What is married life then, if not for the birds? To me, it seems as though birds are always in love. I’ve noticed this before sometimes about the birds in the sky and in the trees near our home in Lancashire. The birds that I’ve seen migrate all the way from Africa, just as we did, are always free. They can fly. No other species can say that much about freedom. I’ve noted that if they are not zipping about looking for food to feed their young with, the male birds anyway, are always preening themselves in readiness for meeting their partner.

My husband is an exception to the rule where men in our working-class area are concerned. He always takes pride in his appearance. Do not be surprised if you find him spending as much time as me in the bathroom, getting ready for the day. Interestingly, part of his morning grooming ritual was designed not just to please me while I was still in bed. I’d have to go back quite a few years to recollect this sentiment about my dearly beloved husband.

If it wasn’t me he was doting over, it would be one of the girls, or both of them. Usually, the clearest example of his affection and respect for his two growing ladies would be around the breakfast table. While I was still getting ready for work, still deciding what to put on, he was already hard at work preparing breakfast for the girls and getting their lunches ready for school. Much later in the day, it would be my turn in the kitchen, preparing our things for tea.

Marriage is a ball and chain, so many have joked. Is it, really? What I gather from this is that if it feels that way to you, or if this is what you think of the institution of marriage, then perhaps you have no business being married in the first place. It’s all true, mind you, that marriage is not an institution in which you get to enjoy personally all life’s pleasures with a single partner, head over heels in love with you, serving you hand and foot all day long.

I think of marriage like the true meaning of acts of charity. It’s very nice when my husband spoils me in his own unique and characteristic way. But the pleasure is prolonged whenever I have the opportunity to reciprocate his affection and service towards me. And in this day and age, especially since we are the only two in the house, opportunities abound for us. The thing about charity is that it only means something when it is given willingly.

Like servitude in marriage, charity does not mean much when you give to a needful other out of a sense of guilt and, or obligation. When you give of yourself freely and willingly, the feelings that abound are out of this world. It feels marvellous. How many years have Patrick and I been married now? Oh, I can’t even remember. It seems like it has been a lifetime, it’s been so long. Come to think of it, you could say that this is something of a lifetime achievement since we both got married quite young and early in life.