20 May our love story
‘I got back together with my ex and here’s what Jenefer Lopez needs to know’
by Cathy Underwood
You may have seen an article in the Telegraph newspaper recently featuring me and the old man? It details how after 30 years apart we found one another again and fell in love, got married and now live together in domestic bliss…well most of the time.
The reason for the sudden interest in our love story? Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Apparently, after many years apart and lots of water under the proverbial bridge, Ben and Jen also found themselves falling back into one another’s arms. I image, like us, they just felt a resounding YES pulsing through their veins. A feeling that I can only describe as being with the one.
The following is extremely slushy and romantic but all true. They are my words edited by a journalist for the Telegraph. I hope you enjoy reading it.
‘Many people were shocked to see the pictures of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez on what looked like a date at the start of this week. Affleck and Lopez had been a mainstay of the tabloids in the early noughties, which chronicled their relationship from the start, through to their engagement, postponed wedding, and eventual break-up. Now, almost 20 years later and after several relationships on each side, it looks like they could be back together.
If they are back together, it doesn’t come as much of a surprise to me. I got back in touch with my teenage sweetheart Andrew in my late 40s after almost 30 years apart. It ended very well: we’ve been married for four years now.
We first met in 1986, when I was 17. I’d packed my bags and left my home on the Isle of Wight to go to Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts, where I had dreams of becoming a professional actress and dancer.
In my first year, we did a production of Fiddler on the Roof, and I played Hodel, one of Tevye’s daughters. The main part of Tevye went to Andrew – a charismatic third year, and one of the most popular boys in the school. He had this aura: women wanted to be with him, and men wanted to be him. I just thought he was so cool, especially because he was the lead singer in a band called Eat.
I was delighted when I realised he fancied me back. We started dating and quickly moved in together, to a flat in north London.
Unfortunately, about a year after we started dating we had a painful break-up, when he left to go to pursue his music career in the US. I started an acting career, doing bits of work in television, then eventually left show business and became a yoga teacher. Along the way, I got married and had two wonderful sons, who are now 18 and 20.
I loved my husband, and our relationship was so right for me at the time. But towards the end of my marriage when things weren’t going well I would daydream that Andrew would walk down the garden path and whisk me away. It sometimes felt like he was the one who got away.
My ex-husband and I grew apart, and eventually we got divorced. I was single for about four years after that, casually dating one or two men but nothing turned serious. My lovely sons were so supportive; when my eldest was about 16 he actually turned to me and said: “Mum, you know we don’t expect you to be single forever”.
In 2014, a friend of mine sent me a message. Eat were having a comeback tour, and he suggested we go. I hadn’t spoken to Andrew for decades, but I still thought about him all the time. I went on Instagram, and sent him a message: I told him I’d got divorced and was thinking of coming to see him play. We texted back and forth for a bit, and I invited him over for a cup of tea. He said he had a girlfriend so it wasn’t a good idea – all the while hinting that he was still attracted to me after all this time.
Two years later, I got a text completely out of the blue from Andrew, telling me he’d split up with his girlfriend and asking me if I still wanted that cup of tea. I said yes, immediately.
A few days later, he was walking down my garden path to the front door, just as I’d imagined he would for all of those years. It sounds like a cliche, but honestly it felt like no time had passed, even though it had been 30 years. The chemistry was still there, exactly as it had been when I was just 18, even though I was then in my late 40s.
Even our families felt the same. It felt so natural that we were back together again: it was more like “Hello again”, rather than “Who’s this new person?”
Some of my friends weren’t as keen, though. The ones who remembered the last time we were together were wary, making sure I remembered how bad our break up had been the last time, and asking whether I was sure about opening that can of worms again.
They had a point, in a way. But even though it felt like no time had passed in terms of our chemistry, both of us were fundamentally older and more mature than we had been as adolescents. Back then, we were both so ambitious and set on becoming big-name stars with our careers in entertainment.
Over the course of 30 years though, we had both changed and mellowed so much. His dreams of becoming a rock star in the US hadn’t panned out, and he’d come back home and become a painter-decorator. I’d given up acting, and become a yoga teacher. We had both, in our own time, realised what truly made us happy: living simply, surrounded by people you love.
A month after that cup of tea, he had proposed and we were shopping for an engagement ring in Selfridge’s. We were both just so sure that this was it. It was both the quickest- and slowest-moving relationship I’d ever been in, depending on how you look at it. Either it took a month or 30 years for us to get engaged.
I made sure I spoke to my ex-husband soon after Andrew and I got back together and told him about what was going on, reassuring him that nothing had ever happened with Andrew while we were together. My ex was amazing and really supportive, which really helped the boys to adjust.
All through this time, I made sure that the boys felt secure. I had never introduced them to anyone I had dated because I wanted to be sure it would last before bringing a new man into their lives. This time, I did introduce Andrew, because I knew that this would be forever.
We got married in 2017, in a small wedding on the Isle of Wight, with just 23 guests. After the wedding, Andrew and I made the slightly unusual decision to “live apart together”: although we were married, I lived in my house with the boys, and he lived in his flat, but we spent the weekends together.
This was the right decision for my boys, who at the time were 14 and 16: Andrew was able to slowly get to know them before living with them. In the end, this worked out really well. Andrew moved in in 2019, and the boys are now just so relaxed and happy around him.
People might ask about whether we regret “wasting time” not being together. I just don’t see it like that at all: the time apart was absolutely necessary for both of us to mature and become truly comfortable with ourselves.
We’ve now been back together for five years and I couldn’t be happier. I see our lives like two wiggly lines that crossed when we were young, then came back together again later in life.’
By Cathy Underwood
PS Click here to find out when Ange Dolittle begins touring with new band Holy Apes
Cathy Underwood is the founder of Cathy Underwood Yoga and specialises in yoga as a therapeutic tool for greater mental health. She provides a variety of classes for the community online and in-person coupled with working within schools and hospitals using yoga to support individuals and groups living with complex mental health conditions, addictions and special educational needs.
Cathy has won serveral awards including the Barclays Innovative Business of the Year Award.
Check out Cathy’s classes.