Much of the time, I have no idea of my husband’s whereabouts and what he is doing. He is not hiding, or dabbling in something suspect that could end up in the divorce courts; he’s simply doing his own thing. And I haven’t felt inclined to ask him what that might be.
A few of our friends think we’re an odd couple. “You don’t know what he’s up to?!” they wail, as though he’s part of MI5 and has just infiltrated a threat to national security. “Don’t you text him to say what time you’ll be home?” they quiz, as if my estimated arrival might entice him to stand at the door with a welcoming bunch of long-stemmed roses. The answer to these enquiries about our mutual accountability is usually met with a shrug of our shoulders. The need to keep tabs on the other’s activities just doesn’t cross our minds.
With 30 years of happy marriage under our belts, it’s obvious we’re committed as a couple. But we also enjoy being apart, and when that happens, off we go without a backward glance. I find it bewildering when girlfriends meet me for a coffee and spend half the time texting their spouses. God, they only saw them 40 minutes ago!
And once, a cousin of mine had her hen party in Amsterdam and her fiancé tracked her movements on his iPhone. As we stood outside the Lovehoney accessory store, wondering if it would be a giggle to go inside, she received a message saying: “I know what you’re up to.” Let me tell you, I wouldn’t make the first wedding anniversary in that relationship: far too much bondage (and that’s without even stepping a foot in the red light district’s finest).
Another factor in my situation is that I am the mother of sons, which means I am the female minority in my household. Many minutes are spent by my three males chattering about football, snooker, tennis and more football. When I complained to my therapist that I felt on the outside of an exclusively masculine world, she encouraged me to reap my feminine energy from elsewhere. And so I turn away from my bloke gang and towards the women I love: friends who dare to cold-water swim with me, coo with joy as we indulge in pedicures and gather for chardonnay and a chinwag.
I suppose the bottom line to the success of my marital harmony is mutual trust. Neither of us is the jealous type and in all our years together, we have rarely felt threatened by separation. There was a time when my husband worked abroad for weeks on end as a cameraman. I knew that he was surrounded by a crew of all different sorts, including the female variety – some of whom would have been very photoworthy. But my rationale was, I’ll only worry about it if it happens. And it never did. What’s more, those reunions after time apart were always so sweet.
Recently, I watched an episode of the BBC’s documentary series Couples Therapy. Dr Orna Guralnik, the programme’s therapist, said something about most couples needing an exit strategy to get away from each other for a while. Her words struck a chord with me. Our get-a-break clause is highly tuned and implemented at regular intervals. I believe it is the most significant contributing factor to our secure marriage. And at the risk of sounding smug, I feel extremely lucky that my husband agrees our relationship should remain a shackle-free zone. Long live (temporary) spousal separation.
Read more: Our sex life is electric, but half the time we hate each other