One of the things I know to be true, because it’s proven itself to me time and time again, is the value of my relationship with Ligia (my wife). I knew it to be true as soon as I met her. My heart told me so, in pretty clear terms, that if I didn’t connect with her, if I didn’t make it work with her long-term, it would be something I would regret for the rest of my life. The heart will do that — talk to you at crucial times — but you have to listen. You have to be in a state of mind where you’re looking for guidance. Both my wife and I were in that state of raised awareness, so to speak, when we met, and we both felt that we were made for each other, even if we hadn’t yet gotten to know each other.

I told you that in order to set the scene. Fast forward 14 years and my wife and I are happily married. More than that, we know we can trust each other implicitly. We can rely on each other implicitly. We think alike. We share common goals and visions for our life together. We share everything with each other: what we’re thinking, feeling, planning on doing, finances, expenses, etc. We work together. We form the perfect team and it’s this concerted effort, this uniting of two beings, that multiplies the effect of our united actions, so that it’s not just x2, it’s more like x3 or x4. I guess one word for it would be synergy. A year or so ago, we were told by a Russian shaman that we were true soulmates, which is apparently something quite rare in the world. We didn’t seek this piece of knowledge, it came out serendipitously as we were inquiring about something else.

I believe our relationship grew to be so for two reasons: (1) we both wanted it to be this way and we made concerted, persistent efforts over time to get it to this point (we’re aware that this is an ongoing project) and (2) we shared a lot of common ground from the start. You know the old saying, “opposites attract”… well, long-term that’s not really true. You need a lot of common ground so that you stay together over time, otherwise the relationship and the bond between you will get pulled in different directions. Instead of naturally pulling together, you’ll waste a lot of effort and time just trying to stay together and you won’t be able to accomplish the goals you want to achieve as a couple, or even the goals you want to achieve as a person.

Now don’t take my words as golden rules. I’m not trying to pose as an expert here. I’m talking strictly from my own experience and as I stated here, my experience with women is limited and before I met my wife, it was mostly painful. This is what works for my relationship with Ligia. Your experience may vary. With that in mind, here’s a video I made on this very subject. I spoke from my heart and I hope it helps you.


A long commute may push you toward divorce

I’ve been a proponent for telecommuting for years, and I’m glad to see more proof — such as this article, which presents research from Sweden, where they’ve found that long commutes (around 45 minutes) make you 40% more likely to divorce, and also re-inforce gender-based stereotypes, where the man will usually have the better job and do the long commutes, while the woman is forced to take a lower-paying job closer to home.

According to the study, 11 percent of Swedes have a journey to work that consists of a 45-minute commute or longer. Many commuters have small children and are in a relationship. Most are men.

The risk of divorce goes up by 40 percent for commuters and the risk is the highest in the first few years of commuting.

And more Swedes are travelling farther distances to work.

“The trend is definitely pointing upward. Both the journey to work and the working hours are getting longer, “ Sandow told The Local.

The study was based on statistical data from two million Swedish households between 1995 and 2000.

This article in The Economist echoes the research, and offers additional arguments:

Ms Lowrey ends up running through the whole litany of traditional commuter complaints—that it makes us fat, stresses us out, makes us feel lonely, and literally causes pain in the neck—and finds research to prove that the moaners are, more often than not, right. “People who say, ‘My commute is killing me!’ are not exaggerators,” she concludes: “They are realists.”

This of course is in addition to the arguments I’ve already put forth in the past, such as in this article offering reasons for telecommuting, or this article about reducing waste in business operations.


Two sets of identical twins get married at same ceremony

Two twin brothers and two twin sisters got married to each other, together, in the town of Pechora, in northern Russia. Not something you see every day.

Two sets of Russian twins marry

[Article at Telegraph; via Look at This]


You can do better

A couple of weekends ago, I was walking on the quay near the Casino in the city of Constanta. There was this girl sitting on one of the benches with a guy, supposedly her boyfriend. Her curly hair reminded me of my wife, so I watched them for a bit, to see how they fit together as a couple. I was disappointed.

The girl seemed nice, but the guy, a classic douchebag if I’ve ever seen one, kept forcing her to kiss him, pulling her toward him, and fondling her. She tried to resist, to keep a little distance and admire the view (it was a beautiful spring day) but all this douchebag wanted to do was to feel her up. Finally she gave in and let him have his way. That’s when I turned away, disgusted.

There are so many girls who simply give in. They’re pressured into relationships they don’t really want to have, into sexual acts they don’t really want to perform, into marriages where they’re not happy, and the list goes on, ad nauseam. They think a douchebag is all they’re entitled to in their lives. They think they’ve got to put out in order to get the relationship started and keep it going. They think abuse is normal.

None of that is normal. You can do better! Have a little self- respect. You will get the right guy, and he’ll be nice to you. You just have to be pickier, and have a little patience.

Have a look at my wife. It goes without saying that I think she’s hot. She could have had plenty of guys. But when she dated, before we met, she demanded respect from all those guys, didn’t fool around, and kept herself for her husband. You know what? Instead of being scorned for not putting out, she was respected all the more for her decision.


So really, it all comes down to how much self-respect you have for yourself, and what you choose to do with your life. If you’re not going to respect yourself, no one else will. Don’t put out. Don’t be like the girls in this other post. Wait for the right guy, or even more, look for the right guy. Don’t give up along the way. Don’t let every stranger that enters your life have dessert before they get through the main course. Put them through plenty of tests before they get to the goodies. Don’t cheapen yourself. Each and every one of us has a God-given capability to be more than we think we could be. I say reach for the sky, and see what happens.


It's Valentine's Day

Look what my sweetheart gave me for Valentine’s Day. It’s a gingerbread heart with the words “I love you” written on it, in Romanian.

Te iubesc

This means more to me than any expensive gift. I like practicality. I like that I can eat this gift, and in the act of consuming it, I’m showing her that I love her gift. On the plus side, it also won’t sit around afterward on a shelf, gathering dust, fulfilling no practical purpose than that of decorum.

I think that’s what Valentine’s Day ought to be about. Not necessarily about gifts one can eat, because we should all watch our waistlines, but about gifts that show the other person that they’re loved — small gestures that mean a great deal.

Interestingly enough, those sorts of gifts never really cost much. As a matter of fact, showing your loved one that you still care can be a simple as holding her hand, or hugging her more often, or kissing her. How about treating her nicely, all the time? That doesn’t cost any money, but it does cost you some pride if you need to swallow some harsh words instead of speaking them.

Here’s a photo of us in Predeal, a winter destination for Romanians. It’s nestled in the Carpathian Mountains, and it’s the easy access to skiing and other winter sports that draws people there. We visited it recently. We are at the top of one of the peaks, at the end of the telechair ride, when we took this photo. I sat the camera on a ledge, which is still visible in the lower left corner, and put it in self-timer mode, then stepped back to join my wife.



Questions to ask yourselves before you marry

A few days ago, I ran across an article from the NYT that presented 15 questions couples should ask themselves before they get married. The number’s not important, but the questions are. Thankfully Ligia and I discussed most of these questions, and others, before we tied the knot, but I hear many couples forgo this step, then wonder who they’ve married after it’s too late. Have a look at question 9. I would rank that higher. It’s really important that both husband and wife have the same religious beliefs. So many people have problems with this. Either their marriage or their religious beliefs fall apart because of opposing views or simply indifference to what each other believe. However high you rank point number 9 in your relationship, I think it’s really important that you have a look at this list if marriage is next on your “to do” list.


People's obsession with new things

There I was, at a stop sign, when a truck carrying new cars passed by me, and it hit me (an idea, that is)! Not only did those cars have plastic foil on the body of the cars, but they had it on the wheels as well! You know, you’ve seen the white plastic wrap that new cars have on them – it’s there to protect them from scratches during transport. Now, they’ve got plastic wrap on the alloy wheels as well. I guess nitpicky people complained that wheels on new cars had scratches, and didn’t want to buy them anymore…

The point is, people everywhere are obsessed with things being brand new when they get them. They won’t even buy a toaster if the box has been opened. Forget buying a cereal box if it’s open. Jars of jam and bottles of milk even have warnings on them, that say we shouldn’t get them or consume them if the seal’s been broken.

Overall, our incessant desire for new, fresh, unopened products is good. It’s led to cleaner, more hygienic development standards in the food industry and as applicable, in all other industries. But I wonder, why don’t we all share that same desire for something new, fresh and unopened when it comes to the most important thing in our lives – our spouses? We blissfully accept used goods there, don’t we? Do we even question our spouses or sexual partners about their past history? Most people don’t. While they wouldn’t think twice about drinking an opened bottle of milk, they’ll gladly swap bodily fluids and subject themselves to diseases of all kinds, all for the sake a few frenzied, passing seconds.

Shouldn’t we have better standards than this? Shouldn’t we demand, of ourselves and of others (all of us), that we present ourselves at our (first) marriages as “fresh and unopened” as possible? Isn’t that the perfect gift we could give our spouses? After all, we’re not talking about a toaster or a VCR, that we’ll use for a few years then throw away, we’re talking about a lifetime of precious togetherness. Shouldn’t we come to the table with all our assets intact, not with some of them labeled “used goods” or “biological hazard”?

We’re so concerned about a scratch on a car, but we tend to forget about psychological scars and traumatic experiences that leave lasting marks on the minds of those who bear them. A shiny wheel is nowadays more important than a shiny, beautiful life, and being able to peel off the plastic wrap from a new car carries more bragging rights than being able to say you kept yourself whole for your marriage.