Editor’s Note: Originally published April 8, 2008.
This past weekend my wife and I traveled to Florida for a family wedding with our two kids, ages 1 and 3, in tow. Admittedly, before the trip we were both apprehensive.
Would we be asked to get off the plane at one of our layover stops due to one of our kids “loosing it” during the flight? Would something happen that we hadn’t planned on while at the hotel?
To prepare for all possible occurrences, we packed too much stuff. This was confirmed when we had a 30 minute layover in Houston and our next flight left from a different terminal.
Upon returning home after the trip, my wife and I discussed what we learned.
First, we can travel with our kids. They did great. My son even had an ear infection while there which allowed me to meet our hotel neighbors. In fact, the introductions began one evening when they banged on the wall and screamed “come on, are you gonna let the baby scream all night again?”
Second, we carried too much stuff. We need to work on traveling light. I now have a vision of our next trip being one where each member of the family has a backpack. That’s it.
In the spirit of traveling light, what if this idea were applied to marriage? Can you travel light relationally? Sure. Here’s a few essential rules:
- Take only what you can carry with you. How much stuff do we carry from our past that is either unnecessary or gets in the way of the present? Spend some time dealing with your own baggage in order to limit the amount of weight your partner will have to help you with.
- Carry baby wipes. Traveling is messy. So is marriage. And life. Ask for forgiveness. Clean yourself up by dealing with your own mess and take responsibility for the outcomes. Baby wipes are great for wiping the slate clean. So is forgiveness.
- Use ziploc bags. If you travel through an airport, these are essential. They can only carry a few items, usually the important items. We carried our son’s medication for his ears in ziplocs. For a relationship, a ziploc can store the important items and keep them in the open. The love you have for each other. Respect. Humor. Family. Whatever is most important. Keep it in the open.
- Don’t over plan. We carry too many expectations into marriage. So much so that we will often miss the present because we are caught up in other places we want to see. If you are traveling for vacation, over planning creates the need for relaxation after you return from your trip. Isn’t that what the trip was for in the first place? Learn to relax and savor the time together (see next point).
- Incorporate time to relax/nap each day. Since I have small children, one of my favorite times of the day is the afternoon nap time. This is either time for me to relax, write, watch a movie or do something for myself. When I’m with my wife, it’s time to sit together, take a nap together, or try some other things. You get the idea.
- Take only a few changes of clothes. Let’s face it, we really only wear a few outfits anyway. Usually the most comfortable ones. Our marriage is often where we can be most comfortable. Learning to be comfortable with your spouse provides a way for you to try on new things (see next point).
- Go native. Be adventurous, take a risk, eat native food, role play with your spouse. Be willing to be a little uncomfortable at times in order to grow closer to your spouse. You don’t have to try everything the native culture provides, but being willing to try on one or two things could go a long way to spicing things up in your marriage.
- Keep your ID handy and in a safe place. It is easy to lose yourself in marriage. To lose sight of your own dreams and desires. Be willing to follow your own course at times. Seek your own dreams and desires. This will allow for you to grow, which will benefit the marriage.