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Absence makes the heart grow fonder? Sarah Thompson discusses

By Principal Lawyer, Family Law

Equine expert Sarah Thompson examines the alleged antics of Mike Tindall during his stay in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup.

It’s often said that marriages are best founded on shared interests and after 15 years as a divorce lawyer I tend to agree. Not a lot of hope for a relationship between someone obsessed with climbing mountains and someone who gets a nosebleed standing on a kitchen chair. But as the recently married Zara Phillips and Mike Tindall deal with allegations of Mr Tindall’s exploits in a bar whilst in New Zealand for the Rugby World Cup, I now wonder.

Both Phillips and Tindall are at the top of their respective sports. She is a world champion three day eventer; he is a world class rugby union player. Does it help that they have a shared interest and passion for sport, or does the fact that they are travelling to their respective events and staying away from home for long periods of time cause pressure on their relationship? Is it better for only one half of a couple to have interests that take them away from home and hearth?

As a keen horsewoman myself, although nothing like the level of Zara Phillips, I am all too aware of how often I wave my husband goodbye in the early hours of the morning only to return late at night after a day’s competing. Yet I like nothing better than driving our HGV lorry up and down the UK’s motorway network and spending a day in the fresh air with like-minded individuals, despite the usual frustrations that compel with horses entails. I do however wonder what my husband must think of my absences, although he assures me I come back in a much better frame of mind after a day with the horses than I do after a day in the office!

I’m lucky my husband understands my passion for horses; like any addict, I have to have my regular fix and during the months of April to October I will be out competing whenever I can. Throughout the winter months I’m following our local hunt or keeping my horse ticking over by attending clinics.

However, I’m a not sure how I would feel if my husband pursued a career like Mike Tindalls; one that both took him away for long periods of time whilst simultaneously giving him the tremendous highs associated with sporting success. I hope that Phillips and Tindall’s marriage is a long and happy one, but it must be difficult for parties who do spend long periods of time away from each other. Is it a case of out of sight, out of mind, or absence makes the heart grow fonder?