Josh and I have been madly in love with each other since the young age of 17. We left on this trip after being together for 8 years and married for 4. Before getting married we traveled through Europe together for 3 months and got a preview of what our travel styles were. Josh is extremely patient, Caroline…not so much. When it comes to fighting we are both reasonably rational and neither of us have a hot temper, but when asked if we fought while spending every minute of every day with each other for a year, the only honest answer is “absolutely, all the time”.
We love traveling together as a couple and over the years have adapted to travel and fight well together.
We learned so much about each other this year, the good and the bad…and the don’t ever need to know.
The Art of Fighting
Fighting is inevitable, but there is an art to fighting, traveling and staying married. If you are with someone for 24 hours a day, you see everything. You may love someone, but still not support their bad habits or daily routines. The key is to find compromises and create your own travel routines that avoid escalating the fights.
Avoid using Jabs
Jabs are useless phrases that are thrown into fights which don’t add anything to the conversation. They usually bring up something negative in the past, put down the other person or is something that you know will get the other fired up. It’s something you say just because you’re mad and it doesn’t even have anything to do with what you are fighting about.
Minimize the jabs in your fights – they only push buttons that make the fight more intense. Call each other out for using Jabs – you usually don’t realize you are using them in the heat of the moment.
Accept that you disagree
You are allowed to have your own opinions. You most likely will disagree on a majority of the decisions that need to be made while traveling. It’s OK. Marriage is all about compromise and in order to maintain a healthy balance you need to both win.
The marriage isn’t over because you both can’t agree on the next restaurant to eat dinner at, or what time you need to leave to get to the airport. In the moment these small decisions seem like relationship make or breaks, but looking back a few hours later it seems ridiculous that you even wasted time discussing.
Take a minute to cool down
If you feel your blood starting to boil, take a step back. Write in your journal, leave the room, or take a really deep breath. You don’t have to respond right away! Traveling puts you in all new situations, all the time. Your emotions are heightened and you are constantly having to make decisions and deal with new surroundings. Because of this, you are more likely to get angry easier and need to recognize when your frustrations begin to build.
I disagree with the well-known advice “Don’t go to sleep angry”. Starting a fight at night is usually the worst. You are both tired and likely irrational. Agree that you will both discuss the issues in the morning and don’t be surprised if you wake up with less anger than the night before.
Most couples try to ignore the problem and hope it goes away on its own.
There is no use in fighting if you aren’t going to be honest. While you are discussing a decision or issue that you have, give your full opinion in a respectful way. If you avoid saying something because you are afraid of your partner’s reaction, all you are doing is putting off the fight until a later date.
Fight in private – don’t make a scene in public
Everyone has seen that couple. Screaming at each other in the corner over something dumb that won’t matter in 24 hours. It’s embarrassing to you, and uncomfortable for everyone watching. If there is something that boils your bubbles and you can’t keep it in – return to your hotel room or find a private area where you can hash it out alone.
With travel, comes a lack of privacy. You tend to spend majority of your time eating out and exploring which can make it hard when you feel the urge to argue. If you can’t get away and find privacy, wait. Waiting until you get back to your hotel room will give you both time to cool down and will avoid the awkward public fight that no one wants to be a part of.
Don’t use the dramatic words “every time” or “always”
Words like Every time and Always are most likely being dramatic!
Your partner probably doesn’t ALWAYS do the thing you are mad at him about, but in the moment the dramatic words seem to make a better point. Keep these types of words out of your fights because they will lose their meaning, and will lose your partner’s attention.
Accept Being Uncomfortable
Traveling involves getting up early to sightsee or rushing to catch a flight, eating weird foods at random times and sleeping in new beds. You are constantly off balance and away from your normal routine. Meltdowns will happen, and when they do happen, uncover the why and address the problem.
Are you angry because you didn’t sleep at all, or are you impatient because you really are starving. Are you yelling because you have been walking for 2 hours in 100 degree heat or are you frustrated that your flight has been delayed for the 3rd time and you are missing the next connection.
We travel because we love the adventure of exploring new places, but accepting the uncomfortable parts of travel will save you future fights as a couple.
Change the topic or go for a walk
The hardest part of a fight for me is when it’s over.
When we have both said everything there is to say and have reached an agreement, this is where I lose it. My adrenaline is still pumping and although I want it to come down and act like everything is fine, I need a change of scenery or topic to move forward.
I personally love to go for a walk. It gets you out of the room or area where you were arguing and gives you both a time to chill out with some fresh air. Turn the TV on and watch a show, put music on, anything that gets your mind elsewhere and helps bring your anger down.