How to find balance in 24/7 togetherness…
A while back I did a post about keeping the love alive whilst working together and being in a foreign country. In the beginning, it was very difficult. You suddenly see a part of your partner which was hidden away from you for the simple reason that you never worked at the same place before. I have learned a lot about my husband since working together, and my love and respect for him has grown with each day gone by. Except for him being a good worker, he is also super chilled and gets phased by almost nothing. Myself, on the other hand, freaks out over the smallest of small things. Whether it’s a dirty office space, noisy co-workers or just last minute changes (and boy, do Korea love those!), I would get upset over them real quick, and then I would get upset with my husband for not getting upset along with me. Crazy, right? We’ve smoothed out the hiccups as time passed, and I’ve also learned to be more chill (which does not imply that I take my job any less seriously). He loves the new version of me, let’s call it Lanie 2.0, and I love that I can still bring my point across at work without having a mental breakdown.
So, how did we keep the love alive whilst being together 24/7? With lots of hard work, finding a mutual hobby, making friends outside of our workspace and lastly, by eating out.
1)Lots and lots of hard work!
It is true what the all-wise ‘they’ say about marriage. Marriage is hard work. Period. Our marriage never got to the point where we thought we were in trouble, but we did have to make some hard choices about how we are going to find balance in this 24/7 togetherness which came with taking a job at the same school. For us, it wasn’t an option to travel across the world and not live together, and for that to happen we had to work at the same place. We started off by deciding if we are going to take our ‘coupleness’ to work with us, and the consensus was that we cannot hide the fact that we are married, we cannot treat each other like we’re not husband and wife in the workplace and we cannot be a force divided. So we stuck together, through good and bad decisions. So far, so good. Yes, we do get mocked and ridiculed by some co-workers about our attachment, but honestly, if you’re not attached to your husband then whats the point of getting married in the first place? We do the bare minimum together at work, but we do try to get on the same schedules for overtime etc. This is purely logistical, it’s not fun cooking for one. We also try to be on the same page during meetings, this does not mean we are one person and share a brain, but we try to make our decision before going into a meeting so that we don’t end up being the annoying couple who argues in front of their coworkers…
2) A mutual hobby
One would think that a married couple will have a hobby together, but no, not us. We share plenty of interests- from books, music, and food to our love for open-mindedness and free thinking, but we’ve never had a mutual hobby. We realized that our free time started feeling like a waste, we would sit on the couch, watch T.V and moan about our jobs and work-related things. When we weren’t discussing work, we were discussing students. For a minute there I could not even imagine what we talked about before coming to Korea… We decided to start hiking together. I’m not into exercise (at all), but I do love nature, especially mountains and trees. Theo’s more into being fit than I am, and he enjoys hiking. So we found a mutual understanding about what we each need to get out of this activity, which led to us doing mini-hiking getaways over weekends. The struggle to get up a mountain is real, and sharing that with your loved one just brings you closer together.
3) Making friends outside the workplace
If I struggle to find the balance between work and free-time with my husband, I sure as hell don’t even want to attempt it with co-workers. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional drink or dinner, but I cannot spend every second of my free time with co-workers as well. I really needed to make friends outside of my workplace, the problem is I live in the middle of nowhere. Luckily, I’m not shy. I got really lucky by meeting a Korean teacher at a different school who’s just a little older than myself, who shares my values and wants the same things from life that I do. She also has two adorable little girls, and I love spending time with all of them. I also have a lovely friend who used to be a coworker, but has since moved on (bonus, I get to be friends with her friends too)! Hook up with those contacts, people. Join a group on Facebook, or ask your friends to introduce you to their friends. Many expats feel the way you feel, there’s no reason to be alone. Also, Korean friends can be great, so don’t just try to make friends within your expat community.
4) Last but not least, eating out.
Get out, get out, get out! I cannot emphasize this enough. Don’t get stuck in a routine of work, home, eat, T.V, sleep and work again. This is the biggest passion killer on earth. Go out, explore, have fun. Find a favorite restaurant that can be like your comfort food joint, but try new places, and go to nearby areas instead of just around where you live.
Every time we go somewhere it feels like a little holiday, and we return back home refreshed and ready for a new day.
That’s that! Keep healthy, happy and inlove. If you have any tips to share, please feel free to comment.