Prom photo made me realise my marriage was over

prom photo made me realise my marriage was over

by take-a-break |
Updated on
couple got back together after 15 years

When I found an old photo of me at the school dance, I knew I had to take drastic action — starting with my husband. By Olivia Mai, 41

There was a knock on the front door and I rushed to the bathroom to hide.

‘Olivia!’ my mum called out. ‘Tam’s here. Aren’t you going to come down? He’s brought you a card and some flowers!’

I shuddered.

As an awkward 14-year-old, the thought that a boy might fancy me left me mortified.

But I did like Tam.

We’d met at a Christmas party at school. He had huge grandad glasses, and his trousers were pulled up very high. But we had loads in common.

Now he’d turned up at my house and I should have felt flattered but I was too shy to bring myself to go back downstairs and talk to him.

But a year on, I felt differently.

I had a party for my 15th birthday and a friend brought Tam along.

‘This is for you,’ he said, handing me a necklace with my birthstone as a pendant.

This time, we got chatting and found we couldn’t stop.

‘You have to talk to your other guests!’ Mum said.

But I only had eyes for Tam.

'I don't know what to say'

After that we became boyfriend and girlfriend and, at 16, we went to the school prom together. I wore a long dress and Tam looked handsome in a suit. We had a photo taken together with Tam’s arms around me and I felt so happy.

A year on, however, my family moved away.

At first, Tam and I made our long distance relationship work and he visited me every other weekend. But when he went to university, it became harder.

He was on the other side of the country, so we had to make do with love letters, mix tapes and long phone calls.

But one day, Mum called me downstairs to the kitchen with a face like thunder.

‘Look at this,’ she said, waving the phone bill under my nose. ‘You’ve run up nearly £1500 in calls!’

‘Sorry,’ I said.

After that, our long phone calls stopped and Tam and I drifted apart. He became distant and when I offered to visit him, he said no.

In the end I told him: ‘This isn’t working any more.’

couple got back together after 15 years

And, just like that, our two-year relationship was over.

I was heartbroken but I thought it was for the best.

Soon after, I started working at the cinema with a man called Sergei who was the manager.

My friends all thought he fancied me.

At 23, Sergei was six years older than me and, flattered by the attention, we started dating. Just eight months on, he proposed.

I accepted but just before the wedding something happened that made me think twice.

My phone rang and when I answered it, a familiar voice said: ‘I miss you.’

I gasped.

It was Tam.

He said: ‘I’m sorry about what happened.’

'I've missed you so much'

He explained that he’d been struggling at university and become depressed and that’s why he’d pushed me away.

‘I don’t know what to say,’ I told him. ‘I’m getting married.’

There was a silence.

‘Oh,’ Tam said. ‘Congratulations.’

But he sounded so disappointed.

On the day of the wedding, it rained and that felt like an omen. As I walked down the aisle, I kept thinking: Am I making a horrible mistake?

But it was too late to back out.

The ceremony went ahead and Sergei and I became husband and wife. And we were determined to make things work.

But it wasn’t long before cracks began to appear.

During one argument, Sergei shouted at me: ‘I bet you’re thinking about Tam.’

back together after 15 years apart

He even threw away the necklace Tam had given me for my 15th birthday.

Then, five years into our marriage, I was out for drinks with friends from work when I turned around and my jaw dropped.

‘What is it?’ my mates asked.

‘It’s my old boyfriend!’ I gasped as I clocked Tam.

I was shaking with nerves as he smiled and came over.

‘How are you?’ he asked.

‘Fine, thanks,’ I replied. ‘It’s good to see you.’

We chatted for a while and it felt great.

But, of course, we’d moved on.

I was married and that was that.

After that, I didn’t see Tam again but, as the years went by, I sometimes thought about him.

Then one day, I was sorting through my old photo albums and as I turned a page I was transported back in time by a picture of me and Tam at 16. It was one we’d had taken at the prom.

back together after 15 years apart

There I was in my long dress, with Tam’s arms folded around me. We both looked so happy and carefree and suddenly I knew what I had to do.

I got busy. I found a new job and a flat and then I sat down with a pen and paper and began to write.

Dear Sergei…

In my letter, I explained how unhappy I’d become in the 10 years we’d been married and that I need to start again.

It’s over, I told him.

Then, while he was at work, I placed the letter on the kitchen table and left.

I began divorce proceedings and started to build a new life.

I made a new Facebook page, and added some people I’d known from school. As I did, Tam’s name popped up on my recommended list.

He probably won’t be interested, I thought.

But I decided to send him a message anyway.

Heart in my mouth, I wrote: Hi, how have you been?

Tam’s reply popped up almost at once.

It’s great to hear from you! he said.

back together after 15 years

We messaged back and forth for a bit and then he called me. We ended up talking for hours.

I told him about my failed marriage, and he told me about his past relationships.

When I realised he was single, an idea began to form.

‘We only ever broke up because of circumstances,’ I said after we’d been chatting for a few weeks. ‘We should be together.’

‘I’d love that,’ Tam replied.

We made plans for him to visit me for a week but very quickly we realised we wanted more.

So instead we began saving up to move in together.

Five months on, I found myself standing on the pavement outside my flat.

A figure appeared and we ran into each other’s arms.

As we kissed, our teeth clashed together — just like we were teenagers again!

‘I’ve missed you so much!’ I told Tam.

That first night was magical and, over the next year, we were so happy.

Then one evening, Tam took me out for dinner followed by a stroll on the pier.

In his hand, he held a box with an engagement ring.

‘Let’s do this!’ he said.

And soon after, we had more wonderful news.

I discovered I was pregnant.

We got married at a Buddhist temple and invited some old friends who’d known us since we were 15.

‘Maybe I should get back together with my secondary-school boyfriend!’ my sister joked.

Four months after, our son Alexander was born and I could not have felt happier.

Now Tam and I have been married for eight years, and we’re stronger than ever.

We might have spent 15 years apart but we’re making up for lost time now, all thanks to that photo from the prom.

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