Here, Philippa Bennett, 39, tells the story in her own words.
L￼istening to my friend rambling on the phone, I tuned out.
‘Come on Philippa, this role is perfect for you,’ Nicole was saying.
With me being an actress and Nicole the director at our local theatre, she was offering me one of the lead roles in her next production. Eventually, I gave in. And when my kids, Odin, 10, and Vilda, seven, went off to school, I reluctantly headed to rehearsal.
But my enthusiasm quickly grew as all the amazing actresses and actors filled the room. As they introduced themselves, I was blown away by how nice everyone was.
‘I’m Ry,’ a blue-eyed man introduced himself. ‘He’ll be playing your lover in the show,’ Nicole said. ‘Nice to meet you,’ I said, struck by how handsome he was.
After that, Ry and I worked closely together for more than three months. Sharing everything, we became quite close.
Then one day, we were at rehearsal, when another actor asked Ry how old he was. ‘Nineteen,’ Ry laughed.What? Ry is 19! I thought, nearly falling off my chair. ‘I thought you were 28,’ I blurted out.
I was 37. It meant there was an 18-year age gap between us – and all this time I’d been thinking how good-looking he was!
‘You don’t look a day over 30,’ Ry grinned.
Soon after, Ry handed me a glass of water. As his hand lingered on mine, an electric shock went through my body.
Oh my God, Philippa! I thought. Am I really falling for a teenager?
The day before the opening night, I couldn’t keep my feelings to myself any longer. ‘I know this is crazy, but I feel really strongly about you,’ I confessed to Ry. Rising up out of his chair he suddenly kissed me. ‘It was love at first sight,’ Ry whispered.
We didn’t tell anyone, and during the show, our on-stage – and real-life – passion played out.
Just a few weeks later, Ry introduced me to his family. ‘You’ll love my mum,’ he said to me.
As she was 57, it was almost the same difference in age as me and Ry! But Ananda didn’t seem to mind.
‘Age is just a number,’ she said hugging me. And when we left, Ry grabbed my hand. ‘They all adore you,’ he beamed.
Eventually introducing him to my kids, I was nervous. They are my whole world and I didn’t know what to do if they didn’t get along with my new love.
Calling the kids over, I watched as they looked him up and down sternly. But moments later, the three of them were on the couch drawing and happily playing together.
‘He’s great,’ Odin said, hugging me afterwards.
Just two months later, Ry moved in with us.
With almost everyone in my life embracing our relationship I soon forgot there was even an age difference at all. But when my mum Gunilla came to visit from Sweden, my whole world stopped.
‘He is far too young!’ Mum said. ‘He’s going to take your money and run away with it.’
With her picking on every little thing that Ry did, you could cut the tension in the house with a knife.
Fed up with her dismissal of our love, I couldn’t take it any longer. ‘You cannot be so mean! You’re going to have to leave,’ I said, sending her packing back to Sweden. But her words continued to ring through my ears after she had left. Are we doing something wrong? I worried. But whenever Ry embraced me, all the negative thoughts flew away.
‘You give the best hugs in the world,’ I told him.
I decided that I wasn’t going to let Mum’s views stop our love for one another. Ry felt the same, because in July this year, when we’d been together two years, he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him. ‘Of course!’ I squealed.
Then one evening I got a phone call saying Ry and I had been chosen to be a part of the reality TV show, Bride and Prejudice: The Forbidden Weddings. Ry had secretly entered us!
It features six couples who are desperate to marry but their families don’t approve.
Jumping at the opportunity, I want to show the world there is love out there for everyone and sometimes it is in the last place you expect it!
Ry and I plan to marry in front of all our loved ones. I just hope that my parents come around and join us on the big day.
To find out if they do, watch ‘Bride and Prejudice’ on Channel Seven, Monday to Wednesday at 7.30pm.
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