A Leap of Faith

David and I never discussed the topic of risk before we got married. I never even thought to ask David about his risk tolerance because I never thought that it would play such an important role in our lives. But nearly nine years after our first date, I can attest to the fact that how each of us handles risk has become a constantly recurring theme – and debate – in our marriage.

David tends to act impulsively. Taking risks doesn’t phase him. He’s constantly dreaming up new ideas, willing to try anything, ready to move forward even if he doesn’t know where forward will take him. Because he embraces risk, he left his apartment, his belongings and his family in Paris in 2001 and followed me to California. He was ready to risk everything for me even though, at that point, we had only been dating for two months.

I, on the other hand, tend to be more cautious. I’ll take risks, but only when I’ve deemed the risk worthy of taking. I need time to calculate it, analyze it and get used to it before I’m ready to take a leap of faith. Because I’m wary of uncalculated risk, I was scared when David arrived to California for a visit and informed me that he didn’t intend on going back, that he wanted to stay. The thought of taking our relationship to such a high level of commitment gripped me with fear. But the fear only lasted for an evening. After processing the information, I was ready to move forward. Consequently, life moved forward as well. Less than two days later, we found David a job at a super nice French restaurant in Newport Beach, and, two years later, we were saying our vows in front of 70 people in my grandmother’s backyard overlooking Big Bear Lake.

Separately, we lived our lives as we knew how, as we felt comfortable. Together, we’ve had to learn each other’s ways, respect each other’s needs, and figure out how to mesh the two without making David feel like he is being held back or making me feel like we are being too reckless or moving too fast.

We’ve done well for the most part. Once we understood our different approaches to risk, we started incorporating it in to our action plans so that we could move forward together. In 2005, when we decided to leave the West Coast for the East Coast, David went first to see if he could find a job as a private chef. We were lucky enough to have an amazing friend who let David crash on her couch while he interviewed for jobs. And even though David had never been to New York City, he tackled the challenge, learned his way around the city and landed a job as Revlon’s corporate chef less than two months after arriving. Because of David’s ability to face risk head-on, we were able to experience living in New York City. The three years we spent there enriched my life, but I don’t know if I would have had the guts to pull it off had I been on my own.

When David wanted to explore the possibility of opening a business in Spain in 2006, he went to Europe and I stayed behind. He didn’t find what he hoped to and returned after five months. Because of my tendency to be a bit more cautious, I had kept my job in the States and we were able to carry on with our lives in the US without too much difficulty.

And when David started talking about opening a tapas restaurant in New York, I talked him out of it. The thought of covering our living expenses as well as the expenses of a business while we got it going was too overwhelming for me. It was a risk that I just couldn’t take.

For eight years, it was a tug of war as David tried to get more slack and I tried to reign him in. It was also a give and take as David learned to act a little less hastily and I learned to throw caution to the wind a bit more. And I suppose that it all was an exercise to prepare us for the situation that we encountered last March when we both got laid off from our jobs and were forced to face an entirely new situation, a situation where risk lurked around every corner. Even staying in New York City was risky. Without an income, how would we be able to pay $1700/month for our 2 bedroom East Harlem apartment?

More importantly, my whole definition of security was instantly redefined as the full-time job that had been my security blanket for so long unraveled before my very eyes. And I finally started to understand David’s desire to start something for us, to work for us – in a business that was ours. Even though I had spent the previous six years talking to and writing about entrepreneurs, I never had had courage to live my life as they did – until that day that my world tipped upside down and everything that had been my reality shifted with the turbulence and I really had no choice but to throw caution to the wind and see where life took me.

Our move to Spain might have been a big move, but, in reality, it wasn’t a bigger risk than anything else. At that moment, the future was unpredictable no matter what decision we took, no matter where we went. And then we heard about David’s dad starting a restaurant in Torrevieja, Spain, going to help with the business was a risk that we just had to take. There was no reason not to. Actually, it seemed like the perfect solution. It would enable David to be part of a business venture, yet would provide the structure that I needed to still feel secure. But when the partnership didn’t work out and we were on our own in Spain, suddenly, the degree of risk altered. We were in a new country (new to both of us since David hadn’t lived in Spain since he was 12), looking for a business in a country where one could innocently mistake a prostitution house for a rundown home in the countryside, and I felt very vulnerable indeed.

And I could feel myself backing away. But just as my natural instinct to run for cover started kicking in, we went to Paris to meet our new niece, and, Chou Chou, my creperie friend, told me clearly and directly to stop holding David back. Chou Chou had talked to me about this before, but the difference was that, now, I was ready to listen.

Risk is a funny thing. It can freeze you in one spot or it can enable you to move on to bigger and better things – depending on how you react to it. Between the double layoffs and Chou Chou reiterating his message to trust David, we’ve arrived at a very significant point in our lives and our marriage. It’s a point that I can safely and confidently say that I never would have arrived at on my own.

We’re at the edge of a cliff, and what lies before us has the element of risk that David has been seeking. At the same time, we’ve been standing on the brink for a while now, and I’ve had the time to study the situation and determine how high off the ground we actually are. I’ve calculated the time to the bottom, the possible snags along the way, and what will happen if the parachute doesn’t open.

What awaits, I can’t be sure. All I know is that it’s time to jump.

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18 responses to “A Leap of Faith

  1. No matter where your lives take you guys you are lucky to have one another! I think you two will do brilliantly, life has a funny way of working out for the best. What an adventure this is turning out to be, I am so thankful to get to experience it vicariously through your wonderful blog. Looking forward to seeing what this leap of faith produces for a well deserving couple.

    • You’re totally right, Amy! I’m very lucky to have David by my side. He adds adventure to my life, supports me in what I do and keeps me well-fed! 😉 Thank you for following along on our adventures! Just as David and I are lucky to have one another, I’m very lucky to have loyal readers who keep me motivated to keep writing and keeping a record of this adventure that we’re on!

  2. Marriage means taking a risk on each other. And while your risk-taking tendencies differ, I think you compliment each other. As a team, you can make any risky business into a success! And the journey is bound to be exciting! Awaiting what may come next!!!

    • Coral, your vote of confidence means the world to me! When you give the thumbs up to a risk, it makes me feel like I can accomplish anything. Even though you’re far, I couldn’t do any of this without you!

  3. Jumping is fun isn’t it?? I think it’s super exciting that you both have taken this risk to start a biz in Altea and when there’s two of you working together, you reduce the risk by half. you never know what’s going to happen but sometimes you have to take those risks to reap the rewards, and I’m sure it will be rewarding! Maybe I should take the risk, quit my job and move to Altea with you! 🙂

  4. It’s encouraging that you’re able to accept risk. Nothing is guaranteed. There are no “sure bets”. What is interesting is that you’re on an adventure of a lifetime. Paris to LA to NY to Spain . . . this is something unique; something not a lot of people would ever experience. Risk, now more than ever, is part of the game. Enjoy it.

    • Thanks, Clifford. Being able to say that I’ve experienced living in Paris, New York and now Spain makes me feel like the risk has definitely been worth it. Let’s hope it stays that way! Thanks for the encouragement!

  5. Great post. I think in a relationship trust also plays in on that because if one person wants to take a risk you have to trust that they know what they are doing. I know how risk can feel and I know the rewards too. I am glad that he took the risk and came to you in CA since it seems like you make a nice pair.

    • Melinda, one day, I hope that we can meet. It would be fun to share our experiences in person. You’re very correct about trust playing a very huge role in a relationship. It sounds like you and your husband also make a very nice pair.

  6. Wow, such a great post. I truly relate to all of this on all levels – both marriage and jobwise! The economy has given so many of us the freedom to totally change our lives which can be both exciting and terrifying at once. Good luck to you both and thanks for sharing your stories with us!

    • Thanks, Karen. Those words coming from the great editor that you are means a lot to me! I know that you also recently took a leap of faith and I’m equally interested in following where it takes you! From what it looks like, it seems like a very successful path!

  7. Trust is the most fragile, beautiful, and terrifying part of relationships…and yet, believing in love and life is the most rewarding experience I’ve ever had. I tend to be fairly risk intolerant myself, so I know how scary it is to take that leap, but how truly wonderful the results can be! I can’t wait to hear what happens next (:

  8. We’re very proud of the risks you both have taken – and how well things have worked out for you, even when at first it appeared they wouldn’t! We envy you for your youth, your vitality, and your willingness to make the jump!

    • Thanks, dad! But it’s largely thanks to you and mom that I’m able to make this jump. You raised Dave, Coral and me with the premise that we could do or choose anything. You took away the walls and boundaries and provided constant support regardless of our actions. So really, while you might envy me, it’s largely thanks to the two of you that I’m this way. So thank you.

  9. Love the analogy to the parachute – Coral knows that feeling! So now we have 2 parachurtists in the family! You covered the topic masterfully! Glad you’re taking the risk!

    • Thanks, mom. See my comment to dad as it’s also directed to you. Coral definitely knows the feeling. The way she lives life is amazing! I don’t think that I’ll ever match up!

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