couples

"I married for love. Here's why I'd never make that mistake again."

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

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.

WRONG.

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.

Ry’s 21 and an aspiring actor. Philippa’s a 39-year-old mum of two. They’ve been together for two years, but Philippa’s parents are suspicious of the relationship, because they can see that the couple just aren’t compatible in the long-term.

Last night, the couple announced they’re engaged, and it did not go well. Philippa’s dad in fact congratulated her on bringing another child into the family.

Ouch. Way harsh…but as a parent, I could see all he could think of was that the years he’s loved and cared for his daughter and wanted the best for her just went down the crapper.

ADVERTISEMENT

Philippa’s parents could clearly see that the problem is not their age difference as such. The problem is that Philippa doesn’t seem to be thinking of anything other than how incredible Ry makes her feel as a woman.

“The connection we have is something you find once in a lifetime,” gushed Philippa.

That’s nice, dear. That’s important, certainly. But it’s not enough.

When there’s such an imbalance in life stages, that means goals, and financial situations, too. Yes, yes, money doesn’t matter: but when one of you is at the start of their financial lives, and one’s in the middle, money will matter in terms of the life decisions you will make as a couple.

That’s what Philippa’s parents can see, and if the woman would just stop thinking about how Ry makes her feel in bed for a second, she would, too.

Oooh, that’s hard of me, isn’t? But it’s also probably the truth.

As Philippa’s own mother observed, her daughter’s made similar errors of judgement before  – when the other person has been interested in what they can get out of the relationship in a way that Philippa herself has not been.

And, as her mum says, if it ends badly, as they predict it will, it’s not only her future that’s at stake – it’s also her kids’. Time will tell.

So, if you don’t marry for love, what should you marry for? Find someone you have that chemistry with – but who you really, really, like as a person. Your best mate. Someone you know will have your back no matter what. Someone who doesn’t want to change you. Someone who, at the very least plans to have the same vision for what they want as an individual, as they do for what they want from a future with you.

Someone you’re compatible with.

And if you don’t find that with someone? Here’s the best news: you’re already good, anyway. Marry your god damn self. I promise, you’ll be much happier in the long run.

FROM OUR NETWORK
00:00 / ???