This week I celebrated my EIGHTH wedding anniversary. I feel that after eight years of marriage, I would be failing in my duties as a blogger if I didn’t write some kind of ‘tips for a happy marriage’ post, but I’m not going to do that, because if there is one thing that I have learnt since 30th June 2007, is that every single marriage/long-term relationship is different and that what works for one couple, probably won’t work for another and actually, comparing your relationship with someone else’s will often only lead to trouble. So there.
Instead I thought I’d share the biggest lesson that Phil and I have learnt since we’ve been together; how to compromise so that we are both happy. This hasn’t been easy, there have been times when we’ve had to compromise on our compromising and leave it so that one of us is happy and the other isn’t completely miserable and nothing has been more challenging so far than deciding where to live.
When Phil and I met in 2004, I hadn’t caught the ‘travel bug’. I mean I enjoyed going on holiday, but it didn’t factor into EVERYTHING that I do (like it does now) and Phil was exactly the same.
Eleven years on and Phil’s feelings haven’t changed, but travel is now a huge pull on my life. I want to go everywhere, in fact if I had my way, we would sell-up everything and become nomads, travelling around the world. And as much as Phil still likes to travel, he loves his corporate job and the regular salary that comes with it more.
We’ve had a few people ask us how we make it all work. When one half of a partnership can’t keep still for two minutes and the other likes the security of a permanent 9 to 5 job, how can you stay together and both get what you want, when what you want is so different.
Yep – you guessed it – we compromised. We worked through a lot of different options and eventually settled on the brilliant plan (even if we do say so ourselves), of becoming expats.
Phil works for an international finance company, in 2011 he started looking at the internal job boards to see if there was anything else suitable. It took a while, but eventually he found a role that he liked the sound of in their Belgian office. After a trip on Eurostar and a couple of interviews, we were on our way from Nottingham to Brussels.
Phil loved his new job and even though life in Brussels was new and exciting it was still not quite enough to satisfy my lust for travel. So I made the very tough decision to close down the business that I had started three years before and using our fabulously central base, started exploring Europe. I covered countless Cities and 15 new Countries. Talk about win-win.
It was perfect – during the week we stayed in our lovely apartment, Phil was really happy at work, I alternated between some really interesting freelance projects and travel and then at the weekends, we were able to see Europe together.
After two years, we started thinking about where we might go next. Phil loves the company that he works for, so he put the feelers out to other offices around the world to see if there were any positions that would be a good match… the next thing you know, we’re moving to Dubai.
Dubai is the Middle East equivalent of Belgium. It is in the middle of everywhere – I can be in Muscat in an hour, Mumbai in two and Jordan in three. Not to mention everything there is do within the UAE itself. It’s the launchpad for our next set of adventures, and I can’t wait.
So there it is – not exactly a blueprint for a successful marriage, but it works for us and we’re both really happy. Who knows where we’ll end up next, but hopefully the compromise that got us here will make the choice of our first travel destination from Dubai an easy one!
All I need now is my passport back (it is taking AGES to sort my visa) and we’ll start exploring again, but that’s another story…