The love of my life at the end of my life

The love of my life at the end of my life

A friend had recommended he sign up for online dating

People can also be at different stages when it comes to recommitting. “Post-marriage dating, I was not looking for a replacement,” says 63-year-old Nick *, a lawyer whose marriage broke up when he was in his 50s. “I didn’t want another life partner. I wanted to have my freedom, go out with different people. A lot of men re-partner straight away. They’re terrified of being on their own. For me, a big part of it was to get comfortable with myself.”

It’s the best relationship I’ve had

McCarthy met Marsh within weeks of signing up to a site, but she can see how easily it could have gone the other way. “The first ones who popped up [on the site] were awful. They were practically illiterate and they all had photographs of themselves with jet-skis or holding up big fish. Then this funny, quirky sketch came up of a man with green glasses … We met and that was it. Neither of us went out with anybody else.”

She still can’t quite believe her luck. “We’re so suited, it’s unbelievable. We’ve never had a cross word. Ever. It’s not all about passion and that stuff that’s so important early on. It’s about somebody who’s nice to you and cares about you, in every way. Considerate. I’d never had that. ”

For his part, Marsh admits he is one of those men who don’t cope well on their own. The retired architect, genial and articulate, balding and not as streamlined as McCarthy, is frank about the mess he became after his wife, Vicki, died. He had cared for her intimately in those final months. After that, he took himself overseas to see his son and to travel as a distraction, only to find his sense of abandonment travelled with him.

“I went to a restaurant in Copenhagen one night and I was really bad,” he recalls as we sit in his tastefully appointed apartment with Sydney Harbour glittering beyond the tall windows. “I used to take my journal with me and I remember writing, ‘Mr Loneliness has sat down opposite. He’s trying to swallow me up. He’s got me and I’m in absolute trouble here. This is shit. I hate it.’ I’m bawling my eyes out. The waitresses were coming over and asking if I’m okay.”

Back in Australia, it became crushing. “I was desperately lonely, starting to drink too much, all that stuff … I thought, ‘What are the steps I’ve got to take?’ The steps were: I had to find someone. I’m useless on my own, always have been. Second, how do I go about that? Third, if I meet somebody, I can’t bring her to [our old] house. That house is Vicki’s. I need to move on from the house we had created together.”

He met McCarthy and liked her immediately. At that point, his wife had been dead for about six or seven months. “I was concerned that people – my friends and Vicki’s sister and people like that – would find it strange that I was looking for someone so quickly,” Marsh says. “It was a concern for Annie; that it was too soon. She was wary about committing because of that. I didn’t think it was quick because I’d mentally moved on sexy Timisoara girl after six months of clearing the house of Vicki’s stuff and coming back from holidays and so on. Here was my new life: what’s it going to be like? What do I do? I needed someone.”