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