The D Word: Will a holiday with old friends rescue their failing marriage?

We were both looking forward to the holiday, for different reasons. Richard said he wanted us to start again , which I didn t think was possible. I just hoped to get away from all the stress of home and work, and try and view our marriage in a different light. A tiny part of me, which I didn t want to acknowledge, was also looking forward to seeing my old friend John1. Our University fling hadn t worked out, neither of us wanted commitment back then, and we were better as friends. But I d always held, if not a candle, a small glow worm for him; and despite the passing of years and our grown up kids, I wondered if he had a small, flickering tea light for me in return.

I had no intention of acting on any attraction, of course. John was married, and we were equally friendly with his wife though we hadn t seem much of them since they d moved to their Spanish villa.

About time you stopped pretending you re happy. You might meet someone you actually like!

Now they were selling it, and moving back to Britain so we were going over to help them wave it goodbye. Or at least, that was the plan till my daughter Tilda heard about it. She was engaging in a rare Facebook chat with me2, when I told her, hoping for her approval. She withheld it so much, I was pathetically relieved when I managed to extract a positive remark from her.

What!? she typed, Can I come? I love Uncle John and Uni s really rubbish at the mo… would love a holiday! I knew that Richard would be furious if our carefully planned, marriage -saving break3 suddenly expanded into a chaotic, and expensive family trip. It would also mean we d have to invite Richard s son, Tom, and his girlfriend or risk accusations of favouritism, and that would lead to further froideur between Richard and me.

The D Word: Will A <b><i>Discount Holidays ©</i></b> Holiday With Old Friends Rescue Their Failing Marriage?It really was time to stop pretending – Tetra Images / Alamy

I took the safe option. Sorry Til, I typed. It s just grown ups this time me and your stepdad need some space4.

Oh great, she wrote back. So it s all going wrong again. I can t leave you alone for five minutes.

Again? I thought. We had always been so careful, I believed, to shield both children from marital rows.

Separate bedrooms, frosty silences, you pecking at him like an itchy chicken, him going pompous and pacing around, she typed. As usual.

Is this it then are you getting divorced?

No! I typed instantly, then I paused. I wanted to reassure Tilda, but perhaps my idea of reassurance was entirely wrong. Perhaps us staying together was a more depressing thought for her than us breaking up. I deleted my answer, and wrote, I don t know. There was a long pause and my heart sank. What kind of mother was I, raising this spectre over Facebook, with my shocked daughter hundreds of miles away?

Then I saw her response: Might be a good idea for both of you, she wrote. About time you stopped pretending you re happy. You might meet someone you actually like!

I wondered if he had a small, flickering tea light for me in return

Gotta go, she added, and her green online dot disappeared. I sat, staring at the screen. What s the matter?

asked Richard, coming into the kitchen.

I just spoke to Tilda I said. She wanted to come on holiday, but I said no.

Oh, shame, he said, opening the fridge to look for wine. I thought I d mention it to Tom, he could do with a holiday. John won t mind. And as he poured himself a glass, I began to think that my daughter was right.

It really was time to stop pretending.


  1. ^ also looking forward to seeing my old friend John (
  2. ^ rare Facebook chat with me (
  3. ^ our carefully planned, marriage -saving break (
  4. ^ me and your stepdad need some space (

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