hands but she has a good family support group so I know she will survive.
Over past years I have had several conversations with A on the telephone and he goes on and on talking endlessly about himself, how many people think he is wonderful and how clever he is. You sort of listen and try and say "Oh, yes" occasionally and try and find a reason to end the conversation ASAP. There is no such thing as a real conversation as far as he is concerned as his own voice is all he wants to hear.
He has had a partner for many years now and I know from what she herself told me, that she has stayed there for security (particularly for her own son) and is obviously willing and capable of putting up with much more than I could put up with. I wish her well because all the money in the world would not have made me stay a minute longer than I did.
I made a mistake, was fortunate to have two lovely kids one of whom is my friend as well as my daughter, or at least I look on her that way.
It is water under the bridge and nothing will change any of it but we must move on as best we can and hope that others don't make similar mistakes.