real life

'I married my flatmate after knowing him for six weeks. Here's why it went wrong.'

I’ve learnt a few important lessons in my lifetime:

Never buy your mum a kitchen appliance for Mother’s Day, never go grocery shopping when you’re so hungry you could eat your weight in carbs and never ever  marry your flatmate after knowing him for just a few weeks.

I wish I’d learnt the last one a little sooner.

Rob was a backpacker who was rebuilding the department store I was working at. All the girls talked about him, flirted with him and wanted him. I love a competition, so I put my stalking hat on and set to work studying his every move and every break time so I could “accidentally” run in to him.

Our first meeting didn’t go exactly to plan.

Because my concentration was focussed entirely on my sexiest pose travelling up the escalator, I totally missed the end. You know the bit where you’re supposed to get off. Instead I landed flat on my face, at Rob’s feet on the homewares floor.

Cue cheesy 80’s music, possible slow mo and imagined soft lighting as he gallantly helped me to a vertical position. I was transfixed by his extra-long lashes. They had me at hello.

And that’s how it began.

Before long I managed to convince him he should probably live with me as it would be far safer than living in a hostel with deranged strangers. I did need a flatmate; I’m not totally cray cray. He agreed.

marrying your flatmate
At first, we moved int together. But before we knew it we were in a relationship. (Image: Getty Images)

No sooner had his back pack hit the floor we were in a relationship. He hadn’t even had time to colour code his t-shirts. (Yep, he did this I later found out.) We were in that first phase of, what I thought was love, where hormones and neurotransmitters are exploding like fireworks through your insides. That feeling I'd never touch another’s skin ever again. This was it.

ADVERTISEMENT

After keeping this up for a month, we realised there was a rather large elephant in the room. His visa was running out. The panic set in, we couldn’t be separated. After looking at all the options, I threw it out there; I’ll marry you if you like? I casually mentioned over steak and two veg one night.

And we did. Six weeks after our eyes met over a grazed knee, ruined pantyhose and non-stick saucepans, we tied the knot, alone on a beach.

Marrying your flatmate
(Image: Getty Images)

Two years and plenty of heartache later, I was alone again on a beach. This time, a different beach, with my mum’s arms cocooned around me, wiping my tears away as we watched a storm roll in over the thrashing waves. He’d decided he wasn’t husband material and that was that.

At the time it was a shock I thought my heart would never recover from. I was devastated. Bereft. Filled with grief, anger and hurt.

Now I’m filled with just one sentence- Thank frickin' God!!!!

I can now piece together those two years and reflect with gratitude for the lessons I learnt about myself and love:

Lesson #1: Relationships need to brew like a good cup of tea.

You can’t leave a teabag in hot water for one second and expect a satisfactory beverage. It needs time to strengthen. Just like a relationship.

We went at full speed, tricked by the dopamine running through our veins, not to mention the fast approaching deportation of my beloved. You can’t know someone when you’re in that honeymoon phase. Because you’re both on your best behaviour any red flags get swept away in an undercurrent of love and passion. You never make calculated decisions when you’re five bottles deep in a Chardonnay, so why would you make wise choices in this drunken giddy phase of a new relationship?

ADVERTISEMENT

You need longer than a few weeks for reality to smack you in the face.

Lesson #2: I was convinced I wasn’t the marrying type, it turns out I might be.

My reasoning for offering my life on a plate to this stranger was logical in my mind. Other than my obsession with him, I didn’t care that much for the marriage thing. So for me, it wasn’t a big deal. I’ve never dreamt of puffy meringue dresses or setting a thousand caged doves free over a sunset. It’s not really my thang. Or so I thought.

Twenty four hrs before the wedding the demanding princess popped out. Suddenly I wanted the hair and make-up and specific tropical flowers that had just been wiped out in a recent hurricane. “This is my wedding day! I want it to be perfect!” I pleaded with Rob as he rang every warehouse in the state to find the overpriced blooms.

And it didn’t end there. I quite liked my new wifely role that took over as soon as that ring was on my finger, I felt like a different person. I had a purpose. I was part of a love story, a connection that was unbreakable. I was needed.

I’d lived my whole life not wanting to marry because I thought it was boring and conventional. But there I was in total contentment pairing his socks together.

LISTEN: Osher Gunsberg discusses breaking the cycle of bad relationships on the Love Life podcast (post continues after audio...)

Lesson #3: It’s very easy to lose track of priorities like family and friends when in love.

My family wanted to come to the wedding but I banned them. It was just a piece of paper at that stage so I didn’t want my English family having to mortgage their house to make it to a low key Ozzie wedding. And anyway- we would have a proper wedding later.

I didn’t realise how much that hurt my family and friends that wanted to support my decision. Regardless of how I felt about it, I took away their choice. Miles away in another state, my mum sent me photos of her dressed in a hat, drinking champagne with her bestie and toasting my nuptials.

You become so selfish in love.

Lesson #4: Love can be dangerously blind.

I lost myself in loving Rob. After the break up, I lost count of the friends that were relieved it was over. They told me he was controlling. They told me I’d lost my spark. They told me how worried they were for me. I didn’t realise. I was happy to chuck my preloved baggy clothes away because he told me I should be wearing tighter, more mature outfits. I accepted he didn’t like me to drink. I didn’t mind my new life as Stepford wife/nun.

I’d totally lost myself. And it was scarily subtle in its progression.

Lesson #5: Always trust your gut.

As I stood there on my wedding day, looking deep into his eyes, I was struck by the fact I had no idea if he preferred the window down or aircon on. Did he prefer carpet or hardwood floors? I didn’t know this guy AT ALL and though I was pretty sure he’d be an aircon, carpet man, which of course did not fit with my morals, I just ignored it and married the guy anyway. It turns out I should have asked those questions.

ADVERTISEMENT

One day we planned to go for a coffee. I put on my gym wear in case I went to the gym afterwards. He demanded to know if I was definitely going or not. Apparently it was a big deal if I was wearing gym clothes without actually going to the gym. The result of my indecision on my cardio intent left me drowning my sorrows in a latte –alone.

marrying your flatmate
(Image: Getty Images)

There were other red flags too:

He didn’t like the beach, he was continually negative, he’d never forego his gym sesh to do something with me, the toilet roll had to be on a certain way, he said markets were for rejects that couldn’t sell their stuff in shops, he thought I was too loud (though he soon took my voice hostage) he blamed the homeless for being homeless, and he would eat the same dinner every single night. To name but a few.

This guy was the total opposite to me in EVERYTHING. His eyelashes were not going to be enough to get through that amount of incompatibility.

Saying all this, I don’t regret what I did. In that moment it was the right thing for me. Perhaps six weeks was a little on the premature side to agree to wife-dom, especially without equipping myself with a life jacket and compass to navigate my way through the storm, which was our marriage. BUT it was a me thing to do. It was MY choice and remembering that allows me to let go of blame and finger pointing and it gives me eternal life lessons.

Plus I have a funny story to tell: "Hey remember that time I married that dude after a few weeks…”

One thing's for sure, I’ll find future flatmates on reputable sites and give department stores a miss.

00:00 / ???