MAFS bride Julia Malley reveals the tragic reason she signed up for the show

For Julia, a new attitude towards life has been borne out of grief.

By Sebastian van der Zwan
She wed Dave McClelland in the final wedding of season two, and while we wait in anticipation for how their pairing turns out, Julia has given us a very personal insight into why she signed up to get Married at First Sight.

How long have you been flying solo?

I've been single for six years because I've been concentrating on myself, and getting to a place where I'm really happy with my life and my job.

Why were you unhappy with your life?

Six years ago, my dad passed away suddenly. We'd had an argument beforehand. It wasn't over anything in particular. Our relationship was a bit up and down at the best of times.
He reached out to me and I was very stubborn, saying I didn't want to talk to him, then he passed away suddenly five days later. If I could go back in time, I'd have agreed to disagree and moved on. It's shaped who I am. For example, my [MAFS] husband and I, we don't go to sleep without sorting out our problems first. I'll always have that it in the back of my mind – what if he dies in his sleep?! It's made me realise life is too short.

Why didn’t you and your father get on?

Dad was a big personality. He was a very well-known, respected businessman in Christchurch, but he didn't treat my mum very well. That's one reason why I haven't settled for anyone because I don't want to go down that track with someone who is unfaithful.
I really felt such loyalty to my mother and it made my relationship with my father difficult. I didn't respect some of his choices, but he was an incredibly talented person. He flew helicopters and I remember flying with him over the Marlborough Sounds to our bach. Sometimes he'd let me steer.
I definitely take after him – the good parts, not the bad. I'm quite driven and determined like him. I can be very stubborn. He lacked empathy, which is where we're very different. But he was still my dad and I loved him.

How did you learn about his death?

I remember it so vividly. I was back in Perth, where I was working in radio and I was in the car with a workmate, driving through a tunnel on our way to work. My sister called me a couple of times and when I finally answered the phone, she was just weeping. It took her ages to get it out: "Dad is dead." I burst into tears. I felt horrible, regretful, sad, emotional and really beside myself. I struggled with it for a long time.

How did it change you?

Now I'm an opportunist. I take each opportunity and run with it. Before Dad died, I'd randomly met a guy in a bar in Christchurch who'd bought my dad's old helicopter and we stayed in touch. After he passed away, he generously offered for me to come stay with him and his family in South Africa, so I decided to do my grieving overseas. It was an amazing two months. We flew in my childhood helicopter and I did the highest bungee jump in the world – three times! My dad was an adrenaline junkie, so he'd have been proud.

What would he think of you being on MAFS?

He'd have been proud I signed up for this. He'd say, "Good on you, Julia!" I've never been so nervous in my life. I could bungee jump easily compared to this. I remember being a bunch of nerves standing in front of my husband. There were all sorts of things going through my head.

What was your first impression of your “husband”?

To be really honest, I was a bit concerned about being taller than him. And I was a bit freaked out because he was staring at me very intensely. I was so nervous. He was in my face and it made me feel really uncomfortable. I have him on about it all the time. I wanted to get to know him first. It wasn't an instant thing for me. But he fitted my brief by being a bit older.

What would your dad think about him?

Honestly, I think Dad would like him. He's an amazing, likeable guy. There was a little moment where I wished my dad was there at my wedding, but I tried not to think about it. When I had a break in production, I went to visit his grave and sat there for 20 minutes or so, listening to his funeral song, U2's "With or Without You". It's a spiritual thing for me.
For more on Julia, plus MAFS grooms Gareth Noble and Wayne McIntoch, see the latest issue of Woman's Day.

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