Our Way

David and I have put our relationship through a lot. As life has taken its twists and turns, so has our relationship. Two different people with different desires attempting to live one life. “I’m tired of California, let’s move to New York!” “It’s been my dream to start a business, let’s make that happen!” Different cultures, international moves, opposite personalities. And then just as our 10 year anniversary came in to sight, we nearly faltered and fell. Because the truth of the matter is that running a business together has probably been the most challenging test that we’ve put our marriage through.

Logically and rationally, I knew that starting a business together would be challenging. A reader even cautioned me early on about going into business with my spouse. But I immediately buried the concerns, confident that the trials and tribulations that we had already faced throughout our 8 years together pre AlteArte would serve as our armor in protecting our marriage as we threw ourselves into yet another challenging situation. And during that first year with AlteArte, I smugly felt that we were prepared for this. Our years together had honed our communication skills and enabled us to survive apparently without any worse for the wear.

It started innocently enough. Like a newborn, AlteArte, in its first year, naturally required a lot of time and energy. I understood that the full weight of our decision to open a business would include long hours, late nights, and the priority placed on different things. But, after nearly a year, when I stepped back to find a bit more balance and establish a life outside of AlteArte, although I so wanted David to join me, I quickly saw that it’s not what he wanted and I knew that I couldn’t fault him if he couldn’t. We were both carrying the weight of the business on our shoulders, but, as I stepped back to focus on my writing and spend time with my friends outside of AlteArte, he voluntarily stepped forward to develop AlteArte into our own. And, I reminded myself that if I wasn’t ready to embrace this then I shouldn’t have made the decision in the first place.

Naturally, though, we fell into a routine, and, as we headed into our fourth year, David was spending so much of his time at AlteArte that I saw him more at AlteArte than I did outside of AlteArte. And I noticed that the very thing that we were trying to protect was actually the very thing that we had pushed into the background. And as we put all of our energy into the business, we had little left for our marriage. And we neglected it, assuming that it could survive with very little attention or care. And, slowly, our relationship began to morph as we unconsciously shaped it and molded it until I could no longer ignore the nagging feeling at my core, and it dawned on me that we had started to relate more as co-workers than as a married couple. In essence, our relationship followed the course of what took place at AlteArte, our conversations centered around the stress or worries of the business, and disagreements that were ignited by something that happened at AlteArte lasted late into the evening and seeped into the core of our relationship. And, soon, rather than it being the relationship that held us together and gave life to our business, it was AlteArte that was defining our marriage.

In an effort to re-prioritize the marriage, David suggested that we take a quick 3 day trip in April before the high season was upon us. I eagerly agreed, booked tickets and found a nice hotel in Santiago de Compostela in the North of Spain. We had heard beautiful things about the North but had yet to go, and I couldn’t wait to take some time off to explore this region of Spain together. But the day before our scheduled departure, David started hinting that he didn’t feel like he could leave with peace of mind. True, we were dealing with a particular situation and leaving in the middle of it was a bit stressful, but the trip had been planned. For me, it was unthinkable that we would cancel the trip. But the morning of our flight, he told me that he couldn’t go. He declared it, in fact. He had made up his mind and there was no room for discussion. I sat in shock for nearly an hour before I came to my senses and realized that just because he had decided he wasn’t going didn’t mean that I couldn’t go. Always thinking of us, I had to shift my thinking and think about me. So I packed my bags and caught the bus to the airport, but, as I boarded the plane solo, I couldn’t help but feel hurt that he wasn’t by my side.

And so, three months short of our 10 year anniversary, I explored the city that marks the end of the Camino de Santiago on my own. And, as pilgrims from all around the world entered the city and sat in the church square reveling in the present and enjoying a spiritual high having walked weeks and sometimes months to get there, I sat in the same square confused about what the future held having reached a low point after nearly ten years of marriage. And for three days, I examined how I – how we – had arrived at this point. And for three days, the rain held and Santiago de Compostela lent itself to me with its beautiful pedestrian streets and lush, green parks and gently filled me with peace and positive energy.

That was our wake up call. Just as all roads of the Camino de Santiago lead to Santiago de Compostela, we were heading down a path with a clear destination in sight. It was just a matter of deciding if that was where we wanted to go. What did we want? What did we want to fight for? Did we want the same things for the future?

In the months after that trip, we talked a lot, and we really examined what it was that we wanted. And, just when I thought we were going to lose it all, we found the strength to not give up. And over the past eight months, we have re-prioritized our marriage, we have reassessed what it is that we want, we have relearned what it is that we need to make each other happy, we have refined how we relate to each other, and we have reengaged in the lives that we started and have created together.

The reality is that 10 years is a long time and a long winding path with room for life to happen, changes to take place, people and goals and desires to alter. When I think back to the person I was at 25, I realize that I didn’t even know who I was yet – I couldn’t even see around the next turn – yet I was making decisions for the rest of my life. And, although AlteArte nearly tore us apart, in the process, it taught me a lot about myself, about David and about us. Most importantly, it forced us to stand up for what we need personally so that we could change the course of where we were heading together. And, by doing so, ultimately, it has brought us closer together.

We nearly faltered and fell but we caught ourselves at the last minute. And, on August 2nd, we celebrated 10 years. But a decade of marriage doesn’t just happen. You have to work at it, you have to fight for it, but, more than anything, you have to both really want it. So that you choose it again and again and again – even when you have changed and your partner has changed and the situation has changed. So that you stay the course and don’t lose your way.

We reached a crossroad and we were both given a choice, and, 10 years later and 10 years wiser, we chose each other.

*A couple of additional points I’d like to make:
– Those who know me know that I’m a private person, but I felt that this blog was an important one to write and to share. After all, we’re all human, and I don’t think that the fact that we have struggled is any sign of failure on our part. It’s just a normal part of the process and of life.
– David has supported me in writing and publishing this post. That, alone, shows me how much he loves me, for that is an action that speaks way louder than words.

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19 responses to “Our Way

  1. Hi Sara – so funny, I was just thinking about your blog yesterday, and wondered if you had stopped writing it! It has been many months…so glad you are keeping it up…this is your story, and the world wants to hear it!

  2. In response to the blog, as I posted my earlier post without even reading your entry (I was so excited just to see it again!!)…thank you for sharing. My marriage has experienced the same ups and downs also over the last 3 years, and all I can say is you are not alone in your challenges, not at all. In fact, every married person reading this entry is nodding their head up and down and relating on some level to every word you wrote. Trust me. I’m glad that you and David weathered the storm…they will happen, and test ever fiber of your being in the course of it. To come out the other side of that is no small feat. Well done.
    As far as running a business together, I did that with my ex-husband…so I am all too familiar with those challenges also. It also makes sense now why your blog entries dwindled…the kind of challenges you and David faced last year can suck the very life force out of you. Not the kind of stuff that inspires you to write.
    Am really happy, and relieved, that your and Davids story continues…and know that there are hundreds, maybe thousands of us, out there rooting you on dear girl. 🙂

    • Heather, thanks for your sweet words. 🙂 I know that you have had your own adventures and experiences and I’m glad that you guys have managed to pull through the last three years. I checked on you a while back via your blog and noticed that you haven’t written in a long time. I hope that you will start writing again as well.

  3. …Sara, if you ever have a chance to watch a movie, watch a movie called “The Way” with Martin Sheen…it is relevent to the trip you took to Santiago de Compostela…a lovely film, thoughtful. I think you would enjoy it.

  4. There is a lot of depth, passion, and insight in this account of your first 10 years together. We know that it has no been easy – and quite painful at times. Things of real value often are in this life. We are too often lulled by the superficiality of our culture into believing otherwise. But you have stuck it out and have become the stronger for it.

    You are two remarkable and wonderful human beings and we have confidence that all will work out all the better for what you have been through. Keep the spirit and the fighting heart, and thanks for all the honesty and integrity.

    Great to see another addition to this blog after so much time!

  5. Congrats on your ten year anniversary!!! You will always have ups and downs, but hang in there, and keep working at it. Glad you are back to writing.

  6. This long over-due blog took me completely by surprise, so let me be the 6th comment and 3rd to say how much I loved it! A very heart-felt and touching confession about the trials of life, the ups & downs in relationships & how very strong a couple has to be to make it to 10 years, and beyond. Beautifully said, as always!

  7. Honest and beautifully written. Pleasure to read as always 🙂

    • Balazs, I think I really needed you to come along and push me to keep writing. Thank you for coming when you did. And thank you for your enthusiasm and encouragement. I hope that you and your family will also be able to call Altea “home”.

  8. Very simply, thank you for sharing. Too many of our stories go unsaid and too often we remain private rather than letting others learn from our experiences. Thank you, also, to David for allowing you to share your story and journey – I know that alone is a symbol of strength, trust and love.

  9. So beautiful and profoundly honest…you speak of the things that many experience but most dare not say out loud. I’m so glad to know you and David and it has indeed been a journey you’ve been on, on so many levels! Thank you for sharing something so intimate, so touching, and so very real. Love you!

  10. Extremely wise yet heartfelt. Thank you for sharing on such an intimate and introspective level. You ring true to the fact that the greatest parts and discoveries of our lives are the ones we have to fight for the hardest. Just when I thought I couldn’t have deeper respect for two people I already admire you go prove me wrong. Well done!!

  11. The surface of any relationship, the one that is shown to the outside Is what people judge you on. Your surface has always been of two people passionate about life and with a hidden reserve of strength and support for each other.
    To have the courage to stop and look again into your own hearts and to then let the world know your truth is very powerful and deserves full respect to you both. You are amazing individuals and awesome as a team. . Remember all teams need support at times and because of the special people that you are, you have an amazing network of help all reaching out to you.
    Thank you for sharing.

  12. Hi, Sara! I read this post when it was first published and didn’t have time to respond, but it has stayed with me for weeks. What a challenge you guys dove into by creating not only a new life but a new business in Spain! I’m certain you’ve reaped endless rewards from your experience (it’s clear you have in previous posts), but it’s no wonder that it all put a strain on your relationship, too–stress begets stress! I’m more than certain that you and David are best friends, and I’m so happy that in the end, you decided to stick beside one another, to stop and really listen to each other–all things that are so hard to do when you feel like you’re on totally different pages. Anyway, I love the honesty and openness with which you shared your experience. As always, your writing is wonderful. P.S. Was really happy to read that you had stepped away from the bar to focus a bit more on your writing! I hope your “writing” is actually your “book” : ) And happy belated 10-year anniversary!!

    • Thank you, Melissa. Congrats on your own 10 year anniversary! It sounds like you had an amazing celebration. You guys have also put your relationship through a lot. I’m always so happy to read about your trips and adventures and very much hope to read a book written by YOU one day!

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