This Friday Marcus and I celebrated our 10 years anniversary. The picture above is our wedding picture. Looking at it feels like staring into another world… how we have changed! How our values have changed!
Our wedding was a huge deal with all the trimmings, morning suit, silk dress (tailor made), star chef, party in an old manor house an hours drive from Copenhagen. Back then I was working in the medical industry as a statistical programmer/project manager, Lucas was in day-care – way earlier than is the norm in Denmark, because … reasons, don’t really remember them. Marcus had his own business trying to develop some kind of remote control for your home entertainment system (Chrome cast much and a touchpad kind of thing). It never really did fly – and seeing which players he would have competed against, he might not have made it regardless. We were living in a big apartment in Copenhagen, a few weeks after the wedding we bought a big car. Loads of debt, loads of spending. Loads of surface.
We were also really tired: We had a sick kid, two full time careers, we were renovating our apartment. We were arguing a lot… at none of us were getting our needs met. But that one day at our wedding was wonderful. We loved each other and we were going to make it through. This was the dream, we were living it! We had EVERYTHING.
6 moths later, and the first stress breakdown in the bag, I just wanted stay home with my kid. I was so tired! And I felt that someone else got the best hours of my kid while all I did was to lie with him at night trying to prevent him from scratching himself to sleep. But Marcus had married a career woman – he could not imagine that I would be happy as a stay at home mom. He could not imagine that I could live without the intellectual stimuli I got from work. But continuing down the road we were on made me sick, like I could only think about sleeping, and I cried most of the time. At some point Marcus read “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, I don’t remember when – and it changed everything for us: He decided to listen, he decided to give it a try. I don’t know if we would have still been married had it not been for that… maybe he would have accepted my wish regardless, but I remember that talk, where he said “OK – tell me what it is that you want?” And we put our minds together and figured out how to make it work.
Everything else came later – the consciousness about the value of ecologic food, high nutrition, the consciousness about the economy, environment etc. We moved to Spain, and suddenly we decided to move off grid, to build our own house, to grow our own food, to unschool. But the first step was deciding to listen to each other, to look for win-win situations. It isn’t like we are perfect at non-violent communication yet – but this one step was the first one in a journey of self-development that I could have not imagined possible 10 years ago. Always as partners, always trying to find a better way to be there for each other and our selves, trying to meet all of our needs – including those of our children – without the other party having to sacrifice theirs.
This weekend Marcus invited me for a romantic get-away. We haven’t done that since we had our kids (a few weekends they have stayed with grandma though), for many reasons, but this being our 10 years anniversary we decided to really go to town. He had rented a hotel room, book a table at an amazing fish restaurant in Malaga city, and the children were with friends all weekend (each their own friend, for the first time ever). It was like stepping back into that world again – that world where I had been so comfortable before, but now I was a little out of place – I haven’t had a hair cut at a hair dresser in years, my clothes are a little worn, my shoes a lot! I felt self-conscious, I looked at my husband insecurely and said “I need new shoes before we go to the restaurant!” He looked at me and smiled and said “don’t do it for my sake, I think you look fine! Always!” So we went out to wine and dine, and I forgot my scruffy shoes – and we had excellent local seafood and a lot of cava and enjoyed our little trip back to luxury land. But now we are back on the mountain, after days of walking in Malaga, loads of good food (that hasn’t changed – never will I believe), loads of cava, holding hands and talking. Just enjoying each other’s company – as always, regardless of where we are: He is my best friend, my companion in life, my life-witness.
The most amazing thing about this journey is that we have been able to travel it together, that we have changed together and moved in the same direction. One of us could have easily have moved in one direction and the other in the direct opposite – but for me the love for my husband has made me willing to listen with intent to understand, to support and help him, and that has made this journey possible for me. I could have not done it without him.