13 years

When I discovered I was pregnant last year, just as we were laying our plans for moving to Thailand this spring I told Aaron by texting him a photo of the pregnancy test while he sat in an airport, on his way for yet another business trip away from home. Two days later he called me from the road and said, "I think we should live in Pai. Rachel and Chinua are there and I know how you are after having a baby, you need to have some women friends nearby. Plus it's a cool place and the kids will love it there."

That conversation left me feeling so loved, and like I could handle this whole, pregnant in a strange new place thing, because I had someone who understood me and my needs supporting me.

So the plan has been to move to Pai. When the house we wanted fell through Aaron took 3 days and went there on his own to try and find us another house that was large enough to house our growing family. He saw plenty of houses, but not any in our price range with more than 2 bedrooms. (Okay, there was 1 really quirky house that I might have made work, even with the metal yard next door and the yard shared with strangers, but it was far from ideal.) At the same time our conversations were shifting as we realized just how useful it would be to live closer to where a lot of the work is and Aaron started talking about needing to get an apartment there for the couple of months he would need to be in town full time, plus the trip he's planning to Nepal and the other back to the US. It was adding up to a lot of time away again, something the past 2 years have been full of, and something we had hoped was coming to an end.

When there was no house in Pai, we started talking about Mae Sot instead seriously. Aaron wouldn't decide, he left it to me because I had the most at stake in the decision. He can live anywhere. He'd be happy in a hut in a village. I find that sort of thing a bit more challenging, and I'm such a homebody that what a house is like seriously affects me.

So I decided we should look in Mae Sot, because, as much as I love Pai and our friends there, I thought it mattered more to be together as a family.

Then I realized what I had done and regretted it immediately. I've never even been to Mae Sot. I don't know anyone there. I don't know where anything is. I don't speak the language. It's a shifty border town.

Plus there was grief over saying goodbye to the rosy glow of, my husband chose this place for me because he knows what I need and he wants to give me and the kids a great experience while we're here.

(This was all complicated by postpartum hormones I must add. I had just given birth and all.)

So I cried and back pedaled and thought, "Maybe I was wrong. Maybe we should go with his first choice. I want his first choice to work out."

I didn't trust my own judgement, thanks to the hormones. I asked him to just decide for me. He answered, "That's not how our marriage works. I don't tell you what to do. You are the one who will have to live with the consequences of this choice more than me. You need to make it."

I knew he was right.

"But what would you choose if you were choosing?" I asked him.

"I wouldn't make that choice."

Still right, darn it.

I asked Rae to ask about the first house again, and if they would be willing to let it go for less since they still had no other offers.

And I talked to Aaron about my conflict, about how it felt like wussing out to really want to be somewhere easy, that I liked. His response was, "Be who you are and stop apologizing for it. Decide how much you are willing to put up with and what ways you want to be stretched and then just do it."

Which may not sound like much to you, but was balm to my jangled emotions and frayed nerves. I needed right then for someone to give me permission again to be myself, and say what I wanted, rather than trying to make everyone else happy.

The owners of the house accepted our offer. I had what I wanted, and I said it out loud. "I want to live in Pai, and I want this house." I loved that house, it's wide hallways and large balconies and the view of the mountains. The way it was walking distance to all to the local markets, and Rachel's house.

I wanted it. But I didn't make the call.

I looked at my 11 year old son who needs his dad around. I looked at how much better we work as a family when Aaron comes home every night. I picked up the phone, and then put it down again. Something in my gut wasn't settled yet.

Aaron went to Mae Sot to take some volunteers up on the mountain to the orphanage where they will teach English for a few weeks. He stayed at the house of a friend, who runs an organization we will be partnering very closely with in the coming few years. This house is their second house. They are thinking of renting it out. He sent me pictures. It's beautiful, and large enough.

I still didn't make the call to Pai

We still didn't even know if they would decide to rent it out in the end.

So I called the house owner in Pai and asked if they could give me a few more days to let them know. They agreed.

And last night, on our anniversary, we made an agreement on a house in Mae Sot. I still have never been there. We're going to live there in 2 weeks time. But we'll be together, and really, I realized that's what I want most of all.

We've been married 13 years now. I am so blessed to have in my life a man who understands me, my strengths and weaknesses and who loves me anyway, a guy who puts my needs and the needs of his family above his own, and who gives me permission to be myself, and stop apologizing for it, when I forget and lose my way for a while. He gives me the courage I need to find my way through to a better, stronger version of myself, time and time again.

Happy Anniversary Aaron


  1. You are awesome, Carrien. :) I just felt you needed to hear that. :) I am looking forward to pictures of your new place, your blog about the process, and of course all the excitement of your life in general. :) Isn't it amazing how God works everything out to the best way for everyone? I pray that you will find the transition to be much easier than you are expecting it to be...and while I can't be there in PERSON, I am always nearby on the internet. :)

  2. I think one of the hard things about life is that there are often several reasonable choices in any given situation, so sometimes it's hard to sort it all out. Hope you love it there, and I'm so glad it will allow more time with that good hubby of yours.

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