'It's mildly embarrassing to have been married [and divorced] twice'

‘It’s mildly embarrassing to have been married [and divorced] twice’

I had a girlfriend in the US whom I met on one of my overseas trips, but that didn’t last. I also had a passionate relationship in my final year with someone who wasn’t in my class. But I didn’t blossom into a proper relationship until I was 21 or 22. After I graduated I felt more confident sexually, and had more mature relationships.

I came to Australia when I was 25 to continue my pediatrics training. In 1982, I became a health reporter for the ABC, and then, when I was the general manager of Radio National, I employed Geraldine Doogue, who is one of my closest friends. She does n’t change her desire for her when she’s on air, which is her greatest strength for her.

I met my first wife, Lee Sutton, a fellow pediatrician, over an incubator in a premature baby unit at what was then called the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children in Sydney. She was straight and honest and we shared similar interests. I recognized she would make an incredible mother, which she has been to our children Anna, Georgia and Jonathan.


It’s mildly embarrassing to have been married [and divorced] twice. I’ve heard men complain about the women in their lives as the reason they’ve been married more than once, when 50 per cent or more of the reason is us, the men.

In my latest book, So You Want to Live Younger Longer?, I write about the stigma of aging for women. I think men feel it, too. I’m not critical of plastic surgery or of people with money who want to tinker with their looks, but I do think as a community we are much less kind to women in terms of looks and how they age.

Both my grandmothers took huge care over the way they looked until the day they died. Yet when I talk to women about this, they say they actually do it for other women. It’s the same with clothes and make-up. They’ve not the slightest interest in what men think about them. It’s what other women think of them; that is whom they dress for.

So You Want to Live Younger Longer? (Hachette) by Dr Norman Swan is out now.

The Booklist is a weekly newsletter for book lovers from books editor Jason Steger. Get it delivered every Friday.