I was warned at the outset that Clare was not the girl to walk down the aisle with, but to me she seemed perfect. She did not have a chequered history, as some of my earlier girlfriends had, and had a great sense of humour. I was proud of Clare’s work ethic and business acumen – she had turned around her parent’s livery business.
I was a jobbing builder trying to get a reputation locally myself. I liked a pint with my mates, played lots of sports for the local teams and must admit, I liked the attention of the local young ladies.
One day, I went to pick my sister up from the livery, and met Clare for the first time. I was instantly drawn to her. She was not my usual type and was so different to other appearance-obsessed girls I had met. She was always dressed in a rugby shirt and was funny, determined and feisty.
I loved her, she loved me and we married. And then the trouble started. She was very focused on her business and I wanted someone to be at home more. We also had different standards of cleanliness, and I found the smell of the horses difficult to be around. I also took quite a lot of pride in my appearance and it annoyed me that she did not. She could tell I was not happy and this upset her, and probably made her turn to her work even more.
We stuck together a couple of years until one day, I walked in on her having sex with another man. It felt like I had been kicked in the guts. Looking back on it, however, I think she actually did me a favour, as it gave me the courage to leave.
Our divorce was amicable. Clare wanted nothing from me, and I wanted nothing from her. It would have been easy to blame her for the break down and use it as an excuse to punish her. But by keeping it civil, we have been able to remain friends.
I am now in a relationship with Julie. She is a sports fan who loves going to the pub with me, and hates horses! She is houseproud and takes good care of her appearance.
Clare is still with the man I walked in on her with and he is also a far better match. For starters, he at least likes horses!
I am glad I got married, and even though it did not work out, I am grateful for the times Clare and I shared. She also made me appreciate the value of hard work which is at my core today.
I used to feel bad that I could not make my marriage work, and viewed divorce as some kind of failure. Now, I see it as courage to walk away from our mistake and am proud of the way we behaved in such a difficult and emotional time.
It has taken some getting over, but I am pleased that we have managed to remain friends. This means a lot to me.