I remember when I was younger, my Mum would tell me what sort of man I should choose to be my husband one day. Some of her advice was outstanding. I didn’t listen to it.
“Choose someone who is good with their hands. A practical man,” she said.
“Don’t marry for money; but don’t love where there is none”.
“Make sure your choice is a man of God”.
I ignored them all, but the last one in particular. I recognised that a man of God wouldn’t choose a girl like me. I was well away from the church by then, and even if one of those hapless chaps had wanted me, choosing someone from the church felt like choosing to straightjacket myself for time immemorial. And anyway, some of the most “Christ-like” people I have ever met don’t have a religious affiliation, but they are warm, giving, loving people. So I amended that bit of advice to: “Make sure your choice is a good man”. All three requirements made for a tall order. Speaking of which, I had also decided that my Mr Right had to be tall, like me. It was my only physical criteria. It is really hard to find a good man who is practical with his hands and sensible with money, a good person and tall to boot! Especially when that isn’t what you are really looking for. See, what I was attracted to was rebellion, passion, poetry and emotional connection. I wanted excitement and intellectual conversations. I wanted challenge and heated arguments. I wanted crazy good sex. Lots of it.
But it took me a long time to realise the kind of person I actually should spend my life with. It was a lot more like my Mum’s set of criteria. By the time I was 27, I had been divorced and back on the dating scene for four years. I was afraid I would never find someone. But I was a proactive searcher! I went along with one of my friends to a desperate and dateless ball. It was Valentine’s Day. And as I gathered my nerves and walked in I recognised I was definitely desperate… to be anywhere else! My heart sank. I made a beeline for the bar. The only man among the crowd that even tickled my attention was talking animatedly to a Morticia lookalike. I thought ‘if that’s his taste in women, he won’t look twice at me in my LBD and french chignon’. And proceeded to drown my sorrows.
After about five plastic cups of chateau cardboard, I returned to the bar for my sixth. And there he was, Morticia’s mate. He smiled. I sidled up to him and said hello. He spoke back in the most delicious English accent; “Where did you disappear to? I saw you at the start of the night but couldn’t find you again!” He followed me out to the steps and we sat there until the wee small hours, talking. Even when the couples were emerging from the hall like it was the ark, in two by twos; we were still talking. We watched them stagger out and off into the night. He told me about his ex, he learned about my History of Men. We were both divorced. Both of our exes had cheated on us. We talked until even the organisers had filed out of the hall. And carried on talking all the way to another nightspot. Then, when it looked like time to go, he called me a cab. I had hoped he was going to make other suggestions (!) and so, when he called me a cab, I felt sad. I wondered if he hadn’t felt the connection I had felt. I was a bit taken back by the gentlemanly approach. He told me he would call me the next day. Yeah right, I thought. I didn’t believe him.
But he did. He rang! We went out for dinner together the very next night. Our eyes locked, we talked about books we loved, we covered the contents of the whole universe! We talked about love and loss and the language of trust. We laughed and ate great food and somewhere in that memory of that night is a moment. He is looking into my eyes and I am knowing. Knowing that he belongs with me. He felt that moment too. We return to that moment whenever we are alone together. It was the beginning of something important. Even now, we sometimes talk about how easy it would have been to miss each other. To be living in Auckland at the same time, but never crossing paths. I am grateful for the desperate and dateless ball. For the cheap wine. For Morticia (who turned out to be his flatmate). For the aligning of stars and the convergence of fates. And I’m glad that I didn’t give up searching.
But I wasn’t the smartest girl when it comes to love. I second guessed myself, as any serial dater would: was he right for me?
After we had been going out for some time, an ex boyfriend of mine came back to Auckland. This guy told me that he was certain we were supposed to be together. It threw me into a tailspin. I told my man about what was happening and how I didn’t know what to do. Had I taken the correct path? Was I on track for happiness, or poised for disaster? He nodded his wise head and suggested that we should break up. I should take my time and go and work it out. So, that is what I did. My Mum was horrified. “He won’t wait for you to work it out Rachel” she said, “You’ve lost a good man there”. During the whole time that I was figuring things out, that good man would invite me out for coffee. We’d talk. A ten am coffee date would turn into pre-dinner drinks. But he never pushed beyond friendship. We just talked. As the months stretched out I began to wonder…
He was always kind, always available to me. He talked to me with respect and felt comfortable talking about his feelings. He was sensible, cautious, careful. He was reserved, but when he laughed it boomed out of his six foot four frame and shook the ground. His natural tendencies were the opposite of mine. Where I was spontaneous, he was a planner, when I was loud, he was quiet. Where money ran through my fingers like sand, he was fiscally responsible. And his values were solid. He prized trust above all things. He spoke my language.
The other guy, my ex, was exciting. A bit reckless even. He had a capacity for needing me that made me feel important, even essential, to his life. He wrote poetry and could turn a phrase into a thing of beauty. He was deep. World-minded. Political. Complex. But somehow, I couldn’t rest with it. It occurred to me that I had spent so much time falling in and out of love with men I was attracted to; and I was attracted to the wrong sort. I had to make a decision with my head, not my heart.
And that’s what I did. I chose the hubster. With all of my head. And you know what? The heart followed swift behind. This time I knew without reserve that I had made the right choice. I was so fortunate that he was prepared to wait for me, to give me the respect and freedom of time to choose. He was a good choice for me for all the right reasons, and none of the old reasons. He was the start of something entirely new for me. A relationship on equal terms, spoken in the same language of trust, built on a solid foundation. A healthy relationship.
My Mum was happy too.
I’m glad to know that she approved. I’m glad I made that decision when she was still with us.
She was right you know. It’s a good thing to be married to a man who is good with his hands, responsible with money and who carries good values. I have been so cared for, so nurtured by his magnanimous heart. I know I made the right choice. By then, I had kissed more than enough frogs in my quest for my handsome prince. And I found him, there on the steps of Hopetoun Alpha. My prince. My happily ever after.
I’d love to know your love story. Even if your story is about finding a love you haven’t met yet.
I am a sucker for love stories and I love finding out what brought two people together.
How did you meet your main squeeze?
How do you hope to meet them?
How did you know?
What was the clincher for you?
Let’s talk about love.
And honey? Here’s to you: