This November, my husband and I will celebrate 11 years of married life. We met when we were in our last year of college and married three and a half years later.
Marriage around the world is seen and lived in different ways. In Mexico for example, we still have this very traditional way of thinking and traditionally a couple doesn’t live together until they are married by the church. I would say that most women, and maybe guys don’t leave their parents’ house until they get married.
We moved abroad when we were just newlyweds. We were about to celebrate our second anniversary when we moved from Mexico to Belgium, and we encountered another way of living. We met friends who were very committed to each other but weren’t married, we had friends who had a legal arrangement to live together, but it wasn’t a civil wedding. And we met other friends who moved in together after a couple of months of dating. Of course, we also met friends who were married before this adventure as their countries were also very traditional. Some of those couples have continued life happily married. Others have not.
In the Netherlands, marriage is seen very differently. I don’t want to say ‘normally,’ but we know and heard countless stories about couples who marry years after living together and having children. Of course, exceptions will always apply, but in general, they can live together and share legal responsibilities and their future children without being legally married. It is so weird to explain this because for me that’s basically a marriage but technically in this country it is not.
I think the US has some similarities with these countries. You would have a mix of everything from traditional ways of living to more modern ways. I am amazed by how culture affects every aspect of our lives. I keep reminding myself that what I consider normal may not be for other people and vice versa.
I am grateful to experience all these adventures and meet all these people who show us many ways relationships work because it has helped me become more understanding and tolerant of other people’s way of living.
Many people from my own country get surprised and amazed by the life choices my husband and I chose. Since I gave up my profession and work to follow him into this adventure, they might think I am outdated or old fashioned. I wouldn’t change a thing because family life was always important to me and I would dare say this decision we made of living abroad strengthened our marriage. We learned to work as a team because we needed and depended on each other.
I have enjoyed every single stage of this life. I enjoyed the first two years as newlyweds in our home city, getting to experience life together when we were both working and having the freedom to have late dinners or short weekend trips and those exciting things newlyweds do.
Then celebrating our second anniversary in Paris, and getting to travel without concerns to many cities in Europe just the two of us, while we were still working our feelings through infertility for the next two years. I loved becoming a mom and enjoying not one but two babies being at home and dedicating every minute of my day to them while also being a business owner in my home bakery. And I’m also enjoying this new adventure as a family of four with all its ups and downs and crazy bits it brings.
We have gone through many fun experiences, and many hardships that I know could break a couple. We have decided to stand together through it all because love and marriage is a daily decision. It is not something we just take for granted. We work hard to love each other, care for each other, and respect and support each other the way we need to.
I say this because I want to empower you, to just live your life the way you chose to live it. What works for you might not work for other people but that’s ok, it’s not their journey to make.
So, I dedicate this post to my loving husband. Thank you for the life you have provided for our children and me. You are my best friend and I would choose you every time.