Traveling with your spouse can be an incredible thing. It’s in those moments when you are together in a foreign country that you truly learn the most about each other. The good, the bad, and the ugly sides of your significant other’s personality will inevitably come out. You see someone’s true colors when they are stressed, jet-lagged, totally out of their comfort zone, and surrounded by everything unfamiliar. And if you are self-aware enough, you will see your true colors, too. The truth is, traveling as a couple isn’t always pretty.
The reality of traveling as a couple
Traveling can bring couples closer together, but it can also challenge relationships in ways you never expected. Still for me, traveling is one of the greatest experiences I get to share with my husband. It certainly helps that he is almost unnaturally patient and laid back. (Seriously, it’s weird how chill he is.) I, on the other hand, am neither patient nor laid back. In our five years of traveling together as a couple, and now with a child, I’ve realized there are a few things that happen on almost every single trip.
Traveling Fact #1: You will fight
This may not happen on a short weekend trip, but chances are if you are spending a couple of weeks or more traveling together, you will piss each other off at some point. Keeping it real here. No marriage is perfect and there is not a couple on this planet who doesn’t argue. When you’re traveling as a couple, you spend a lot of time sitting together in planes, trains, subways, and restaurants. Naturally, you are going to talk to each other a lot more than usual. One of you will inevitably do or say something the other thinks is rude or inconsiderate. You’re going to get on each other’s nerves. Throw a bit of crankiness from the jet lag and a week of poor hotel sleep into the mix and you’ve got an argument on your hands.
Don’t worry, and don’t think too much of this fight because it won’t last.
Traveling Fact #2: You will make up
You may walk the beach alone for an hour or go to sleep mad at each other one night, but eventually you’ll make up. In fact, you’ll probably make up sooner than you would at home because you’ve got places to go and things to see! Traveling as a couple forces you to reconcile because you don’t want to spend your entire trip not talking to each other. You will both want to see the sites and experience a new place. And let’s face it, doing so together is better than doing so apart. Usually, in our experience, the argument will be forgotten or at least dropped the next day.
Traveling Fact #3: You will bond over new experiences
Whether it’s getting ridiculously lost in Venice, skiing your first double black run, or crossing the border into a new country, you will share experiences that you’ve never shared with anyone else. Those experiences will lead to a unique bond that is tighter than the lid on a jar of jam. (Side note: Why do they make those jars so dang hard to open?!) When I first laid eyes on the Roman Colosseum I was overwhelmed with amazement. But something even more special happened when I glance to my right. I saw the same look of wonderment in my husband’s eyes. We looked at each other, both with huge smiles, and without any words, we shared a moment.
Traveling Fact #4: You will appreciate each other more
I have mentioned before that my husband is my perfect match. While we have a lot in common, we are also different people in many ways. Traveling with him has made me appreciate him more. I appreciate his patience, as I mentioned earlier, and how he keeps his cool in stressful situations. Trying to navigate the public transportation system in a city where everything is written in another language while you have a toddler trying to squirm out of your arms is beyond stressful. Yet, my husband handles it with poise. I also appreciate his love of adventure. He is always willing to go with the flow even when I plan crazy trips to places without electricity or WiFi. He is my rock in so many ways. And when we travel that is most apparent to me.
When you travel with your spouse, you will appreciate their presence. You will appreciate having someone familiar next to you when you in those awkward moments when have no foreign currency and credit cards aren’t accepted. And you will appreciate all of those small qualities about them that you take for granted on a typical day.
Traveling Fact #5: You will have stories to tell
Every couple has those mundane conversations where you recount your work day or talk about what you ate for lunch. When you become parents, all those conversations get replaced with conversations about your child’s poop. No really, parents talk about poop a lot. Our daughter’s bowl movements have dominated our conversations since we enter the ranks of parenthood 2 1/2 years ago. But luckily, when we aren’t talking about poop, we have some incredible conversations about where we’ve been and where we want to go next.
When you travel with your spouse, you have really great stories to tell about adventures all over this phenomenal planet. That time we climbed the Great Wall of China in the freezing rain or the moment I almost broke my leg following my husband down a ski run are now funny tales that we recount to our friends. And because we are constantly planning our next adventure, we also have these amazing conversations about life goals, bucket lists, and what we want to experience before we depart this great planet.
Traveling with your spouse: When it goes wrong
I’m not a marital counselor, so please take what I’m about to say for what it is… unsolicited advice from someone totally unqualified to give it. I realize that not everyone has the same experience when traveling with a significant other. Sometimes the fight doesn’t end. Sometimes you don’t make up. Sometimes the bond is broken, not strengthened. And sometimes your traveling story is not a fairy tale… it’s a nightmare. Traveling with your spouse or significant other will reveal their dark side… and yours. You will see each other in moments of weakness. And you will learn whether those weaknesses are things you can truly live with and accept.
If you have already said “I Do” before realizing your spouse is not a compatible travel partner, it’s OK to say “I Don’t” to traveling together. I have several friends in happy, healthy relationships that travel separately. Over time, they have realized what works for them. And you too will realize what works for you.
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Do you enjoy traveling with your spouse or significant other? What have you learned traveling as a couple? Leave us a comment and let us know.