My partner and I recently traveled to Sweden on a brief but eagerly anticipated trip. I haven’t written about it on LandLopers and I’m not now, but the past several months have been hard on us. We’ve had a lot of challenges to divine our way through and the stress has been considerable. As with any relationship, these events have placed a lot of stress on our relationship and after 11 years of what straight people would call marriage, we were both frustrated. We needed this trip, I just didn’t realize how much.
Even though we live in the same house and see each other every day (well unless I’m traveling) we had been growing apart. There are many reasons for this, but the fact remains and it really frustrated us both. None of our love for each other diminished, don’t get me wrong. We’re soul mates and nothing will ever change that. No, our love hadn’t been lost but our ability to connect had worsened demonstrably in recent months. Travel helped us reconnect and find that way to communicate again.
Travel isn’t just about spending time with the one you love, it’s an experience. When you travel new challenges and hurdles arise and it’s important to solve them together, as a couple. This applies the same to people dating for a month and those who have been married for thirty-years. These are skill sets that we use sometimes at home, but never in the frequency at which they occur when you travel. Finding the way to the hotel, trying to read foreign metro maps, agreeing on a restaurant for every meal – these are team-building exercises that many people spend years in therapy trying to replicate. Travel throws two people together and forces them to figure all of this out on their own. In the process couples can argue, you bet and we have, but they also get closer. They earn a little more respect for each other and remember what it’s like to work as a team. At home we both have our schedules and rarely do we have time to approach issues together. On the road it’s a completely different story.
For us this happened right away when we tried to navigate our borrowed Volvo to the hotel. We made mistakes, drove perilously close to running trams but we did it together and had a blast. We laughed together for the first time in a long time and it felt good, damn good. Throughout the brief trip these moments of mutual admiration and happiness happened far more often than arguments, something we hadn’t seen in many months.
When you travel with your significant other you do so as a team, yes, but you are both also alone. There’s no one else around and conversation happens a lot more often than at home, at least it does for us. Instead of quiet meals, we spent them talking, sharing, reminiscing and laughing. We talked about our struggles and how to work through them. We decided that life wasn’t out to get us and that in the end we’d come out stronger in spite of everything the universe has hurled onto our path. Gone were the feelings of Sisyphus and in their place I felt like a hero once again.
Travel isn’t just about couples therapy, it’s about sharing unique and amazing experiences together. I travel solo a lot and I love it, but it can also be lonely. The fact is that it’s better to experience new places with other people, especially the one you love. You create memories you will share for a lifetime; reminiscing over funny moments for years to come. That’s a special feeling and is a connection that can never be broken, no matter what happens later in life. As I get older I appreciate more the importance of these moments and the role they play in a healthy relationship.
We were in a unique situation and I get that, but I think that a lot of this holds true for anyone in a relationship of any kind. Travel by its nature forces two people together in ways both positive and negative and in the end creates a symbiotic magic that just simply isn’t possible if you’re alone. Reading back through this post and remembering the last few days I am incredibly humbled and grateful for our opportunity to travel not just to see new places, but also to be better partners to each other.
Have moments like these helped you in your own relationships?