I think one of the saddest sentences between a couple is: Maybe we weren´t meant to be together in the first place.

It's usually followed by a long silence.

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When you start to date you only see similarities and things that connect. As life goes on, ups and downs make you know each other better.

After happy times comes hard times. And eventually times when you may see that you have nothing in common.

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Someone said that you can hate as much as you can love.

You feel that both of you have done everything possible to make your relationship better, but still you're in the dead-end.

That´s the point when that maybe-sentence is said and the silence sets in.

Then there is the answer; "I guess so".

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Life goes on. It has phases. It's the same with marriage crisis. There are better times and harder times.

We have learned one important thing during the last couple of years with my husband. Don't get stuck in the hard phase. Keep your focus on better times.

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Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Women and men come from difference and there´s no way to change that. It´s sometimes difficult for us to live together but we can´t really live without each other either.

There were phases when we strongly felt that we just can't understand each other. Phases we almost got stuck in. But we didn´t. There was a strong will in both of us to make our relationship work.

With the help of others, with the help of endless conversations and arguments together and by working separately for ourselves we finally found the way out. Together.

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What was the turning point in our marriage crisis?

We realized that we are alike. We are humans, not only woman and man.

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One thing that is common for me and my husband is that we're both very demanding. It's a thing that has cause us suffering but also a lot of good. In a good way our profound nature meant that we wanted to understand thoroughly why it is so hard for us to reach happiness together.

That´s when we started to read about human mind and that´s when we found Matthieu Ricard's book Happiness: A Guide to Developing Life's Most Important Skill. It was the first book that made us to talk about the similarities between all people. The book helped us to see that the only way to find the understanding for each other is to understand yourself. To understand what it is to be a human.

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Every year I find some songs that give me joy and comfort in phases that I´m going through. When I find one I listen to it over and over again and let it help me to feel better. Last winter it has been It Takes a Lot To Know a Man by Damien Rice.

Every time I hear this song all the things and emotions that me and my husband have gone through during the past couple of years come to my mind. I feel grateful that we didn't got stuck but kept on working to have the relationship that is more intimate than we would have guessed.

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This day we had a walk together. We talked about work stuff, family stuff and marriage stuff.

I thought how every thing in life have at least two sides. I don´t hope marriage crisis for anyone. But on the other hand and in our case, without it, me and my husband would not work together now with the blog. And thanks to our marriage crisis the bond between us is stronger. We might actually make our future plans work! And have a kind of life that we both dream of.

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It takes a lot to know a human. But I now know that it's worth all the effort. It´s a never ending journey but also rewarding one. The one that can change your life for good.

"It Takes A Lot To Know A Man" by Damien Rice

It takes a lot to know a man
It takes a lot to understand
The warrior, the sage
The little boy enraged

It takes a lot to know a woman
A lot to understand what's humming
The honeybee, the sting
The little girl with wings

It takes a lot to give, to ask for help
To be yourself, to know and love what you live with
It takes a lot to breathe, to touch, to feel
The slow reveal of what another body needs

It takes a lot to know a man
A lot to know, to understand
The father and the son
The hunter and the gun

It takes a lot know a woman
A lot to comprehend what's coming
The mother and the child
The muse and the beguiled

It takes a lot to give, to ask for help
To be yourself, to know and love what you live with
It takes a lot to breathe, to touch, to feel
The slow reveal of what another body needs

It takes a lot to give, to ask for help
To be yourself, to know and love what you live with
It takes a lot to breathe, to touch, to feel
The slow reveal of what another body needs

It takes a lot to live, to ask for help
To be yourself, to know and love what you live with
It takes a lot to breathe, to touch, to feel
The slow reveal of what another body needs

What are you so afraid to lose?
What is it you're thinking that will happen if you do?
What are you so afraid to lose?
(You wrote me to tell me you're nervous and you're sorry)
What is it you're thinking that will happen if you do?
(Crying like a baby saying "this thing is killing me")
What are you so afraid to lose?
(You wrote me to tell me you're nervous and you're sorry)
What is it you're thinking that will happen if you do?
(Crying like a baby saying "this thing is killing me")
You wrote me to tell me you're nervous and you're sorry
Crying like a baby saying "this thing is killing me"

Mari



"So, I came here to learn to be myself, not how to act."

Me and the actress Aino Mankonen had just met and I had told her how its hard for me to show what I really feel inside me.

I had met Aino a couple of times before and every time I had felt really good and easy to be around her. That´s why she was one that I though about when I tried to figure out who could help me to get over my fear of putting myself out there.

I was so happy when she said "Yes, I´d love to help you out!".

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When me and my husband met Aino at the Savonlinna city theater I had prepared myself not to think anything. I had decided to be open-minded and do everything Aino would ask me to do. And I had decided to forget about the fact that my husband would film the whole thing.

"I only wish that I don´t start to cry." was my last words before opening the theater door.

But only after 10 minutes there I was, sobbing and crying.

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"It´s so silly but I´m afraid that I do something wrong. It´s so hard to let go!"

Yep. I had taken myself to the situation where I needed to face the "Miss Demanding" inside me. The one who always wanted to do things right.

"And I hate that I´m crying again!"

Another face-to-face meeting with myself. Countless are the ways I've tried to hide my sensitivity from the others.

Who wants to see sensitive and uncertain people when there are so many tough and confident people out there?

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But then it was over. And I survived.

An hour of these kind of drama exercises equal at least ten appointments with the psychologist, I said to my husband when we were driving home. I felt so good and light after doing everything Aino asked me to do.

I was amazed how powerful those kind of exercises are when you're working with your emotional gridlocks.

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We easily think that our "not so brilliant" features are our fault, but that's not always the case. I realized that again during our theater day.

We learn to demand perfection from ourselves in the world that so highly values perfection.

Being too sensitive is often bad in working life. If you cry, it's often considered as a sign of weakness. No wonder we learn to hide our sensitivity and develop a thick skin that nothing or no one can hurt. Or so we believe. Harsh words can hurt more than a bullet, so we think it may be wiser to protect you than let them hurt your heart.

We all want to be likeable and there´s nothing wrong with that.

But along the way we start to limit ourselves. We start to build up walls around us. We show only what we think is acceptable and what people might like. So that we would be likeable too. But without noticing we end up pretending to be something else than we really are. And that's what makes us to lost the connection to ourselves.

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No matter what the reasons behind our behaviour are, it is us who can make the difference. It's us who change ourselves.

When I saw the video about me and Aino for the first time I - surprise, surprise - cried. There I was on the stage, speaking, laughing, crying and again laughing. Just being the imperfect me, without limitations. That´s who I really am., I thought. And I kinda like that person just the way she is. 

I had faced my fear and let the real me out. I didn´t feel bad, on the contrary I felt great. I felt free.

A journalist asked me years ago what is my life motto. Back then I answered that I didn't have one. But after my theater experience I now had a motto:

"STAY SENSITIVE, GROW STRONG BUT MOST OF ALL HAVE COURAGE TO BE YOU.".

Then I laughed because I remembered what I had said to Aino after letting go of my fear:

"If I am able to do this, WHAT ELSE I'm capable of?!"

Mari



It was a day about a year ago when I had only one thought in my mind. "This tiredness will never pass."

Couple of months earlier I had stopped breastfeeding our second child. Right after that I started to sleep more and tried to get rid of my massive sleep dept that I had gained during the baby years.

But I was still exhausted. Will I ever feel refreshed again! I thought in my misery.

I was frustrated because I felt that my body was screaming for more exercise and our family diet needed more healthy food.  But I was just too tired to do anything else than run the daily family and work routines.

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When we were spending a simple holiday on our boat home last summer I made a plan. I will overcome my tiredness for good!

I continued making sleeping my first priority. I also decided to add some exercising to my mornings.

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I started to woke up 6 am four times a week and went for a 30-40-minute morning walk or a run alone before my husband and the girls woke up.

I also tried to keep our family life as simple as possible. And I kept on going bed at the same time with the children.

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Little by little my tiredness started to fade away and I started to have more energy.

Finally during last Christmas holiday I felt it. I woke up one morning, stood up and said to my husband: "Now it´s gone! Now I´ve slept enough! My sleep debt is gone! I´m not tired anymore!"

That day I went to the library and borrowed a pile of recipe books and decided that during the forthcoming year I would learn to make new kind of healthy but delicious food to our family. You've seen some of those already, like overnight oats, smoothies and raw seed crackers.

I felt so good!

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Last winter I thought a lot about the main themes of saimaalife.com. What do I think are the most important things for wellbeing and happiness?

Patience and compassion. Those two always seemed to pop up.

Together they can be quite powerful tool for better wellbeing, both physically and mentally.

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We are more and more impatient nowadays. We want fast results and preferably as easy as possible. But getting sustainable results take time. It´s like loosing your weight; if you have gained extra 10 kg over past 10 years, you can´t expect them to disappear permanently after six months of hard work.  Or if you´ve been exhausted for years, you just don´t get your energy levels back to normal no matter how much you'd sleep during a month or two. A human body and mind just don't work like that.

One crucial thing you need is patience. You need to work patiently for a long period of time to get yourself permanently back in balance again. Period.

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But how to become more patient?

I´ve learned that practicing self-compassion can help a lot! 

Did I went to bed last year every single evening at the same time with our children? No way! Watching TV and laying on the couch was just too comfortable occasionally. Many times actually.

Did I woke up 6 am 4 times a week every single week last autumn? I did not! Sometimes it was twice, sometimes zero.

"The old me" would have given up after failing to meet the goals that I had set to myself.

"The new me" kept on trying in spite of temporary (and often several) setbacks. All thanks to self-compassion that I´ve been practicing now for a couple of years. Thanks also to Kristin Neff´s book: Self-Compassion; Stop Beating Yourself Up and Leave Insecurity Behind that has inspired me to do so.

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So instead of criticizing myself for being lazy, I´ve learned to become more compassionate towards myself. After setbacks I´ve said to myself things like "This week has been tough. Just sleep longer now and try again next week".

By developing more positive and encouraging attitude towards myself I have not only felt better after setbacks but I´ve been able to keep on trying. And by trying long enough I've developed this new morning routine of mine that helps me to get more energy for daily life as a working mother.

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There´s a saying good things come slow. It is so true!

A year ago there were no morning excercices in my life at all. Now most of the times I do wake up 6 am 4 times a week and have my morning walk or run or my yoga practice that takes about an hour.

And if I don´t do it, it´s ok. Then I rest and sleep some more and try again next morning. Or next week.

(Photos: Marianne)

Mari



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"Spring break is a vacational period in early spring at universities and schools in various countries in the northern hemisphere." I read that from Wikipedia :)

From this day on I will start a blog spring break. It will NOT be a vacational period, but a period when I´m working for SaimaaLife blog renewal and forthcoming summer season.

I will publish my next post 10th of May, on the Mother´s Day.

Until then I welcome you to follow SaimaaLife on Facebook. There I´ll publish something daily!

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This small blog break will be a way for me and my husband to keep the better balance in our family life and avoid getting exhausted over the work.

There is a danger that it may happen because during the next two months my job is not only to work for the blog renewal. I also have to work for my Sauna Yoga classes and other classes that I´m developing right now. Then my husband has his other job. Together we also need to do some spring time work, prepare our house for summer tenants and move away. Then we need to move for a month to our town home and prepare that for our own summer tenants. Then it´s our boat home and work for it so that it´s livable by the summer. Then of course vegetable garden needs to be done.  And preparations for the next winter, like to get firewood to dry up till autumn.

So it´s time again to make some choices and this is the choice that we´ve decided to make now.

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Here we´ll meet again 10th of May.

I wish you all good & sunny spring season before that!

Now I´ll just roll up my sleeves and start to work so that we´ll get all things done before it´s time to start my favorite season, boat life on Saimaa!

spring-smile

Mari



“According to Free Trait Theory, we are born and culturally endowed with certain personality traits—introversion, for example—but we can and do act out of character in the service of “core personal projects.”
 In other words, introverts are capable of acting like extroverts for the sake of work they consider important, people they love, or anything they value highly. Free Trait Theory explains why an introvert might throw his extroverted wife a surprise party or join the PTA at his daughter’s school. It explains how it’s possible for an extroverted scientist to behave with reserve in her laboratory, for an agreeable person to act hard-nosed during a business negotiation, and for a cantankerous uncle to treat his niece tenderly when he takes her out for ice cream.”

This is from Susan Cain´s book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking.

Right after I had read that I realized that my family is MY core personal project.

For some it´s the desire to become an expert at her work, for another the desire to run a marathon. For me it´s the desire to do everything that I can to make our family members happy, together and separately.

Passion for this core personal project of mine has become the strongest motivator for myself to grow in life. It is meaningful for me in so many ways.

And "Quiet" is a book that has helped me to understand and accept myself more than any other book so far.

That´s why Quiet is in my TOP 3 books.

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My CPP helps me to develop myself. Now, I'm going to use it again as my helper when stepping out of my comfort zone: I´m going to face my fear of putting myself out there. My fear of becoming rejected or embarrassed if I show who I really am. 

For too long I´ve felt that there has been a big difference between what I feel I am inside compared to what I´m able to show of myself to the world.  I want to get rid of that feeling. I see that in my daughter too. I want to help her to get over her fear of putting herself out there. So that she could show her beautiful personality and uniqueness to the world and feel good when doing so. I DO NOT want fear to limit her life like it has limited mine. How many times my fear has prevented me from opening my mouth and saying what I really want to say? How many times I´ve made myself anxious by letting my fear to rule my behaviour? Way too many!

I want to show to myself, my children and to you that it´s worth to work for to get over your fears and uncertainty.  So that your unique personality could shine brighter and it would be easier for you to just be yourself in front of the others. That´s the way to bring wellbeing and happiness, not only for yourself, but also for people around you. And to make it easier for them to just be themselves too.

Our talented local actress Aino Mankonen has promised to help me in the beginning of my journey. I´m grateful for her help and excited about the process, but honestly, also quite terrified.  I don´t really know what kind of a journey waits ahead of me...

I have a quite big stage fright. That is actually one reason why you haven´t seen more videos in this blog so far. (The other reason is that my husband simply haven´t had time to put up videos because of his other work). So I´ll use this core personal project of mine to overcome that fear too. I don't want my stage fright to be a burden for my blog. And I want that you could enjoy more diverse blog content in the future.

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If you haven´t yet found your core personal project, keep on looking!

And when you do find it, use the power of it to make your life better.

You may not improve only the quality of your own life, but of all people around you.

I´ve experienced it already and that´s why I´m ready to challenge myself again!

Video about me and Aino in the Savonlinna city theater coming up. Soon. Perhaps. I hope. It's almost done. :)

Mari