Tag Archives: how to swallow your pride in a marriage

It ain’t all tits and champagne!

12 Jan


Hey, remember this?


I submitted a request to my supervisors to defer my program start date to July 2013, and I have been approved to do so. Between now and July, a few things will sort themselves out: namely, Mr. JB’s promotion and his application for the Big Job that he has only the slightest (but not impossible) chance of getting.


If the promotion happens, then I will start my PhD as planned. If a miracle happens, and Mr. JB gets the Big Job, then I won’t be going back to work at all. There is only room in our family for one Big Job, and I am perfectly happy to have Mr. JB take that on and relieve me of all financial responsibility for our family.

Last night, Mr. JB had a colleague over, who is here in our small town working in the same unit as Mr. JB. MetroMan has a wife and two children, but they point blank refused to leave the big city they were born in, so MetroMan flies back to see them when he can. He lives here in a small apartment and heats frozen ready meals for dinner most night and Skypes with his kids and his wife.

Not my cup of tea, but whatever.

The discussion led to in a surprising direction, though. During the course of the evening, Mr.JB expressed his very great hope that once I completed my PhD, I would finally be ready to move back to the big city, where, as we all know, real life happens.

Before we met, Mr. JB worked for a very large marine diesel manufacturer in Osaka, Japan. His job was to make certain that the engineering specifications of all the various equipment being manufactured met the environmental requirements of their target market. Very technically detailed, nitpicky work, and Mr. JB loved it! He quickly realized that a background in business would come in very handy, and when he mentioned to his supervisor in Japan that he was thinking of doing an MBA, he was given very enthusiastic support for the idea and a large envelop of cash to help pay for the program. When he left Japan, the agreement was that he would complete his MBA in International Strategic Management and then take up employment in the company’s American headquarters.

Then he met a girl.

And all those plans fell off the rails. When the opportunity came up to do an international exchange with a very famous database administrator (yes, such people exist) in Manchester, we took it! We spent a term in Manchester and had a great time. Most of our classmates lived in the posh, glass and steel modern downtown of Manchester, which was walking distance to the university. At my request, we lived in a grittier, dirtier part of Manchester called Levenshulme, and we walked an hour back and forth to classes, usually drinking some strange ale we had procured from the local off license.


I wanted to experience the “real” Manchester, and spend time with working class people and live in a neighbourhood that was part of British history and culture. Manchester core was bombed by the IRA back in 1996 and the entire city core has been rebuilt to look like every other modern Western city on the planet. All Gap stores and McDonald’s and what the hell? We can see that anywhere.



From Manchester, we ended up in downtown Toronto, in Canada, working for one of the biggest banks in the country. And man, we hated those jobs. They sucked. When the opportunity came up to work for an international corporation’s offices in China, we applied and we both got jobs. We married the day before we left for China, and it was really a great year. We lived just outside Shanghai in a city of 5 million called Ningbo. It was probably the best year of my life!

Through all this, Mr. JB kinda, sorta knew I was a country girl at heart, but it was easy to just ignore that. When Mr. JB wanted even more training, we went to Melbourne in Australia and lived there for a year. Another huge city, another country, another adventure.

country girl

Through it all, I remained a small town girl, not necessarily awed by the big city, but never comfortable in it. I don’t like noise and traffic and horns and people and the constant rush rush rush always needing to be somewhere else. My heart never lived in the city. In Melbourne, they have these wonderful things called “urban forests”, which are little chunks of forest strewn all over the city. It’s like a park, but just completely natural. There might be a little bridge over a pond, but it is otherwise just indigenous woodland, and by the time we landed in Melbourne, we had PinkyPinkyPie and I spend most days just wandering around the little forest with her, throwing rocks off the bridge and looking to see what was under all the leaves.

urban forest

Answer: Spiders! Aaaieeee! Gah! Still freaks me out.


Last night, it became startlingly clear that Mr. JB and I really have different visions for our future. He would love to live on the 113th floor of a glass and steel highrise in downtown Tokyo, while I have secretly been hoping to raise our children in a town so small you can see across it and you know the name of every single person who lives there. There are good reasons to raise children, especially daughters, in a small town.


Obviously, we are going to have to find some sort of compromise. Neither one of us is going to get everything we want, and that’s life, I suppose.

So a lot of long discussions are about to be happening at Chez JB. I can’t ask Mr. JB to live a life he really doesn’t like very much, and he can’t ask me to do that either. We’re at a crossroads, but the important thing is that as long as we value one another’s happiness, we will find a solution.

A small town within driving distance of a big city? A house in a city near a big park? Who knows?

country road

Something will turn up. It’s always interesting to have those flashes of insight when you realize that two people can be so very different, and still work together. It’s all about compromise. And realizing that sometimes you have to choose: tits OR champagne. Not both.


Lots of love,


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