What I Wish I Knew Above Love
If you could turn back the clock and give your younger self one piece of advice about love, what would it be?
Marty Wilson is not a relationship expert, psychologist, Casanova or commitment-phone. Just a bloke who loves his wife. They're both really good at being in love with each other.
As his seventh anniversary loomed Marty set out to read every book he could find about love to see if he could learn a thing or two:
What makes some people's relationships last?
What makes others get stale or fall apart?
Why do some people seem to find real love, and how come it eludes others all their lives?
Pretty soon, and pretty inevitably, he found some major flaws in the books-about-love:
They may be written by 'experts', but they nearly always took a side
They're all way to preachy. Where was the laughter? Where was the fun?
What was with all these rules, techniques, tactics and games?
(And most importantly for a bloke) They're all at least three or four hundred pages long!
Why has no one ever summarised this love stuff? Surely something as simple and enjoyable as love shouldn't require such rigid guidelines!
So Marty spent a year interviewing over a 100 people who were in great relationships about what makes their love life tick, asking "If you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice about love, what would it be?"
The result is a book about love for people who never read books about love.
It's self-help for all of us that hate self-help.
It is beautiful enough to give to a friend who needs their faith in love restored, but it's also meaty and insightful enough to buy for yourself
It is, quite simply, a lovely book about love, by people that know, because
they are in love.
What I wish I knew about Marty's contributors
Featuring words of wisdom from some of Australia's favourite faces (as well as snaps of them back before we knew them)
Julia Morris, Melissa Doyle, Allan and Barbara Pease, Cal Wilson, Bettina Arndt, Peter FitzSimons, Nikki Gemmel, Catriona Rowntree
ordinary people, just like you and me, and some of those that have inspired us with their work, or their passion over the years:
Sam Bailey is a quadriplegic who met, then proposed to Jenny Bailey on her ABCE Radio show. They were on Australian story, and their biography together- Head Over Heels- was a bestseller.
Peter Baines is an Australian forensic expert who identified over 1000 bodies after the boxing day tsunami in Thailand, then started the charity 'Hands Across the Water' to build orphanages for the kids left alive.
Marty Wilson is a writer, stand-up comic and speaker, Marty Wilson, has made a whole heap more than his fair share of mistakes when it comes to love. A former ad man, award-winning stand-up comedian, he writes for magazines and websites, scripts short films, is on the corporate speaking circuit and has travelled across the world in search of true success.
After talking about love for a whole year, Marty and his wife Allie are more deeply in love than ever, and the eighth year of their marriage is already looking phenomenal.
What I Wish I Knew Above Love
Allen and Unwin
Author: Marty Wilson
Interview with Marty Wilson
Do you believe that most Aussie guys don't believe in true love?
Marty Wilson: Phew, tough one to start with. The important thing is if you're using the words 'True Love' to define that Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks Hollywood Romantic Comedy idea then I don't think anyone should believe in 'true love'. Why isn't there a Meg Ryan-Tom Hanks Rom-Com called 'Give and Take'? There should be, because accepting - even adoring - someone's faults is the truth about how to make love work. Real love is a decision to honour, respect and be loving towards someone in spite of the fact that they, at times, drive you absolutely stark raving mad. In my book, Tony Harris said "Some people think you're in love when you don't have to work at it, when you don't have to compromise. That's rubbish. You know you're in love when you want to work at it, you want to compromise." Even just tiny things like I now shave almost every day and wear aftershave, not for me, but because my wife loves it.
What was one of the best pieces of advice, about love, you were told whilst researching this book?
Marty Wilson: Comic Julia Morris knew when it was time to get married, and you can too. She said: 'When you know, you know. If you don't know, the answer is "No."' She went on to say: 'Until I met Dan I hadn't been in love at all, I'd been in "Please call me!" lust.' I think a lot of my friends got married to the person they happened to be going out with they considered themselves old enough to get married. I reckon that's dumb. I love the old saying "Don't marry someone person you can live with, marry someone you can't live without."
When asking "If you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice about love, what would it be?" what was the most common answer?
Marty Wilson: The book has 86 interviews in it, and I think about a quarter of them all said this exact phrase.
"Thank the wankers."
Don't waste time and energy on grudges or pouring acid on his beemer, thank the cheating mongrel you caught out to dinner with your sister, be grateful to the specky nerd who spent more on games for his X-box than he did on you, and thank the jerk who messed you up so badly you sat in your bedroom alone, drinking gin and singing "I will survive", till 4am.
I've learned that it's the bitches, the bastards, the losers, and the absolute dickheads who make you realise you've found the right one when they come along - so thank them with all your (broken) heart.
Why are we continually seeing celebrity hook-ups and break-ups splashed all over our magazines? Do we actually like reading about break-ups?
Marty Wilson: I'm genuinely sorry, but you've hit on one of my 'Grand theories' and now I'm on a roll.
I really get wound up by our obsession with celebs. If we stopped spending all that time living vicariously through the adventure, love, success and joy in 'famous' people's lives and instead all spent more time trying to bring adventure, love, success and joy into our own lives we'd all be much happier people. And I believe we do it because we can get, say, 30% of the thrill of their achievements without any risk of failure. We want to feel what it's like to go out and follow our dreams - like they appear to be doing - but without any risk. And that's not real life. If you want to win big, earn big, or love big, you have to risk big.
And that's why we love reading about break ups; it makes us feel better about staying in our shell and not risking it all.
Phew, that was a bit of a rant. But I just wish everyone reading a magazine like Hello or OK would put it down, and just turn to someone sitting next to them and have a good old chin wag about how their life is doing instead. Trust me, after over 200 interviews for my What I Wish I Knew books, I promise it would be much more satisfying.
Okay, I'll get off the soap box now!
Can you help Australians out? What makes some couples relationships last?
Marty Wilson: There is a delicate balance between two seemingly opposing forces. Firstly, you have to deeply understand that there is no 'perfect' partner and sometimes you will have to work at it. There is no one you can spend forever with who will never rub you the wrong way. Former marriage counsellor Bruce Sullivan said: "All people in relationships take it in turn to do really dumb things. The basis for intimacy with my wife is that I accept that she is an idiot and she accepts that I am an idiot, and we just agree not to say anything about it. Dissatisfaction is normal, resentment is optional."
So there will be times that it's hard work, so you have to marry someone that you love enough to do all the hard work. And that is down to finding your soulmate.
I interviewed a woman for my book called Allison Machin who told a story that really stayed with me. As a young backpacker, she was introduced to a friend of a friend and they hit it off straight away. She explains: "That day I said to my mum 'I've met someone who I just know is going to be very important in my life.' There was a spark, I don't mean just physically - well, for him it probably was - but we felt connected on some deep human level. In my gut I just knew."
Why did this story touch me so deeply? Well, that 'friend of a friend' was me, and three years after that first meeting, Allison Machin became Allie Wilson, my wife. Eight years down the line and we have two beautiful boys, Connor and Elliot, and every day it gets better and better. So when Allie says her advice to her younger self would be: 'Believe in soulmates', I just have to grin like a big goofy goober.
What is the difference between this book and all the other books about 'love'?
Marty Wilson: This is a book on love you can give to your bloke, and he will actually enjoy reading it. I know that's a big promise, so let me explain.
This year is the year of my marriage that they call the Seven-Year-Itch. So, being trudly, madly, deeply (perhaps even a little desperately, pathetically) in love with my wife I decided start reading every book I could find on love to make sure this was the best year of our married life, not the worst.
But when I did, they all had the same three enormous flaws:
1. They're all just one 'experts' opinion - which means either a male or female bias
2. They're all preachy and holier than thou (relationships are fun for God's sake!)
3. Most importantly for a bloke, they're all at least three or four hundred pages long (some longer!). Now, I'm a big girly man by objective standards, but no bloke wants to read 80,000 words on footy, let alone the mushy arts of love.
Why has no one ever summarised this stuff? Where's the cheat notes?
So I decided to write my own book that couples could use as a fantastic conversation starter. I've interviewed almost 100 people who were in great relationships and asked them "If you could go back and give your younger self one piece of advice about love, what would it be?" Then I put each person's piece of wisdom down next to a superbly daggy photo of them as they were at around eighteen - complete with paisley flares, shoulder pads and really nasty mullet - just so all this wisdom doesn't seem to smug. So What I Wish I Knew about Love has a balanced male/female view, it is humorous and approachable not dogmatic and judgemental, and - more importantly for blokes - it only takes about an hour to read.
This is a book about love for people who never read books about love.
It's self-help for all of us that hate self-help.