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Newlywed life isn’t what I expected – I’m living with my husband’s nan


The three of us being stuck together in lockdown for nearly a year has been intense (Picture: Samuel Sims)

The walls around us vibrated as the foghorn-like snoring continued.

My husband Jay and I looked at each other across the room and laughed, yet inside I felt frustrated. All we wanted to do was watch a film, but his 85-year-old nan had fallen asleep in her favourite position on the sofa, and we couldn’t hear a word of it.

Is this really what we had to grin and bear as newlyweds? 

Jay and I met in 2011. I won’t go into the sordid details, but we started talking online and after spending one eventful night together drinking too much wine, we became inseparable.

A decade on, we’re married after I blurted out a proposal one night in our previous flat. There was no ring, and I didn’t get down on one knee – but we’ve never been very traditional. 

The date was set for Halloween 2020 (an ode to Jay’s grandparents’ own wedding day) and in the months following the engagement, everything was plain sailing.

Until the pandemic hit. Then it was hell.

We wanted a two-day wedding up north in Beverley, Yorkshire – one, a modest ceremony and the other, a grand ball. ‘Be as extravagant as you want and dress as if gender doesn’t exist,’ the guests were told. Jay and I planned to wear wedding dresses that had been specially made for us. It was going to be incredible. 

When Covid-19 hit, it felt like the end of the world. Because of restrictions on numbers, our dream wedding couldn’t happen, and the stress tested our relationship. In the end, we changed venues four times, didn’t get some deposits back and had to cut a couple of bridesmaids. Thankfully travel restrictions inevitably prevented them from coming anyway so it worked out OK.

We managed to still get married on 31 October in a beautiful pub overlooking the Thames and despite not being able to dance, it was perfect. It was a relief to finally say ‘I do’ and the emotion I felt was unexpected.

It’s difficult to get your own space – both individually and as a couple

As we looked tearfully at each other saying our vows, we knew that all the stress had been worth it. (The three double G&Ts my parents had plied me with before the ceremony helped.)

Life as newlyweds has been surreal – far from the way society tells us to feel after we have tied the knot.

All you want to do is see people, show off your rings, and feel excitement about ‘what’s next’. 

We thought we’d be able to sit down and have a proper chat about starting a family – something we’re passionate about doing but feeling like we’re in limbo, with no job and an unsure future has put that on the backburner.

Newlyweds don’t usually go straight into a lockdown situation (which occurred again in November 2020) and despite the beautiful rings on our fingers, nothing had changed.

We had lost our supervisor jobs at a top London theatre in the summer of 2020 and after Jay’s nan, Shirley, offered for us to live with her rent-free, we jumped at the chance.

There’d be a garden and we wouldn’t have to worry as much about her being alone, as she’d been widowed five years earlier.

So, we packed up our lives in London and by July, were settled in Kent in a bungalow near the sea. It was to be a temporary solution until the world opened up again, but it’s lasted nearly a year.

We have a laugh when she doesn’t understand my Northern accent and Jay acts as interpreter (Picture: Samuel Sims)

Living with your new husband’s nan is… interesting. There are times I feel like a kid again when she doesn’t let me do my own washing or tells me to go to bed earlier. It’s difficult to get your own space – both individually and as a couple. 

We’re very different generations, so there’s definitely conflict. She’s happy to sit and watch Birds of a Feather all day and doesn’t understand why we don’t, too. As we lost our jobs, she thinks we can just doss around, but we always have freelance projects on the go and rarely stop. I think our lifestyle is hard for her to understand. 

It’s not all bad though. We have a laugh when she doesn’t understand my Northern accent and Jay acts as interpreter (well, they laugh and I cry), and we’ve bonded over our love of The Chase. Plus, she’s always up for a conversation about LGBT+ rights, which is amazing.

It’s rare to find people her age who see the love between two men as equal to what we’re told is the ‘norm’. We feel lucky that this at least isn’t an issue.

Our friends and other family members have been supportive, knowing that our move made complete sense financially and that company for Shirley during this difficult time has been a Godsend.

I’m quite a fiery person and so is Shirley, causing some sparks to fly.

It’s difficult for Jay because he’s stuck in the middle: he just wants to feel like a newlywed yet at the same time, ensure she doesn’t feel left out. He’s grateful to be spending this time with his nan but I know he also can’t wait for lockdown to be over so we can go out and do things as a couple again.

The three of us being stuck together in lockdown for nearly a year has been intense and it’s inevitably put a strain on mine and Jay’s relationship. Add planning a Covid-19 wedding into the mix and those sparks became fireworks!

We often wait until Shirley goes to Bingo to have sex. Usually, she’s very hard of hearing but recently she got a new hearing aid, so she catches everything! Talk about a mood killer.

We’ll move out at some point this year – where we go is dependent on work. I’d like to be near my family in Hull where it’s cheaper, but Jay has reservations about moving so far away from Shirley.

I understand, but in my eyes, we need to move on with our life as a married couple and think about having kids. We don’t know how yet, which is why we need to have a conversation about it. The plan is to build a home and discuss our options, all of which are very expensive for gay people.

Plus, I think Shirley just wants her house back. She gets frustrated when we tell her off for not cleaning up after herself and all she wants to do is be left to it – I understand. Also, I suspect she misses walking around the house naked…

We know how privileged we are to move in with Jay’s nan, when we could have been really struggling. It was the right decision for us, but I wouldn’t advise anyone starting a marriage to do the same if they had other options.

A lot of the time we feel like kids again, living with a parent and that’s not what you want as newlyweds. Starting married life with an 85-year-old is not ideal for us but at the end of the day, we’re just grateful to have a roof over our heads.

We’re hopeful about the future and especially now that the local bingo hall is open again and we can watch a film once a week without a snoring interruption or have sex without feeling paranoid. We hope Shirley appreciates this space too.

Do you have a story you’d like to share? Get in touch by emailing angela.pearson@metro.co.uk

Share your views in the comments below.

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