Today is my wedding anniversary. My child-bride, Suzanne, and I have been married 32 years. Our marriage is like every other marriage on the planet; it's unique.
But it almost never came about.
Being a young man, (I was twenty-three at the time), and presuming that I was in control of my life, I decided that it was time that I "popped the question". Suzanne and I had been courting for about four years, and I considered that once her nurses training was completed, we should get married. It never occurred to me that she would say "No". It never occurred to me that things would not go according to plan.
This was my plan.
I did not want to be involved in what I considered to be "girlie" romantics. I wanted to profess my love in a straight forward manner and expected that my bride-to-be would see the obvious benefits of accepting such a proposal from such a man as I. What could go wrong?
So I organised to pick up my girl one afternoon and take her for a drive and therein declare my intentions.
The first sign that things would no go according to plan was that my car failed to start, so I borrowed my brother's old Land Rover. No synchro in the gearbox, no power steering, I swear the rubber on the tyres was so old and hard that driving on the rims would have made little difference. Nevertheless, not to be thwarted by such trifles, I proceeded on.
I picked up Suzanne and promptly started what I thought would be a relaxed and meaningful afternoon together.
All of a sudden, I realised that expressing those four little words out loud really did call for more forethought and planning than I had considered. Still, not to be diverted from my task, I determined to ask her forthwith. So I blurted out "Will you marry me?" and held my breath and waited for the answer.
The answer didn't come.
I looked over at Suzanne and she was staring straight ahead out the window. She said nothing. Not a thing. There was no look of disappointment, sorrow, or anger on her face. She was not racked with mirth. There was no mockery in her eyes. She did not look like she was giving my question due consideration. I was perplexed.
Then I realised that we were driving under the Bridge street railway overpass and there was a train overhead. With all the noise of the Land Rover, the overpass and the train, it suddenly dawned on me that she hadn't heard a word I had said!
By this time (all of a few seconds) I was completely drained. I had lost all confidence, all wit, and certainly all my charm. I was unhinged, frightened, and completely spooked. How could four words be so difficult?
I have no idea whatsoever what we did that afternoon. It is a complete blank. All I know is that I realised I needed to give far, far, FAR more thought and attention to this proposal than I originally considered prudent. I had been found wanting and I had been lucky enough to get away with it. (It was not until many years later that I 'fessed up and told Suzanne about the 'first' proposal).
So, if you are hunting for advice on how to stay married to your spouse, I have 32 years of experience I can share with you. But if you are looking for help with how to pop the question, I'm the last bloke to ask.