Fionnuala And Stephen: A Love Story

Fionnuala and I are going out! Together! At the same time!! With no kids in tow!!! This is a cause of great excitement for the last time we had a night out, Bill Clinton was still President. Thankfully I got some new ‘going out’ clothes at Christmas otherwise I would have been reduced to wining and dining my beloved in a Washington Redskins hoodie and Buzz Lightyear pyjama bottoms. Which nobody wants to see.

The occasion is Fionnuala’s upcoming birthday in a couple of weeks. We talk about going out all the time, but life and other family commitments always seem to get in the way. Take this weekend for example. Adam had to be ferried to and from his part time job while today Hannah is performing at a concert in Belfast. We always put the kids first, which is right and proper, but sometimes you need a bit of ‘us’ time.

I love my wife very much. And when she’s not shouting at me for leaving stuff lying around the house or forgetting important appointments, I know she loves me too. We have been married for 16 years and together 22. We aren’t a particularly ‘lovey dovey’ couple. We don’t do public displays of affection because we don’t feel we need to, but have a strong bond. Many have tried to break that bond, and all have failed.

We both work hard for the family and often it feels we are ships passing in the night. There are evenings we are exhausted and conversation is at a minimum. We just want to go to bed and sleep. Such is the nature of raising a family. I keep saying we can make up for lost time when the kids are grown up and settled. But there are times, when such a day seems impossibly far off. As in, never.

Fionnuala is everything to me. I know I don’t say that enough. She has kept me going through my darkest days and always been there to pick me up on the many occasions I fall flat on my face. She works incredibly hard even though her health hasn’t been great in recent months. She rarely complains and just gets on with life. She is tough and practical, never afraid to roll her sleeves up and get her hands dirty.

She is also incredibly loyal and loving. She always puts the needs of the family before her own. She is forgiving and would drop everything for a family member or friend in need, expecting nothing in return. Her kindness is second to none. I learn from her every day and am in awe of the standards she sets as a mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend. Even when that love is not reciprocated, she keeps going.

So we are donning our glad rags and hitting the town. I’m on taxi duties, affording Fionnuala the opportunity to have a glass of wine or seven. I’m hoping we can talk about our plans, our hopes, our dreams. Without being interrupted by squabbling siblings or queries regarding missing school uniforms and tricky algebra homework. This will be a time for us to refuel and reflect on our crazy, incessant lives.

Love is many things. These include resilience. It can bend, but it doesn’t break. It has to be capable of withstanding the many storms of life and still be there when the sun rises the following day. It might not be pretty at times, but it’s still there, intact and defiant. It is an iron act of will as opposed to a fluffy emotion. It is turning up every day even when you don’t want to. It is my wife. And for that I am forever indebted.

When did you last have a night out?

What is love to you?

Do you love enough?

Published by Fractured Faith Blog

We are Stephen and Fionnuala and this is our story. We live in Northern Ireland, have been married for 17 years and have three kids - Adam, Hannah and Rebecca. We hope that our story will inspire and encourage others. We have walked a rocky road yet here we are today, together and stronger than ever. We are far from perfect and our faith has been battered and bruised. But an untested faith is a pointless faith. Just as a fractured faith is better than none at all. We hope you enjoy the blog.

59 thoughts on “Fionnuala And Stephen: A Love Story

  1. We also may have gone out during the Clinton Dynasty… 🙂

    I am learning that love and commitment are organic, ongoing things. We need to connect every day and not just assume love will happen without work.

    And… I don’t think I love enough. There’s that nasty self-doubt and self-conditional-love stuff hampering me a bit.

    This was really sweet to read, by the way. (I hope you didn’t leave your date standing while you paused to write it.)


  2. This is lovely Stephen, a d I concur with all that you say love is. I like the bit where you say it is an iron will- did I get that right? I can’t scroll backwards and forwards so can’t check it but I think you said that. The sort of love you describe is the sket me and my husband have. We have no kids though. But it truly has been an act of will at times, and it has been truly tested in the fires. Yet wee are not slushy either. We don’t need that. And we will never have a night out again.

    When I had cancer and was so sick, my husband was up every hour during the night, putting ice packs onto my skin for half an hoyr, to try and calm the horrific itch that I had. He was exhausted. But he never gave in. He slept on a thin camping mattress on the floor so that if I ever DID manage to get to sleep, he didn’t wake me by moving around. But we most definitely are NOT slushy. In fact, even when the Peace is exchanged at our church, which we rarely get to now, no one exchanges it with us but we don’t exchange it with one another. It woukd feel false and against our personalities. We just don’’t NEED to. So I know just what you are saying Stelhen.

    Enjoy your night out. Make it a great one. You deserve it. Both of you


  3. Stephen, You can count me in the category of being blessed with a spouse I truly don’t deserve as well! Rather than repeat your wonderful description of your wife, suffice to say that my Betsy fits that description perfectly. Her daily example of what true love is; the giving of self over and above anything else, inspires me to attempt to love in the same way. I know I have a long way to go, but I can only imagine how long that journey would be if I didn’t have her!
    I hope you two had a wonderful time together, you’ve earned it! Betsy and I went out last Sunday afternoon for a steak dinner, it was wonderful!


  4. Good for you. Seriously, it is wonderful to commit some time to connecting, refueling and building up one another. I fully understand how life gets in the way of your relationship. But even through that you are hopefully building trust and reliance upon one another. Hope its a great evening.


  5. Beautifully said, Stephan. Happy Birthday, Fionnuola. Marriage isn’t easy and it doesn’t get any easier over the years. My husband and I have been together 45 years and it still takes conscious effort. And how I remember those days when you couldn’t find 1 minute to share and when you did you were too pooped to do anything about it. Holding hands was as close as you got to love making. Hold that thought because as you age, hand holding takes on a new meaning and be just as satifying :). There is a very old book out written by Cardinal Spellman entitled Three to Get Married. You, your spouse and God. Hold onto each. Congratulations to you both. Kick your heals up and celebrate your beautiful marriage. Blessings


  6. “…a glass of wine or seven.” That is what I feel I need right now. Yes! Love. For the first time in a long time I feel loved and I’m grateful. Istanbul’s blessed me with a wonderful man who is unlike any other. You both are lucky to have each other. Wish you lots of love.😊


  7. What a lovely tribute to your wife! Yes, love is a decision, a choice we make each and every day. My husband and I will celebrate our 40th anniversary this spring. It’s hard to believe we’ve been married so long. We have weathered a lot of storms and learned a lot from one another and I wouldn’t change a single, solitary thing. The hardships made us stronger. The joys kept us buoyant and able to ride the up and down waves on the ocean called life. Our children are grown and living their own independent lives. I am proud of all of them. But I do remember a time I thought we’d never have time alone. I hope you both enjoyed your “date”. Rest assured that before you know it you will be “empty nesters” wondering where the time went. I think you have invested wisely in one another and your children fortunate to have you both as parents.


  8. We go out. Not often enough, and there are always road blocks. An aged Aunt (98) and an aged cat (16). We try to take walks and share watching some recorded tv shows that we like. For bdays and anniversary we go out to eat special. The house is big, but we sit down to eat dinner together. I’m glad you two are making time for you!❤️


  9. Our last night out was a year ago. We went to Cardiff to see the Rocky horror show much to the horror of our grown up kids!
    Work, kids, grand children we are looking forward to a well earned holiday camping and exploring Scotland in Sept. I hear there is virtually non existent phone signal in Shetland isles!
    I really hope so!


  10. Hope your night out was a fabulous success. I love reading stories about you and your family. The love you talk about is what I equate to storybook love but you have it… like a voyageur I stand on the outskirts looking in. Ok so now that I have scared you with stalker-like ideas you have a way of writing that brings people into your family. You are an amazing writer. (Ooops sorry will stop talking now lol) And just in case I miss it wish Fionnuala a wonderful birthday. 🙂


  11. Oh I love this post! So very happy you have eachother and I hope your night out was all you hoped it would be. Reading this, I felt I was reading about my husband and I – and now I want to call him on his business trip interstate just to hear his voice and tell him I love him! Thanks


  12. You two are so cute. I’m so glad that you had the opportunity to go out for a night on the town. For myself, as a single parent, I don’t really go out. Not on dates anyway. I do go have supper with friends occasionally, and I do have a fairly robust social life with enough time to rest in between, but as for romance…eh, whatever. I figure if the good Lord has someone for me, He’ll have to make me sit up and pay attention 🙂

    I don’t think I love enough…I also don’t think I love well either. I am always learning something about loving people and loving myself. To me, love is very much an action verb.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Funny about going out. We have been married for 17 years (18 in June) and we haven’t been on a date together without the kids in a very long time. I am very thankful for my wife and the love we share in the Lord. He is what keeps it all together! God bless!


  14. This was such a sweet post- I love hearing other people’s love stories. The one thing I would add is to embrace every moment of your togetherness. Not to be together all the time, of course but just appreciate being a couple. When that ends it’s a whole different world. With lots of longing for what used to be.


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