Mark & Claire’s Story
I’m 36 years old and have pretty much lived in south-east London all my life. I met Claire in March 2008 after separating from my first wife – a marriage which only lasted 4 months! We met on a dating website, which seems commonplace now but back then was kind of embarrassing to admit to friends and family, so for a time it was our little secret.
Our first date was at a local driving range – my choice, but not because I’m into golf, it was more of an excuse to get up close when teaching her how to perfect her backswing! We’d been exchanging emails for a couple of weeks so by that point we’d built up a good flirty banter, and to give her credit she managed to handle a golf club quite well despite her high heels! Later that afternoon we went for a post-golf pub lunch. We were on the same wavelength and made each other laugh. Confession time, I was actually seeing another girl at the time. The breakdown of my first marriage had left me kind of jaded, and I’d stumbled from one short relationship to another until I met Claire. The next day I broke it off with the other girl as I knew Claire was special. For the first time in over two years, I felt I’d found someone I really connected with.
One of the reasons I quickly felt that way occurred to me as we were having our post-golf lunch. A large family were seated near us and one of the couples was doting over their young baby. As we sat making awkward first date talk, I saw Claire look over at the couple giving them an admiring smile. I think she was thinking that would hopefully be us someday. Rather than being horrified that she appeared to be thinking about children on our first date, I was struck by how happy I was that she so obviously wanted to be a mum. I’d always wanted a family: a wife and children were pretty much all I dreamed of as I grew up. This in large part was because I was adopted as a young child, and I wanted to have the ‘normal’ family life that all my school friends had. Although my sister and I were lucky and were adopted by wonderful and caring parents, it doesn’t stop you feeling that somehow you’ve missed out on something everyone else around you has. When I was young my dream grown-up life was like something out of a Gillette advert. In hindsight this was a contributory factor to the breakdown of my first marriage. I hadn’t dealt with those issues fully and the pressure of a ‘perfect’ family was probably unfair to her.
Claire and I had a second and third date over the next couple of days, and after about two weeks she’d pretty much moved everything from her parents into my bachelor flat. Over the following months we become ever closer and inevitably talked about the future. I’m not exactly sure in those early days when we first talked about children, but strangely those hypothetical conversations seemed to be for me easier to commit to than the ones about ‘our future’. Around this time Claire told me she’d had an operation a year or so before to remove a cyst on her ovaries and had been diagnosed with endometriosis. None of that meant much to me, I’d never heard of endometriosis at that point so I wasn’t really concerned, but it seemed to worry her that she might have trouble conceiving.
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