Like thousands of couples this past year, Mick and Lorri Delahunty were forced to postpone their wedding in May due to the pandemic. The couple, from Worcester, eventually said their vows in a tiny ceremony in Malvern in July.
Few people would be surprised to learn that, being in their 50s, this was a second marriage for both of them. But what no one could have guessed from their excitement on that special day was that this was the second time they’d married — each other.
Two very different people stood at that altar from the couple who’d said their bitter goodbyes in 2010. Debt, alcoholism and too many rows to count had fractured their once rock-solid marriage to a point where they could no longer live together.
Second time lucky: Mick and Lorri’s first wedding
The couple’s wedding last year, above
Yet, as they discovered, it is possible to fall in love with the same person twice. And divorce does not always have the final word.
‘We fell in love with one another all over again and with a new respect. Having lost each other once, we vowed we would never take each other for granted again,’ says Lorri.
Lorri, 56, an entrepreneur, and Mick, 55, a businessman, were just 17 when they met at a school disco in Yateley, Hampshire.
‘I saw Mick across the room and wondered who this gorgeous guy was,’ recalls Lorri. ‘He always seemed to be smiling and had this lovely, happy glow around him. I kept tabs on him after that but he always seemed to be surrounded by girls.’
Somehow, she managed to battle her way through the throng and a giddy teenage romance ensued.
It wasn’t the easiest of courtships. At the time, Mick was part of a boy band that went on to have a string of hits in America, and travelling constantly made keeping a relationship going difficult. But although they split several times under the strain, they always got back together again.
‘We fell in love with one another all over again and with a new respect. Having lost each other once, we vowed we would never take each other for granted again,’ says Lorri
‘We knew deep down we couldn’t live apart — even though it took him two years to tell me he loved me,’ says Lorri.
They married in October 1989, aged 24, and bought their first home in Hampshire. By now the band had folded and Mick had joined his in-laws’ construction company.
Two years later their son Myles was born, and in 1994 daughter Clare followed.
By 1998, life seemed rosy. Mick had his own business constructing swimming pools while Lorri, who started a career in marketing after leaving school, rising to become head of a team at Toshiba, was running her own marketing company, amassing clients that included LG and Samsung.
The children attended private schools and in 2003 the family moved to their dream home — a £900,000 five-bedroom house in Fleet, Hampshire. But it all came at a terrible price.
‘On the surface we had it all,’ says Lorri. ‘We’d both come from quite humble backgrounds and were determined to build something for our family.’
But while their new life in a smart neighbourhood — complete with a frenetic social life — seemed idyllic, it catapulted Lorri into a different and dangerous lifestyle.
‘I’d barely drunk through my 30s but we rapidly got into the habit of spending every weekend drinking.’
Under a flimsy layer of middle-class respectability, in country pubs, expensive restaurants and at friends’ dinner parties, Lorri was drinking fairly consistently from Saturday lunchtime to Sunday evening.
‘I never counted but I could easily get through six bottles of white wine over a weekend. While Mick was sociable, too, he managed to control his drinking better than I did.
The couple married in October 1989, aged 24, and bought their first home in Hampshire. By now the band had folded and Mick had joined his in-laws’ construction company
‘It would creep into weekdays, too. I would finish work, meet up with girlfriends and drink a bottle of wine, then I’d come back home and open another bottle with Mick.’
Inevitably, the weight crept on. Just under 9 st when she married, Lorri ballooned to 15 st 5 lb and a size 20. And while she was the life and soul of the party with friends, at home it was a different matter.
‘I would wake up many mornings knowing that Mick and I had fallen out but not knowing what I had said or why he was cross,’ she says. ‘We became increasingly distant. We both found it easier to brush things under the carpet.
‘I suggested counselling but Mick was adamant he wasn’t going to share our problems with a stranger. So I buried myself in work.
‘Of course, I considered cutting back. But I was an alcoholic. I couldn’t live without it.
The children attended private schools and in 2003 the family moved to their dream home — a £900,000 five-bedroom house in Fleet, Hampshire. But it all came at a terrible price
‘It was hard for the children because I was unpredictable. They didn’t know whether they were going to get Happy Mummy or Snappy Mummy. Although they were teenagers, they still needed more support and input than I was giving.’
The year 2007 was, says Lorri, ‘the worst of our lives’. One tragedy followed another. In January, two dear friends died in a car crash. Then Lorri’s grandfather died, followed just six days later by her grandmother, basically of a broken heart.
Then, in the summer, Mick’s dad died unexpectedly. A few weeks later, Myles’s drama teacher and mentor, whom he adored, died of a heart attack, leaving him devastated.
‘On top of all that our business started faltering. We lost a huge client and with them £1 million worth of business.
‘Mick and I fought bitterly. I wanted to sell the house and downsize but the recession meant our home was so devalued we would have lost £100,000. Instead, we moved our daughter out of her private school, which left me riddled with guilt. (Myles had already won a place at London’s prestigious Guildhall School of Music and Drama.)
The crunch came on their 18th wedding anniversary in October 2007. ‘Mick had booked a table at our favourite Italian restaurant in Fleet. I ordered a bottle of champagne. We barely had time to toast each other before we started arguing.
‘To this day, I have no idea what it was about. Mick stood up and walked out of the restaurant, leaving me weeping into my glass.
‘We both knew we couldn’t go on like this. The next day, Mick agreed to move out to stay with a friend.
‘Deep down I still loved Mick but I was too proud to tell him,’ Lorri said. ‘Besides, we still had all the old habits which had driven us apart.
The couple’s divorce came through in 2010. But once the dust had settled, Lorri found herself desperately grieving the end of her marriage
‘He found a flat near by, so he could see Myles and Clare regularly. They were sad but they also admitted they were relieved — they’d seen enough screaming matches.’
The couple’s divorce came through in 2010. But once the dust had settled, Lorri found herself desperately grieving the end of her marriage.
‘Deep down I still loved Mick but I was too proud to tell him,’ she says. ‘Besides, we still had all the old habits which had driven us apart.
‘I started dating other people but none of them matched up to Mick.’
Meanwhile, money worries built up and Lorri, unable to cope with the accumulated stress, closed her business.
‘I ended up on unemployment benefit. Myles took shifts in the pub to keep us going. If Mick hadn’t agreed to pay the mortgage, we’d have lost the house,’ says Lorri.
Feeling suicidal, Lorri was prescribed antidepressants. But still she kept drinking — to an alarming degree. ‘One evening, Myles — barely 19 — heard a thud in the kitchen. He ran downstairs and found me out cold on the kitchen floor.
‘Drunk, I had fallen, hit my head on the granite work surface and knocked myself out. When he reached me, I wasn’t breathing. Terrified, he had to call an ambulance.
Not surprisingly, Lorri has blotted out much of what happened during those three nightmare years in which she yo-yoed between managing her condition with antidepressants and drinking too heavily.
All the while she and Mick stayed in touch. ‘We talked regularly and he always came for Christmas Day, so we could be a family. Any boyfriend knew to make himself scarce.’
By 2015, Lorri was on an even keel. With many mutual friends turning 50, she and Mick found themselves thrown together at a string of parties and, inevitably, reminisced about happier times.
‘We usually came without partners, so it was the first opportunity to talk properly as friends,’ says Lorri. ‘The more we connected, the closer I found myself growing to him. Although I’d tried, I’d never stopped loving my husband.’
That September, Lorri and Mick threw a party to celebrate Clare’s 21st. ‘Mick was single but I had just started seeing a gorgeous guy I’d met on a dating site,’ says Lorri. ‘He was ten years younger and exciting. A retired parachutist, he had been a member of the prestigious Red Devils parachute team.
‘He ticked every box. But when Mick walked over and hugged me, no one else in the room existed. And then he kissed me — the first time in eight years — and I turned to jelly. All the time I’d been looking longingly at Mick and wondering if we dared risk trying again, he’d been thinking the same.
Feeling suicidal, Lorri was prescribed antidepressants. But still she kept drinking — to an alarming degree
So, it turned out, had their children. ‘They had realised we were getting closer and clocked the way we had been looking at each other. In fact, from the moment we split, Clare regularly told me: ‘You will get back with Dad one day’. I thought it was just wishful thinking. Recently, they’d been frightened of jinxing it by saying what was glaringly obvious.
‘Mick and I had a long heart-to- heart the next day. We both agreed, if we were going to rekindle our relationship, it had to be on new terms and there would be no raking up the past. The children were thrilled, but naturally wary when we told them we were thinking of getting back together again. They couldn’t face another break-up.
‘We took it very slowly. We went on dates where we talked like we had only just met. It was wonderful to reconnect — but also to discover so many new aspects of each other. For example, I was fascinated to discover Mick had developed a passion for water sports.
‘It was strange, I’d been married to this man, had two children with him and divorced him, but here I was getting to know him all over again.’
Six months after that first date, in March 2016, Lorri was at a business function in London when she found herself sitting next to a man who had given up smoking after reading a self-help guide. ‘The penny dropped,’ says Lorri. ‘I thought of the £250 I was spending on a taxi just so I could have a drink and realised I had my priorities all wrong.
‘I bought a copy of Allen Carr’s guide to stopping drinking the next day. As I turned the last page, I knew I would never drink again. Of course it’s not all down to the book — which helps you change your mindset. The truth is, I was determined to quit and so happy that I didn’t need the crutch of alcohol any more. It’s the best decision I’ve ever made.’
Mick was stunned when, that weekend, Lorri announced that she was swapping alcohol for mint tea. She has not touched a drop since. The weight rapidly dropped off (she is now a trim 10 st 10 lb).
Being sober has transformed our relationship,’ she says. ‘I’m gentler, more empathetic and I don’t fly off the handle any more. I’m happy for Mick to drink, which he still does in moderation.’
In March 2017 — 18 months into their new relationship — Lorri sold the family home and moved in with her ex-husband. He was renting a converted barn in Worcester, where he had bought into a new business.
Feeling fitter also led Lorri to reassess her diet. ‘While we were apart, Mick had become passionate about eating more healthily,’ she says. We went vegan, too, and haven’t looked back.’
To tie in with their new lifestyle, Lorri started an online, ethical clothing company, veganhappy clothing.co.uk, with 10 per cent of profits going to animal charities.
Mick was stunned when, that weekend, Lorri announced that she was swapping alcohol for mint tea. She has not touched a drop since. The weight rapidly dropped off (she is now a trim 10 st 10 lb)
She now runs the business in tandem with her marketing company. ‘It’s expanding rapidly,’ she says. ‘My dream is to produce our own clothes and see them walking down the High Street.’
Then, on New Year’s Day 2020, Mick cemented Lorri’s happiness by proposing — all over again.
A wedding day was set for May, but then the pandemic struck. A smaller ceremony was organised during the brief reprieve in restrictions in July. To Mick and Lorri, the size of the location didn’t matter. They just wanted to be married again.
‘I knew we would be together for ever but it mattered to me to be married,’ says Lorri. ‘I wept buckets when Mick asked me.’ For Lorri, the exchange of their (new) wedding rings in July ‘squared the circle’. Clare and Mick’s sister were the only guests. Sadly, due to travel restrictions, Myles could not leave his home in America.
‘We split up because we couldn’t live together, when the real truth was that we can’t live apart.’