Without a safety net, I quit my job to spend more time with my husband — and travel the world.
It was during our one-year wedding anniversary that my husband and I applied for our first passport, all in an effort to get back to a happy marriage we once had. I put rollers in my hair for the occasion. Neither of us had been out of the country before, unless you’d count my senior year spring break trip with ten girls, a booze cruise, and watered-down Sex on the Beach cocktails.
My husband and I had saved for months to travel around Ireland for ten days. The only to-do we planned in advance was to rent a two-seater Citroen that barely contained our overstuffed luggage; everything else we did on a whim.
We stopped when and where we pleased. We sampled Irish whiskey. We ate the best oysters of our life, pulled out of the Galway Bay, and washed them down with a pint of Guinness. And we met locals that we now call our friends. It was one of the many benefits of traveling we experienced.
This was the trip that fueled our fire for travel. This was the time in my life when I learned that being married would never be about what we have, but what we do. This trip would define our relationship — our marriage — to this day.
That same year, we left our hometown in the Missouri Ozarks, rented out the picture-perfect house we’d bought only a year earlier, and moved to New York City. While our friends were registering for Diaper Genies and Pack ‘N Plays, we were moving into an overpriced 500-square-foot, six-floor walk-up in the East Village. This move would be only the beginning of the adventures the initial stages of stress testing our suitcases.
I worked at a magazine in the SoHo neighborhood of NYC for five years before biting the bullet and going full-time freelance to travel. My husband had the opportunity to attend a conference that was located on one of our “Travel Bucket List” locations, and it seemed like a sign (that, and I had used my allotted two weeks vacation by March) to take a leap of faith.
Maybe it wasn’t the most monumental of decisions — we were not “trying” nor were we buying New York City real estate. But we were relying entirely on freelance income from one partner, and we were going to spend a great deal of time traveling while doing so.
We booked the conference, I left my job, and we took a ten-day, pant-crashing hike though the Grand Canyon. Since then, we’ve learned that anything challenging has proven to be positive for our relationship. My fear of heights was put to the test during this canyon trip, and it was incredible to witness my husband’s strength and patience while we hiked together.
With all the traveling came new roles. While we knew who was “toilet cleaner” and who was the “garbage taker-outer” at home, over time we’d come to understand that while traveling together, he’s the driver (on any side of a road) and I’m the map-reader. I’m the self-appointed travel agent and he’s the packer. I’m reckless and he keeps us grounded.
Most of the places we’ve chosen to visit since have forced us to completely unplug — typically the goal of most American tourists — but for us, we’re re-learning (after nine years of marriage) how to spend our time together.
Let me put the emphasis on time, because we’re spending a lot of it together these days. While most of our trips are occupied by enjoying local food, navigating foreign transportation and meeting new people, there are days when we’ve had it up to our ears with each other’s company and the little things start to get on our nerves (when did he start doing that hacking sound when he brushes his teeth?). To quell the frustration, we usually settle in quietly with a book or write in separate rooms. A stiff drink also does wonders.
We’re also trying to learn what allows us to be individuals while we’re traveling together as a team, a word that’s taken on an entirely new meaning in our relationship. I’ve always considered my husband to be my partner, my friend, my roommate and my soulmate — all of those things you get with the “til death do us part.”
But now that we’ve tackled language barriers in Tunisia, slept on mats throughout Japan, spent three weeks cooking (and eating) our way though Italy and getting hopelessly abandoned in Mexico City, it brings on an entirely new meaning.
My husband has become my hero when we’re stranded on a train cargo in Amsterdam, when our airline goes out of business mid-flight (who knew this could actually happen?!), and when I’ve had what I’m certain is the world’s worst case of food poisoning. It’s times like those that you realize that there’s no one in the world you’d rather do this with — and that whole teeth-brushing racket really isn’t really so bad at all.
This article has been republished from Your Tango with full permission. You can view the original article here.
If you liked this story, read more like it on YourTango.com: