Tie Me Down, Tie Me Up

Dear Ville,

I want to put some of my feelings about your proposal of marriage on record, so that if our children ever want to know how I felt about you at this moment, it is here. Its taken several days to get the chance because Anton and Neve are small enough to sit on my (slightly expanded for the purpose) lap and that is where they like to be. As I write this you are in Turkey and I am in the UK.

This began not with a kiss but a thread. A facebook thread. After a short and chaste first meeting you returned to Turkey and I remained in the UK, and we used the thread to pull each other close enough to arrange a first meeting. I think that you already had me before we ever touched. The thread gleamed with the depth and honesty of your thoughts.

You arrived for our first time together on Friday and early on Saturday morning we set off to go deeper into the Dales to get my son, Ruskin. I had for the first time in 8 years postponed picking him up by a night. Of course it would have been lovely to get to know you, and have waited some appropriate time to declare us serious enough for you to meet him, but none of that was a real option. You were only able to stay a few days and I wouldn't miss time with Ruskin and so we set off. I remember we had cooked breakfast at a cafe and then you and Ruskin played chess by the river.

That summer we had two weeks in Istanbul together without either of our children. It was wonderful, Looking back at the pictures, though, nearly every one shows you with your phone stuck to your ear. You were working as director of Amnesty International in Turkey then, and a real break wasn't possible.

At the end of that summer we went to my sister Katrina's wedding in Italy and you met my family for the first time. Everyone loved you and my Dad was the person who asked the million-dollar question: How are you going to make this work? And the answer was not in any way obvious. We both had shared parenting arrangements for our children that bound us to our countries. Mine had ended up defining me: I trained as a teacher so that I would be available in holidays and at weekends, my second marriage failed in part because I couldn't prioritize anyone but my son. I was still afraid of Ruskin's Dad.You were close to burn-out and without any healthcare insurance where you lived, there was no chance of a paid break to recuperate. We had little but our determination to be together without hurting our children.

Just before Christmas that year you brought Matti to the UK to meet me for the first time, Coming off the flight you both looked traumatized, but not quite so much as the passengers who had sat near you! Matti and I had no common language but the boys quickly worked out how to have fun together. I remember Ruskin and I asking all the time: "what did he say, what did he say?" We began to fly to see each other whenever we could.

The following March Ruskin decided that he wanted to live with me full-time, and we began the legal proceedings that would allow us to live with you, and enable us to be present for Matti. The case took a painful year until we were free to join you. I flew every few weeks right up until the a couple of weeks before Anton's birth (we even shopped around for an airline that would still take me!). One of the most important experiences of my life has been learning to stand up for myself, and it was you who taught me how to do it. We went through this incredibly exhausting, time-consuming, frightening process, hand in hand.

Once we had all of our growing family together in one place a new set of challenges took hold. It was a 12 year old who asked us to fight on his behalf and a nearly 14 year old one that we had to find the right school for in Turkey. And after all the battles we had fought to unite everyone, when the right solution for Ruskin (nearly 2 years down the line) turned out to be boarding school in England, you just got on with the challenge of funding it.

Ville, I could fill pages and pages with what you have done for us all. You have saved me from a life of good enough and helped me create one that makes me truly happy. Often when I am holding these two children that we have together, or watching what fun the various combinations of kids have together, I am utterly overwhelmed.

But, what about us? You and me. We had to hit the ground running and then gathered pace. We have been out by ourselves only a handful of times since we met. Every penny and every minute has been given to making this work as we promised it would, without hurting our children. You already have a tendency not to seek your own comfort (to do with your Aspergers I think), you have to be reminded to relax. And I know that our brilliant children give you unbelievable pleasure, and they are the threads that bind us ever more tightly. But like for all couples with children, the next challenge is for you and I to stay central to the rapidly unfolding story.

Now you have asked me to marry you. I know that this proposal is not to ensure that we will be together: that is a done deal.  So why, when you asked me, did I feel such joy? We have not been able to have a past in which you and I dated and focused on each other, so we must look to a future in which we can finally spend time alone together. We need to have our first weekend away, our first holiday, our first date without the weight of our responsibilities pressing heavily on us. I feel that this is what getting married is actually about. Its about you and me, and a big reminder that this has all been possible because we love each other. That we have to take care to nurture the union that is at the center of our gorgeous family. I do not want a single thread that could bind us, symbolic or otherwise, to go untied. And I am so excited that we can start planning a party. So now that you have finally popped the big question I have an even more important one for you: Where are we going on Honeymoon?


Ruskin, Anton and Ville
Father's Day 2010

Ville, Anton and Neve
Father's Day 2012

Neve, Anton and Matti
Neve, Anton and Matti June 2012

Ville, Julia and Andreas
In Italy for Katrina and Fed's Wedding

Ville and Matti
Ville and Matti Christmas 2011

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3 thoughts on “Tie Me Down, Tie Me Up

  1. I often imagine you and I having a teenage relationship, or one in the mid 20s. I also imagine you and I with white hair. I realise both are related to a life where we can focus on each other without children and work being a main focus of our lives. I feel no regret about the path we chose, and it would make no sense to feel regret where we had no choice. I'm thrilled that you and I could get to go on a honeymoon just the two of us, that somebody else could look after our adorable children for some days and me not having to work at night. I don't care where we go for our honeymoon, but I want to go there as you and I at 14, at 24, at 55 and at 80. Will all four of you come? And then I want to return to our lovely children, whom I miss very much just looking at those photos. Shall we say Florece and Siena, for now?


  2. Perfect: anywhere alone! I guess this is still going to take a while, what with a baby to feed, but gosh it feels better to see our first holiday on the horizon.

  3. Julia I just stumbled upon this post from a few links in your other posts. It brought more than a tear to my eye. How truly beautiful.

    Oh and now having read it I find you even more inspirational and to top that what a wonderful man you have.

    I need to find some time to go back through your blog posts published before I discovered you and read some more of your lovely work.



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