Monday, August 10, 2009

The Things We Do For Love


A   few short days ago, I was sitting outside on the deck of my brother's home in America's lovely Pacific Northwest enjoying the cool summer breeze caressing my face. His home has a beautiful view of the shimmering blue waters of Colvos Passage and beyond that sits the lush tree-covered Vashon Island. Several sailboats glided aimlessly before me, across the sparkling expanse of water under the warming sun and the puffy-fluffy clouds. A bald eagle was surveying the landscape from his position on a branch up in a nearby tree, frequenting one of his favorite perches. Flowers in every color of the rainbow seemingly smiled at me from the garden. A family of raccoons, the mother with her four babies, plodded along near the bushes on the side of the grassy plain in the backyard, while two of the house cats intently watched their every move not far from me on the deck. A couple of deer appeared and attempted to nibble off the rosebuds from my sister-in-law's bushes, but she had outsmarted them with a special netting deterrent. Once they realized there were no tasty rosebuds to be devoured, they made their way through the bushes and out of sight. Colorful birds of yellows, blues and reds visited the seed-filled bird feeder situated off to the side of the deck. It was a beautiful, peaceful and perfect day.


As I was digesting all the beauty and tranquility of the nature around me, I couldn't help but think that in a couple of days I would be leaving this little piece of heaven on earth to go back to a place that feels like an oppressive oven and where I have to dress almost completely covered in black from head to toe. To a country where I cannot drive and don't have the freedom to come and go as I please. Where I have no place to enjoy the outdoors because of our living situation and because it's too hot anyway. Into an environment of massive cement buildings, and dust, and pollution. Where my life is boring more often than not, and the restrictions placed on me, as a woman, limit my creativity and my quality of life. Far away from my own family who have repeatedly told me that I am welcome back with them whenever I want. Where my son cannot enjoy himself in doing normal American things like camping, or going to concerts or the movies, and innocently goofing off with the opposite gender.

I had to think to myself that I must be crazy to be leaving this paradise to return to a male dominated and strictly religious society like Saudi Arabia. I just knew I needed to go back though, back to my husband, the love of my life for the last thirty-two years. He warmly greeted us at the airport with a smile on his face that told me how much he had missed my son and me in our absence. We came home to an apartment that was spic and span - and we have no maid like most families here do. A huge basket full of many of my favorite things - like chocolates, perfumes, bubble bath, and cashews - awaited me. And when I told him I wanted to try to lose some weight for my upcoming high school reunion, he said, "No, don't. I like you just the way you are." These are little things, I know, but it's the little things that mean a lot.

Am I miserable living in this desert kingdom? No. Is Saudi Arabia my first choice of where I want to live in this world? No. But for now, this is where I belong, beside my husband, the man I have loved for more than thirty years. The man who stole my heart so many years ago with his goodness and kindness and generosity. Ah, yes, the things we do for love.

60 comments:

  1. Hi Susie
    You and Adnan are the most special of couples......to have the love of your life for 32 years is truly a blessing and more than most people ever get. People and relationships are more important than places or things. I sure admire the love and respect that you two have for one another. Thanks for sharing what you do.
    XOXOX
    Janna

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  2. Hi Susie--it is wonderful that you both still love and appreciate each other so much. I hope as it comes up to your 2nd full year in Saudi, that you find a more fulfilling life there for you, outside your roles as wife and mother. 2 years is pretty standard transition time, and sometimes people don't really even believe they will actually stay, and so don't put down the kind of roots they might otherwise. Here's hoping the next 2 are more fulfilling and less frustrating!

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  3. I was thinking similar thoughts as I surveyed the balmy, fir-tree covered high-altitude north country of Arizona during a campout over the weekend -- the next day I would be returning to 105-degree Phoenix temperatures and in a month I'll be in Riyadh. You are fortunate in that you were returning to devoted family. It's a touching account you gave.

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  4. Oh Susie, I can so relate to this post! My bf is also in Saudi right now and while it wouldn't be my first choice of places to live, I would be there in a heartbeat if it meant we could be together.

    We do crazy things for love this is true, but love is worth it! Thanks Susie for reminding me how in love I am with my Jordanian prince! :)

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  5. Cheers, Susie. Beautifully written.

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  6. You must be in love still to be drawn back to the desert heat in black after the lush cool green of the NW. Yet it won't be long before you experience the moisture again.

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  7. Thank you for opening your heart and sharing with us.

    Welcome back, Susie.

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  8. I'm not a romantic - probably a shock, I know lol but my first question is what was your husband willing to give up when you lived in your homeland? What sacrifice was he willing to make? I doubt he sees those years as being all that bad, right? Especially in comparison to your life now, here, in Saudi.

    My situation is a lot different than yours in many ways, the biggest being that I enjoy Saudi, am working and my husband and I re-evaluate our decision to stay here together on a regular basis.

    Not sure it's an option for you, but a lot of women here split their time between here and there, nurturing their husbands and themselves.

    Just a thought.

    Hang in there, Susie! As always, let me know if I can help!

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  9. I so enjoy your blog - it gives me (living in Dubai) an insight into a different lifestyle. I wish you would tweet as well. I am sure it would be interesting comments and sound bites. If you do - let me know. My twitter ID is mita56

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  10. the photos of the racoons are so cute.
    .....
    the way you expressed your love for your husband was beautifull!
    wishing you years and years of happiness in love!

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  11. I understand your decision. If he truly is the love of your life then it is worth it to give up some things to be together - it might not be ideal, but it is worth it. I think it is sweet that he tells you he likes you just the way you are. Most women - anywhere in the world - are not so lucky as to be able to feel comfortable and attractive to their man still after so many years and gaining a few pounds or getting older. As long as your husband respects you and your individuality and doesn't try to make you conform to the norm there in thought and deed (I know in dress you have no choice there) then he is worth hanging on to. God bless you and your Family.

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  12. I can understand how hard it would be to leave all that behind and return to Saudi (not sure I could do it) so I am glad for your sake that your husband makes the sacrifice worthwhile.

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  13. Your post brought tears to my eyes. True love really does transcend cultures, language.

    I take back what I said about re-negotiating the marriage contract:)

    Glad to hear you-re all home safe and sound!

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  14. It's wonderful to see that I'm not alone in the choice to leave my homeland for the love of my husband. He lived in the US with me for 7 years without his family and now we've been in Egypt without my family for nearly 8.
    Of course now we're both ready to head back to Texas, Insha Allah.

    Your words are very eloquent...almost "chick-flick" quality! I loved it.

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  15. Thanks to One and All for Your Comments - much appreciated!

    To SGIME - I've asked my husband about what he gave up or sacrificed to spend 30 yrs in the states - he didn't travel back home much at all during all those years (maybe 5 trips or so), so even though he didn't complain about missing his family, I'm sure he did. His answer to me was that he missed the adan calling for the prayers 5 times every day. My argument to him is that he was there of his own free volition and nobody pressured him into being there. I'm working on a plan to be able to spend more time out of KSA than I have been - hopefully it will work out... Thanks for your concern!

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  16. Cheers, Susie.
    Jessie

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  17. As much as I love my husband of 33 years, I don’t know that I would be willing to endure the loss of freedom that living in KSA entails. You mention the things that your son is missing, such as camping, movies, hanging out and having innocent fun with the opposite gender. How does he feel about the constraints of life in Saudi Arabia during his teenage years?

    I sincerely mean no disrespect, but it seems that you have given up so much more to live in your husband’s country than he did while living in America. I wish you all the best, and send you prayers that your plans will allow you and your husband to enjoy the best of both worlds.

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  18. Susie: It is wonderful that you got to visit thw Pacific NW and wxperience life in the USA. Thanks for sharing your trip.

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  19. My dearest Susie;

    I read each one of your blogs faithfully every time you post one. Your most recent blog pulled at my heartstrings, and made me think about ‘our generation’ and how we seem to view love a bit differently from others.

    Many of our age viewed the world – Viet Nam, burn the bra, Charlie Manson, make love not war, free drugs, free sex and all – and became so cynical that they closed their hearts and minds to the love and beauty that still surrounded them despite the ugliness in the world. Others of us chose a different path. We recognized that the world contained a lot that was hateful and despicable, but we chose to embrace the beauty, love and ‘rightness’ of so much that still existed. We continued to view the world with the wonder of a child, embracing each new ‘happening’ and adventure as they presented themselves.

    Many of us experienced anguish and loss along the paths of our lives, yet we still kept our hearts and minds open, understanding that despite the pain, Life still had much to offer. As our friends and family aged, many of them acquired a dour, sour view of the world. Some of us continued to believe that all would be well, as long as we allowed love to rule our hearts and guide our steps. We were often criticized for ‘going through Life wearing rose-colored glasses’, for not being ‘realistic’, and all too often, for behaving ‘stupidly’.

    Perhaps we ARE guilty of not relinquishing our rosey glasses, but I think both you and I still believe that the world is a wonderful place. Both of us have been blessed with being extremely, exceptionally loved. One of us still carries that love in her heart and continues to yearn for its return with the full realization that this will probably never happen, and the other is blessed to still have the ‘love of her life’ in her life. We’ve both followed our loves through some very tough times, to some very strange places, and both have probably asked ourselves the same question: “Am I doing the right thing?” Yes, there have been times when the answer has seemed to come back with a very loud “NO!”, but the mere thought of being without our love has convinced us that we’re exactly where we’re supposed to be and NEED to be.

    I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you to live in such a strange, different culture. Especially considering what a free spirit you are. The cultural and religious constraints must, at times, seem to be almost more than you can or want to deal with. But please don’t ever question how much Adnan loves you and wants you by his side. Despite what some of the rest of your family might think, I believe that you’re where you should be, beside someone who still loves and adores you. When times get tough – when it’s too hot, when the differences seem to be overwhelming, when you’re bored almost to tears – please look at Adnan and remember all of the days that you’ve shared filled with love.

    Keep the rose-colored glasses, try as best you can to embrace the differences in the culture, look at your husband and son and know that they are the two most important people in your life. When it gets to be too much, plan a trip back to the States for a ‘fix’ that allows you to return to Saudi with the wonderment and excitement that you experienced the first few months you were there. Continue sharing your unique views through your blogs – there are many like me that live our lives vicariously through your eyes! You’ve always been very creative and artistic – use this time to allow that art and creativity to blossom. If you need supplies for this, let me know and I’ll send them to you.

    This has probably seemed like a very strange response to your blog! I just want you to remember how loved and blessed you are!

    With my love,
    "V"

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  20. Ahhh i love love and all we do for that reason is always worthy. Sacrifice with love is more easy to be accepted.

    Nice you both are still in love, nice? nooo, GREAT! So congratulations!

    Hope your plann to spend more time outside works!

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  21. I love your blog and your honest perspective! It looks like I might be your neighbor. We might be heading to Kuwait City. One question for you, do I need to cover myself in Kuwait City? I want to be respectful. Thanks for stopping by my blog! Blessings to you~

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  22. hi susie!

    i've been reading ur blog for months now, and this is the first time to leave a comment, i would like to congratulate u for this blog, im sure a lot of people out there enjoying reading, smiling at the same time, and also for weblog awards, u r a very good writer! im just wondering, what if ur in riyadh? lol

    take care and have a safe trip back here in the kingdom!

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  23. Susie, this is such a special post you have shared with us today. I am sure this has been a hard transition for you and particularly your son. It would be a hard age for your son to manage under such restrictions. I am so glad to hear how much your husband appreciates you and greeted you back home. Dave of Costa Rica Daily Photo and Sharon of Phoenix Daily Photo all enjoyed meeting with you when you were here in the Phoenix area. It is great to meet with fellow bloggers. I have posted the solar eclipse photos on my site so you will enjoy them when you have time. Dave and I also started a travel photo site at www.vivalavoyage.com and started with photos from Petra, Jordan and India. We are glad you back and look forward to communicating. Can you log me back in on your Susie of Arabia site as it won't let me in for now. I hope I have not been censored out, but I am sure it is just some technological glitch. TTYL

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  24. To "V" - Thanks for taking the time to really examine my actions and feelings - you get it!

    To Crystal - Thanks! I think in Kuwait, as far as I know, modest Western attire is appropriate, or you also have the option of covering up. Good luck to you as you embark on this new phase of your family's life!

    Hi Bob - Thank you so much - and for the record, I am definitely in Jeddah.

    Hi Julie - I truly enjoyed meeting you and Dave and Sharon while I was in Phoenix. Thanks for letting me know about the travel website you started. And try again on my photoblog - there shouldn't be a problem getting on.

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  25. Hi I visited your blog accidently and would like to comment that it is a great way of expressing yourself about my country Saudi Arabia. You see I lived in the states for 7 years and even thought it was beautiful I couldnt enjoy it or feel happy there because it just wasnt home! and you are absolutely right, the things women do for love! I went there to support my husbands dream of a better degree.. Anyways I hope you enjoy your stay and good luck in your life.. Sometimes it is hard to accomedate and that is why you shouldnt.. just try to enjoy life..

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  26. I WOULD HAVE DONE THE SAME, SUSIE. LOVE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN WHERE YOU LIVE.

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  27. Susie,
    You are truly one of a kind! You and your husband are a great example of “true love”. You sacrifice so much for him and he does too by allowing you visits to your family and friends, trusting that you will return with his son. This kind of love is what everyone looks for in life but is never found for many.

    Everyone tries to lose weight with an upcoming reunion nearing. I tried by failed and it still all turned out great- fat or no fat!!! All that counts is that you will be able to see and visit with old friends and have a great time!

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  28. Hi Susie,
    I am glad that you enjoyed your time back in the United States. I am sure all of your family was glad to see you and Adam. I truly admire the strength of your love for Adnan! He is very fortunate!
    Love, Linda

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  29. Thank you for sharing a little of your life, Susie. If you are following your heart then I believe you are doing living the life you ought to live.

    No one's life is perfect no matter where he or she lives. It's wonderful that you visited your relatives in the American Northwest for awhile then returned to find out how much your husband missed you.

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  30. Take Care My Friend, hope to see you next time you come to Arizona. So it sounds like Adam went back also. It was great spending some time with you this time. Keep in touch.Love, Pam

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  31. I keep thinking of the rose water. I understand, I really do Susie. If you need anything from home just let me know and I will mail it to you.

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  32. Dear Susie,
    I have been following your blog for a few months now and this post i can relate so well but unlike you, i still have a long way to go and learn for im married for only 5 years and have small children. I agree 100 percent with "V." We all share the same sentiments and thoughts in love and life.
    Wishing to connect with women of same situation (like you, i am or was a "free spirit" too)

    Pinky

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  33. Dear Susie,

    Like the rest of the posts here, I would like to wish you well as you settle back into life with your husband and his family. Great to know you've made it back safely.

    Your latest blog is beautifully written and so full of warmth. Yes, it is the small things that make you want to make a home with the one you love - the little lovely acts of consideration, that when considered together are really great. They make every-day banal times feel special.

    All the best from Australia!

    Kristina

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  34. to all of Susie's Arizona friends, I would love to get in touch with you before I head over to Riyadh on Sept. 9, to get your advice and insights on living in S.A.

    you can reach me at jveeds on AOL if you care to communicate directly or simply visit my Veeds of Arabia blog: http://jveeds.blogspot.com/

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  35. No use to think what you don't have,think what you have got while so many people live in poverty.Give thanks to Allah ,you can eat everyday ,you don't suffer bombings (specially those intelligent bombs americans throw in Afganistan and Pakistan),you have your husband and you can travel your homeland on summer holidays.

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  36. I agree that we do some of the most trying things for love...but in my case it was for my children...not for the husband.

    I wish I can find someone same as you have Susie...we all need a true life partner in our lives.

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  37. Coolred--is that you masquerading as Wide again? LOL :)

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  38. A very nice post and one that I hope gets a lot of reader. I can certainly sympathize with why you put up with the difficulties of a cross cultural existence in order to support what is good in your life.

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  39. Hi Susie, I've been reading your blog for sometime and always enjoy it. I started my own blog(beirutdriveby.blogspot.com) just days ago, please take a look when you get a chance. If you need a few days break, I'm in Beirut, mi casa, su casa.

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  40. True grit for love and your husband knows it! All the very best!

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  41. Very well written...Beautiful shots too..Thanks..Unseen Rajasthan

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  42. Your blog is most fascinating.. and your love to your husband is inspiring... I always have a smile on my face when reading your blog.. :) Thanks and God bless you and your family

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  43. Susie, I've been following your blog for months now , as an outsider I think you have a wonderful life.

    You live alongside husband and son who love you deeply that where you live don't seem matter anymore. There's an additional bonus - you have privilege to visit your family in States and take a break from the 'KSA life'. I know many women who married foreigners and have no opportunity to visit their homeland ever again - due to financial reasons or others reasons...

    All the best and look forward to your next posting!!!

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  44. I feel for you dearie.

    Sometimes the most important things in life are not always about making yourself happy.

    Hang in there! All the best!

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  45. Wow, wow, wow! Thanks for your choice to be positive . Thanks for taking pictures of everything beautiful or interesting in your new country and posting them for us. And thanks for this blog that tells your story.

    Excuse me now while I try to live up to your example by turning off my computer and going to read a book or do some exercises.

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  46. Susie, I still cannot get through to your Susie of Arabia website. I will keep trying. it says you must do something to let me in as an invited reader. thanks

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  47. How romantic! I'm so inspired by your love.

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  48. Hi Susie!
    Just discovered your blog yesterday and I can't stop reading it! I also really appreciate your pictures. Your latest post is especially inspiring.
    I met my boyfriend while we were undergrads at the same university. We graduated this summer and he has moved back to Jeddah:( Maybe someday in the future it can work out...
    I have been looking for several blogs to read to learn more about KSA, especially from the perspective of an American woman. Each one seems to lead me to another!
    Thanks

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  49. Susie:
    Your posts make me so happy to be in a world where even if we are not satisfied with our surroundings, we have the opportunity to change them. Women may still hit the glass ceiling, or be suppressed, oppressed and prejudiced against in many ways all over the world, but it's better now than it has been in many places. Your post reminds me to be thankful that I have a voice where I live- I was able to choose who I married, I am able to worship or not worship, I am able to be educated, I can drive, I have a job, and I am allowed to vote. These are all things which even 100 years ago were not necessarily in place for women in Canada- even if you could work, there was definitely the "womens roles" and marrying for love was still quite impractical, and often had racial or socioeconomic overtones. Your recognition of the choices you make now, of the things that you willingly forfeit your right to for the time being points out just how lucky I am, and how lucky you are to have someone awesome enough to merit you making that choice. The fact that all the while you are pointing out the inadequacy of the system you now live in just shows that youre not blinded by love, just making a hard choice in support of it. Thank you for the humbling example of love, and for the reality check that I live a very lucky life.

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  50. Hi!
    I like your blog because it has smart posts and nice images.I'd like you to follow me, then I'll follow you to.I'm waiting your visit.
    http://amigadamoda.blogspot.com

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  51. Hi Susie!!!! Oh, I miss you! It was nothing less than amazing to meet you, hug you, toast with you and share some precious time with you....I will NEVER forget the first time I met you - at Nando's! What a sight you all were to behold!! : )) I asked Cheela frequently how your trip here in the US was going, how you were. I am grateful that you were able to come visit so many people who love you and spend time with family and friends. Such comfort to know you made it back home safe and sound with your son, too. Your love for your husband is truly inspiring and such a gift - enjoy it all and know that you always have places in our hearts and homes half-way around the world! Love you, dear lady - you are a blessing to my life! xoxo
    Carol

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  52. That's great that you two have been together so long.

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  53. Wow , well sister i get it, i sometimes forget how i fell in love at first sight with my Saudi man, and we have had more downs than ups lol.Thanks for reminding me that i do still love him .Life and Love our a sacrifice worth fighting for -Sara

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  54. Wow Susie! What a wonderful post! I would have to say that the love of many a couple would not survive a move to a country with such differences. This is truly testamount to the love you share with your hubby...may we all be able to find this kind of love :) Glad you had a refreshing trip back to the States for a bit!

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  55. Susie,

    Is there perhaps room for a compromise here? Three seasons in Saudi and summers in Seatle? A small condo or cabin somewhere near your brother, or maybe an efficiency above his garage?

    Washington would love to have a share of you.

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  56. I second all the "loving compromise" positions. I know 3 couples who spend "trimesters" in 3
    countries, at least 2 of them in the same country at the same time.
    The other common expat alternative is the "all vacations outside the country" one, ie all summer school breaks, all other mid-year breaks when there are no concrete obligations "in country".

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  57. That was so sweet of your husband!

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  58. I love my boyfriend, I have known and been friends with him for 10+ years. We have dated for almost 4 of those, I am currently immigrating half way around the world from him to a totally new culture, climate and new way of life.
    Even with that though, I could not do what you are doing for any man. I struggle sometimes with the culture clash here, I can't begin to imagine what you face. In Canada I am equal and free in the face of the law, my personal freedom is my own choice as is what I wear, say, whom I speak to.
    You are the most brave person I know Susie, I hope your husband realises what a marvel you are.

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  59. Susie - I admire you for the kind of love you are capable of - I wish I could be like that; I simply am not capable of so much love.

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  60. Beautiful. You may sacrifice more than more. I'm glad it's so worth it. My husband is Prince Charming, but I don't think I sacrifice much at all to be his wife.

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