Finding true love never is easy, and for 39-year-old beauty consultant, Lisa*, it took 16 years to find the love of her life, Michael*, an executive in the car business.
She was 23 when she met her first husband, Brian*, a brilliant young man who ran his own Internet company. “Brian was funny, handsome and extremely smart. He was everything I was looking for,” says Lisa.
They dated for five years before getting married. In that time, Brian’s business did so well that he was bought out by a group of investors.
Soon after their wedding, Brian had an offer to take his business to new heights – the only catch was that he had to work in San Francisco.
“It was only supposed to be for a year, to see it through acquisition,” says Lisa.
But he didn’t move back after the year was up, as he was still needed there. He ended up staying for four years – the entire length of their marriage.
“I trusted that he didn’t cheat on me, it’s just that we ended up living separate lives and I felt very lonely. All he seemed to care about was his work,” explains Lisa. The couple mutually decided to get a divorce and parted as friends.
Life Goes On
As the relationship had been over a long time before the divorce, Lisa wasn’t devastated when it finally ended, and started dating again.
Four years later, when she was 36, she met Walter*, a surgeon in his 50s. “We met at a play and he called me and asked me out the next day.”
Lisa learnt that Walter had been married before and that his 15-year-old daughter, Julie*, lived with him. What he didn’t share with Lisa was that his ex-wife and daughter had ruined every relationship he had had since the divorce.
So while Lisa and Walter’s relationship flourished to the point where they talked about marriage, there was no winning his daughter over.
“I tried hard to get off on the right footing with Julie, and to make her like me.”
But six months into the relationship, things started getting out of hand. “Julie was a spoiled brat,” says Lisa. “She moved my picture to a windowsill and hid it behind the curtain, stole my designer bag and wrote in permanent marker on the fridge that I was a ‘stupid, dumb b****’.”
What’s worse was that Walter tolerated the bad behaviour – he felt guilty that she’d had to grow up without a mother, who left when she was four.
For six months, the couple saw a counsellor to try to work through their problems. But in the end, Lisa left Walter. “I wanted a man who was willing to stand by me and support me,” says Lisa.
Third Time Lucky
But things were about to change. About 10 months after the break-up, Lisa noticed a man at a restaurant where she was a regular.
“I saw him eating alone. He caught my eye, and I realised that I had seen him there a few times before. I know the manager there, so I gave her my number and asked her to text me when he came in again, so I could introduce myself.”
A week later, Lisa got a text from the manager to head down to the restaurant. However, there was a mix-up – Lisa had dressed up for the wrong man.
“But as I was about to leave, Michael walked in! I acted on instinct and gestured for him to come and sit with me. He was very confused, of course, but came over anyway.”
They ordered drinks, and Lisa and Michael fell into an easy conversation, and ended up spending a good part of the evening getting to know each other.
“I felt so comfortable with him. I told him that I was really there because I was hoping to meet him. He smiled, and asked me out the next night.”
Meant To Be
Today, a year into their relationship, Lisa knows Michael is the perfect man for her.
“He doesn’t have any baggage,” shares Lisa. “It’s so liberating to be in a relationship that’s drama-free. He is also very caring. He treats his elderly mother like gold, calling her every day and visiting every weekend.”
The couple complement each other perfectly. “Michael isn’t arrogant or overly ambitious. We balance each other out. He’s the quieter one while I am loud. He’s a homebody, while I love to go out. He has a few good friends, and I am very sociable. But it works because we compromise.”
“We rarely argue,” says Lisa. “When we do disagree, we can always talk it out calmly and reach a resolution.”
With her failed relationships behind her, Lisa is now clearer about what she wants in a partner. And her connection with Michael is stronger for it.
“You can’t change anyone, so don’t waste time trying to ‘fix’ him,” she says. “We need someone we enjoy being around because in the end, that is really the most important thing.”
*Names have been changed.
This story was originally published in the February 2016 issue of Simply Her.