Thursday 9 May 2019

Married Ten Years

Today is the tenth wedding anniversary of Benedict Ambrose and me, and thus ten years since I stopped being "Seraphic Single."

I was going to joke that I am almost at the point where I can give advice about being married, but then I realised I have already. At least, I'm sure I blogged that a woman should take every opportunity to praise her husband for doing anything well, on the principle that men are like beautiful plants, and wives must metaphorically water them.  

Another useful piece of advice, aimed at wives in countries with imperfect medical systems, is to be prepared to fight to the death for your sick husband albeit without raising your voice or doing anything else that gets you kicked out of the hospital. To use a less martial image, be the squeaky wheel that gets the grease. 

A third piece of advice is to be grateful every day for what you have and not to think overmuch about what you don't have--money, children, a clean house, a PhD, a career, whatever. To a remarkable (although of course not total) extent, happiness or sorrow is up to you. 

I love the realism of the wedding vows: "for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health." We've definitely experienced all of that--never more so than in the last 26 months. 

The worst, I think, was the terrible spring after B.A.'s first brain operation when nobody, even me, took his first complaints seriously. (More advice: don't expect your husband to snap back to his old self within three months of  life-saving surgery.) The poorest was the terrible February I returned to the Historical House to find the contents on the front lawn and discovered we were banished from our home in the attic indefinitely. The sickest was when B.A. was sliding slowly towards a coma, and nobody seemed to see how ill he was except me. 

Speaking of sickness, the day the doctor phoned me to say that my bloodwork indicated signs of irreversible peri-menopause (and was I still sure I didn't want to try IVF ?) was also bad.

However, the interesting thing about this (now that you're all in tears) is that, just as soothing docken grows right among the nettles, the "better", the "richer" and the "health" were right there by the bad stuff. 

The night that B.A. was diagnosed with a brain tumour and hydrocephaly was terrible, but we lived most of it together, with an acuteness I don't think we'd experienced since we first fell in love. The next morning before his operation was like that, too. It was terrible, but it was the best. He sat up in bed--looking as healthy as could be, by the way--and I sat with my feet in his bed (against the rules,  I later discovered), and we just "were" together. 

The day we were officially evicted from the Historical House was awful, but we had saved up against this day, and so when we got the message that we were never going home, we had more money than either of us had ever had in our lives. So, in our most abject moment of poverty, we were richer than before (in money anyway). 

The year B.A. was so sick, I was physically well. A lot of anxiety, but no depression. I started a full-time job and managed also to visit B.A. in hospital every day and, when he was bed-ridden at home, I  forced him down the stairs for walks and made him what should have been fattening Christmas food. I called up the Caregivers Association and cried. I got on Facebook and asked for cards, letters, and children's drawings--which came. I walked five miles to a Scottish shrine three times. I gave houseroom to a temporarily homeless young married couple, too, and in return got youthful energy from them. In short, I had all the health I needed to get people to do their best to make B.A. (and keep me) well. 

Meanwhile, the day I learned from that cold, clinical phone call that I will never have a baby, B.A. rushed home from work as soon as I phoned him. I didn't think he would, but he did.  He held me while I cried, which reminds me now of the first time he rubbed docken on my arm when I got prickled by a nettle. 

Before all that, of course, there were the ordinary ups and downs of marriage: the parties, the weekend guests, the Christmas family visits, the summer family visits, the negative pregnancy tests, the arguments over how to wash dishes properly, the arguments over housework, the pride in each other's publications. 

Regrets? Yes--one. I had a prospective on my desk in 1990 from the University of Aberdeen; weirdly enough, I had a half-fancy to go there. Sincere apologies to all the friends I made between 1990 and 2008, but if I could got back in time, I would find some way to get to Aberdeen and meet B.A. when we were both in our twenties. However, there is no point thinking about impossibilities, so instead I will be grateful for my friends and B.A. Better late than never. 

Well, that's what our marriage looks like. Not as glamorous as a bridal magazine, that's for sure. But real.

Update: I realise I've said most of this before, but let's face it: it was traumatic, and people do tend to revisit their trauma.


  1. Praying for many blessings for both of you on your tenth anniversary!


  2. Happy anniversary Seraphic and BA. Such beautiful thoughts on marriage. Ye are a credit to your parents.


    1. Thank you! My parents offered a really good model of marriage, I think. We just had to tweak it a bit as our lives are LOT different from my parents.

  3. Happy Anniversary And many more
    We are at 27 years. SO FAST

  4. PolishTraveler11 May 2019 at 15:57

    You and BA are a beautiful witness to the sacrament of marriage and the gift of love. Many prayers for you on your anniversary!

  5. Many congratulations to you both and prayers and best wishes for the future.

  6. So this is how I know that I read you for about nine years now :-)Found your Blog then via Betty Duffy > Laodicea > Seraphic Sngles...
    All the blessings for you two and continuing prayers!

  7. Belated happpy anniversary to you and BA! May the good Lord bless you both with long and happy lives full of married bliss. Your marriage is already testament to God giving (just?) sufficient grace to get through life.

    Especially like your 3rd piece of advice.


  8. Essence of an Extrovert15 August 2019 at 21:24

    This post is so beautiful! I am still single and I do get quite a few married people telling me how lucky I am and to enjoy being single. I found this post encouraging. Marriage is hard but the fact that your only regret is that you didn't meet B.A. sooner warmed my heart. It shows that through all your trials, you still love him and wouldn't change the fact that you are married to him. I am not sure I can say the same for all the married couples I know.