I should explain that I’m writing this anonymously because I have a child’s privacy to protect. But if you and I met at a party, I would have no qualms in telling you – if you asked for relationship advice from me – that marrying for love is a mistake.
I know, because I did it.
I married a man I was desperately in love with. But I wasn’t wise enough at the time to realise that’s all we had. I learned the hard way that chemistry, passion, great sex… are just not enough for a lasting relationship.
Because in life, we need love, but we need other things just as much. Safety and stability, for example. Look at your best friendships: that’s what you need in your romantic relationships, too.
Common values can’t be underestimated – like a unified approach to finances. I know it sounds so boring – but, trust me, the alternative is a sh*tfight every week about money for years – and a marriage can’t sustain that.
It’s called compatibility, people.
Sure, no one knows what the future holds, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. That doesn’t mean you blindly forge ahead with a relationship and dismiss the realities of life. If you do, you’re not looking after yourself.
I certainly didn’t. I looked at the man I wanted to marry and I was just so in love – and, I’ll admit, so satisfied sexually – that I ignored the red flags. I never stopped to think “what’s in this for me?” apart from matching libidos and someone I could have a good conversation with. But now I know we just weren’t on the same page.
I was his third wife. He was 21 years older than me. He had two kids already. All of that could have been ok, it could have worked – but I knew at the time it would be a problem, because I wasn’t a priority to that man – because our life stages were so different.
And yet…I loved him, and so, I married him. Once that “romantic love” – that passion – wore off, there was nothing left; except a lot of hard work.
People ask me why I’m still single after being divorced for so long. They’ve seen me with great men, and when I report that it’s over, they tell me my standards are too high.
My standards were not high enough last time.
The best marriages I know – the ones that have lasted at least 20 years, and strengthened in that time, despite kids and all the other crap life has thrown at them – are the ones where the individuals involved asked questions about compatibility before anyone put a ring on anything.
There are problems that you can work with – parents-in-law hating you. Mismatched libidos. And those you can’t: one of you always wanted to live in New York. One of you wants children. There are some sacrifices that are so personal, so intrinsic to someone’s being, that they will be the death of the marriage.
Which is why, watching Ry and Philippa on Channel 7’s Bride and Prejudice, I wanted to scream at the TV.