What I know about men

Date

Jane Rocca

Good marriages take time. There are times when it's fabulous and times when it's not.

Good marriages take time. There are times when it's fabulous and times when it's not.

RACHEL GILBERT, FASHION DESIGNER, 33, MARRIED

Dad has always been a pivotal force in my life. We've always had a strong connection. He's a real estate entrepreneur, same as his father. I come from a family where men have always run businesses. They are prepared to take risks.

Dad worked seven days a week when I was young. Mum raised my sister and I, but we saw Dad as someone who was always there, regardless. He always took care of the women in his family.

Mum is very creative and Dad was always encouraging her vision – she loved interiors and they would redo houses and develop properties together. He was the sort of man who would push us to the limit – from riding a bike to running a business, he made sure we weren't afraid to do things.

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I could always talk to Dad about anything. He was a wild surfer when he was younger and he used to get into a bit of trouble here and there, but he has a very open mind and is easy to approach.

I have always been quite shy around men. I was an introvert and I liked to make deep connections with guys once I got to know them. I found that even though they might have appeared tough on the outside, they each had that ability to connect if they wanted to.

I've been in serious relationships since my early teens. I don't believe in cheating and am very loyal to my boyfriends. I got that from seeing my father and the way he respects Mum.

My first boyfriend died when I was 15. We dated for a year and a half. It was a very difficult thing for me to experience. I became a bit more reserved after that and remained quiet and shy around men.

My boyfriend was very romantic and a bit of a bad boy too. He had lots of friends and everyone respected him.

My parents didn't know how to deal with my grief but they provided support the best way they could. Nothing can prepare you for death. It changed me as a person and made me discover who I was a lot faster than most teens.

I dated a close male friend after that loss. It was a friendship that turned into something more. I left school in year 10 and went to the Whitehouse Institute of Design, but in the lead up to that I changed school four times. School wasn't for me and

I knew I wanted to be creative and would run my own company one day. My dad was very understanding. He supported me through my indecision and just let me be. Both he and Mum were very patient.

When I was younger, I was looking for guys to support me. I saw what my father did for Mum and I thought all men were supposed to do the same.

When I met my husband Tom [Williams] in 2011 at Ivy in Sydney [at the Cleo Bachelor of the Year party], I had been single for about a year. He is a man of his word, is honest and holds his own. He is a strong man's man and makes me feel safe and protects me and our daughter Storm [22 months].

Tom and I dated for eight months before he proposed and we married eight months after that. I fell pregnant three months after our wedding day. When we met I told him I was ready to get married and have children. [The couple are expecting their second child next month.] We were both on the same path and had the same values. It wasn't difficult to discuss this with him because he knew where I was coming from.

Marriage isn't bliss for anyone all of the time. My parents have been together all their lives but they get through the tough and good times together. Good marriages take time. There are times when it's fabulous and times when it's not. Tom and I are both Catholic and while we don't go to church we did get married in one and we believe in tradition and those values.

I have seen many men shop for evening-wear gowns for their wives. The women write to us and tell us their special man surprised them with a Rachel Gilbert dress. There are some very savvy men out there who love to spoil their partners and are happy to be involved in the process of shopping.