Even before I began my own long-term travel journey I believed that travel was the greatest test of a relationship. When you travel, you really get to see who someone is. You spend a lot more time together than you’re used to, or maybe even want to. You’re put into stressful situations, learning to overcome obstacles like language barriers and bartering that you’ve never faced before. Plus there’s the issue of very little personal space – let’s just say nothing makes you closer than getting a stomach ailment and sharing a bathroom in a hotel… or a tent on a beach.
Next week, Tom and I will have officially been together for 14 years, and married for over 5. Truth be told, we’ve had a pretty easy relationship. But after spending 7 months together for 24/7, our relationship has been put to the test and a lot has changed. It may appear on Instagram that we’re always in love but what you don’t see is the fight that occured just before that picture was taken, the frustrations we have with each other and the work that we put into our relationship to remain in a good place.
We annoy each other
When you’re with someone all the time the little things can quickly add up into big things. You find that what was once a little quirk suddenly becomes an annoyance that makes you want to strangle your partner each time they do it. I had no idea it drove Tom crazy to see me floss until he lost his cool.
The solution to this is letting the person know what they’re doing. Often we’re unaware of our own annoying habits or actions. We aren’t always able to change the way we are but at least we can become more aware of it and possibly make actions to avoid it.
Our tempers are shorter
Again, things build up a lot quicker. Usually, you have space in your day to forget about little things. But during travel, multiple things can happen in one day and we both find we’re set off into argument mode a lot quicker.
What has helped us work through this challenge is meditation. Meditation teaches you to respond instead of react. So if Tom does something that annoys me or says something that hurts my feelings, instead of getting mad instantly I am able to take a second to think about my reaction first. I always like to think about the person’s intention. Did they intend to annoy me or hurt me with their words or actions? If the answer is no, it doesn’t deserve a defensive reaction. I can still tell him that he hurt me and explain myself but in a calmer more rational manner. Now, this doesn’t work all the time- there are still times our tempers flare but since we began meditation, there is a noticeable improvement.
We fight in public
Tom and I never ever fought in public before, in fact, we very rarely fought at all. Well, now that’s changed, we have had some heated arguments in the middle of the street. As our tempers flare easier and tensions run high it’s hard at times not to let your emotions get the best of you.
When these public fights have occurred, we both feel really bad about them afterward. It’s embarrassing and you really learn how out of control you felt in that moment. We are learning from our mistakes.
We communicate better
Now of course not all the changes to our relationship are negative. Our communication has strongly improved with travel. From experience, we have learned that when you don’t tell someone when something is bothering you, things build up until you have that explosive-in-public argument. Saying you’re fine when you’re not is not the solution (seriously ladies)!
So instead, we are honest with one another when the other person hurts our feelings or we didn’t agree with their actions. We also own up to our actions and apologize a lot. It takes a lot of humility to admit when you’ve done something wrong but it’s a skill we’ve definitely improved.
We talk about deeper things
I always kind of wondered what Tom and I would talk about while travelling. I mean, you can’t ask how was your day or how was work? You literally know exactly what they did that day.
Without these little everyday things to talk about, you either sit in silence, which is totally okay at times, or you learn to talk about deeper topics. We talk about our hopes, fears, dreams, etc. We talk about our travel experiences in a bigger sense – like how seeing things impacted us and how it changes our perspective on things. I have learned so much about Tom in these past couple of months.
We’ve formed an unbreakable bond
This experience is truly unforgettable. It’s so amazing to share in new things every single day with your partner. Whenever I’ve travelled without Tom I always find myself thinking oh I wish To could see this. It’s special to share your experience with the person you love. And because this type of adventure is so unique it feels like no one else will ever “get it”. We have this unique thing that only we understand.
Travel hasn’t been easy on our relationship but I fully believe we are a stronger couple because of this adventure. If these obstacles can’t shake us, I don’t know what can.