About our relationship

(This article is part of a series called:  Checking in at 12 months.)

How are we doing as a couple after another six months joined at the hip, 24 x 7?  We are still working well together as a team, dealing with the daily challenges that come our way.  A deep level of trust has taken root as we rely heavily on each other during often quite trying circumstances – dealing with languages we don’t understand, coping with cultural differences, or just trying to get our bearings in constantly changing surroundings.   We recognize and appreciate each other’s strengths. For example, I notice Chris will defer more easily to my navigational intuition.  When I just sense we have gone the wrong way, or missed a turn, he is much more likely to listen to me these days.  As for me, I am more than happy to let Chris negotiate deals for us as he isn’t shy to ask the question: Is that the best you can do?  Chris is always the keeper of our room key and responsible for making sure our stuff is secure which suits me fine.  No need for me to second guess if I have locked the room, or where did I put the key seeing as I am prone to absent mindedness and the ensuing anxiety that invariably follows.

We challenged ourselves as a couple and as individuals when we decided to walk the Camino de Santiago independent of each other.  What an experience that turned out to be for both of us.  Quite unexpectedly, it became a spiritual journey for me.  I faced and conquered my fear of being alone and fully embraced my aloneness.  I dealt with some unresolved baggage from my past, primarily related to my decision to leave the Jehovah’s Witness religion about fifteen years ago.  But what astounded me the most on that journey was the way in which our paths kept criss-crossing, and the issues that surfaced with each chance encounter.  Every meeting gave us an opportunity to learn more about ourselves and each other.  A fundamental difference between us emerged, catching us both off guard.  My need for more space and solitude versus Chris’ need for togetherness has caused me to challenge my definition of marriage and to consider a broader view that could include periods of separation.   This is something we will need to negotiate going forward.

But an even greater challenge faces us as we complete our first year of life on the road.  We are at odds about the kind of lifestyle we want to live when we return home.  Chris is looking forward to settling down again, putting down roots, having a place to call home, and a workshop to tinker in.  I, on the other hand, do not feel the need to settle down. To the contrary, I am looking forward to a more flexible lifestyle that would allow us to spend time in different parts of the world.  I can imagine living for short periods of time, say 6-12 months in different locations like Paris or Berlin.  While I don’t think I would travel for such a long term again, the idea of travelling for 3-6 months at a time really appeals to me.  The important thing for me is to design our life so that we can pick up and go whenever we wish.

Clearly, we are on two very different pages and this is causing some tension between us as we try to figure out how to negotiate this seemingly insurmountable difference.  We both know compromise will be necessary but neither of us can picture what such a compromise would look like quite yet.

For now, we have put this on the back burner, trying to focus on staying in the moment and appreciating what each day brings us.  This is easier said than done.  But we are both committed to at least another six months of travel if for no other reason than to avoid going back to Canada in the dead of winter.  Maybe by the springtime, the solution will manifest itself or maybe we’ll be in a different place and back on the same page again.

 

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