We have been married for ten years this year and this milestone is really something to think about! When many relationships and marriages are falling by the wayside, I guess it’s quite a special achievement, although at times it does not feel like that at all. And no, it’s certainly not “picture perfect”! We too have our disagreements and arguments every now and then. And we can appreciate time for ourselves with some regularity, but even after ten years (+ two kids!) it still feels so nice to be together.
But the older I get, the more I feel that life is getting faster and faster. The combination of a fairly busy (sorry, annoying word!) work- and family life makes time seem to rush by. I don’t really understand why this is, because the younger me didn’t experience it that way at all. It may not have been a coincidence that I recently read an article in a magazine about why we feel that life is speeding past us. Of course I was very curious about this, because if an article is devoted to it, it no doubt means that this is something that affects a lot more people than just me.
The answer turned out to be quite simple. The older you get, the less often you are surprised by new experiences. You have done many things that you have done before and life can quickly become routine. We seem to do the same actions over and over on autopilot and don’t experience much novelty, resulting in a feeling that life is moving faster and faster. So gaining new experiences helps to slow down time. If it’s that easy, shouldn’t we be able to do something about it?
Ever since our boys were born, we try to ensure that as a couple, we get away from the routine of everyday life at least once a year. Just to have time for each other consciously, not to lose sight of each other and of course to simply enjoy a pause of the word ‘should’. Because in a family with young children, it sometimes seems as if we have switched from the slow train to the high-speed line. Of course we are experiencing enough new things, but I think these are not exactly the new things that the article refers to.
So, our 10th wedding anniversary seemed the perfect occasion to plan a few days together again. But because of all the work and private schedules of both us, our children and our childminder (read: grandma!) it is always a challenge to carve out these precious few days for ourselves. And when we finally succeed, the question then remains; where are we going to go?
That doesn’t seem to be too difficult, because there are plenty of places advertised online where we can go to with a click of a key. But in our case it’s slightly different. We are now aware that we are regularly labeled as “fairly difficult”. And that is perhaps true. But we have just traveled a lot and learned over the years exactly the type of getaway we feel comfortable with – an advantage of getting older and hopefully wiser! Therefore, our motto is: “it has to be just as nice or even better than at home! Let’s get it right or we don’t do it at all!”
A large all-inclusive complex is not our thing as we aren’t comfortable in large crowds. When we finally get away from it all, we appreciate somewhere small-scale, quiet, spotless (yep, there is a bit of a fear of stains!), where the emphasis is on locally-sourced and mouthwatering food, eye-pleasing decor and all the small attention to detail that make us smile. A place where we are inspired and where everything seems to be perfect for a while. A fine boutique hotel quickly becomes one of the search items. These often cost more than the average hotel but we think it is more than worth it, even when others may sometimes think we are crazy: “For those three days that you stay there, you can easily spend a week in that and that hotel.”
That could well be true, however we’d rather have three days something truly special than a week in somewhere mediocre. As always, this is quality over quantity – the motto which has become our way of life over the years.
When people around us hear that we are going away for a few days together (without the children), we always get nods of agreement. “Very good that you are doing that. Well, we should do that sometime, but what a hassle to arrange it.” Of course it does take a great deal of organizing to work out all our diaries, responsibilities and childcare, but come on, nothing ventured nothing gained! We are often surprised when others find this decision so unique since it has now become a matter of course for us, and something I learned long before I became a mother …
In my twenties I worked as a Buyer for one of the largest lifestyle brands in The Netherlands. On the last evening of one of our purchasing trips in Asia, we had a delicious meal together with our small team. The next day I flew back to Amsterdam, while the wife of the “big boss” had just landed. Their children were at home with their grandparents, so that they could spend a few days together in Bali.
“If you have children one day, remember that they were born because you liked each other so much. You should never forget that. So make sure that you continue to do fun things together and consciously free up time for each other. If the kids leave home at some point, you will still like each other as much as before they were born.”
I can still see us sitting there in the lobby of the beautiful hotel in Singapore. And now I am lying here on a soft lounge bed enjoying the Ibizan morning sun shining on my skin. And now that I write these last sentences in my Moleskine booklet, my other half just put down a fresh espresso for me. I am so happy that I have remembered the wise words so well. Time seems to stand still for now…