After the break-up of a serious relationship, it can feel like your heart’s been broken for good. Then one day you discover it’s beating louder than ever. We chat to three couples who never gave up romance…
The first time I met Martin I was on the panel that interviewed him for the job of principal. I was president of the local P&C.
As I got to know him, I thought he was amazing: good-looking, intelligent, fabulous to talk to. But we were just mates. Then I broke up with my partner in September 2009. We’d been on and off for 15 years. Martin was going through a break-up too.
One day I rang him about school business and he said, “You sound a bit down.” We talked for 40 minutes, and afterwards I emailed him a voucher for a free whinge. A week later he called and said, “I could use that whinge voucher.” So I went to his house and he talked about his stuff for the first time. The following weekend it all started.
From then on we felt completely connected. I didn’t sleep for three weeks. It was like electricity. We just communicate so well.
We tried to keep it from the kids but couldn’t for long because we couldn’t keep away from each other. It was unstoppable.
We thought: How is this going to look? But we’ve had so much support. Our families have been fantastic. Everyone has been positive. Six months after getting together we bought a house. Our kids are really good. They play together, support each other.
We have a future; I’ve never had one before. I don’t know how it could have worked out better than it has. Niki, 34, works for a non-government organisation. Martin, 35, is a primary school principal.
Because of Niki’s roles as a parent and P&C president, we spent a lot of time together. There was a non-threatening natural friendship that developed over that time. It changed when we caught up for a beer and talked about our relationships that we were in the process of leaving.
It developed quickly. Sometimes you take stock and think about who you are and what you want. For the first time I could see it all. I’d never felt like that before. I knew something like this doesn’t come around every day.
If I was counselling myself, I’d have said: Don’t be so bloody stupid. Professionally, it has to be one of the silliest things you can do. But keeping it quiet wasn’t an option. If something’s authentic, you can’t do it justice by hiding it away.
I knew it would be confronting for friends, family and ex-partners but this was the one chance to be where I needed to be and I wasn’t prepared to let it go. Every moment of every day, being with Niki feels like the right decision. It’s not always easy with the children and their biological parents but there’s nothing I regret.
You don’t always get it right the first time. That’s not a criticism of anyone. It’s just the way it is.
The first time I met Steve was at my thenboyfriend’s party in the country. I gave him a lift back to town. He was the saddest, sappiest person I’d ever met. He didn’t speak. I didn’t know it then, but he’s a bit deaf and probably couldn’t hear me. He’d also just come out of a long relationship.
Six months later, I broke up with my boyfriend. Steve worked in town and my housemate Ros said, “If you ever need a toilet in town, use Steve’s office.” So, one day, I did.
I started going up and saying, “Do you want a coffee?” He felt safe to hang around. We’d sit in a café and do the newspaper puzzles together. Then Steve went away for work for two weeks. I thought: That’s a long time, what will I do? I knew then that there was more to it than I originally thought.
Before he went he gave me the keys to his house because I liked having somewhere to hang out in town. One night I phoned him and asked if I could drink his organic wine. Then I texted him and said I’d give him a kiss when he got home. He texted back: Do you promise?
Over the next week, this turned into text and phone sex. I was amazed. He came back a day early. I ran out to meet him in my undies. That first night we talked about children, life, everything. Steve never went home again. Art student Martha, 39, and journalist Steve, 50, met when Martha was going out with one of Steve’s friends.
I didn’t have strong first impressions of Martha. She was slightly kooky, a bit wild, and attractive. We started having coffee. She’d broken up with her boyfriend. I was single, morose, and forlorn. I’d broken up after an 11-year relationship.
One night when I was away, Martha sent a provocative text message. I sent one back. Maybe we needed distance between us to be outrageous. It ignited the whole relationship. I came home a day early because I was desperate to get my hands on her.
That night she stood up on the bed naked and turned around and said, “This is me, this is who I am. If you don’t accept me, too bad. Take a good look and ask me what you need to know.”
I told her I was depressed and could suffer from anxiety, and that if I were her I wouldn’t be going out with me. She said, “We’ll see about that.”
I told her I couldn’t hear and it would frustrate the hell out of her – and it does – but nothing would deter her.
I thought I couldn’t have kids; I had mumps when I was 18 and I’d never got anyone pregnant in my previous relationships. When Martha got pregnant it was amazing. We’ve been married four years now and have had a child together, and it’s great. Martha’s a lot of fun. She says, “Just stick with me, you’ll be all right.”
I’d been married for 30 years when, in 2003, my wife walked out on me. I started drinking too much and became a recluse.
Two years later my daughter said it was time I found someone, and I should try [online dating service] RSVP. I exchanged emails with Maureen for a couple of months. She gave me her phone number. It took me five attempts before I let it ring long enough for her to answer.
We lived 220km apart. We met for lunch at a pub halfway between our homes. I took my motorbike so I could make a quick exit.
I was reserved. Maureen prattled on. She talks a dime a dozen. It was about five hours later when we left. I thought about her on the way home. The next day I sent an email saying I wanted to pursue it further.
Every other weekend we went to each other’s house. We like the same things: fishing, dogs and motorbike riding (well, she doesn’t love it, but she gets on the back and comes for a ride). It was the opposite of how things were with my previous partner.
We moved in together in 2008. One week after that, I took her out to a Thai restaurant and popped the question. She was so surprised she fell out of her chair. And I put the ring on the wrong finger. We married in October 2009. I’m very happy. It was the best decision I ever made.
I was married for 25 years. My husband was unfaithful and wouldn’t give up his ways, so I left him in 2001. I didn’t want to be single, but I didn’t have any choice. I’d met him at 15 and married at 19. I’d never dated anyone. At 44, I felt like a dinosaur. Because you’re older, you don’t go to the pub. When you socialise you’re with couples.
I started to enjoy my independence but I got lonely. I used to hate the weekends. In 2005 I started looking at RSVP. When I met Murray he was very conservative. But he soon laid his cards on the table. Being with him felt like “coming home”. I’d drive two-and-a-half hours and he’d be standing at the door with a chilled glass of champagne and he’d cook dinner and make a fuss of me. No-one had done that before. He made me feel cherished. Both of us had been married to moody people. We’re not moody and we enjoy being married to someone who’s good-humoured most of the time.
When you’re single you have no-one to share the highs and lows with. Now my life is fuller and richer. I’ve even become a fishing tragic. We make everybody sick: we’re too loved up.