It’s my wedding anniversary this week and I have struggled with whether to address it, whether to write anything at all about what’s going on in my personal life. It feels a little too, well, personal. For one, I am scared of the commentary. I know divorce is very disappointing to people. It dashes their hopes, it increases their fears and it shines a light on any relationship problems of their own.
What can I say? What can I tell you? This week we would have celebrated 9 years of marriage, and though we are still officially married, we will not be celebrating. We no longer live in the same house. We are officially ‘separated’ and in the process of getting divorced. The reasons are not something I wish to share.
What I will say is that no-one (well, no-one I know of) gets married thinking it will ever end in divorce. A marriage is entered into in good faith. It is in itself a leap of faith. A promise to stay together until death parts you. It’s the ultimate optimistic act, though it didn’t feel like that on the day. I married in good faith. I meant everything I said. And yet, and yet… it ended.
I want to confess something now. I have always looked on at couples who divorce when their kids are young as guilty of not trying hard enough. That’s a terrible admission. But it’s how I felt. I always thought if only they tried harder and loved more and forgave more then the marriage would last. But it turns out I was wrong. I am ashamed of thinking those thoughts now. Divorce is absolutely the last resort. It’s not a knee jerk reaction.
Strangely (it might seem), I still believe in marriage. I still believe in love lasting forever, despite it not working out for me. I don’t regret marrying for a second. I am lucky. I have three beautiful sons and I am fit and healthy. I have a soon to be ex husband who I can still talk to and spend time with quite easily. We all have dinner together once a week as a family. Sure, it’s not easy at times. I know there will be hard times ahead, but really, nobody died. There are people much worse off.
And after that little moment of blog therapy I give you my chocolate banana loaf. I made this with two of the boys over the Easter hols and they took it to their Dad’s with them when they stayed for the weekend. It was gobbled up. And so I made another and already half has gone. It’s easy and forgiving and please do feel free to add whatever extra you fancy. Pecans, hazelnuts, fudge pieces, Smarties, you know the drill.
Lots of great recipes like this in my books, Recipes from a Normal Mum, (available on Amazon, at The Works, Waterstones, WHSmith, The Book Depository and many smaller outlets) and The Power of Frozen (available through Amazon).
Last year: Oaty bread and Mixed berry parfait and Lamb koftas and beetroot hummus and
Two years ago: Homemade Oreos and Ombre cake and Lemon and coconut cake and Jaffa cakes and All my weaning recipes in one place
Three years ago: Carrot & almond layer cake and Pecan & hazelnut granola and Banana & toffee muffins and Lemon drizzle loaf
Four years ago: Lemon animal biscuits and Oatmeal & fudge cookies and 5 ways with the humble Victoria sponge
Five years ago: Octonauts cupcakes and Walnut, fudge and fleur de sel biscuits
Six years ago: Mutter paneer and Hot cross biscotti
Chocolate banana loaf
- 200g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 65g Stork or soft, salted butter
- 115g caster sugar
- 3 ripe bananas
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 200g milk chocolate, broken into 1 – 2cm pieces (we used leftover Easter eggs)
Grease and line a 2lb standard loaf tin and preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas mark 4.
Beat together all the ingredients apart from the chocolate for 3 – 4 minutes using a wooden spoon or a mixer, until well combined. Stir through the chocolate and tip into the loaf tin. Level with a knife and bake for 50 minutes – 1 hour until a wooden tooth pick comes out of the centre of the cake clean. Cool on a wire rack, in the tin. Very good alone or served with ice cream.
- 200g plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 65g Stork/butter
- 115g caster sugar
- 3 ripe bananas
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 200g milk chocolate, broken into 1 - 2cm pieces
Grease and line a 2lb standard loaf tin and preheat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas mark 4. Beat together all the ingredients apart from the chocolate for 3 - 4 minutes using a wooden spoon or a mixer, until well combined. Stir through the chocolate and tip into the loaf tin. Level with a knife and bake for 50 minutes - 1 hour until a wooden tooth pick comes out of the centre of the cake clean. Cool on a wire rack, in the tin. Very good alone or served with ice cream.
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This is my first time on your page and I know this is an older post, but I just wanted to say that I’ve always admired divorced people: they are the ones who have made a big decision to take action when something wasn’t working. I have the utmost respect for you. And thanks for these fantastic recipes :) xx
Hi Holly so sorry to hear your news. Keep strong. Thank you for another amazing sounding recipe I plan to make it with my son later! I just wondered if we only have unsalted butter in should we add a bit of salt or not bother? Thank you, Becky
Just use any butter!
I woudn’t normally write but
I am sorry to hear your news.
Wedding anniversaries are funny things – next month would have marked my 10 year anniversary, had I not been seperated and divorced for the last 4 and a half years.
We didn’t celebrate it even when we were a couple (ex worked offshore for long spells and always conviently over our anniversary) but it’s funny how even after all this time the date sticks in my mind and I never know to acknowledge it or not.
I was the first of my friends to get married, and the only to be divorced and I do feel that people judged me slightly for not ‘trying’ hard enough to make it work and I am (personally) grateful that we didn’t have children to add into the mix. It was tough enough on the two of us, let along adding little people to the mix.
I always feel that anyone going through a seperation/divorce is incredibly brave and even more so when kiddies are involved, as you still need to see your ex. So I say, bravo to you, for being strong and brave, but remember that you are allowed to feel bereft too. X
Yes the feeling of being judged is very real – whether it is actually there or not. The truth is that nobody really knows what goes on in a marriage. And no one takes the steps lightly to end it. The hardest part of divorce with children is not being able to put a ‘lid’ on the time you spent together because of course you are tied together forever by the babies you had. I think it gets easier. I hope so!
I read about your separation on the newsletter and although I’m sorry you have to go through it, like you say, nobody died. I’m sure there’s a lot of emotion involved in the process but at the same time you seem to have a very honest, realistic and reasonable approach to the situation, no doubt because you have to prioritise the well being of your three lovely boys. I won’t pretend I know about divorce but I know about hard times and the one thing that’s always helped me was talking to people, mostly with similar experience. Friends, family anyone with a cool head. And thankfully you have a very supportive and understanding community here as well. Bless you Holly. This too shall pass.
Thank you lovely. xx
So sorry to hear your news. I presume this is the reason Mrs Bells Brownies has not started yet, was so looking forward to this, hope it is able to go ahead at some point in the future
Yes it is. I am trying to get back onto it now though. x
I don’t normally comment. Most of the time I just read with eager eyes and a rumbling stomach but today I feel I should offer you what little comfort I can in the meagre form of words.
Divorce is in many ways the opposite of marriage. It is never planned, not often celebrated but most importantly, unlike marriage, is almost always done for the right reasons. It’s not about what you lose with divorce, it’s about taking what marriage has given you and moving forward with them; being all the wiser and stronger for it. So please don’t feel any shame, disappointment, fear or loss of hope in accepting this new stage.
My parents are still married but I have always thought, even from a very young age, that they should have separated years ago. They do not enjoy each other’s company and, perhaps unintentionally, made their lives and our lives as their children extremely difficult and uncomfortable to be around. I don’t know why they won’t admit it. Whatever the reason for divorce, as you have said it is never one taken lightly. But know that you have done the best for yourself and most importantly your boys.
Marriage can be a blessing of course it can, but divorce is a gift of freedom. People don’t see it because of the bad packaging that only generations of stigma and ignorance can bestow. It is not an admittance of failure, it is courage to say that you deserve better.
Look to the future, it’s getting brighter everyday.
Very well said. Especially the part about your parents of which I have experience myself. And how nice to see such support and positivity in the replies to Holly. Bless you.
I so agree with you both, and join in sending my very best wishes and thoughts to you Holly. My parents were happy until the day my Dad died after 53 years…but my grandparents celebrated their Golden Wedding and I would guess that they were happy for approximately 10 of the almost 60 years they were together. Such a waste of two lives. I was married for 9 years the first time (no children) and have just celebrated my 10th anniversary with my amazing second husband, although we’ve been together for 18…things happen, good and bad…we do the best we can for ourselves and our families. Sometimes it feels things will never be right again, but one day they are. My most comforting mantra is always ‘this too shall pass’…and it always does. Love xx
That does sound sad. 50 years is a long time to not be terribly happy. It’s so very hard to make the decision to go though, I imagine more so back when divorce were more taboo. x
Thank you so much for your comment. I’ve read it many times and it’s provided much comfort. You’re right that divorce is a gift of freedom. It’s scary having options all of a sudden but also exciting. I have passed your words on to friends going through similar. Thank you so much. And also, if you are not a writer already you really should be. x
Holly, I’m so sorry things haven’t worked out in the way you’d have wanted. Your boys will always thank you for trying make everything amicable with your husband.
You are an inspiration in the way you have worked since the Bake Off and you have 3 wonderful boys to keep you smiling!xx
Thank you my lovely. x
So sorry to hear of your impeding divorce thank you for your honesty. Sounds like you are being really wise with the once a week family meal must be hard but really benefit your boys. God Bless you
Thanks lovely. x
Hi Holly. I was present when you did a wonderful, amusing and inspiring presentation to My Secret Kitchen consultants, and your story was one of happiness and positivity. So sorry to hear things didn’t go as planned, but pleased to see that you are looking forward with hope. All the best!
Thank you Anne. I had a lovely time that day. xx
I’m sorry to hear your news, and can imagine how sad you must feel at times that things haven’t worked out the way you expected. But, you’re totally right to stay positive – nothing which resulted in your there lovely boys could possibly be seen as a ‘failure’. Lots of virtual hugs and support. xxx
Thanks Helen. x
Hi Holly, I’m so sorry to hear the news about your divorce. I think you’ve been very brave writing about it. I wish you and your boys all the best for the future. You’ve been a real inspiration to me since your days on the Bake Off, and it encouraged me to start my own food blog 3 and half years ago. Sending hugs. xx
Thanks Julie. x
I’m also sorry to hear your news. Like you I believed marriage was going to be until death do us part and when I said my vows I meant them. Sadly my marriage did not last and I divorced 11 years ago when my 2 children were teenagers. It was the hardest thing I have ever done and still to this day I feel that I failed them, my ex husband and my family. All of that being said, I have remarried and I work hard to not make the same mistakes I made previously. I am friends with my ex husband and often have a meal with him and my adult children, who are incidentally both married with families and children themselves. I don’t regret my previous marriage because of my children but I regret the pain it caused.
I wish you well for your future.
Thank you for all your recipes, I love to see when you’ve posted a new one.
You sound like you have made the absolute best of the situation you were dealt. Divorce is painful, but then lots of things in life are. I guess it’s how we deal with it and how we all support each other through it. I hope you are able to forgive myself. I understand the feelings of guilt. I suffer a lot with them, but I also know it was the right thing to do. xx
It’s a rough ride, despite being almost through a very amicable divorce I would say it’s been one of the hardest things- people’s perceptions, people feeling they they have a right to comment/judge/question and reflecting on how I viewed divorce before I was in it (very differently- I’ve got a lot more compassion for those going through it now!). Like you say though- no regrets, and no doubting in the value and wonder of love. Memories and experiences shared remain special, not written off because the path later on didn’t end where you expected it to.
Oh people do like to give an opinion! I cannot tell you how many comedy things people have said to me. And the tears, oh the tears! (Other peoples). I could not agree more regarding your last sentence. x
Holly – I’m so sorry to read your news. You’re right of course, people do go worse things than separation and divorce. Well I say worse, I think I mean different. It doesn’t take anything away it being crap for you right now, so please don’t feel that you need to be positive all the time. Life can just be rubbish today and that’s ok. Tomorrow is always a new day. Sending huge hugs xxx
Thanks my lovely. xx
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