As my husband and I celebrated our five year anniversary this past month, we took some time to reflect on the years we've spent together. Going over moments that stood out, it was no surprise that many of our fondest memories and transformative times were during times of travel.
When I think back to our very first trip together through Europe, I remember how much that trip impacted our relationship. It challenged us, broadened our perspective, and helped us see "life" in a new light. There's been moments of frustrations, times of problem solving, recognizing and responding to each other's need — this all tends to be highlighted during travel, especially as we break out of our daily rhythm.
Here's a few ways travel has shaped by marriage:
1. Broadened our perspective.
Oh how small or rather large the world is. We grew up in small towns, and the moment we step off a plane in a new country, we can't help but have our perspectives opened. New languages, new foods, new cultures, you-name-it, all of it broadens your perspective, your tolerance, and everything in between. The best part? You get to take these new lenses back home with you.
2. Learned more about each other.
Think you know your significant other well? I've never learned more about my husband than being on the road. The first lesson learned was his tempo in travel — we couldn't be more opposite, which is completely okay, just took time to adjust. I (now) know he needs time to rejuvenate when I could run a million miles an hour, so when we book trips I always allow a few days for relaxation. This same balance of fast-paced days and time to relax is also something we've incorporated to our time at home.
3. Shared moments of joy.
I'll never forget the time I saw Travis eat his first bowl of pho in Hanoi. That image is imprinted in my mind forever (see below). There's these shared moments of joy. Not to say you can't have them at home, but something about being somewhere new that opens a blank canvas for these kinds of things to be painted.
4. Found the value of breaking out of daily habits.
It's easy to get into habits at home, and in our marriage. Stepping out and looking at it when you don't have to be in it provides an opportunity for some fresh perspective. Finding things we love, things we dislike, all seem to show themselves when we step away from the daily routine.
5. Refreshed our relationship.
Ruts happen. Life happens. Travel has this beautiful way of interrupting all of this. Maybe it's the white sand beach or the food carts in Vietnam, whatever it is, it's beautifully refreshing, and that same energy is brought into the relationship. Every year for our anniversary we take a mini "sabbath" where we go somewhere in the wilderness, turn our phones off and refresh — something that has changed our marriage for the better.
6. It challenged us and changed how we problem solve.
There are stresses in travel, no doubt, and learning to work through them has provided some of the most valuable tools in our marriage today. I still laugh when we locked our keys in the place we rented last year, and how we problem-solved together to get into the house. Or the time Travis forgot his passport at a security gate in Thailand and I almost lost it, and it all worked itself out (I learned a lesson in not overreacting :-)). The problems tackled together create bonds that are virtually unbreakable.
7. Changed our values.
This might be the biggest one we've taken away from travels: experiences over things. For our birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, we skip the gifts. The experience of travel has shown us so much how things don't provide any real value, and that shared experiences (whether home or abroad) are truly invaluable.
Here's a few of my favorite memories from the past five years...
The Hanoi, eating pho moment..