When we took our international work assignment all those years ago, we were extremely naive. We had no idea what we were in for and perhaps that was a good thing, for we might not have jumped at the chance to relocate.
Prior to our move, it is safe to say our life was in utter disarray. We had suffered unimaginable loss and needed drastic change. Sometimes those losses are what propels us to jump into water that is way over our heads. The only constant we had in that mix was our steady and committed devotion to one another. We were and are still truly a team and together our team would ride the wave of life no matter how high, how low or how rough the seas became.
Our steadfast union also aided in our ability to weather the international wave that took us by surprise. We all deal with the intricacies of daily life, but throw a foreign country into the mix and the entire situation can quickly spin out of control. Below we list ways in which we, sixteen years strong, were and are able to remain a team that thrives when venturing into the unknown.
Love – You simply must remember the love. ALWAYS!
Communication – We talk about everything and nothing is off the table. Sometimes, after the children go to bed, we sit on the couch and “check-in,” asking about the day, work, life, hopes and aspirations. We want to make sure not only are we on track as a couple, but that we are both happy with our current situation. If we are not happy, we make great efforts to revise the plan, whether on a personal, couple or professional level.
We also recently printed and took the “36 questions” with us on vacation. We loved the process of diving deep into each other’s world and learning more about each other. Give it a try.
Take time – Sometimes we just need to get away and when that urge creeps in, we retreat either home or to the mountains. Being surrounded by friends and family is just what we need to recharge our batteries and start fresh. And when we retreat to the mountains, the fresh air and gorgeous landscapes help reset our minds. We also take time apart to fill ourselves with the quiet space we require. Whether hiking for a weekend in the mountains with friends, or taking a necessary trip solo, we respect the need to nurture our own spirits too.
Dream together – We often discuss projects, ideas and our dreams together. We do what we can to support one another in order to help fulfill the other person’s deepest desires. No dream is ever too big!
Happiness – He is not responsible for my happiness and I am not responsible for his. We are each responsible for making ourselves happy. Of course, we are happiest when we are together, however, it is not fair to place such massive responsibility on each the shoulders of the other person and we both understand that.
Team Work – I have mentioned this before, but we view our union, marriage, parenting, and life together as a genuine team effort. A team is never about the “I,” it is about the “we” and together we are a much stronger team. When one needs a break, a hand, or support, the other is there to catch the fall and help pick-up the pieces. Teams always do that for each other. Sometimes we even allow the other a long rest on the bench to observe from the sidelines.
Honesty – We practice brutal honesty in our home. We try to be as honest as possible with ourselves, our children and with each other. And we are and always have been honest about our lives abroad. We have always said we will continue to ride the wave, as long as the wave feels right. We know how we feel about the life we have created, the children we are raising, our values, ideals and daily transactions. That honesty propels us to be better people, partners and parents. It also requires us to be accountable, not only to ourselves, but to our team as well.
Respect – This is the last element of the package and perhaps the most important next to love. We respect one another. Respect is essential because it validates the why for everything in this life, especially why we chose to spend our lives together. Why we love one another, why we are together, why we are committed to us, why we live here, why we choose to raise our children the way we do, why we feel pursing our dreams are imperative, why we do absolutely everything. It all comes down to respecting the other person.
Is it the perfect recipe, no. We falter like everyone because we are human. But each time we fail we do our best to learn the lesson (truth be told, there are some lessons we have yet to grasp). Listed above are a few of the elements that help us venture into the unknown and come out on the other end feeling grateful, strong and committed.