Ah here. What made Ben Foden get hitched after a fortnight?

Una Healy’s ex-husband has just married his girlfriend of two weeks. Can it work?

Wedding day: Ben Foden with his new wife, Jackie Belanoff Smith. Photograph: Ben Foden/Instagram

Wedding day: Ben Foden with his new wife, Jackie Belanoff Smith. Photograph: Ben Foden/Instagram

 

Instant marriages don’t have a good rep. We associate short courtships with the days when you had to get wed to have sex, or with shotgun weddings, when the horse had already bolted, or with controlling cultures where girls are married off quickly and young.

No such excuses for Ben Foden, the former rugby international who left his marriage and his career in England to join Rugby United New York a year ago – and announced this week that he had married his girlfriend of two weeks, posting news and photographs of their wedding on a yacht off Nantucket, in Massachusetts.

Foden’s six-year marriage to Una Healy, the Irish singer-songwriter, TV presenter and former member of The Saturdays, ended last summer when she dumped him after he had been unfaithful during her second pregnancy.

Shortly afterwards the Sun published his new profile from the internet dating site Bumble, which the 34-year-old later said he and Healy had put up together, jokingly. He admitted in an interview with the Guardian that he had cheated on her, saying: “At the moment anything that’s published about me is never very good, and pretty rightly so, because I was the one who committed adultery.”

First marriage: Ben Foden with Una Healy in 2016. Photograph: Dave Hogan/Getty
First marriage: Ben Foden with Una Healy in 2016. Photograph: Dave Hogan/Getty

The rugby player announced that he’d tied the knot with Jackie Belanoff Smith in a long Instagram message yesterday. Foden wrote that the past year has been “by far the toughest and most turbulent... But I met a girl who seriously swept me off my feet and in a time of hardship showed me love, a deep devoted love. People will say we are mad or crazy or even fools, as @snackyjax and I had only been dating seriously for a little over 2 weeks before deciding to get married.

“Jackie is the greatest human being I’ve ever come across – she’s beautiful inside and out, intelligent, charming, funny, generous, kind, gentle, energetic... My heart is full and I honestly couldn’t be happier, so those that want to bring negativity or try and tear me down go ahead. My life is great and I hope you all will one day feel happiness like I feel.”

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This last year has been by far my toughest and most turbulent for a number of reasons that many of you I’m sure are aware of, in some way or another. The world has a funny way of working things out, many people think I’m a bad person - as I’m sure they’ll be many nasty comments left under this post by keyboard warriors a plenty. But I met a girl who seriously swept me off my feet and in a time of hardship showed me love, a deep devoted love. People will say we are mad or crazy or even fools, as @snackyjax and I had only been dating seriously for a little over 2 weeks before deciding to get married. But when someone like her comes in to your life, why would I wait? 🤷🏻‍♂️ The people who needed to know, such as close family and friends were told before anyone else and they are happy for me including my beautiful X wife @unahealy who I love even more for her blessing. Life is short and you only get one and it’s worth living. Jackie is the greatest human being I’ve ever come across - she’s beautiful inside and out, intelligent, charming, funny, generous, kind, gentle, energetic the list goes on. 😊 She will be a great step mum to Aoife and Tadhg and offers me a future I can’t wait to explore with her. My heart is full and I honestly couldn’t be happier, so those that want to bring negativity or try and tear me down go ahead. My life is great and I hope you all will one day feel happiness like i feel while I write this caption. I love you @snackyjax I can’t wait to see where our lives lead together you brought excitement and joy to my life and I couldn’t be prouder having stand at my side as Mrs Foden. (BTW the witness is Jackie’s sister @leila.bela thanks you too hun for being a legend) #Love

A post shared by Ben Foden (@ben_foden) on

He also wrote: “She will be a great step mum to Aoife and Tadhg and offers me a future I can’t wait to explore with her.” Healy and Foden have two children, seven-year-old Aoife and four-year-old Tadhg. He said his ex-wife had given them her “blessing”, but she is reported to be shocked by the rapid marriage.

What does an expert make of whirlwind marriages? The psychotherapist and Irish Times columnist Trish Murphy says marrying someone you’ve only just started dating is not a good idea. “Two weeks is not enough time to know someone and make a long-term commitment.”

In the first two weeks of a relationship, she says, “we’re in the throes of infatuation. All those old phrases about love – that it makes you blind, rose-tinted spectacles and all that – have a wonderful truth. When we are infatuated we can stretch to be our best selves: funnier, kinder, more thoughtful. But it doesn’t last, and then we have to do the work. We revert back to ourselves, our habits and patterns. It’s a problem then, because everyone is disappointed, and it can be so painful.”

Maybe they are willing to put in the work, in the same way as anybody else in a relationship, putting in the effort when they don’t feel like it, or when things aren’t going well

Still, she gives the couple the benefit of the doubt. “Maybe they are willing to put in the work, in the same way as anybody else in a relationship, putting in the effort when they don’t feel like it, or when things aren’t going well, or people have lost jobs.”

But relationships put demands on us and stretch us, she says. “To be prepared for that without knowing someone is a big ask.”

Trish Murphy advises people who are in doubt to ask their family and friends, who can often see more clearly if someone is good for them: “They know you and love you, faults and all, and you can trust them.”

Reaction to the wedding has been swift. The novelist Marian Keyes tweeted: “...it is none of my bidniz who Bin Foden marries or doesn’t marry. NONE of my bidnizz. And yet... I find myself longing to sit down and have a lively chat with some one who loathes him.”

Comments on her tweet call Foden a toolbox, a plank and a tosspot. Maïa Dunphy remarked: “Oh yes. Fully worthy of the old school title ‘dipshit’.”

Others observed: “I’ve had broccoli in my fridge longer than this relationship”; “Normal humans would not even have reached the ‘will we go on a minibreak weekend’ level, yet this eejit is buying rings !!”; and “She’s, like, deffo pregnant.” So it’s back to the shotgun wedding.