Stacey and Joel: six years, three international moves and a baby

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Name and occupation: Stacey, Graphic Designer
Partner’s name and occupation: Joel, Software Designer
Our wedding profile: Stacey’s elegant stormy wedding, August 25, 2007.

We took a month off for a honeymoon trip across Europe and sailed back on an ocean liner. A week after arriving home we moved from Vancouver, BC to Marin County just north of San Francisco, CA. We had two and a half years in that area just soaking up the organic good life. Joel got into competitive cycling and I went to art school in San Francisco and just immersed myself in art.

After that we moved to Singapore and spent the next two and a half years around South East Asia where we crossed Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Australia and New Zealand off our travel bucket list. Joel did a lot of mountain bike races through the jungles in Malaysia and I finished my degree online and collected random bits of Balinese furniture and textiles. In March 2013 our son was born and we began to think about where we’d like to live next.

Then we took another relocation offer and moved with our eight-week-old son to Santa Monica, CA. So here we are in Southern California. We’re loving the local farmers markets and being just a short plane ride from home again. When people ask if we’ll continue to jump countries every few years I’m not sure what to say. It’s been a wonderful life but I think we might just stay put a little longer this time and enjoy our family.

Looking back all these years later, what do you remember most about your wedding?

Even after six years that whole day is vivid in both our minds and we talk about it often. It was completely magical from start to finish. The most important memories for us are of family. I remember all these things my Grannie was part of. She signed the register and came to all the campfires and sang. She was 90 years old and unfortunately only lived a few more years. I’m so grateful for all the memories I have of our family together on that day.

What big challenges have you faced? What have you learned from them?

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It’s very hard to shift from being a dual-income home to a single-income one and that happened because of our expatriation right after our wedding. Being a trailing spouse is actually really hard emotionally. People teased me that I was a lady of leisure but I honestly would have rather been working. I found it really helpful to become the household “minister of finance.” I also still play an active role in my husband’s work projects. I listen to proposals and give feedback and support. I’m a full-time Mom and part-time designer now but I still really keep an active interest in what my husband is doing. It helps keep me engaged with that part of his life and not feel weird about not being a big bread winner.

How do you keep your romance alive?
Before the little one came along we were pretty extravagant with our date nights. We’d typically walk somewhere a few miles away so we could enjoy a long stroll and then we’d do a crazy tasting menu and talk the night away. With the little guy now we tend to take him with us to more casual (or just louder) places and there’s not so much wine involved.

What advice do you have for newlyweds?
Don’t bring up a big issue when your partner isn’t in a good place to be able to listen. I find this really challenging but when I do take my own advice life goes much better. I wait till we’ve had a meal and other things like work calls are dealt with and then I know I have a good window to air some things I need to have heard. I know it sounds really trivial but I think it’s easy to forget when you’re really mad about something.

As for household chores, we really do split it or at least try to. For an example my husband does all the diapers at night so I can get back to sleep right after I feed our little guy. We do the dishes together at night before bed and often that’s the only time we have to talk all day so it ends up being something positive. He does most of the laundry and I do all the cat care. It all kinda evens out in the end.

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Comments on Stacey and Joel: six years, three international moves and a baby

  1. Agreed. It sounds like you guys are enjoying life to the fullest. I’d love to hear more details about living and working abroad. I know there have been a few other posts here, but the more examples of how to navigate residence permits, work permits, and career options the better.

  2. How exciting, and we thought that prowling through the US was an adventure! I can’t imaging trailing out of the country, I find it hard in the country!

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