How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Written by Leanne Esposito

Famously the stanzas of Sonnet 43 by English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning have been much quoted over time. Lovers have used them as declarations of undying love and I am in no doubt they are inscribed and devoted to many a Valentine’s Day gift.

February 14 is traditionally the day the western world celebrates love. It’s an opportunity to go all
out as couples demonstrate their love by buying flowers, chocolates or gifts. A romantic dinner,
champagne and long stem roses de rigueur for those more passionate persons. Some even declare
a lifelong commitment to each other by proposing marriage. But, what is love?

Love is a somewhat abstract term which means different things to different people and there is a
reason as to why it is interpreted so liberally.

When we think of love our thoughts and emotions are drawn to the notion of romantic love. It’s
a viscerally emotive word which we’ve been conditioned to acknowledge as that spark when
boy meets girl and they ‘fall in love’; what follows is the narrative of a happy-ever-after love story. It’s
a theme which is profusely portrayed in literature, movies and even advertising as a way of stirring our innermost craving for human connection and deep soul satisfaction.

Romantic love, or Eros for the Ancient Greeks, was seen as the epitome on the ladder of love. Those
perceptive philosophers identified eight different types of love which are as unique as a bouquet
of flowers, where each bloom holds a different representation of love, but which version of love can
have a similar effect.

Now with our newly acquired appreciation for the wide ranging description of this simple, yet
evocative word, we searched high and low across the Wide Bay region and discovered a unique family who embodies most of the eight versions of love. The McLeod Family who were married on the 8th of June 2018, in a beautiful ceremony in Dayman Park, are today celebrating daily life surrounding each other with multiple facets of loving.

When I say the family wed, it is not in error that I write. Mr and Mrs McLeod, Wade and Belinda,
were romantically wed as husband and wife. The bride looked radiant, stunning, in a couture off the
shoulder, floor swishing white lace gown as she exited the classic Ford Falcon XG Hardtop of her
youth. Beside her in the vehicle were her daughter and son.

On that day, there were four family members, as well as the bride and groom, wholly invested in
the marriage. At the time, Wade’s boys Lachlan, 12 and 9-year-old Riley, as well as Belinda’s 10-year-old daughter Chloe, and son Sam, 8 were the other individuals whose lives were joined in the
marriage and who were as excited as their parents at becoming a family.

Each had a significant role to play in the wedding ceremony, and as for Sam, the youngest, well, he
was bestowed the honour of walking his mother down the aisle. In An Butler’s wedding video he
can be seen looking dapper in his wedding attire and sporting a wide grin as he proudly proffers his
mother’s hand to his step-father.

Belinda tells me that even though the children had been looking forward to the union and becoming
a family for some time, that when their parents mooted the marriage idea, each child had a different
version of how the events should play out.

“Lachlan said I’m so happy, I love you guys repeatedly. Sporty Riley wanted us to marry in
Suncorp Stadium. Chloe wanted to hold my dress and Sam, who was only 7 at the time, said ‘no, no,
no, I’ve got to marry you mummy’. He was a little confused and upset so the trade-off was that he
could give me away and he was happy,” she said.

According to Belinda the relationship didn’t start with that instant spark of boy meets girl. Mature
relationships rarely do. In real life things are little more complex. Both Wade and Belinda were alone
as single parents raising children when they met again at her workplace, yet they were not wholly
appraised of the other’s situation. According to Belinda Wade had asked after her ex-husband,
unaware that they were no longer together.

Both Belinda and Wade had grown up in the same town. Back then Belinda tells me that she was
aware of Wade, the soccer and cricket star, who made regular appearances on the pages of the
Bundaberg News Mail. While their paths had never formally crossed they knew some of each other’s

Many years later, Belinda found herself in Hervey Bay, divorced with babies who were only three and
eighteen months old. She was successfully raising them on her own and then, as time went by, she
and Wade discovered each other during a simple business transaction. Sadly, Wade’s wife and the
boys’ mother had died after succumbing to an aggressive form of breast cancer. Slowly, Belinda and
Wade allowed themselves the luxury of getting to know each other more deeply.

“Wade’s wife passed away in 2014 after she fell ill from breast cancer. She was diagnosed when
Riley was only two years old. She was in and out of hospital and Wade was alone with the boys for a long time. Riley was six when his mother passed away,” Belinda said.

Learning how the flickering embers of the flame of love were fanned after they reconnected is where the story gets interesting and where the potential for real happiness begins. It started as a slow burn as they explored the possibilities of a relationship and found they held many common connections, interests and beliefs. Belinda said that it was their rational and mutual respect of each other’s business acumen which initially set the ball rolling along lovers’ lane.

“We hadn’t seen each other for three or four years. After coming in to the bank to do banking he asked after the business I had with my ex-husband and I told him we had divorced. He got my phone number as he was looking to buy another business. He rang me and said as I was business minded and he was looking for a business in Hervey bay he asked me to sort of be an agent for him. I didn’t know about his wife dying until a few conversations in. It was very sad,” Belinda said.

During those telephone calls they bonded more closely over family and single parenting. When they
finally sat down for that first meeting Belinda admits there was a spark.

“I didn’t allow myself the feeling until I knew. Of course there were a few dates after, which were very
romantic. I fell in love with his loyalty, deep respect for a sense of family and well-being for the children. We are similar in that we both hold values that we appreciate in each other like security and loyalty,” Belinda said.

I look at Belinda I can see she is still smitten. As she talks of their life together she radiates a calming warmth that can only be found in a woman who is truly satisfied with her life. I find it interesting, and a lesson to myself, that Belinda would focus on traits of security and loyalty above physical attributes and passion. Don’t get me wrong, they are absolutely a smashing looking couple whose connection is strong – I can’t help but catch those sidelong glances they pass at each other. How could they not fall in love?

Belinda is a classic beauty and Wade has a strong Hollywood look. I’m thinking a distant cousin to the Hemsworth brothers!

After meeting with them I did some research on what makes for a lasting relationship and I must say again that Belinda and Wade tick most, if not all, of the boxes on the top ten list. Number one is trust, then comes honesty, loyalty, family, communication, lifestyle, religion, self-discipline, self-improvement and finances.

They started out at number ten, and in business together, which was a strong indicator that they
could trust each other; then absolutely everything else fell into place. However, they were always
aware that they were not the only two people in the relationship. The litmus test would be how well the children related to each other. So there came a time to meet the family and Belinda happily reports it was success from day one.

“The children were introduced. If they didn’t like each other or either of us it wouldn’t work. It was the
clincher. They got along very well right from the start. They are protective of each other and they all go to the same school and now miss each other when they are away from each other,” she said.
Their business together was and is still a huge success and supports this wonderful blended family. Belinda reports that she always wanted four children and her dreams have come true with Wade’s large extended family providing another secure blanket of loving for Belinda.

“Wade’s parents are beautiful. They are my parents now. I have three siblings and so does he. We are both from a four child family. There are so many similarities. Wade’s sister and his brother are both married with children. We are really close and the children are close to his extended family. We celebrate Christmas together and there is about 16 of us,” she said.

While acknowledging that trust, loyalty and security are important we need to get back onto that passion path, and this is where Wade whips out the ring and proposes. His capacity for romance is classic.

There are family holidays to organise and trips to overseas destinations like Fiji for them all to enjoy.
However, there is the one trip in March of 2017 to the north island of New Zealand which is most
memorable for just the two of them. Wade secretly slips the engagement ring which they had previously chosen together into his suitcase. Subsequently he pockets it before embarking on an outdoor adventure which would take them to, none other than, Bridal Veil Falls. A perfect backdrop for romance! Wade tells me that the gods were on his side and the setting was serendipitous.

“We went over there (NZ). It was nice and drove up to wedding falls or whatever it was called. I didn’t know. It was just a fluke,” he said.

Timing is everything in life and Wade’s capacity for romance didn’t disappoint as he chose the perfect spot at the bottom of the beautiful waterfall setting to drop to a bended knee and pop the question.

Belinda said yes and her next surprise was a romantic honeymoon in the Maldives in an over-water private bungalow organised by Mr Romance himself, Wade.

And, as they say, the rest is history with the McLeod Clan a testament to living each day surrounded by and celebrating love in all its shapes and forms.

So remember when we celebrate the love of romance for Valentine’s Day, that it is possible, to capture that loving feeling everyday of your life. Love has many possibilities and there are many ways to love, so share it around. Just like the lyrics to the theme song for the movie Love Actually remind us not to hide our feelings.

Love is all around us and so it grows… Come on and let it show!

  1. Eros – romantic, passionate love
  2. Philia – affectionate love
  3. Agape – selfless, universal love
  4. Storge – familiar love
  5. Mania – obsessive love
  6. Ludus – playful love
  7. Pragma – enduring love
  8. Philautia – self-love