Brionie was a journalist based in Mumbai, India when she met her husband, Henrik, an engineer from Sweden. Here, they share the story of their love, and the journey from dating to marriage to Europe, through visa struggles, cultural differences, and how she knew he was “The One.”
Welcome, Brionie and Henrik!
On a Shared Past:
“We had a set of similarities that one wouldn’t expect a person from India to share with someone from Sweden.
“We listened to a lot of the same music growing up and had a lot of other pop culture references in common. We had both traveled a lot. We both celebrated Christmas, albeit with different traditions.”
What Was Different This Time:
“So often, in dating, people play games. “Should I text first? Should I hold my cards close to my chest?” There’s so much ego and pride, and when you go about it like it’s a game of chess, it gets corrupted before you can get to anything meaningful.
“With him, I found that there were no games. He didn’t hold back; when he wanted to spend time with me, he’d let me know. We spoke all the time. There were no pretenses.
On Opening Up Early On:
“We were both really open to being vulnerable with each other. We had a LOT of conversations in the beginning where we discussed our childhoods, our histories, past relationships and the mistakes we’d made.
“I thought he was incredibly kind and he felt like he could be open with me. It was so much fun getting to know each other, discussing the ways in which we were different. All our differences gave us that much more to talk about. Plus, we had great chemistry!”
A New Level of Commitment:
“The thing that decided it for me was his level of commitment from the start – I was so taken aback by it! He was ready to show up for me in whatever way he could. That’s what convinced me. You can have a lot of shared interests with a person, you can have a connection, you can have chemistry. But if they’re not willing to put in the work, all that other stuff means squat.”
On Making it Through, Together:
“He proposed at his childhood home in Sweden, and then we went traveling together in Italy. Then came the hard stuff – navigating all the red tape, mountains of paperwork and grumpy visa officials. It was so hard sorting it all out because we were also on different continents. That we passed through that frustrating time and still managed to keep our love, made me even more hopeful about our future together.”
On Committing to Marriage:
“I come from a family where my parents are separated. He comes from a family where his parents didn’t marry until he was 15, because it isn’t the norm in Sweden. Despite that – or maybe because of it – we both had slightly traditional views on commitment and what we wanted for our own lives.
“For us, it wasn’t so much about the institution of marriage, but about making that commitment to each other and building a family together.”
On finding the right person:
“Once we started living together, there was that feeling of….relief? It felt like: “Now we’ve found each other, that question has been answered.” It was like closure, sort of.
We both felt: “We don’t have to go on any more bad dates, we no longer have to search constantly.” That was a very exciting feeling, knowing that we were at the cusp of this whole new phase in our lives. You feel a sense of having made it to the other side. All of the bad experiences and disappointment, the cynicism and baggage didn’t break you.”
On the Practicalities of Modern Love:
“People tend to create various mythologies around love; that the other person needs to be your soulmate, your other half. But I think you have to be practical about it. Granted, the practical stuff isn’t very romantic but it’s what’s required in order to make something work. The logistics. The work you put in every day. That’s what’s most important.”
On Learning Each Other’s Cultures:
“I’ve learned so much about Swedish culture from my various trips there with him, and I’m also learning how to speak Swedish now. I love their traditions and festivals; my favourite by far is Midsommar. Plus, all the Swedes I’ve met so far have been super welcoming.
“He has put so much of an effort into learning about Indian culture. He already knows a bunch of funny words [in Hindi]! He adores Indian food and would eat it every day if I cooked it. While he was in India, the thing that struck him most was how warm and hospitable everyone is.
On the Importance of Shared Values:
“People say a relationship can’t work if both people’s values are not the same, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. When two people come from different cultures, there are going to be certain values on which you differ – and that’s not a dealbreaker.
“Values are transient; through the course of our lives, we grow and change ourselves; we might outgrow certain values and find new ones over time.
“The important thing is validating your partner and trying your best to understand why they hold the values they do, and help them in fulfill or sustain the ones that are important to them.
A Shared Vision of Life Together:
“We are polar opposites in all the ways one can be. He’s scientific, I’m creative. He loves fishing and physics, I love literature and going to gigs. He’s calm, I’m a constant worrier. And we grew up in cultures and countries that are so fundamentally different. The thing we have in common is that we’re both committed to making our relationship work.
“We both want a peaceful, stable life. A nice house on the outskirts of the city. A couple of kids, a couple of dogs. And lots of dancing in the kitchen. These are the things we value: building this life.
Thank you so much, Brionie and Henrik !
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Photos via Brionie.