Love, Risks and Adventure

Nick and I, taking risks

“What do you mean you’re not sure you could live in New Zealand?” Asked Nick, my Kiwi fiancé, 3 months ago. “When we started dating, you said you could totally imagine a life there.”

“I know I said that,” I replied. “But when I met you I’d just arrived in Switzerland; I had no friends, no job, no real project for my future… I would have followed you anywhere. Now, things are different. We have a great life here: well-paid jobs, good friends, a nice flat… We live at the heart of Europe, close to beautiful outdoors in one of the richest countries in the world. And my family is close. Why leave?”

“Yeah but what about my family? My country? My beautiful outdoors?”

I guess that’s what happens when you’re with someone from the other side of the world. At the start of a relationship, love makes everything look perfect and the most important thing is to be together. But when a wedding is planned, the potential problems that could arise from having different nationalities can no longer be ignored. What if Nick wanted to live in New Zealand for the rest of his life while I wished to go back to Switzerland, or to France? What if we had kids in one country or the other and then got divorced? Where would the kids live if one of us decided to move back to his country?

I know it’s frighteningly unromantic to think about that before getting married. But coming from a family where everyone is divorced (parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts), I am unable to consider marriage in a serene mood. It has nothing to do with Nick or our relationship- family issues have been tormenting me since I was a child. Instead of rejecting marriage altogether when my parents divorced, I decided that *I* would do better than my parents. *I* would choose the right partner to start with, *I* would never get married to the wrong person. This decision, taken around age 10, was followed by years of thinking, wondering and reading about relationships.

I met Nick online. This photo was on his profile- I was bound to fall for him.

Nick is everything I’ve ever looked for in a man: strong, intelligent, honest, handsome, funny and adventurous. And he loves cats. With him, I’m at my happiest, healthiest and most balanced. I knew in my heart very early on that I wanted him to be my husband and the father of my children. After a year and a half, he came to the same realisation and proposed to me. I said “yes” without the shadow of a doubt. However, my rose-tinted glasses fell off when the actual wedding plans started. All my fears about marriage and divorce rushed back to my brain- I was terrified. We decided to take our time and to wait until we were both ready for it.

The day Nick proposed to me

When it was finally the right time for us to start planning our wedding, that potentially relationship destroying conversation about where we would live came between us. Nick wanted to go back to his country eventually, even though he was perfectly happy in Zurich with me. I liked New Zealand very much, and in fact, I had wanted to live there for a year or two before I’d even met him. But the thought of moving there permanently “one day” frightenend me. You can hardly find a country that’s farther from my family and friends. At the same time, I would never expect Nick to give up his family and his country for me. We had a problem. We talked about it for hours, unable to find a solution. The next day, it suddenly struck me:

“Why don’t we move to New Zealand now? That way we could give it a try for 2-3 years and come back if we realise our life in Zurich was better. We don’t have kids yet, we are both not entirely satisfied with our jobs… let’s just do it! In the worst case, if you decide you never want to come back to Europe while I hate life in New Zealand, it’ll be better to find that out before getting married…”

That’s how we decided to move to New Zealand at the end of the year. Soon, everything seemed to fall in place perfectly. Nick needed to be in an English speaking country to work on his own start up projects while I wanted to study journalism. I found a good journalism program in Christchurch where Nick’s parents live- we could stay at their house to get started.

Our relationship has been fueled by adventures from the start. Nick invited me to go camping for a weekend with his friends as a second date. I kissed him first in the tent under a beautiful summer night sky lit by millions of stars. We went on holidays together after a month. Since then, he took me hiking, climbing, skiing, mountainbiking, kayaking…

What we did on our second date

Moving to the other side of the world will be one of the most exciting moments we’ll share together and I’m confident our relationship will grow stronger from it. Of course it’s a risk to leave everything behind. But isn’t love the greatest risk of all? Every relationship faces its challenges. What’s important in the end is how we face them. Being together is still the most important thing. I’m not actually worried about one of us wanting to live somewhere the other doesn’t like- we’re usually on the same frequency. Home will be wherever we’re together.

Nick’s parents’ house in Christchurch- not the worst place to start an adventure, eh?

For those of you who live in Zurich, we’re looking for someone to take our flat. Details here.

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60 thoughts on “Love, Risks and Adventure

  1. Pingback: The Dream Is Not In The House « Trying to be Conscious

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  4. Cécile, belated félicitations on your engagement! I also met my sweetheart online (he was in the US and I was in Europe). Our first two years of marriage were filled with much globetrotting through Europe, North America and Asia — and we’re still uncertain where we’ll end up settling in the world. I think we “bloom where we’re planted” and you’ll eventually find out where that place (or places) is meant to be. Enjoy the journey!

  5. Congratulations on your decision! I feel the same : home is where my husband and I are together. Having those life/relationship altering discussions can be difficult but oh-so worth it in the long run! Best wishes as you prepare for your move!

    • Thank you for your well wishes, Jay. It’s true, those life-changing big talk feel threatening at first but they enable us to live a bigger life :-)

  6. As an American with a German boyfriend (whom I met in Australia after living in New Zealand for two years), I can definitely relate to your post! I’ll have to follow along and see how you get on in ChCh. Watch out for aftershocks!

    • Don’t tell me about earthquakes! They had enough of them in Christchurch already… hopefully.

      Meeting a German guy in Australia, that’s an adventure :-)

  7. Best wishes in your new adventure :D It’s so exciting to make plans for a new life in a new country! Me and my husband moved from Brazil to Italy to pursue a better life, and it was great! The experiencies you live are the best part!

  8. HI! I loved reading your wonderfully optimistic post about your marriage and your impending move to NZ. I wish you and your lovely man all the luck in the world! I fully agree with you (and your future MiL!) that it’s the things you don’t do that I think you regret later in life. That’s why we moved to France…
    You can read about it here (http://dormouse.wibsite.com/2012/09/13/throw-off-the-bowlines/) I think the quotation at the top is so true for you, for me, and for all those who follow their dreams! God bless.

  9. The world is a smaller place when you live in NZ and have family and friends many time zones away! Glad to hear you are taking the risk–I’m so glad I did (It’s been 2 and a half years and a mortgage since I moved with Charles)!!! Very much looking forward to having you two nearby:)

  10. This reminded me immediately not only Rian’s story, but also Edward and the magnetic song “Home”. Perhaps, home is not formatted by where we are, but who is with us, no matter where. Best of luck!

  11. What an exciting life you have created for youself. In many ways I envy you. Had I been born in Villefrance I would have believed I was living in the most beautiful and exciting place on earth…Moving to Zurich and experiencing the beauty of that counry through your FB posts convinced me that maybe Zurich was the most beautiful and exciting place on earth. Now off to New Zealand you go, and I can only assume that it will be a strong competitor for beauty and excitement. What really matters is that you are with with the love of your life, building a future together. My only regret is that I will not be in Villefrance for a June 2013 wedding. But then again, God willing,I will be there in June 2014…Much love and good luck on your new adventure.

    • Thank you Libby for your good wishes. I love it that you can follow our little adventures from New York! I’ll make it my duty to show you what New Zealand has to offer :-)

      I really hope you’ll be able to come to our wedding in Villefranche. I’ll keep you posted about it.
      Lots of love xx

  12. Best of luck on your new adventure! So nervous and excited for you!!

    My new hubby and I are still trying to figure out where we’re going to live when we grow up. I think I will follow your lead and figure it out before we have kids, though.

    Can’t wait to read along as your adventure unfolds!

  13. Aww, that’s a lovely story. And yes, the best time to have adventures and take risks is when you aren’t too tied down by being a responsible adult. Going over to live & work in the USA – even though it was only for 13 months – was one of the better decisions I made. Suddenly I saw my life in the context of the world, rather than in the context of 1 country. My perspectives were either enlarged or changed.
    And the best part of going abroad? Scotland and my UK friends were still there when I came back. :)

    • I agree, going abroad is the best way to gain perspective on one’s life. I also went to study for a year in New York and it was a very exciting adventure.

      I’ll try to remember that my friends will still be there when I come back :-)

  14. I am excited for your new adventure! It’s true that home is wherever you’re with your soul mate. I could live anywhere with Matt but it’s easy to say that :) and probably not so easy to go through. Love has to be flexible and fluid, especially when it comes to change, in order to survive. So when is your wedding?!

  15. Cécile, I’m yet another one to be in a relationship with someone from a different country; I had already left everything behind me to go on a long world trip, so deciding to move in with him in his country (Mexico, not the worst place ever either!) was piece of cake. But yes… sometimes, I think… what about going back to France?!?… It might come up some day, but definitely not now. So why think about it now? :-P

    It’s all here in your words : “home will be wherever he is.” I’m pretty sure you’ll have a great time in New Zealand and you’ll both find a way to realize yourselves and decide what you want for your relationship to last.
    And yes, Love is also an awfully big adventure (I love when Peter Pan says that about Life and Love) and it has to be lived completely!
    Enjoy! Jump right in and enjoy everything! It’s a wonderful opportunity for both of you.
    Cheers!
    Jul’

    • Mille merci Jul’s for your encouraging comment. Apparently a lot of us blogger girls are in a relationship with someone from a different nationality. It’s so cool how relaxed you are about going back to France- or not. Of course, why worry too early about moving? I guess you’re a traveler at heart so being with a Mexican makes total sense for you :-)

      • It makes sense to be with him and I completely relate to the “my home is where he is.” I also left France for a bunch of reasons that allow me to know I don’t have to live there to be happy, although I miss friends and family A LOT!
        You’ll see, NZ is an amazing country : you’ll have your share of adventures and travels!
        again : ENJOY!

  16. SO excited to hear this! I left my entire life behind at 27 years old to move to New Zealand on my own and it was the best decision of my life. A beautiful country and a wonderful place to live. My own adventure also brought me to a relationship crossroads when I met my Frenchie while living in Australia. It was very scary to me to do what seemed like abandoning my own life to go and follow his to France (especially when I spoke no French) but what an adventure it has been. And as you say, love is the most important of all. I won’t use the word brave because as you say, there is always a fall back (one of the rarely mentioned but totally AWESOME things about being in a bi-national relationship); what I will say is that I think it is so exciting and that there is a big chunk of me that is hugely jealous! Not only are you about to embark on a fun and challenging part of your life, you happen to be doing it in one of the most beautiful countries on earth while being madly in love! Congrats!

    • Thank you so much for telling me about how awesome New Zealand has been for you! It really helps to hear about positive experiences like yours. I’m quite impatient to explore this beautiful country and to get to know its people better.

      And yes, being in a bi-national relationship means you get to choose between at least 2 countries (3 in our case- I’m Swiss-French). It sorts of makes up for all the other troubles we get from it.

      Don’t be jealous, France is the most beautiful country IN THE WORLD. And your blogs about your life there are brilliantly funny :-)

  17. Wow — exciting news! It sounds like a great adventure, one that I’m sure will reward you in so many ways (as my continent-hopping has done for me). I hope you’ll keep blogging while there so that we can learn about NZ through you!

  18. What a beautiful and inspiring story Cécile! It takes a lot of courage to make a leap like that! I don’t think a lot of people would make that sort of compromise, and I really give you loads of credit for making the leap and giving it a try in his country, leaving everything behind. Now that’s love!

    Coming from a broken home myself I am very hesitant about mariage, so is my Frenchman for his own reasons. I’m gad you’re taking your time.

    Your photos are belles (and I wish I could rent your flat!).

    Thanks for sharing this heart-warming story.

    • Thank you Grenobloise. I’m surprised that the word “brave” came up so much in the comments. We are taking a risk and we will leave everything behind but we can always come back if it doesn’t work out :-)

      I’m always relieved to hear about other people’s doubts about marriage. I’m not alone with my hesitations, phew!

  19. Stories like this give me hope. I am also the product of divorce and have vowed to never get married. Your approach is so much lovelier and a proven success story. My aunt witnessed my grandparents’ many marriages and divorces and promised herself that she would do the exact opposite of what they did in order to have a long and happy marriage. I can proudly say that after 35 years together, my aunt and uncle are the happiest couple I know and still so clearly in love with each other after all that time. They have been through alcoholism, miscarriages, a son who nearly died from cancer, career troubles, and health issues and yet, you’d never know their relationship ever had a cloudy day. I hope that someday my feelings of marriage will be more like yours, Cécile and I wish you and Nick the best of luck in New Zealand and a lifetime of love. You are both incredibly brave to take such a risk and it is very inspiring!

    • Thank you Jessica. I’m so glad to know that my story (and Rian’s) gave you hope- this is the best compliment I can ever wish to get for my writing :-)

      I’m not sure my approach was a proven success story though. Wanting so badly to have a successful marriage put a lot of pressure on my shoulders, and it weighed on all my relationships. Your aunt’s story is also inspiring- maybe a topic for a future blogpost of yours?

      I hope you’ll find your own definition of the engagement that suits your needs- be it marriage or not.

  20. Danny and I spent one weekend together and he proposed. A few short months later I moved from Wisconsin to Colorado 1000 miles away! We’ll be married 25 years in two weeks!
    Home is where your heart is….

    • Engaged after a weekend- wow! 25 years of marriage in two weeks- double wow!
      You seem to have a very happy family Susie, have you ever thought of writing a post to share your secrets of a long lasting marriage? If you did already, please send me the link!

      • I know and our kids who are 20 and 22 have figured it out! Hahaha! I will blog something on October 10th or there abouts and will include the link with a post I wrote about how we got together!
        Thanks!

  21. I have an investment in this decision and it is really special to be able to read the background. Adventures make life interesting and fulfilling and as “we only get one go at living” it is so important to make the most of it and take the interesting road. I want to be the old grey haired lady thinking “that was a really interesting journey,” rather than “I wish I had….” .
    We are really looking forward to having the two of you here, for however long, and know the experience will become a special part of your life story.
    We built the house at Sumner around us, we took the children to Tonga for 2 years, and we all still talk about it, we moved out to the farm and lived in the classroom for 15 months while we built the house, and we all still talk about the classroom being a special adventure time. Often the challenging bits create the best memories.
    I hope the packing up and organising for departure does not detract from the excitement of the adventure. As an aside, there is plenty of room for your friends and family to visit and New Zealand is a pretty special place to explore and should be on everyones bucket list. Love to you both.

    • Thank you Wendy for your love and support. Knowing that Nick has such a wonderful family has definitely helped me in this decision.

      I also don’t want to be the old lady wishing she had taken more risks, done more, tried more… Moving to New Zealand will become a special memory that we can all share together :-)

  22. You are so incredibly brave — it’s one thing to say “I’ll go anywhere with you” and another to actually do it. I loved this post — I moved from my little Scottish seaside town to bustling London, which felt big for me at the time, but crossing the world is a great step (literally) and also such an exciting adventure, something I would definitely need time to consider carefully and might not be as willing to do as you are. You’ve inspired me! I wish you all the best :)

    • Thank you Claire! Moving from a quiet town in Scotland to London is also a big change in lifestyle. I don’t think I would move to new Zealand ONLY to follow Nick. If I had zero interest in the country and no professional prospects there, I wouldn’t go. But this part of the world has always attracted me and now is my chance to give it a try :-)

  23. I’m so glad you told this story, Cécile! As you know, I can absolutely relate to what you’re going through. Falling in love with someone from another country is not easy. But, I was talking with Grant about this the other day (as I have so many times before), and the words I formed for it were: “My life is bigger.” You’ve chosen a bigger life. And that comes with its share of struggle. I don’t want to live in Canada permanently and we talk about that endlessly, modifying our long term plan as we go. The thing is, you don’t know where you’re going to end up. Because you will become a slightly different version of Cécile by moving to New Zealand. And that will change the decisions you make in the future. So jump in, let go of your expectations, revisit your plans, talk and talk and talk about it–make sure you’re on the same page. It will be a wonderful, big adventure. I’m so excited for you.

    • Well the post you wrote about your own risky adventure inspired me very much, Rian. Reading it had such a positive, heartwarming effect that it gave me a kick to tell mine :-)

      I love the two additional points you made here:
      – Being in a multicultural relationship and living in different countries really are part of choosing a bigger life.
      – And yes, our plans have to be flexible. We’ll have to revise them on the way, as we already did (we wanted to move to Vancouver before we decided New Zealand would suit our needs best). Who knows where we’ll live in 10 years?

      You and Grant form such a lovely couple, I’m sure you’ll find the right place for you both. I’m curious to know where you’ll end up living in a few years!

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