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Archive for the ‘Relationship’ Category

When we first talked about this trip, we already knew it would be a tough enterprise. After all, 24 hours of convivial for six months is not an easy task. So we brainstormed the idea of a day off every week, when we could split and have a day on our own. However, we did not put it into practice and apart from the 1-hour split in Turkey when E went to try a Turkish bath and I went to get our clothes washed, we had spent almost every minute of the day/night together for four months.

During our time in Jinja before going to Bujigali Falls, we had been sleeping in particularly rough accommodations. My allergies were aggravating me and were made worse by our tiny and damp tent in Bujigali Falls. After a silly argument which caused an afternoon of silence and an evening of discussions, we could see how claustrophobic the whole 24 hours intensive was becoming. We considered the possibility to cut the trip short, but both quickly dismissed it. Then, we talked about separating for a couple of days. It was an awkward time to split up since E’s birthday was approaching as well as our 1-year Anniversary, so we decided to give each other some room that night and see how the next day would go.

After we decided to just tough it out, we turned each to our side of the 15 square-foot tent, noses touching the fabric and backs together and slept. Tomorrow, we would have a better day.

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Bujigali Falls

One of the smallest quarters we stayed in on the trip was the safari tent in Bujigali Falls.  It was about 15 square-feet.  Obviously, we spent almost every minute of the trip with each other, and it was tough when we got irritable or impatient.  It is also obvious that spending so much time together can make you really stir crazy.  Sometimes you just need to spend some time apart so that emotions can calm down and all the irritations can deflate to their true proportions.

We were in a wonderful spot perched up above the Bujigali Falls which may not be around for long.  There were/are plans for a new hydro-power dam to be built upstream which may change the action in the river.  It will certainly change the rafting program.  So, as with everything, you have to appreciate what you have when you have it.  Well, we were both irritated with each other for much of the time we were there.  Looking back I still remember that it was beautiful.  But it was a much different experience for us than it would have been if we had been there on a two or three-week vacation.

The day after our Soft Power volunteering experience we went and hung out at the river bank next to the Falls.  We talked to some soldiers lounging in the shade.  We saw people in their underwear washing their clothes on the rocks and rinsing in the river.  We saw guys swimming through the rapids with large, empty, rectangular, yellow, plastic jugs tied to their arms.  We sat in the little restaurant and ate french fries and played backgammon.  We saw rafting groups go by.  Gradually, we started to get out of our funk.

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I was driving back to the office from lunch one day last week and I heard a few minutes of an interview on the radio. The topic was the results of an NIH study about marriage. The study was a survey following a few hundred couples for 22 years. The woman being interviewed was Dr. Terri Orbuch. She was a professor at the University of Michigan. I heard a few things in the interview that I thought were interesting.

For instance,

  • If the husband or wife came from divorced parents, the couples in the study were not any more likely to get divorced.
  • Also, women who had higher education when getting married were less likely to get divorced.
  • And, romantic love usually fades after about 18 months.

And, I don’t really think that you can make everything perfect by using some theoretical formula, but there were some things I learned that I’d try:

  • Women are more likely to feel sexy if their husband helps with the house work.
  • Each person should talk to each other about their top two marriage expectations.  It’s no problem if the expectations of each person are totally different.
  • Say and do small things for each other every day.
  • And, a favorite: Discuss less the relationship.

It is recommended that couples talk to each other for a minimum of 10 minutes a day about some topic that is not work, family, money, household chores, or the relationship. (Apparently, talking too much about the relationship can be a problem. Hmm, and we have a blog category about relationship. I wonder if that is a good thing.)

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    The book is “Smart Couples Finish Rich” from David Bach and I highly recommend.

    The financial advice is simple and you probably have heard a lot of it many times before, but the results you get from reading it together with your partner and doing the exercises are worthwhile.

    When I decided to buy the book my reasons were to: (1) Read something together with my hubby, which is something I love to do and it had been a while since we last did; (2) Learn more about how to make most of our finances as a couple, and (3) Start some plans for our future together – because we did not have many and that was frustrating the hell out of me.

    We are quite organised with our finances, we share information on our accounts and we enjoy casual talks about investments. Also, we never argue over bills. We live a very simple, low-key life and have similar spending habits. Our main expense is with the house, which we rent, followed by food (grocery and restaurants). We do not drink, party at night or smoke. Our concept of fun is normally associated with the beach, riding our bikes to a park, watching a movie and reading.  So, we have no need for trendy clothes and in addition to that we do not care much about a car as long as it is safe and economical – it works for us. The point I want to make is that we do not make much money, but we certainly do not spend much either.

    However, I know we can do much better with what we save and I would like to learn more about the best way to plan our financial future as a couple. As it is, we were doing a good job individually, but the whole thing was My saving account, My investment account, My student loan, My retirement plan, and no Ours. I am afraid to say, but my impression was that the trend spilled to other areas of our lives as well. We love, know and respect each other’s lives and even though most of our free time is spent together, most everything was Mine vs. Yours, very little Ours.

    Today, we will do your program, tomorrow it will be mine, tonight we watch the movie I choose and next week it is your pick. Those are your bills, those are mine and at the end of the month, we check the balance and make the necessary adjustments. It worked, it does and for a lot of it we intend to keep the system, as how we say in Brazil, we do not make changes to a winning team. But there was some Ours missing and the book helped.

    First, we went through the test of how much we know about each other financial lives. We did well, but not as good as we expected, we both thought we would ace it, not quite so. Then, there was the exercise on values, which for me was very good. It was long due, in the past I always liked to think about my values at the end of every year and then evaluate the year gone to see if they were aligned and the last couple of years, I was running away of doing so. I was dropping the ball in some areas, I knew it and it is always good to say it out loud and write it down, so you get the motivation you need to fix it.

    But the best exercise of the book for us was planning our dreams. If you have not guessed it yet, it was from that task that this trip was created. The will already existed in each of us, but at least from my side, I have already accepted that it was not going to be one that would become reality. It was such like so, that when I first started the list of dreams I did not get there, I was flying really low. He mentioned it first and I just could not believe my ears. I was like: WOW!! Really? Let’s do it.

    And just like that, we had a dream, a plan and an account together.

    With regards to finishing rich, I am sure it will be just a consequence of living a rich life. We are both hard workers, with good qualifications and we do not need much (material) to be satisfied, so we will eventually get there. One has always to remember that what it is needed to be considered rich has more to do with what you spend than with the digits on your accounts, so…

    Now, we will be sacrificing a bit of one of our shared value: security, to go after this trip. In order to make this happen, we will be draining all our savings in a market that is not to kind, but we feel comfortable that we know what we are getting into and that it is worthwhile.

    We do not have children yet, we do not have a mortgage, we do do carry balances on our credit card and the only debt we have is my hubby’s student loan. So, it is the old problem, if you wait until you really have all the money you need to do something, you might have other things that will keep you from doing it. So, here we go. Planning a lot, saving as much as we can, ready for sleeping bags and hopeful that things will turn OK.

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