Why My Marriage Works (Mostly)
When I was younger I couldn’t imagine being married. Period. The prospect of being with one person for the rest of your life seemed daunting, not to mention the difficulty in finding that one person.
The chances of finding that special person whom you can imagine growing old with seems remote. Yet many of us do, well at first anyway. What’s even more amazing is that many of us find the love of our life in the same town we were born in, funny that?
Okay sarcasm aside, three of the main reasons why the likelihood of me getting married was very low:
Firstly, I like having my own space to do my own thing and being “joined at the hip” sounded too claustrophobic.
Secondly, since a teenager I have never really been too attracted to British women. The fact is I really like Asian woman (Chinese/Japanese/Thai) and in my home town of Bournemouth, UK there weren’t many – believe me I looked! There are more now of course due to more Chinese studying abroad, but I am talking about the 90’s.
Lastly, as a kid not only was I quite shy and I looked like a real dork. Check out the picture of me at my first job on my about page – seriously what’s with the hair! My bashfulness with girls as a teenager I mostly blame this on going to a single-sexed school. At primary school I had lots of girls as friends and remember playing a fair number of “kiss chase” games in the playground. Clearly going to an all-boys school those games didn’t happen!
Meeting my Wife
When I first met my wife, I was about to embark on a trip I had been planning for years. It was intended to be a one-way trip, and this was to live in Chiang Mai, Thailand.
In a twist of fate my wife was waiting for me to move out of my room in a shared flat in London that one of my best mates used to sub-let. My contracting job in the city of London had been extended and I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to earn enough in 12 weeks that would last me 18-24 months in Thailand.
As a consequence, my poor wife was delayed moving into her room and had to share sofas and find places to stay for a few weeks. This meant we had a chance to meet and enjoyed a few lunches and coffee catch-up. She even went to two out of three of my leaving UK parties. Keen for me to leave or missing me already? 😉
It was clear we got on very well and from my perspective found her very attractive.
We weren’t flirting with each other but found it really easy in each other’s company. It did occur to me that if I was staying in London, we would likely spend more time together, but I was leaving on a one-way flight to Thailand.
To cut a longish story short after shortly moving to Chiang Mai I started to date my London lass online. This must be a first, single guy moves to Thailand and starts dating a Malaysian girl in London!
I really enjoyed reminding my Dad who soon joined me in Chiang Mai for a 3-month vacation his words on finding out I was dating so soon after arriving in Thailand.
Clearly this isn’t going to work, there are so many girls here”…[Paraphrased but you get the idea]
Now my Dad loves my wife to bits and so no offence is taken here. Still its fun reminding my dad of what he said 😉
My wife is an incredibly private person, no public social media and an advocate of not posting private information online in any format. So, with this in mind and me wanting to post some pictures on here, I will replace my wife in any photos with a Chinese actress I am quite fond of – Zhang ZiYi.
Cross Border Relationships
Often you hear about cross cultural marriages being a challenge but, in my experience, this adds a fantastic dimension to the relationship. What helps is my fascination with Asia and in particular China and Chinese culture, more so in terms of food and, architecture and martial arts.
I have never felt being married to a Malaysian Chinese woman that challenging, well no more challenging than being in a relationship!
It helps that I feel completely comfortable in an environment where everyone else is speaking in a foreign language. Many times, when with my in-laws I am immersed in a hot pot of conversational Mandarin, Hokkien, Malay and English within a few sentences.
Speaking of in-laws, I couldn’t have asked for a nicer family. They have made be very welcome into their family. I feel completely relaxed around them and can joke around as I typically do – although I find the typical British sexual or lavatory jokes aren’t received well and so tend to avoid these 😉
The only downside of having a relationship with someone from a different country, was for years when living in the UK our annual holiday would be going to Malaysia.
Whilst I love Malaysia, so much so we live here now, it would have been nice to have gone to other places too.
My marriage is by no means perfect, it’s doubtful anyone’s is, but the foundation is pretty strong. Having a very forgiving and understanding wife really helps too! And boy is she sympathetic and puts up with a lot from yours truly.
I mean a lot!
Whilst we’re not on the same page on everything, even on some fairly big issues (more on this later), our marriage works, and we hope it continues to do so.
I remember very early on when we first began dating, my sister said to me;
we really like your girlfriend, so don’t cock it up!
Some of bigger issues where we differ are… consumerism and family priorities, although I suspect the later could be a gender thing.
Regarding consumerism, for most of her professional and personal life my wife advocates responsible usage of resources. So, on a day-to-day level this means not leaving lights on or the water tap when washing up or cleaning teeth, to shopping mostly for what’s required. This last point contrasts with my continual shopping on a whim for goods that I don’t really need – I just really enjoy shopping!
One of the big things that attracted me to my wife is her compassion.
It still does to this day, even though sometimes I think she takes it too far and should think of herself more at times.
My wife really knows herself really well. She knows her own mind. Years of introspection and thinking through issues when younger has made her one tough cookie.
Just ask her mum!
At the same time, she remains compassionate and is able to compartmentalise different aspects of her life. I still struggle with this.
She balances work and family really well. Her commitment to both is impressive, she doesn’t do anything half arsed, not like her husband on occasions 😉
I still many times prioritise my wants and wishes over the family. My wife knows this, in fact I think most of my family and friends do too. It’s not in a malicious way, I just can’t shake off my wanting to be independent.
This has become a BIG struggle since having kids.
Two become Four
Since having children our dynamics as a couple has certainly changed and whilst couples with kids say it’s different when you have a family you don’t really appreciate this until you’re in the situation yourself.
As every parent knows, the first-year having our first child was incredibly tough.
With no immediate family nearby (well 3 hours away) and me working from home, it was a tough time for all of us. In hindsight I really underestimated the toll it would take on my wife and us as a couple. At times I thought it would break us.
The biggest challenge, more than the nappies although this was pretty awful at times, was the loss of complete independence for both of us. We had to rely and were dependent on each other completely – something we weren’t used to having been in a strong independent relationship prior to kids.
My Reasons for Why My Marriage Works
Before making this post live I sent it over to my wife to be checked over. I respect my wife’s privacy and so wanted to check she was happy with it – she was.
Interestingly, she commented that I didn’t write my reasons for why I think our marriage works. A very good point and so here they are (in no particular order):
Sense of humour – This is incredibly important for me and having a wife who appreciates (on most occasions) my sense of humour, and importantly understands it, means we laugh a lot at our own expense on many occasions. The kids get it too, both our kids will joke about causing us to often laugh. This does also mean that at times they can be cheeky.
Understanding my need to be alone – I like to spend time alone and am happy spending a day and sometimes a weekend with little social interaction. Of course, having two very active kids means that sometimes I feel overwhelmed. So, my wife is fine with me sometimes taking a step back from family to focus on work whilst she is with her family.
Financial planning and decisions – I like to spend money, this can be shopping or doing trips, or both. This is in contrast to my sense of financial insecurity in that I want to always have financial freedom and be dependent upon anyone. My wife trusts my judgement and supports most of the financial decisions I want to make.
Raising kids – All parents want their kids to do well, of course we’re no different. It’s great that we both want our kids to be independent, challenge the traditional thinking and ways of doing things. We don’t want our kids to simply trust everything they are told. Whilst we really want them to learn and to excel, we are really keen for them to enjoy what they do. My wife and I are completely on the same page in terms of raising our kids.
Growing Old Together
So, this is where this post could get a little soppy.
As a couple we have asked ourselves this a few times in the last few years as we’re now both in our forties (sorry dear). The fact is we can imagine ourselves being fully retired and enjoying our life together.
I hide it well, but I do like being a father. Even still, I do look forward to when my wife and I can be like we were when we first got together.
Living together, in love and yet still independent enjoying our passions.