We get asked all the time how we manage to get along so well as we live, travel and work together all the time. We've been thinking about this topic a lot in the last couple weeks as we've dealt with China falling through and the stress associated with rejiggering our travel plans in a big way. The other night, during a stopover on our way to Spain, we had an arguement at a car rental place in the middle of the night. It was about this...
Yes, our big, stupid "last one on the lot" rental car. It makes so much sense to argue about a car at 2:00 a.m., doesn't it? You know how it goes. At the time, it didn't seem silly at all.
So, since we're getting started on a new travel adventure, we thought it'd be a great time to give you our take on couplehood – along with some of the details of our biggest (dumbest) argument ever – via a version of a post that appeared over on Almost Fearless last year.
We had about the most moronic argument in the history of our relationship on the day that can be best defined as our "breaking free" moment. Tragic, I know.
There we were at the Houston airport, travelers bustling around us, and we were in the middle of a relationship mini-meltdown. Having just connected from Seattle, we were killing time before jumping on the plane that would bring us to our volunteer assignment in Ecuador. We were, of course, excited and (as the argument later proved) a little nervous and tense.
As is the case with most of our scuffles, the one we had on that September day a few years back was born of some ridiculous tit for tat. I think the first blow was something about a passport being housed in an easy-to-steal-from backpack pocket. Yep, the stuff that makes or breaks a relationship. I kid.
The old us.
The truth is that part of the reason we needed a lifestyle makeover is because we barely had the opportunity to talk – much less argue in our “old” world. Navigating our individual and upwardly mobile lives, we were the quintessential ships passing in the night. We’d have to make appointments to have dinner together, and we’d revel in the rare scheduling miracle that allowed us to enjoy, say, an entire Sunday afternoon together at home.
Like many people, we were successful at living life that way. However, things felt perpetually out of sync and difficult to balance. Our relationship was the most important thing to each of us, but we weren’t acting like it. Thus, the dissonance.
A lot of thoughts were running through our heads during that period. Like most people, we believed – on some level – that increasingly responsible jobs would lead to even higher levels of satisfaction and more freedom. You know how it goes…. You have that mental dialogue that tends to repeat the societal beliefs that we’re supposed to buy into. “I’ll have more time when I get that next job.” Stuff like that. Well, we both got plenty of the “next jobs” and a commensurate level of satisfaction never seemed to surface. Go figure.
The best news is that through that entire phase, no matter how busy or overwhelmed, we regularly took time to check in on life – to really ponder how we were feeling about things. Taking the time to actually evaluate and think critically about the different dimensions of life prompted us to be brutally honest. Rather than deriving more and more satisfaction from our situations at the time, we were both beginning to realize that we were on predetermined, cookie-cutter paths that weren’t working and, most importantly, weren’t authentically fulfilling.
Our “won’t settle for mediocre” attitude culminated in the perfect sequence of events starting when we took off for a 2-week vacation to run the Paris Marathon and came back with a completely rejiggered life agenda. Taking some time to travel and figure stuff out, we vowed to work towards a life that no longer required a vacation — a life that would be incredible every day. It would be a big leap that would force each of us to lean into a heavy dose of uncertainty.
A strong partnership can be a lot of work. Throw a transition like this into the mix, and even the best relationship can be tested.
Over the next months, leading up to that day in the Houston airport, we learned a lot about ourselves, each other and the kind of relationship and life we wanted to build.
In retrospect, we’re glad that we were never totally on autopilot. We always questioned things and never wanted to be passive about life. No matter how pathetic and stepford-y we may have felt at any given time, we knew something better and more satisfying was ahead.
The new us.
People often ask: "How do you manage to spend so much time together without going crazy?" We’re happy to report that it’s much easier than it was back in those pre-transition days. Now, because we’re both living more fulfilled lives, we’re each more comfortable in our own skin. The more you become who you’re meant to become, the more heart space and understanding you have for your partner and people in general.
But, we're human. Things get bumpy at times because of the intensity that comes with cultivating big dreams. We know, for the most part, how to navigate those bumps. Plus, it's helpful that we each have distinct and 100% separate responsibilities/authority when it comes to different dimensions of our life, travel and business.
Travel/transition days are probably among the most difficult. Thus the rental car fight. It was nothing like what went down in Houston, but tough nonetheless.
Speaking of which, we ended up nearly missing that plane to Ecuador. Yes, it’s true. Hyper-aware of all the people around us, we decided to sequester ourselves in a corner of the airport to have it out in order to determine exactly which backpack pocket works best for a passport.
Not until we heard our gate agent paging us throughout the airport did we snap out of it. We hauled ass to the gate, laughing hysterically because of our absurd behavior, because of the new life we were embarking on and because we’re crazy about each other.