He Said/She Said: Travel as Marital Counseling

He Said/She Said: Travel as Marital Counseling

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“Relationship counseling is the process of counseling the parties of a relationship in an effort to recognize and to better manage or reconcile troublesome differences and repeating patterns of distress.” Wikipedia

Repeating patterns of distress?  Recognizing troublesome differences?  That’s traveling as a couple in a nutshell.  Does taking a long trip together serve as marital counseling?  Let’s find out. .

HE SAID…

. As regular readers of this blog know, I’m perfectly normal and easy to deal with.  My wife though…well she’s crazy.  In a one restaurant town with only one item to serve, she can’t decide what to order.  When clean she has four shirts, two pairs of pants and one pair of shorts, yet doesn’t know what to wear.  With two days in a city she’ll select six days’ worth of activities.  Don’t even get me started with her sense of direction, she always wants to lead…but never knows where she’s going.  My wife is seriously nuts.

If we had stayed at home I would never have seen these things.  Without spending every minute of every day, watching every decision she has to make, I could have gone decades without recognizing the troublesome differences.  While I subscribe to the idea that “nothing clears the mind like the absence of options” LOCAVORista always believes there are other options and will spend hours trying to figure them out.  At home I heard stories of how she stopped at five grocery stores on her way home to get things she needed, but never really thought about it.

Traveling together is another story…now I get dragged into the five stores and have to watch her make decisions.  I get to watch, question and analyze her doing things that at home I would never see, things that even living together, go on behind-the-scenes.  Traveling together though, brings it all out in the open, for each of us to bear witness to each other’s idiosyncrasies.

Despite our differences our marriage has become even stronger spending every day together

In the “real world”, that hypothetical place that most of our readers exist, there is a division of tasks.  One person might do most of the shopping and another most of the cleaning.  If someone needs something they can go get it themselves.  This allows two people to do more than the sum, but also hides how each person goes about getting things done.  At home it’s a mystery to me where some things in our pantry and fridge come from.  Traveling though blurs the lines, depending on the moment each of us may do the same task (such as buying bus tickets) and the other watches how it’s gone about.  Inevitably we tell each other, “I would have done it differently,” but each time we learn a little more about how we each do things.

This watching each other, sharing the experiences, has taught us about how each other thinks, how we each get things done, and how we interact with the world. This is better than marital counseling.  Instead of sitting down and talking through our differences we see them, then have to deal with them to keep moving forward.  We are forced to reconcile differences because nothing is worse than a pissed off spouse on a 30 hour bus ride.  There is no sanctuary without one another, a problem cannot be left behind, it is there until it’s dealt with.  This has taught us more than any therapist could ever teach us. .

SHE SAID…

.I’ve never read the book “Men are from Mars and Woman are from Venus”, but I don’t have to because I’ve lived it, only I’m convinced my husband may be from as far away as Pluto.  Spending everyday with him has taught me more than I ever cared to know about him both emotionally and physically.  I have a whole new appreciation for the idea that ignorance is bliss. There were things that I knew before we left such as my husband’s line of work  focused on strategy and efficiency and I knew he didn’t have to deal with people too much. But, I didn’t fully realize is how these things would play out on the road.

Had we not taken this trip I wouldn’t have seen how important efficiency is to my husband.  For example, we’ll be visiting something as epic as the  Taj Mahal and he’ll say “let’s visit first thing in the morning to get it out of the way, so we can spend the rest of the day doing whatever we want.” What?!  I came to Agra to see the Taj Mahal, I don’t need to be efficient and save time, or “get it out of the w ay” that’s why I’m here, it’s the main event! Life is not a business and not everything needs to be done to maximize productivity. Don’t even get me started on his strategies to insure there is no wasted effort.

Having worked in a customer facing role I know that not everything in life can be planned and strategized, because there is always the human factor.  If I’m hungry now, it doesn’t matter if it makes more sense to go visit whatever sight first because we’re there.  I can’t just stop being hungry or not feel an emotion because it’s inconvenient.  If I’m frustrated in Japan and tears start to come, I can’t hold them back in order to “not cause a scene”, I’m not a robot.  But thinkCHUA has many robotic tendencies, depending on the situation he can just “re-program”, he feels no regret for missing something, no special connection to the stranger that helped us find our way or no need to be nice to someone that wronged him.

Despite over two years together, most days are still all smiles!

I enjoy the oddities in the every day and doing normal tasks in a new country as it teaches me about the country and the people despite the inefficiencies. However, my husband can only analyze how it’s done and determine how it could be done better.  I understand this is what makes him successful at work and now I have a much better idea of what he did for a living.  I also have a much greater appreciation for our differences and how they make us much better as a whole.  Whether subconscious or not we definitely picked each other for what we lacked and have learned to live with those differences, spending 24/7 together for over two years. We have learned much more than any therapist could have hoped to teach us about how to use our differences to our advantage and build a better relationship together.

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Comments

» gl07 :
May 2, 2013

This is absolutely true! You can’t keep a grudge when you are trying to enjoy one of wonders of the world. And you can’t keeping fighting forever when your partner is the ONLY other person who speaks English… :)

LOCAVORista Reply:

We couldn´t agree more, it is tough to stay mad at the only person you can talk to!

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.
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