Ever-Evolving: Travel Edition

Marriage. Ever-evolving. What that really means is just when you think you have stopped up all the leaks, plugged the holes, had the last fight about that one recurring disagreement and we can all go to bed now let’s cuddle, hold hands, sing songs – something else pops up that needs maintenance. Ever-evolving. Weeeee!

It sounds kind of terrible but right now we are bumping up against ye-old-cliche of “this isn’t turning out to be like what I thought it would be like,” otherwise known as, “what did I get myself into?” It’s not so dire that I want to push the eject button, I just want to have a what the fuck, come to Jesus talk.

Right now (and maybe forever and ever amen) it’s about travel. TRAVEL! The one thing I really never anticipated being an issue in my marriage ever ever ever.

The biggest perk for me when it came to marriage was having a perma-buddy to have adventures with. Kamel seemed like a guy who would be up for stuff. And I think I just assumed that everyone loves adventures and travel, and even if they didn’t once they experienced life with ME, they would swiftly change their tune. Kamel and I talk about travel, we make plans in the future like, “Fall of 20__ we should definitely spend a week in London and Scotland.” or “For our next trip do you want it to be beachy and relaxing or someplace new and busy/adventure-y?” Except, it turns out, actually pulling the trigger for trips that do not involve family or weddings has been incredibly difficult. Part of that is cash flow, a bigger part of that is time.

Another legitimate slice of the no-vacations pie, though, is making it a priority. Me? I would go somewhere new every other month if I could. I love airports, I love new places, I love everything there is about travel (maybe except for the actual flights). I don’t mind dragging the baby around if it means seeing and doing with child vs not seeing or doing. My perfect year would be if we only ever traveled for our own leisure. That would be perfection.

Guess what Kamel’s perfect year is? Guess. I’ll give you a minute.

Not traveling at all! Not one single trip anywhere for an entire year! No flights, no new things, nothing nada zip.

And yes the argument is, that is valid. Traveling is exhausting and expensive, totally reasonable to want to stay put.

Except! I’m attached to that now. I, me, right here, yoo hoo! Adventuring extraordinaire! Waiting my whole life to be an adult and to be able to go where I want and do what I want whenever I want to! <- me. Chained to no man! <- not me.

Did you just hear the record skip? I did.

Sharing my life and all of my life-ly decisions with another person who is NOT ME is the worst and most difficult part of marriage in my world. This is not what I signed up for! I signed up for the perma-buddy! Who would follow me around on all of my adventures and help me change the baby in public restrooms with a smile on his face and let’s go ziplining for fuckssake! Epic epicness!!!

So we have fights about travel. And sometimes I lose and don’t get to go where I want and do what I want when I want to do it. And sometimes even when I win it doesn’t feel like winning. It feels like dragging a kicking and screaming person who doesn’t want to go anywhere through airport security. As good of a sport as Kamel can be, sometimes he is not. And sometimes that is my fault for not listening to him say, “Lauren, I don’t want to do this!” And sometimes it is his fault for not sucking it up and playing along.

And here is where my own trantrum comes in because being a wife and a mother changes you, yes, but there are certain things I refuse to have it change. And if I can’t refuse then I will fight it tooth and nail because I will not let those two things swallow me whole. Compromise is important, bending in a situation can save you from breaking, and my marriage is clearly more important to me than most things, but I’m still me. If I married someone who would rather not spend 6 months out of the year going to new places, fine. But that means that he married someone who would. Compromise doesn’t always land in my corner, but sometimes it does. Sometimes it needs to.

How do you handle the places in your relationships you don’t match up on? Is there anything that surprised you after you had already committed to be with that person forever and ever and ever? Do you talk about it? Ignore it? Who wins most often in these situations?

19 thoughts on “Ever-Evolving: Travel Edition”

  1. I guess most people don’t marry someone exactly like themselves. My husband LOVES to travel, and I really don’t like it at all. It’s exhausting and I’d rather be at home. But that’s the great and simultaneously horrible thing about marriage – you have to grow and stretch to accommodate a life with someone different. We are going on a cruise to Alaska this spring – the absolute last thing I would pick. But I still know it’ll be fun or at least an experience.
    I recently told my husband, “you are the most opposite person of me that I know”. He was offended but I meant it as a compliment.

  2. So we both love to travel (yay) but we have totally different travel styles. I like to bring a bunch of clothes and have long chats in interesting cafes and take naps some days and eat huge amazing meals luxuriously. Not that is has to all be expensive, I love doing cheap stuff, but I want to visit a city and live like a fancy local, basically. Stephen enjoys all that stuff a lot but he gets BORED. He needs to be going 24/7, preferably with everything he brought in the backpack on his back. We are actually both like this respectively in “real life” too but on trips we do everything together and it becomes way more apparent. We are working on compromise. I try to find stuff for him to do on his own while I nap or we schedule the day so that we are doing a mix of busy and relaxing things.

    I always tell people that the hardest work in our marriage is learning to let go of having “my” life and embracing “our” life. So word on that.

  3. Ah, yes. I am quite familiar with the travel argument. I feel like I have to talk or drag Jeff into things and can feel resentful about that. When we can’t do things he can feel resentful when it seems like I’m blaming him, or making him out to be an unadventurous fuddy duddy. We both act a little unfairly in the whole thing.

    After having these arguments multiple times I realize that so often I just want him to say “I know this is important to you” and indulge the dream a little. The hard thing with disagreeing about traveling is that the default, status-quo goes to not traveling. So it feels like the “we can’t do that”/”I don’t want to do that” is ALWAYS winning. And it feels like there are so many more logical arguments on the no side: money, coordinating vacation days away from two jobs, planning, being on cramped airplanes, etc. So staying is easiest, because you just… stay, and it’s less clear what exactly the compromising wants-to-travel partner is giving up.

    It’s so hard to solve. For now we are actually really limited by finances and vacation days, so it’s more of a theoretical argument, especially as I am hoarding vacation days for Thailand in the fall and can’t too seriously say “Let’s go to Vermont and Montreal over fourth of July!” because there’s very little wiggle room in my carefully plotted vacation days spreadsheet. (But because I’m me, I still brought it up to him…)

  4. I think the “who wins” is part of the problem. Either you both win or both lose. This doesn’t mean giving up your own self but trying to work together on a problem. If you approach each other as adversaries it is unlikely to be resolved and tends to increase each person’s self-defense. You might think about planning a trip yourself or finding out from your husband what makes him reluctant and what might make it easier for him. Maybe with just finishing the first year of parenthood, travel might need to wait a little while. You and your husband won’t always have the same needs or goals. You can express your needs but if they come across as demands or ultimatums or tests, probably he won’t respond well, The same is true of his needs. It is not an easy thing to do, but can make relationships so much better.

  5. I so appreciate that you talk about the frustrations of marriage, Lauren. It helps me see that we are normal, that of course married people don’t gel perfectly about everything every second!

    Have you thought about doing a little local adventure with Kamel? We are going to do that for our anniversary this year – Grammie is going to stay with F, and we are going to check us into a hotel in town for the night. Not sure exactly what we will do yet, but probably explore some museums, go out for a nice dinner, and generally enjoy each other’s presence for 24 hours. Less stress because you don’t have to really go anywhere, but still a break from the routine.

    1. We definitely will be doing something similar, probably go up to Vancouver for a night or two, or maybe Portland. We aren’t looking at overseas trips or anything, but for me I spent all of that time being pregnant and being so limited and then nursing and being very chained to Gabe. I really need a new experience, and I don’t mind having Gabe with us. I think we both need something that is for us – we just need to figure out what that is and how to get to it. And some of it is Kamel getting over the “But let me count the inconveniences” mountain. Also with his new job there are some stresses in actually taking time off. I’m hoping that some more time and increased comfort level in his position will help ease some of his fears.

  6. The thing we’re most different on is social events. We are complete opposites. Lara thinks everyone is fun and wants to hang out and go to dinners and drinks and host brunches and omg everyone has a good side to them.

    I hate all that. hahahaha. I dread baby showers, and brunches, and SMALL TALK. I hate small talk. I would much rather be in a corner with 2 people talking about something deep and meaningful for hours than go through the whole “hiiii… how have you beeeeeen? hows wooooorrrkk?” ::vom::

    So that’s the main thing we disagree on. Also, I’m not as adventurous as Lara. So, exciting rollercoasters, or ziplining, or whatever seems risky .. I don’t do any of that. But i go along with it. I’ve always known we were different in that sense. Compromise in a relationship is huge. Sometimes I HAVE to go to the dinner reunion with boring people. I complain so much hahahah. I lay on the bed like a little kid saying “I’m so tired of these THINGS we have to go to.” But then Lara always tells me “well then i’m going to have to find someone else to go with.” Which always makes my jealous scorpio to come out and forces me to go.

    Sometimes I HAVE to sit by the sidelines cheering Lara on while she runs through a muddy obstacle course. But sometimes, we stay home, we have fort night, we silence our phones or cancel plans to enjoy each others company.

    Last 2 weeks have been full of social engagements. So this week when Lara said “We should have dinner with x, y and z” I said. “No. this week I’m eating popcorn in my fort.” I think we both win in these situations, it’s just a matter of sacrificing a little bit of your time and energy for the other person. You win some, you lose some. You just have to pick your battles. (so many cliches… so accurate though)

  7. I want SO BADLY to have more travel adventures, but we’re super poor right now. Grr grad school. But someday we shall make it happen!

    I’m definitely more impulsive than my husband, and I am fine to go somewhere with few plans, and then be like, hey! here’s a fun opportunity! we should go try this! He likes to plan things out, plan activities, plan for downtime. The few trips we’ve been able to take since we married, some we’ve planned meticulously, and some we’ve gone into with no plans at all, or just a basic list of things we might like to do if we get around to it, but overall I think we can be happy either way. (As long as the schedule isn’t TOO packed. We travel so rarely that we don’t want to be exhausted and worn out when we get back from vacations.) So at least there’s no argument there. I think we both wish we had time and money to do more traveling, even if it’s just a state over and not a huge international deal.

    My first thought when you said Kamel is content to stay put and never ever travel anywhere is … who says you have to take him with you?? I mean, yes, married traveling sounds nice, but if it would keep both of you happier, you could go with friends, with siblings, with parents, on your own, with volunteer programs, with “study” abroad programs (I know some cities have these even if you’re not in school)! Then you get to go with people who are just as excited as you are.

  8. Have you thought about doing an adventure without him? Like going to see a friend somewhere or taking a trip with a friend? Jimmy definitely does not have the same adventure bug I do, but i figured that in order to not be resentful i find my own opportunities. I visited friends in London, and plan on going to new Orleans and texas. I want to do stuff together too but he understands i need to get my adventure itch scratched.

  9. Our two big issues are the two-body problem when it comes to work and, previously, babies. For the longest time, he didn’t want them, and I was reaching a critical point where I had to seriously think about whether I wanted him more than I wanted babies. But then he spent six weeks overseas and came back a changed man, ‘Let’s do it, this baby thing’. The two-body problem is that he has all these awesome opportunities and offers to work all around the world and I don’t. So taking up any offer for him means potentially killing my academic career. It’s hard because half of me goes ‘Eff it, don’t worry about me – let’s do it, let’s spend two years living in Denmark and then a year in the US’ but the other half is all ‘what the eff would I be doing during those three years? Are you going to be earning enough to support the three of us, because I don’t speak Danish and, you know, work visas’. Compromise there is hard.

  10. This. Exactly this. Thankfully ours is usually for work and he has to come along! Haha. (Although he had gotten waaaaaay better about traveling since we met. But still, don’t cross James on a travel day!) Also, we hate the being away from home and hoards of people at airports & long, antsy flights… but love the seeing and doing and experiencing new things/cultures/people. We have already agreed that if I want to go to Europe (more specifically, Italy) I’ll go with my mom or a friend, because James refuses to go. Downright refuses. We tried to compromise and then just realized he didn’t want to go and I did. So someday I’ll go without him. Sadly. :-/ Is that an option for you?

  11. [good lord, this got long! Sorry!] On most topics, B and I see things eerily alike without much discussion… but travel is one of the things that we approach from totally different viewpoints.

    I grew up accompanying my dad on business trips and going on regular summer vacations. My parents both love(d) to travel in their own way (my mom likes car trips, my dad preferred flying – I think he would’ve moved overseas if Mom had been up for that) and felt it was important to expose us to different parts of the world. And since I was 15, I’ve had pen pals/”internet friends” from all over the US, and whenever I had the chance, I went to visit them in person.

    B’s family basically never took vacations until his parents retired and occasionally started going places without the kids. I think it was a mix of expense, time, and interest.

    I don’t think that’s the whole reason we approach travel like we do, but it factors in. I was kind of taken aback when I asked B, during an early-days date, “where would you go if you could go anywhere in the world?” and he replied that he honestly had no idea… it wasn’t that he didn’t *want* to travel, just that nothing particularly called out to him. I could not relate to that at all; I’ve always had a list in mind.

    In grad school, I got to travel extensively and pay very little, and it was AMAZING. I still haven’t quite adjusted to the fact that now that isn’t possible, ha. I think it spoiled me a bit, but it also fueled my desire to see everything that’s out there. Those trips were intensely memorable and broadening. I want more of that.

    When it comes to planning stuff together, B is extremely accommodating. He doesn’t want to come up with the idea, but I’ve got more than enough ideas, and I happen to love the planning part, too. Where we hit snags are that a) it doesn’t occur to him to travel, so I have to be the “nudger” b) we’re both cheapskates, but I find it easier to part with money if it’s for an adventure c) we’ve both developed a fear of flying recently (I use to barely think about it; I’ve been skydiving in a tiny plane, flown for 14 hrs straight, etc. but I’m more aware of my mortality in general, now, too). But his fear is much more intense than mine.

    I’m really not sure how to fix that last issue. We’ve talked about therapy or getting books/CDs/programs. I feel awful forcing him to fly, though, and really, the whole trip is much less fun when I remember his terror (and that was a 2 hr flight). And I’ve thought about going without him… and maybe I will go with my sisters at some point… but right now, I really want to spend time WITH him. I love our vacations.

    This year, we shelved talk of Europe. Our “compromise” is Montreal and Quebec City for 10 days, which is pretty fantastic. 🙂 Though we will be driving. But we’re both truly excited, and for now, that’s enough. We’ll probably also go somewhere near-ish in the fall, if we can afford it. We’ve had some awesome weekend trips to fairly un-exotic places. Sometimes I also have to remind myself it’s not about just sounding cool/racking up world traveler points. But I know in 2015 I’ll start getting the itch and we’ll have to muddle through and find something else that makes us both happy (not a bad problem to have, I guess). At the same time, I’m relieved that B doesn’t want to sell everything and B nomads, because that’s a bit too much travel for me.

  12. thoughts. I have them. To the point where I’ve started this several times, so please forgive any nonsensical statements.

    First: THANK YOU for being so very very brave with this post. I know it can be hard to talk about relationships, about the things that we don’t like in ourselves and our partners, because it feels like we’re betraying them. But it’s the exact opposite- it’s the desire to put energy into solving problems, into working things out, and I commend you!

    You’ve touched on something really important about marriage that I don’t think we talk about enough: how when you commit yourself to spending your life with someone, that means that your solo life is done. over. finito. No matter what happens, that person that you were can’t be any more. And that is hard and sad and deserves to be remembered with fondness and yes, sometimes a bit of longing.

    That being said, the longer that Luke and I are married, the less we have big angry my-feelings-will-never-recover-who-are-you fights. We disagree, of course. Fight, argue, make snide passive aggressive comments. But we’ve spent 10 years together (6 of them married), and over that decade we’ve had the incredible luck and fortune to grow together. As people, we’ve grown and changed and made choices, and (so far at least), we keep choosing each other. Things that a few years ago would have put one of us into a tailspin of being outside of a comfort zone, into a world of slammed doors and tears and lonely feelings, are now not natural, but going for it- trying it- is. Because we have a lot of practice in pushing each other, in pursing ourselves for each other. Perhaps the actions, the decisions, the compromises aren’t easier, but putting *us* at the forefront, feeling like it isn’t a question of us v. me, that is.

    Do I have any words of wisdom for now? Not really, other than we all get to make choices. I am so grateful that at every turn, both Luke and I have chosen the life that has us in it.

  13. This is so hard. I had one of these sad realizations recently too, though on a smaller scale. I love going to see live music, and I live in a great city for it. I am not a music fanatic by any means but seeing a band is a really fun and cool experience to me. I knew Eric didn’t love it the way I did, but only recently he told me he actually doesn’t like it at all. And I super selfishly just wish that I didn’t know this. That I could go on believing that he had a decent time when I dragged him to shows. But now that I know he doesn’t like it, even if he is willing to go with me, knowing that he’s not happy totally kills the experience for me and makes me feel like now it’s something I can’t do. (I find concert-going with friends difficult, because if you are going to shell out money for a show like that it seems to me that you either need to be dating the person you’re going with or really into that band yourself too, so finding a concert companion is tough).

  14. Yeah, we’ve got some of that.

    I think for us that part of what makes it work for us is how we talk about it (travel, or any issue) – we both make really conscious efforts to not escalate and to give each other space. This takes a lot of conscious work on both our parts. Typically when one of us is being really bitchy the other can manage to not use that to make the whole “discussion” turn into an actual fight. So we end up able to talk it out, understad where each other is coming from/ worried about and find the compromise together…. And then it feels like an “us” decision rather than a decision with a winner/loser.

    And we’ve learned how to help each other be comfortable. For example, if I want to go to a non-English speaking place we often pick a country I’ve been to before (yay previous years of grad school travel) and/or speak the language, since he’s nervous about not being able to communicate. Other places? Well, we’ll get there someday. And I give him lots of time to plan and consider without making a ‘hard sell’ of doing specific things. This way he has enough time to get comfortable with the idea and then gets excited. And vice versa: he knows that he needs to give me space about doing lots of social things on the weekends (I work longers hrs during the week than he does and often want to just hide from the world on the weekends, while he prefers a full agenda)…. If I don’t have to commit during the week (when i’m freling desperate for a break) then I’m way more likely to get to the weekend and say “sure!”…. Letting me have the space and not pushing me to make a decision is absolutely the key to getting me on board. So as we’ve learned these things about each other it has gotten easier and more fun.

    And as others have said: thanks for your candor. Good to see the tips others have left and to be reminded that it is so normal to have these kinds of issues!

  15. Things I’ve had to come to grip with:
    1. Cleanliness/Orderliness- My threshold is WAY higher than his. My solution is to either complain/nag or give up and contribute to the chaos which eventually leaves me more annoyed and resentful.

    2. Living in the same city FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES- I don’t know that this will actually happen, but we just moved and it happened to be across the street from our old place. This is where H grew up. It’s halfway between our jobs and it’s very cute, but still won’t we get bored?

    3. Not paying attention to finances/squirreling money away randomly- I like to check the bank account almost daily, make sure there are not any sketchy charges, monitor balances etc. I like having our joint savings large and ready to go for fun stuff like travel or emergency stuff like car repair. H wants to have stock accounts where he invests money that is not easily accessible and for the most part I know nothing about. Drives me crazy.

    4. Getting in a routine about anything- I don’t like routines like eating the same thing on Monday nights or even making the same meal more than once in 6 months. I don’t like signing up for events or classes that might take away my free time. H will make the same meal every night if he finds one he likes and has a schedule busier than anyone I know.

    Thanks for being so honest about your travel issues! We travel 3x a year minimum. I plan almost all of them, but have been trying to let go and let him do more. Since H is a teacher our travel is very structured- Spring Break (1 week), Summer (More than a week) and Thanksgiving (3-4 days). That’s it other than random weekends here and there. I do a fair amount of travel on my own to visit girlfriends. I wonder when we have kids if I’ll just bring them with me or leave them at home with Dad.

  16. I am lucky in that my husband and I do travel well together. We tend to like going to the same sorts of places, and doing the same activities – eating the best local food, drinking whatever the area is known for (wineries, microbreweries), seeing historical things, and hiking. We just learned early on that while he likes exploring the places we visit, he likes to do less of it, whereas I’m all “We can relax at home! Let’s see all the things while we’re here!” Vacation mode vs travel mode, I guess. Sleeping in, and designating one of morning, afternoon, or evening each day as lazy time, along with planning one set activity/outing of the day with possibilities for smaller ones if we’re up for it has worked the best.

    But don’t worry, we have our other points of contention that have a pretty big impact on our lifestyle/quality of life. Like our living situation – suburbs vs city, old vs new house, how much we should spend on a house vs other things (like travel).

    It is always reassuring to hear that other people with healthy marriages still struggle with things in their relationship that have no easy solution, and is one of the reasons I love your blog, Lauren!

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