October 25, 2020

Seven year itch? We couldn’t live without each other, says champ cyclist Mark Cavendish’s wife Peta Todd

Seven year itch? We couldn’t live without each other, says champ cyclist Mark Cavendish’s wife Peta Todd

PETA TODD’S marriage to champ cyclist Mark has survived sickness, long distance and friends falling by the wayside.

Here, the model reveals that their marriage is stronger than ever.

We couldn't live without each other, says champ cyclist Mark Cavendish's wife Peta Todd

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We couldn’t live without each other, says champ cyclist Mark Cavendish’s wife Peta ToddCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Like most couples, when we took our vows in 2013, we knew we were signing up for both good times and bad.

But we learned early on that the early years of marriage aren’t all hearts and flowers.

I spent our first wedding anniversary in hospital following major lung surgery, while Mark’s cycling commitments meant he was often away for weeks at a time.

Life sometimes felt like a battleground, and there had been little time to prioritise our relationship. In fact, at times it seemed like we could barely find a kind word to say to each other.

Mark Cavendish tied the knot with model Peta Todd in October 2013

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Mark Cavendish tied the knot with model Peta Todd in October 2013Credit: PA:Press Association

While I did my best to pull us together, as a team we were often physically apart and I was floundering. Sometimes it felt like nothing I did was good enough.

I won’t lie, I felt a bit abandoned too by the people I trusted when things got difficult.

While some friends were amazing, I remember noticing that the phone calls and texts from some of our “gang” had fallen away.

So with our seventh wedding anniversary on the horizon — a time when traditionally the shine has worn off married life and one or both partners get itchy feet — you might wonder how we made it this far.

Peta and Mark pictured at home with their family

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Peta and Mark pictured at home with their family

Yet I can honestly say our marriage has never felt stronger.

Mark and I may have faced some really tough times, but instead of driving us apart, those times have helped us realise what’s really important: Being there for each other through bad times as well as good.

When Mark and I met in 2010, I was already mum to Finnbar, now 14, our daughter Delilah came along in April 2012, and two years later she was joined by our second baby Frey, who we later discovered had hearing problems and communication delay.

Like any couple where one parent is away a lot, we both sometimes struggled with the dynamics.

‘HUGE HUGS’

When Mark came home it felt like he got the huge hugs and excited voices while I was the one stuck in the kitchen preparing the kids’ tea and dealing with the moaning about bedtime.

It’s all too easy to feel the other partner has the better deal. And in my more self-pitying moments, I would feel like second best, too.

Yet these moments were more than balanced out by the highs.

By the time of our third wedding anniversary, Mark had amassed more world titles, worn the Tour de France’s Yellow Jersey and won a silver medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Mark is a Manx professional road racing cyclist

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Mark is a Manx professional road racing cyclistCredit: Getty Images – Getty

We’d flown out to Brazil to support him, and standing in the crowds with our children as he mounted the podium was a big moment for all of us.

Then, in 2017 Mark was diagnosed with an illness called Epstein-Barr virus, which causes chronic fatigue and weakness.

Missed by medical professionals, he had three major crashes and concussions and had some really tough times. He’s been open about that, which I’m really proud of him for.

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It was a difficult time for both of us, though. Mark was fighting for his own physical and mental health, while I was left juggling all the minutiae of family life along with a new baby, Casper, who was born in May 2018.

Mark Cavendish and Peta Todd attend The Sun Military Awards in 2016

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Mark Cavendish and Peta Todd attend The Sun Military Awards in 2016Credit: Getty – Contributor

He was our little ray of sunshine but Mark, who unbeknown to us at the time, was still not in the best of health and had to leave to prepare for the Tour de France five days after he was born. I sobbed as he left, not just for me but for Mark, who I knew was really struggling.

I had my own challenges, too. Following my allergic reaction to my contraceptive coil in 2018, which had left me temporarily deaf in one ear, with fuzzy eyesight and permanent headaches, I was still not quite myself.

Watching our wedding video, I’d see some faces and wonder where they’d disappeared to.

It was hard, but at the same time it threw a spotlight on what really mattered — us. Because truthfully, even in the darkest times, never did I think I would give up on being in our marriage. And I knew Mark felt the same.

‘SLICE OF NORMALITY’

Then last year, things started to look up. Our health turned a corner and Mark moved to a new team with people we trusted. I could see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Like anyone, we could not have predicted the curve ball of the coronavirus pandemic this year. Yet while the world was thrown into chaos, for us it afforded a slice of normality.

For the first time in as long as I could remember, we were under the same roof for weeks at a time. We shared the childcare and spent evenings snuggled up on the sofa.

It was a reminder, too, of how much I still loved Mark.

During the pandemic the couple have shared childcare and spent more time together as a family

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During the pandemic the couple have shared childcare and spent more time together as a family

It means that, as that infamous seventh wedding anniversary approached at the start of October, far from having itchy feet, I felt calmer and more grounded in my marriage than ever.

In typical Cavendish style we had to spend the day apart, as Mark was in Italy training and I was self-isolating in a hotel before a hospital admission for a small operation.

But after everything we’ve been through, that doesn’t faze me any more.

We don’t need a candlelit dinner to validate how much we mean to each other.

I’ve learned marriage isn’t weddings, nor date nights. It isn’t even children.

It’s a choice to be a part of a team. Not just when things are good, but when the going gets tough.

And it’s why I am saying here’s to the next seven years.

Peta Todd shares her experience of getting the contraceptive Mirena coil – which almost killed her

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