I can't tell how blown away I am by the most LOVING, KIND women on earth who commented on my post on Cup of Jo yesterday. Seriously. There are so many good-hearted people out there and it's wonderful to be knit together through our lives and words. Thank you for that.
I love, love, love traveling with Danny. Early on we traveled together for a long extended time (5 weeks in Europe for a second honeymoon!) We were such little lovebirds that when we returned from our long journey, our friends were laughing and so curious to know, "Did you guys fight? Did you get sick of each other?!" We just laughed because the answer was no. Our travels since have been more of the same. But, I know that it's not just a coincidence. Because traveling-no matter where it is- is often not as glamorous as it sounds!! It can often include cramped traveling conditions, loss of sleep, language barriers, getting by with limited belongings, getting lost, food sickness, losing luggage, staying in hotels that don't turn out to be so desirable, being tired/hot/hungry, trying to deal with work or other issues from the road, being sweaty and dirty, and traveling with a different pace and style. Funny that most people talk about travel like it's the BEST THING ON EARTH, but it can also cause the biggest stress and the biggest fights on earth between couples!! I am sure we've all heard stories...or even experienced it ourselves.
But - there is HOPE! Getting lost on a train in Italy does not have to end up in a fight. It takes some individual practice and a dedication to a different way of life, but it's SO WORTH IT to just put your contentious habits behind you. It IS possible to change.
I've been thinking about how it's possible that Danny & I have been able to not engage in fighting...and these are my thoughts:
-Our egos are rarely mixed up in our interactions with each other. (See Eckart Tolle's books for some excellent training on this subject!!)
-We know that our individual wellness, goodness, happiness, attractiveness, intelligence, and worth is not based on or dependent upon the mood of the other. So if a little something goes wrong or one of us is having a frustrating moment - the other person knows their identity or worth doesn't need to be threatened by it. We're pretty good at knowing FULL WELL that our worth & happiness is our OWN responsibility. It is not rested on the shoulders of the other. This makes such a huge difference, I can't even tell you.
-We don't take each other's moments of weakness personally. Instead, we see the other person with an extra dose of compassion if for some reason they are not being themselves.
-All of the above means we are able to just be STABLE for the other person in a moment of difficulty. In that moment, we try to "Pursue a Virtue" for the sake of the other person. This helps the moment to pass much faster so that we can both return to the state we want to be in. We call it "Love for the Sake of Loving" - it's the desire to just be loving, just because that's who you are, not because you're getting something in return.
Living this way will make you the BEST TRAVEL PARTNER EVER! And even more importantly, the best life partner, too. Of course we can't always make our partner engage in this way of life. But we can still offer up our best to the table and see what happens. Either way, you'll be better for it. And your soul can still be whole and at peace.
Here are a few situations when we put this stuff into practice while traveling:
Danny looooves to read EVERY WORD at museum exhibits. There are few things he loves more than consuming information (he's one of the most avid readers I've ever met...along with my lovely niece, Chloe. :) I mostly prefer to just skim through a museum and spend time on a few select things that really catch my interest.
And so, that leads to lots of waiting on my end. :) Sometimes I will walk ahead and sit down on a bench to wait for Danny. I think this could potentially drive us both crazy. It could make Danny feel rushed or annoyed that I'm not joining him; or I could be so annoyed that he is taking a loooong time. But, instead, I choose to just be really happy that he's enjoying the museum. And I feel gratitude that he's not annoyed with me for not standing with him. This way Danny feels no pressure from me, nor I from him. He gets to enjoy "his thing" fully and I also get to enjoy the museum at my own pace. The result is we get to visit museums without any huffs and puffs.
Here I am waiting for Danny at the Viking Museum in Norway. :)
And here we go....
I loooove going to outdoor markets if any hand made goods or fruits or vegetables are involved. You would think one or two markets would be plenty. But, no, I love going to EVERY market that we see. haha. :) I found this photo on Danny's phone and this must be his constant view while I'm browsing. Danny COULD be terribly annoyed with me. But, he just smiles and never once makes me feel rushed. In fact, he is rather happy that I love the markets in Ecuador as I am actually not usually a "shopper" on our travels...I guess I just haven't ever come across so many handmade goods like they have in Ecuador.
Danny and I have very different levels of comfort within a hotel room. I don't let ANY of my belongings ever touch the floor where I am certain there are dust mites and other unmentionables I'd rather not welcome into my luggage. I don't even like walking bare foot on any surface and usually wear flip flops, especially in the bathroom - even in nice hotels. :) I also don't like sitting or laying myself on the outside comforter as I fear they don't wash those, so I always fold them down first before using the bed. And Danny? :) He doesn't mind getting comfy cozy one bit. These are his items next to the bed at a hostel. You can see he didn't mind walking around that place in his socks. Sometimes in a hotel he will even kneel on the floor and lean on the bed to use his laptop. :) This makes me cringe completely, but I just bite my tongue and let it go. And so does he as he sees me being careful about wearing flip flops in the shower or being careful to not let my belongings touch the floor. :)
So, being gluten-free and dairy-free can
sometimes always be really, really tricky while traveling. Hunger can especially kick in if it's especially hot and if we're walking a TON and in need of calories (or, as Danny says, if we just got done with the museum above and Danny's desire to learn impeded on my eating schedule :). If Danny gets hungry and wants a snack, it's easy for him to just stop at a bakery and grab some bread or stop into a pizzeria or ice cream shop. I need much more planning. And if I don't do that well, sometimes I can get so starving for something to eat that I would be beyond the point of reasoning. Irritation levels go way up, and my ability to be satisfied with any of Danny's attempted solutions go way down. Seriously, I feel like for a moment I become a totally different person.
The point is, when one of us loses it in a moment like this (for Danny it might be his frustrations with directions and the stress that comes with being responsible for navigation), the other makes a conscious decision to not take any of that ugliness personally. In a food crisis moment, Danny knows I am not myself. He knows that it would all blow over as soon as he could get some GF/DF food into me. He's so good at overlooking with total forgiveness whatever negativity I may be sending out, responding not with defensiveness and frustration, but patience and gentleness.
I hope I never imply through our writing that it's never OK to have a bad moment. Danny and I have bad moments. At times life gets ugly for everyone and we're no exception.
The key is what the other person decides to do in that moment they see their partner struggling most. I can't tell you how important this is.
Surrendering your ego, your need to be validated and approved of at all times, your control over things in life that are ultimately uncontrollable (be they circumstances or someone else's behavior), and surrendering it all with the motivation of loving the imperfect human being you are paired with is truly the greatest thing we can do for each other. It makes it so these moments that could turn into an epic travel fight are just a passing moment and a reason to be grateful for a partner who is willing to look over your weakness and give you room to return back to your better self.
I challenge you all to put this into practice! It will change your life, change your family, and even change the world.
P.S. For fun, will you guys give your own example of your most frequent travel blow up or annoyance (if you have them) and what you might do next time to respond in a different way? I can't tell you how big of a difference it makes when you plan in advance how you might want to respond.