Loving via SkypePosted: November 28, 2012
After my second divorce, I took a break from relationships to decide what I wanted in a future partner.
With two young kids, there was no time for dating. My kids needed me, and I needed myself. So, I composed a list containing everything I wanted in a man. My list had 45 bullet points, (including ‘doesn’t text while we’re together’, to ‘not homophobic’, to ‘likes sex’) that I required as I healed post-divorce
The man who embodied my list manifested in my life three years later – though that was still before I expected him.
Last spring, I received a brief message on Facebook from a stranger. I sent him a reply, telling him I thought he was very handsome. This resulted in a flurry of messages between us. I looked through his pictures and posts and liked what I saw. Within four days, I had purchased a web camera for my computer.
We Skyped for eight hours straight the first time, with bathroom breaks. We began having daily, marathon conversations about all aspects of our lives.
He possessed every single attribute on my list. The catch? He lived in Norway with his kids.
Many of my friends thought I was crazy. My ex was unsympathetic to our plight. “It’s not my fault you chose a guy in Norway. Why don’t you find someone here in town?”
It wasn’t that simple. I had never found what I was looking for in anyone. I had found shades of better, but that wasn’t what I wanted. I didn’t want to settle. In fact, I had been perfectly content to give up on relationships until my kids were older.
But, Anders embodied all the things I had never thought I could find in one person. He was kind and sexy, masculine and a feminist. Within three days, we decided we wanted to be “in a relationship”. Shortly thereafter, we decided to marry.
When we met in person three months later, there was a slight awkwardness at the airport. His flight was late. I got on the phone with a girlfriend and chatted nervously. I had bought a dress to wear, but hadn’t bothered to try on first in my excitement. The hemline was shorter than anything I’d worn since college. To top it off, I was wearing wedge sandals with a 5-inch heel. I looked ridiculous; a woman nearing 40, dressed like a 15-year-old girl.
Every time a bald-headed man walked out of customs, I scrutinized him to see if it was Anders. Once I saw him, though, there was no mistake. His smile caught my gaze and I walked towards him. There was some awkwardness in our hug. I was nearly as tall as him with the heels on, and we didn’t align quite right.
We decided to take the long way home, which I was grateful for. We were chatting, but I felt nervous and sweaty. Then he reached for my hand, and everything felt right.
For the last year, we have taken turns visiting each other, with Skype supplementing our visits. We still talk for hours everyday. While I wish I had the luxury of living with him in person, this is the best relationship I have ever been in.
For a long time, I was just floating on the surface of my life. As I’ve gotten older, I have started to live more intentionally. For the first time, I am really living my ideals and pursuing my passions.
Part of the beauty of living apart is that Anders and I are truly present when we are together. However, I miss him desperately when he leaves. The first days are always the hardest. It’s difficult to describe the longing I feel. It is both the wistfulness of a young girl in love and the regret of an older woman who continuously kicks herself for her previous life choices.
Let me be clear: I adore my children and there were no mistakes made as far as they are concerned. But my choice in my previous mate was awful. Once you have children, there are things you can’t undo. When you are dealing with an addict who has relapsed more times than you care to count, you always have to be on guard. You lose your lightheartedness about life. You can’t plan ahead. When you do make plans, they are often cancelled at the last minute. When you have dreams you want to pursue, they are subject to being the sole caregiver for your children.
So while I am in this great new relationship feeling better than I ever have before, I still have residue. I still have an ex who comes and takes all the outdoor furniture while I am out, or starts yelling at me in front of my new fiancé. In those moments, all I want to do is scream back – but I also don’t want to seem like a crazy person to Anders.
With most men, I’d have to hide or downplay these realities of my life, because many men can’t take it all in.
But, I’ve realized, this is true intimacy. I have finally exposed all aspects of my life to someone -and he still loves me without the slightest hesitation.
Trista Hendren is a certified coach with Imagine a Woman International and author of The Girl God. She lives between Portland, Oregon with her children and Bergen, Norway with her husband Anders. You can read more about her book at www.thegirlgod.com