Wanderlust: Expat Life & Style in Thailand The Relationships Issue - Page 13

been taught not to interrupt their parents . It means Mandy and Chad will “ go on dates or close the door for alone time ,” and their kids know to expect this , too .
Another part of the secret : seizing opportunity . What the couple deems quality time together runs the gamut from a night on the town to snuggling up to watch a movie at home . Even running errands offers an excuse to connect .
“ Maybe it ’ s grabbing a Starbucks together in the morning before our day gets started ,” says Mandy , “ or maybe it ’ s walking to Villa hand-inhand late at night to get diapers and ice cream . But we both look for those moments we can snatch to be alone with each other .”
Here in Bangkok , the couple enjoys going out for dinner or a foot massage . Though now , with baby Eden just shy of one year , they mostly opt to create dates at home : “ We ’ ll feed the kids early and then sequester them upstairs ,” Mandy says . “ I ’ m lucky that Chad is a fantastic cook . He ’ ll come home with a bottle of wine and work his magic in the kitchen . We ’ ll light a candle and call it a date .”
According to the Smiths , the biggest challenge for married couples in today ’ s world is giving enough time to each other : “ Giving time to one another that is as focused as when you were dating is difficult for married couples . But it ’ s something Mandy and I try to do . … Without any distractions , we share our hearts .”
It sounds like they ’ ve got it all figured out , but Mandy and Chad freely acknowledge that they ’ ve worked hard to get where they are in their marriage — and it ’ s work that will never end . They ’ ve had a number of challenges to handle , from different personalities to differing interests and even , to some extent , differing world views .
When they fight — and fight they do — the Smiths don ’ t necessarily keep their arguing away from the kids .
“ We are open about the struggles we are having ,” Chad says . “ But if we argue in front of them , they also see us make up in front of them . They ’ ve seen our commitment to each other in that process .”
The effort to keep their marriage at the forefront is , they say , worth it . They believe that the greatest gift children can receive is “ the stability of a home in which the parents love each other .”
“ We are both firmly committed to building a life together now , rather than waiting until the kids are grown when we have ‘ the time ’ to invest in the relationship ,” Mandy says . “ By then it ’ s too late .”
And as the Smith children grow up , it ’ s become evident that Mandy and Chad ’ s relationship resonates for them . The children have told their parents about the security they feel in knowing their parents are each other ’ s best friend .
So we should bear in mind that canoodling over candlelight is only one way to court your husband or wife . A street-side stop for phad Thai can be fun and cheap . Chatting on the sofa works just fine . And , according to Mr . and Mrs . Smith , so does stepping out for ice cream and diapers . What the date entails or costs isn ’ t the point . Time together — that ’ s what matters .
And that thing about the big family — the big choice the Smiths made as the years passed ? They think it was a good one .
“ This nomadic lifestyle means that the kids ’ friendships with one another are sometimes the only stability they have ,” Mandy says . “ Regardless of transitions , moves , new cultures and adjustments , they ’ re always going to have their brothers and sisters .”