A second chance at romance

Where there was fire, ashes remain, an old Spanish saying goes. Sandra “Zandi” Richardson and Runno Sarv proved that rekindling the flame isn’t that difficult, after all.

Originally published by Taos News (Taos Wedding Guide)

Photos courtesy of Zandi Richardson

Richardson and Sarv met at a Christmas party in 1980 in Sydney, Australia.

“When I looked across the room and saw this handsome guy, I asked a friend to introduce him to me,” Richardson said. “But my friend didn’t think we would fit together. He was ‘the capitalist who owned the hotel we were in’ and I was a spirited free-lance filmmaker. I had a red afro and wore hippie clothes while he looked like a businessman, so we did look like an unlikely couple.”

However, they got married a year later at the same place where they had met.

“I then inherited two girls, his daughters, who were 14 and 16,” Richardson said. “Though it was challenging at first, with time and love they became my family too.”

After nearly 10 years, the marriage didn’t work out. Despite some common interests and the fun they had traveling together to places like Bhutan, Thailand, Africa and India, the couple split up in 1991.

Long distance reconnection

Twenty-two years later, they reconnected through a mutual friend. Sarv was still living in Sydney, while Richardson was happily settled in Taos. The first time we got on the phone, after so many years, they talked for three hours.

They carried on an over-the-phone relationship for several months and eventually skyped, too. But personal contact was the next step.

He invited her to visit him again in Australia. She accepted. A couple of months later, they went traveling together again, to Jordan and Ethiopia.

“We both realized that traveling was one thing we had always enjoyed together,” he said.

In 2012 Sarv came over for Christmas and fell in love with Taos. He also found out that he was very much in love with Richardson— again.

The right place to propose

A few months later Sarv invited Richardson to go to India with the intention of proposing to her at The Taj Mahal

“What’s more romantic than asking the woman of your dreams to marry you at The Taj Mahal?” he asked.

However, the day before, in Jaipur, they went into a jewelry shop and he realized that this was a very appropriate place to pop the question.

“When I looked at him, he was on his knee asking, ‘Will you marry me–again?” Richardson recalls with an impish smile. “After I said ‘yes,’ all our fellow travelers began to applaud. It was quite a scene.”

He bought her a traditional Indian engagement ring right there. When they returned to Australia, he had another ring custom-made for her.

“So now I have two engagement rings from him…perfect for the second time around!” she said.

Marriage and maturity

They both agree that it is fun and energizing to be with someone “who is on the same wavelength and who really knows you.”

In the end, they decided that they belonged together. That was why they remarried in Taos on September 22nd, 2013.

“A marriage needs to be based on acceptance,” Sarv said. “Sandi and I are very different persons. She is very spiritual. I am not. We used to debate that a lot. Now she has a personal altar and her prayer flags …and I am happy for her. I don’t try to change her and she doesn’t try to change me.”

“That’s maturity,” Richardson says. “And maturity comes with age. We have learned to accept and appreciate, even love, our differences.”

Of course, they need to have some things in common too.

“For example, it was important for me that he liked Taos,” said Richardson. “And essential that he got along with my five cats.”

“I am a dog person,” he said. “But I enjoy cats too. I am adaptable.”

The best part of round two

“When people are dating, they don’t get to know the real person,” said Sarv. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that they are pretending to be nicer or smarter, but they are showing only their best face. Living together is the only way to really get to know someone. Well, Sandi and I had already done that so there were no nasty surprises.”

Another plus: living with someone you already know is comfortable, Richardson added.

“It’s like wearing a good pair of slippers…they are so cozy and nice,” she said. “The second time around, there is never that kind of awkwardness that you often experience with the ‘new person’ in your life.”

Love in two continents

Richardson and Sarv look forward to traveling together more. But they don’t plan to spend every minute together. Not yet, at least.

“I wouldn’t like to live full-time in the United States just yet,” he said. “I have my family and my business in Australia. I just can’t drop everything and move here.”

“And I wouldn’t like to live full-time in Sydney,” Richardson said. “I am happy to go back for a while and spend time with his daughters and his ninety-nine year-old mother, who are still very much my family. But I also love my life and friends and home here in Taos.”

That means spending lots of money on plane tickets.

“Our love is worth it,” Sarv said.

Do they have any advice to couples who have found out, like them, that the grass isn’t greener on the other side?

“Practice unconditional love, instead of trying to change the other person,” Richardson said. “Don’t hold onto old grievances. Let them go and accept the other person for whom he or she is. Enjoy the differences and enjoy life.”