“When I was at a family dinner, a cousin looked up photos of my new EUR colleagues online and pointed out Mijke. Like: she looks good. And I thought so too. She is so gorgeous! So I asked Mijke if we could have coffee sometime. I got the most Dutch answer imaginable: she didn’t like coffee. So I thought, she means: get lost! But it turned out she just really doesn’t like coffee.

“Yet a little later, after a dinner with colleagues, we exchanged phone numbers, and started texting. That’s how we fell in love with each other. It was so bad that I was even texting her during a movie in the cinema. While texting, I briefly put my phone on the seat next to me, and right there, my phone was stolen. I completely panicked. The word ‘ghosting’ didn’t exist back then, but I was very scared that she thought I didn’t want have anything to do with her anymore, so I rushed to buy a new phone immediately after the movie. The first kiss was on top of the Euromast. Very corny, I know.

“At first, we kept our relationship a secret at work, as we work in the same corridor at the ESHCC. Things came out when we ran into a colleague at Central Station. I immediately acted a very casual goodbye to Mijke: ‘hey I’ll see you tomorrow!’, as if we were just colleagues, but it was too late. The colleague caught on right away and the next day I noticed people looking at the coffee corner, especially from female colleagues. So then Mijke went to talk to our boss, Susanne Janssen. Fortunately, she didn’t think it was a problem at all, she really is fantastic. Of course, it makes a difference that we are scientists and have our own work, which makes it less complicated.

Watching rugby

“Sweden never happened: 11 years later, we are married and have two children. There are some character differences: she is calm, rational and conflict-avoiding. I am French, so I am not so bothered by confrontation. That’s how we learn from each other. Fortunately, I did get her to want to watch rugby with me!”

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