Before she took the plunge and said, “I do” to her longtime love, Tom McIvor, Kerre McIvor (née Woodham) feared being married would make her feel trapped.
“Once upon a time the thought of having the security of marriage would have made me want to break out in boils,” says the Weekly columnist, radio host and media personality in her typically forthright way.
“I had this idea that you were expected to be good once you were married, which wasn’t me. But I don’t feel that now. Marriage is great.
“It is definitely different – I’m surprised how different it feels. It’s hard to put my finger on just why that is, but I really do like being married to Tom.”
In fact, she loved the wedding so much she’s planning on doing it again.
“It was just so cool – so much love and positivity and joyfulness,” she smiles as she recalls the occasion a year ago when she became Tom’s wife in a simple ceremony, held by the water’s edge, at her aunt and uncle’s home on the Coromandel Peninsula.
She has yet to make definite plans but Kerre says she would like the renewal of vows to be identical to last year’s wedding, right down to the venue, guests and Tanya Carlson dress.
The only thing likely to be any different is her weight. She’s already lost 6kg since she married and is determined to shed another 6kg, so the dress will have to be taken in – and this time she plans on having a ring for Tom to slip on her finger.
Kerre still hasn’t got around to finding an appropriate piece of jewellery to sit alongside her magnificent diamond engagement ring. But she has plenty of time to choose one – her “recreated wedding” won’t be until early next year, which is around the same time that she will be marking her second wedding anniversary.
Kerre, who has just celebrated her first wedding anniversary, knew Tom was the man for her when they met 17 years ago, but it took them a long time to decide to tie the knot.
“I don’t wish I had done it sooner – it was absolutely the right time,” she explains.
“We had 16 years together before we married and so much that’s good and positive about my life has happened since we joined forces. Before I met him I didn’t have a house, I had a patchy career… Tom has made such a difference to my life and being married is one way of showing that we’re a team.”
So is taking Tom’s name. Kerre (49) says it was her decision to become Mrs McIvor – even though she was well known as Kerre Woodham.
“He didn’t pressure me at all, it was something I wanted to do. He’s always been Mr Woodham, or Kerre Woodham’s partner or plus-one for 16 years. This was my way of saying, ‘This is not just about me.’
“I think Tom was a bit worried about what people at work would think about me changing my name but I didn’t care. Maybe I wouldn’t have been quite so keen if his last name had been Winklebottom or something!”
Kerre says when she first met educational psychologist Tom in an Auckland bar and restaurant she had an “absolute certainty in my heart that my old life was over and my new one was beginning”.
They’d only met three times when the Irishman, who was living in Japan at the time, moved to New Zealand to be with Kerre.
They have many differences – “I’m as shallow as a puddle, he’s as a deep as a lake,”– and opposite temperaments. Kerre is feisty, while Tom (58) is placid.
“Some people have said he’s not the sort of person they would have picked for me. Sometimes you wish your partner could be more like you but if Tom was like me it would be a disaster. It would be a very boring life if we agreed on everything,” says Kerre.
“I love the joy I get from talking to Tom. I always look forward to seeing him when I have been away. We finish the cryptic crossword together – it’s little things like that I love.
“And I love his unshakeable faith in me. When I climbed Mt Kilimanjaro I texted him that I had made it and he just said, ‘I knew you would’. I didn’t know I would, it was really hard, but he had complete faith in me.”
Their relationship is by no means perfect – during our shoot at the Weekly studio Kerre has a grumble about a recent squabble with her husband.
“I could have killed him,” she growls, throwing in a couple of expletives we can’t print in a family magazine.
But by the following day, when she sits down for the interview about married life, he’s back in her good books. “You will be pleased to know that I like him again now,” she laughs.
She goes on to talk about how fortunate she feels to have someone who knows her so well, yet still accepts her, warts and all.
“Everyone has things about them they’d rather not show to the world – he has seen all of my ‘things’, but he doesn’t care. To be loved completely is such a gift.”
Kerre says Tom never argues with her, which can be very annoying. “I’ll want a good stoush but he just won’t give in to me. I might perhaps be offering him advice on ways he can lift his game but he just goes, ‘Aye’, waits for the storm to pass, then we rock on.
“Once every four or five years I have this almighty blow up and he just absorbs it and we get on with it. That’s just what he’s like.
“We’ve had one blow up since we got married, which was actually long overdue. And when I say we, I mean me. Then every eight years he will suddenly say, ‘Enough!’ in a voice that rolls through his 6ft 4in body from his toes to his mouth. He’s done this twice and is due another one in a couple of years.”
Kerre says one thing she has learned about marriage, or any relationship, is that falling in love is just the beginning.
“I used to think that was it, once you were in love it was forever and you never had to worry again. But love is the start, and from there you have to learn to compromise, to give and take, and to work on the relationship.”
Kerre feels she still has a lot to learn about marriage and is in awe of couples who have been married for decades and are not just plodding through life but enjoying each other’s company.
She also likes being able to call Tom, whom she has always referred to in the past as “the Irishman”, her husband.
“Saying ‘my partner’ sounds like you own a tyre company together, ‘my boyfriend’ is ridiculous at our age, and ‘my lover’ is too much information. ‘My husband’ is just right.”