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Marry Your Travel Partner

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Yesterday was my one year anniversary. I have been a married man for one full year. Last year at this time I was wearing a wig and a top hat and Chaya was disguised behind a joke mustache. People were playing kazoos, everybody was standing out in a rain storm in their best clothes. We were at our wedding.

Read more at Vagabond Wedding

How did this happen? How was I riding a bicycle across Eastern Europe making way to the Middle East, alone, as free to stay as I was to go, with only I and I alone to worry about one moment and then married with a baby the next.

I am not sure, though I remember the night of the great decision:

I was rolling around in my bunk in Budapest. I had to decide if I was going to keep pedaling across Europe or finish my last university semester which would entail traveling to Brooklyn. I am a sound sleeping man, I have little head noise that keeps be awake at night, my guilt slate is generally wiped clean, my regret stores are often empty. When I cannot sleep, it usually means something — it usually means that my body knows that it is entering a major change, that some twist will soon unravel itself, that something is going to happen.

I had that feeling the night in Budapest, I twisted, I turned. I got up at four AM, what was I going to do? Go or stay?

Chaya was sending me emails from Maine. The last time I saw her was two years before in Nicaragua when she invited me to go skinny dipping and then chickened out. Now she was emailing me. Come to NY she said, I will be there. Come to Brooklyn, you can live in my closet.

Harpy.

I went to Brooklyn.

But the siren’s song netted her more than she bargained for. With the confirmation of a baby, we knew we were on the long road together.

It was OK, I liked Chaya. I suppose she also like me enough, too.

The rest has been published.

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Traveling with Chaya as my wife has been exponentially easier than traveling with Chaya as my girlfriend. This journey with Chaya the wife across the USA, the Dominican Republic, and Central America has been a little smoothing than moving across Eastern Europe and the Middle East with Chaya the girlfriend. Married people fight a lot, but married people also know how to make up quickly.

Cultures on every spec of the globe have evolved equivalent social arrangements to marriage. There are some where the idea has not taken root, but in most places it is ordinary for groups to come together in ceremony for the acknowledgement of one person forming a family unit with another. There is a reason for this:

Relationships are hard, family units are often strongest when both the mothers and fathers are around to raise the children in tandem. I suppose the grand idea of marriage is to make it far more difficult to break up than it is to just work out your problems.

It works. If it were not for the rings on our fingers Chaya probably would have left me in the dust long ago.

Marriage makes me work out the problems that the Road once solved. When leaving is no longer an option, you are forced to come up with new solutions, new ways, compromises, you need to listen and get creative: I know that it is better for me to get along with my wife than to win an argument. When leaving is no longer an option, getting along becomes much more of a pressing strategy.

My approach to relationships has always been marked by two choices: take it or leave it, do I stay or do I leave. These were always the two options, to stay with someone or to go on a new path. When I would hit a hard point in a relationship, I often would think more about leaving than coming up with ways to get along. Sometimes I would invite problems to provide myself with the impetus to leave.

Though now I am married, my path and my relationship are one. There is no shaking either of them.

Marriage has shifted my perception of my options, it has altered my parameters, the arrangement has forced me to come up with new ways to bend and adjust where before I would have remained ridged and stiff and exited stage left: it was always too easy just to leave.

Now if I leave, two people follow. I have become three.

It has been this way for one year.

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When analyzing your romantic partner for the potential of having a long go, the question is not “How well do we get along?” but, “How well do we fight?”

There is no better way to test this than by traveling together.

Travel is an inherently selfish act — the main tenants of travel is to actively engage your own self-development, your own knowledge, experience, investigations, projects, and interests, or to do exactly what you want to do when you want to do it. Like so, it is often difficult to travel with another person, much more so a romantic partner.

It is easy to become comfortable with a person that you copulate with, the walls of formality and respectful distance dissolve proportionate to the proximity of your genitals to that of another person. When you keep your clothes on there is a respect barrier that is not breached, your companion sees you for your clothing. When you get naked with a person, the formality is gone — there is little else to hide, you let it all out, you take liberties you normally wouldn’t, say things you would not even ordinarily think, get sloppy, make mistakes, expect more, place responsibility for yourself with another, expect to be emotionally pampered, create far more things to fight about.

It is far easier to travel with someone who you do not cross the romantic divide with, where the formal distance of being clothed is not impeded upon.

People who frolic naked fight.

So, again, the question is “How well do you fight with your partner?”

It takes far more skill to be able to fight with your partner than to get along with them. It is my impression that many relationships do not work because it is felt that argument is something pathological, the sign of a bad relationship, a type of interaction that is to be avoided. It is not, if you can fight well.

It is good to argue, fight, and take the piss out of your partner. It keeps the relationship fresh and prevents anger and resentment from building up. The spouting off of little ripples of anger at regular intervals is often better than big explosions at the end of periods of calm. I would rather take a biweekly dose of rain than a seasonal hurricane. It is good to fight, it is good to argue, it is good to not be afraid to express your feelings, your anger, your grit without checking it through the lens of logic (should I say this????). It is good to be a dick, to have and show your moods, and it is good to have a partner that can take it.

And give it too.

A good, quick fight in a relationship is often as essential as sex. If you can say your true feelings, throw a couple punches, take a few hits, loose a tooth or two, say something mean, and get as angry as you feel, and then make up and forget about it 10 minutes later then it is my impression that your relationship has the ingredients for success.

If you hold grudges, are in constant battles for face, are put down in your partner’s attempt to prop themselves up, then maybe it is time to evaluate the slate and hit the road. Travel shows a person’s true colors faster and more clearly than other way of living that I have observed. Traveling brings people together close, it adds stresses, forces companions to work together as a team.

If you want to test how well you can fight with a person, go traveling with them.

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Being married is good, for I at least do not have to question if I want to ditch my partner mid-way through each argument we get into. This is one chore, one taxation of the mind, that I no longer need to do anymore.

Because I can’t ditch my travel companion.

She is my wife. There is no decision to it: when in the thorough of conflict or argument I know that I need to work towards a solution, that running away, breaking up, giving her the slip is no longer an option.

So I put my capacities towards other plans — rather than plotting my escape, I plot how I can make things better.

Being married is good.

I married my wife because I can fight with her. Though I can also get along with her, too. This has been a fun year — the best I have had in a long time.

One year of marriage down, we are still together, I am still happy to go to sleep and find the same women in my bed that was there the night before.

Hey, I know that she is not going anywhere either.

When options are reduced, the plot can be refined, the strategy perfected. I have less romantic options now than I did before, but I know what I am working on, I can see the picture taking shape, I know that I am building today where I left off yesterday, and that tomorrow there will still be work to do.

I like where this is going.

Chaya and Wade married for one year.

Happily.

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Filed under: Celebrations, Central America, Guatemala, Love/ Relationships/ Sex, Travel With Family

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 76 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to Forbes, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3048 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Polis, Republic of CyprusMap