It’s a bit of a strange story, my story, but not one that is truly unusual in baby boomers. When I married, it wasn’t exactly for love… that came later.
I only realised this was the case when my daughter and I were talking about her young friend getting married. The friend was pregnant but it wasn’t a ‘shotgun’ wedding, as people so impolitely put it. The couple simply wanted to get married and the baby hadn’t been planned. It reminded me of when I was pregnant with my daughter at 19, but was unmarried. Back in the 60s it was very uncouth to be an unwedded woman with a baby on the way, so my mother and father forced me to be married with a guy I barely knew.
We’d been dating for a few weeks when, as the cliche goes, we had a bit too much fun in the back of a car at the drive-in and a few weeks later my period was late. I didn’t know who to tell after my doctor confirmed I was ‘with child’… I didn’t contact my boyfriend at first, scared of what he’d say.
When I told my mum she cried for days, saying I’d ruined my life and I simply couldn’t keep it. I knew I did want to keep her and it was not fair. My mother told Dad and he was furious. He immediately drove me around to my boyfriend’s house and he and his father had a heated conversation. But then it was settled, I’d be married in a month and no one would say a thing about the baby being born out of wedlock. In a heavily Catholic family, it was a cardinal sin. I guess I was a big sinner.
We married in Canberra and it was a sweet ceremony, although brief and really only for formalities. Once it was over, we had to live together in a tiny flat that my father paid for. It was a hard few months but as soon as the baby came, our lives were filled with happiness and discovery.
Over the years, I learnt to love my husband. He was a gentle man, softly spoken and rarely said a peep. He loved being a dad but if I can be honest, he was not the right man for me. I take pleasure in knowing my own daughter has a partner whom she truly loves, before taking the leap to marriage.
My marriage didn’t last in the end but I know I did love him as years went on and despite our clashing personalities and lack of common ground. I now see a similar scenario around me in my peers – husbands and wives who were brought together through circumstance, or through what was told was best for them many years ago. It doesn’t always seem to end well but many of us learnt to make it work for the sake of the children.