Wednesday, February 08, 2006

I haven't killed her yet...

"I want to spend every moment of the rest of our lives together"

and...

I have found out there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.-Tom Sawyer Abroad

Yes, these quotes may seem conflicting and a little out of place. I love my wife. And when you find the one you love, what's wrong with spending all your time together?

Then why do so many couples upon retirement find they can't stand to be in the same room together for more than a few hours? Why do people find the excuse of "working late" to avoid having to spend extra time at home with the significant other/family? Where does spending so much time together go wrong?

For the past nine and a half months and counting, we've had a chance to find that out. From when we quit our jobs to today, almost every waking moment of every day has been spent together. Never mind traveling through 17 languages and 22 countries so far; this has been the challenge of the trip. And as the post header says, we haven't killed each other yet.

How have we been able to do it? Such a good question. We have always had a relationship where things happen organically. There isn't a big powwow or lots of lists to make big decisions. Ok, there's actually lots of lists (I am married to my wife after all) but they seem to act as confirmation of the organic discussions. Things just kind of just happen after a lot of smaller discussions. I really believe that this is the biggest reason why we haven't had any major issues. Because of this steady stream of conversation, we haven't had to worry about having small issues get out of proportion over the long haul.

Sure, it hasn't been easy at times with our own foibles being magnified in the gaze of international travel. What with Becca editing my posts after they go up, reading books at a rate no human can keep up with and sometimes letting her Type A+ personality reemerge like a Phoenix at the most inopportune of times there are moments when I feel my sunny happy demeanor being strained. Not to say that I'm a saint; my faults tend to be more in the self punishment/crappy self esteem genre except for when I'm stubbornly insisting on walking places we could get to in a fraction of the time for 25 cents.

How do we handle those bad times? Other than the obvious yet pretty effective answer of communication (still the best answer out there), we've got a few little tools we've picked up over 9 1/2 months to help smooth out the bumpy spots:

iPod Shuffles: In general they've been used a little more in Asia thanks to the long bus rides where reading and writing is an impossibility. Their primary use is to signal to the other that any non-essential communication is now officially on hold until said iPod is shut off.

The Morning Walk: Mostly a me thing but definitely needed for those days that one of us isn't exactly full of energy while the other is bouncing off the walls driving the other insane. Varying energy levels is something typically not thought about on a trip like this. Why? Because when you're at home one of you can go for a run or doing something active while the other sits on the couch and reads a book/watches football. Not as much of an option when you're on the road.

Books: What? Us? Read Books? Always the default when one of us wants some quiet time.

Probably quite a few more but I just can't think of any more due to the triple digits temps I'm currently writing this in. But the short of it is we've done an excellent job of picking up when one or the other is needing some "me time" and acting accordingly. And not being offended when the other decides to take it.

So how do people successfully survive being together? I've mentioned a few of the methods we use but it seems like the key is just being willing to give each other time alone when you need it and continuing to communicate. And being able to recognize the signals that it's time to have that time alone. Mainly, listen to all the clues (verbal and otherwise) and act accordingly.

So to Becca, thank you for being my best friend and being willing to take the plunge together on this trip. I know I'm not always the easiest person to be around; I can be moody, petulant and exasperated all in the same afternoon. Traveling isn't always easy but doing it with you has made it the best no matter how many "good stories" we've accumulated.

And to my wife, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! Thanks for not killing me yet...

Brian

4 comments:

Steven said...

Amen...

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday indeed!!! I have been thinking about you all week, Becca, and hoping your birthday would be great. You guys are great together and I can only imagine that this trip will strengthen your marriage in a way little else could.

Happy Birthday again!

Love,

Kristin, Chris, Eli & Isaac

Dad"D" said...

In the little time we have on this planet, it is nice to have a companion, lover,and a best friend that you can spend your days with. So glad you two are so happy and adventerous in your road to life. As said by someone it isn't the final destiny, but the journey that is the greatest reward. How wonderful to make this journey with the one you love.

Elaine said...

"Oh....." the mother smiles with pride. Our children bring us so much joy!