Welcome to Marry Land

Most couples make it out on a date night once in a while. For many couples we know with kids, date night is an essential ingredient to remaining connected, and happily married.

For us, my husband and I, date night comes but once a year; our anniversary. It’s enough of an excuse to ring in a willing family member to take the kids. We savour our together time without kids, melting into each other’s company, and feeling 31 & 22 respectively, the age we were when we met, and fell in love.

This year, we are ten years married. And even better than making it a full decade, our anniversary fell on Friday the 13th. Thirteen has somehow been our lucky number.

A few babysitters fell through. We eventually lined something up. I prepared a surprise Adventure of Love through the hinterland, which all centred on me getting dressed into my wedding dress, and buying champagne while Gregor took kids down the road to friends.

Trouble was, Rosie was onto me, and refused to go. She could sense something fun was happening, and didn’t want to miss out. When I whispered the plan into both my daughters’ sweet little ears, they banded together, and decided that neither would be babysat. They were coming with us.

And so we went. Our date-day of the year, encumbered with two {delightful} darlings.

First stop – the place we married, ten years ago today, out the front of God’s fine Eureka abode, looking over the rolling hills.

As it turned out, having two {delightful} darlings made the occasion even more perfect, because, as they pointed out, they missed our actual wedding.

Little Rosie named our wedding place Marry Land. In Marry Land, snakes get married, the wedded couple dance, and we all climb frangipani trees.

I remember most details of our ceremony ten years ago, up to the feel of the wind whipping our hair.

What I didn’t remember was the ancient frangipani tree, which turned out to be the perfect place to sit under ten years later, in a bed of fallen flowers, with flowers in our hair, drinking champagne. The girls made a treasure hunt out of  flowers. We took slo mo movies of us kissing.

Marry Land was better than I remember. Maybe it was because our daughters were there this time too.

Next stop, Doma Cafe, Federal. We’ve shared many a happy meal in the surprising and wonderful Japanese cafe, in the heart of the hinterland. I got burned in the shade, but still. Nothing beats that halloumi burger.

And then, a bare foot walk to the base of Minyon Falls. Even 100% humidity, and 36 degree heat couldn’t spoil this.


I love that the children come alive as soon as their fingertips touch a fern, or their feet touch the earth. The little fairy door some clever person has carved into a fallen log added more magic. And if you ever go, swim in the waterhole, stand under the waterfall, and look up. The sight of drops falling…

At home, we made Chinese soup, drank champagne and sat in the garden. I asked Gregor what’s the best thing about the last ten years, and he made a few jokes, which is exactly why we work so well together.

I said his legs were the best thing about the last ten years. And the fact that he’s an incredible father to my girls. And a great support to me. I forgot to mention how much I love the fact he washes up every night.

There was more than one raised eyebrow when I told friends and family 10 + years ago I was throwing away my life on a random Dutch guy.

Today, a friend said it was lucky I followed my instincts.

It was instinct, I guess. It was also a lot of luck, and a little work. Like, for instance, recently, when I resolved to use my ‘nice voice’ as much as possible, and not dump my irritation on Greg. Relationship patterns develop without you even realising it, and suddenly they feel unbendable. But they can bend. Neither of us want a nagging relationship, for ourselves, for our relationship, and for our kids.

Anyway, the Adventure of Love, and our trip to Marry Land, kids and all, was the perfect way to celebrate ten happy years together.

Here’s to ten more? I hope.

A wedding on a hill

13 is a lucky number for Gregor and I.

We moved into our first house on the 13th.

We bought our car on the 13th.

We married on the 13th.

Friday + 13 is particularly lucky.

Gregor was born on Friday the 13th.

Our daughter was conceived on Friday the 13th.

She was born at 3.13am on a Friday.

Today, Friday the 13th, we have been married for five years.

Today is a lucky day.

On a hilltop in the hinterlands of the North Coast NSW, two tall people who hadn’t known each other all that long, stood facing each other, with a celebrant between them, making a promise that by law, would tie them together for the rest of their lives. A storm idled in the distance, threatening to close the wedding down, but reaching only blowing point before drifting away. People gathered in cocktail attire, some ecstatic for the happy couple, most of them sure this whole thing was a good idea, and a few very uncertain it was.

Bubbles were blown as the champagne cork flew. In the photos, we all look happy, as every wedding party should. But it was true, I hadn’t known the fella long, and as I clasped that little bag of rings, I knew I was taking a dive in the deep end.

Gregor and I met under a giant chandelier at the Sydney Biennale 2006. He was tall, I was tall. Apparently he was taken by the apple skirt I was wearing at the time. We exchanged pleasantries, and he offered to help us with our project upstairs. His lopsided smile and twinkly eyes suggested life was fun, simple, and may as well be enjoyed. I gladly accepted the invitation.

A couple of days later, aware that I would be spending the evening in a strange city alone, he extended a particularly long arm, and invited me to dinner with him and a friend. We wandered into the city, and I learnt of his strange past of living in squats as a punk in The Netherlands, then moving to England to become a vegan and a Buddhist. He bought me the largest steak I have ever seen, and his was larger.

In the midst of the craziness of the Biennale, I was constantly drawn to his constancy. His stability. His ability to keep a twinkle in his eye and a joke on his lips. I gave him my phone number and told him to visit me in Melbourne. And he did.

One night after a party, you could say we became a couple.

We spent the next few weeks getting to know one another, although much of that time he spent on the road camping and touring Victoria. During our time together, we found we had so much in common, and conversation was endless. As we said goodbye at the airport, there were still 1000 things to be said. We hugged for a long time, and hoped it would be possible to meet again. He called me from the stop-over airport, and I knew at that point that we would make a commitment to be together, no matter what it took.

He spent three months back in Europe. We discussed every option possible for his return. I had just started a new and important job, and having lived in Europe the previous year, did not want to go back. He wanted to come to Australia – the land of enthusiastic people and kangaroo sausages. He painted a portrait of me to while away the months. All options considered, we settled on a temporary spousal visa, which of course involves marriage. I had discussed this with everyone I knew. A number of eye brows were raised. But really, it made sense. Although I had physically been with this person for such little time, we really loved one another. I really could see myself being with him indefinitely. We were a fit. And for the first time in my life, I knew what a fit felt like.

Initially we were planning the registry office, then decided to go the full haul…the white wedding, with champagne, rose petals and a four piece band. Why not? It was our wedding after all, and from all perspectives, our one and only.

Planning a wedding with my strange and jubilant European was easy. We would keep it relaxed. And we both understood that we were entering a contract under precarious circumstances. If, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out, we would be ok. Our expectations were realistic. It could go pear-shaped. But any marriage could go pear-shaped, and nearly half the time they do. Planning a wedding was also also made easier by the fact that mum, despite her reservations, did just about everything on the ground, from organising the venue, the flowers, the food and the wine.

The week before our wedding, we wrote our vows. Having been a practising Buddhist for a number of years, Gregor opted for a vow of truth. We would not commit until death do us part, or in sickness and in health. We didn’t know each other fully. We would promise to support one another to grow in any way we needed to grow. And that was all we could promise, in the garden of a village church.

Five years later, people still tell me it was the best wedding they have ever been to. A combination of the relaxed vibe, the amazing band who played all night, the lack of sit down dinner, and the dancing. One girl said to me that our wedding was her favourite because of its genuineness.  We treated the wedding as a union between two people, who in this particular moment, loved each other and wanted to be together and really, a wedding was the only way that was possible.

Every year after that wedding on a hill, I love my husband even more. We fit together better than ever. We love each other continuously. We have the occasional rogue argument, but we always know it will pass within minutes. Since having a child with him, I have been ever more certain that he is perfect for me. He is the perfect father – loving, kind and unflappable. He only wants the best for my child and for me. We still support each other to grow as each need to grow, but now, so much more than that.

Five years later, on Friday the 13th of January, he is still my best friend and soul’s companion.


A little ritual in one’s life

Ritual. What does it mean to you?

To me, ritual never seemed very important. I had routine. I had a class time-table. I had church services at school. I had Schoolies. I had graduation – oops, no I missed that. And then, one day, I had a wedding.

Before getting married, I didn’t think much about ritual and the seriousness of weddings. Before my own wedding, and attending weddings of close friends, I had always thought it was difficult to find the bride in the meringue. I looked, I tried, but I couldn’t work out what all the fuss was about.

We didn’t have much of a lead up to our wedding. Let’s say it was about 6 months from meeting, and 3 months of an engagement. Of that time, only about 2 months were spent in each other’s physical company. Let’s just say we were taking a punt. And we knew it. We knew we were being brave warriors, flying in the face of wedding tradition by not taking 2 years to organise the big day and not planning a honeymoon. We were light-hearted about it. Until we got to writing the vows. And I realised for the first time what ritual meant.

Weddings are a ritual. A serious occasion, iced with marzipan, to cement and make official the love between two people (note, I did not say a man and a woman).

So every word of the vow we uttered was completely serious, and designed to convey the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Because we had known each other so momentarily, our vows were very short. We didn’t promise to be with each other to death do us part. We had no idea. We could only promise to support the other to grow as they needed to grow. And everything else just had to wait and see.

If I made my vows now, I would include a bit more adulation. Five years in, I have more to go on. You, my husband-to-be, are an amazing wise and kind man, who makes me complete, rested and grounded. You make me laugh every day, and no kidding, I don’t think I have had a really shit day since we got together. You share most of my passions, my feelings and my thoughts, and quietly tolerate those you don’t share. I promise to support you to be whoever you need to be, and grow however you want to grow. I promise, as much as possible, to be with you in sickness and in health and to death do us part. Thank you for loving me as myself.

Anyway, ritual is important, I have come to realise.

In recent days, I have introduced a little ritual into our household routine. There is ritual in our eating together and other daily activities, but this recent ritual has more of a traditional, spiritual feel. Inspired by a friend, and Elki’s love of Ommms at yoga class, we set up cushions, light an oil burner, and sit in a circle saying Oms and a blessing for the day. Elka is very fond of sending love and nourishment to all the children of the world, then clasping her hands at heart centre to say “Om”. Our ritual is an evening ritual, a time otherwise known at the Witching Hour – when dinner has been served and mum frantically tries to wash up, and prepare Elka for bed, while Elka rushes around crazily, making demands to read to her, and rolling around naked on the bed. Crazy hour is now peaceful Om hour, and all our wild energy is contained and channeled into our Oms.

Tonight, we did a special ritual for my dear friend, Margot, who passed away nearly 8 years ago. Because today would have been her birthday, we planted a frangipani in the garden, then, on Elka’s insistence, set up our cushions for our Oms. Tonight, we lit our candle for Margot. I had to ask Elka to stop talking momentarily, while I said my blessings for Margot, thanking her for knowing us, and being so kind and funny and grounded and amazing.

In all my wisdom and wifeliness and mumminess, I now greatly value ritual in my life.

Blessings to Margot and all who knew her.