Spending every waking minute with your significant other while navigating a new place can make or break a relationship. Although every relationship is different and what works for one couple may not work for another, here are a few ways my husband and I have stayed on the “making” side of that saying during our nine months of traveling the world.
1. Avoid sarcasm and joking during or immediately after a fight.
First off, you are going to bicker and fight. Accept that as inevitable. However, how you deal with your fights will make a big difference in the future of your trip. Peter and I have a bad habit of trying to use sarcasm or joking to lighten the mood towards the tail end of our fights. Take it from us, it always backfires. If you have to ask, “too soon?” It’s too soon. Instead, do something sweet like hold hands, rub their back reassuringly, or buy them some chocolate (the latter always works for me.)
2. If you are struggling to get over a fight, change the scenery.
Maybe you’ve both said your piece and you aren’t actively mad anymore, but you can’t snap out of it just like that either. Rather than staying in the location where you started fighting, go do something else together. Ideally it’s something you both enjoy, but even just walking around provides a change of scenery and gives you something else to think and talk about.
Separating entirely during a fight and doing your own things independently only makes things worse (at least with Peter and me it does). To us, it feels like we’re walking out on each other when the going gets tough. It’s better to do things separate as a preventative measure than during an actual fight, but maybe it works well for other couples. Discuss what works best for you and your S.O. (before you’re actually fighting) and go with that.
3. Be kind and do small things for each other without being asked.
When you’re together all the time, it can be easy to take one another for granted. That’s why the little things make such a big difference in the long run. If you don’t normally do it, wash their dishes, make the bed, buy them something small when they aren’t looking, make dinner, surprise them with a kiss or a foot rub. Switch roles so the one who normally does the cleaning or the planning gets a break and the other person takes over. You’re a team, so work together to help each other out.
4. Plan ahead (within reason).
Although you should avoid micromanaging everything and go with the flow, it’s also important to recognize that a lot of stress comes from lack of planning. Before taking our trip around the world, Peter and I planned where we wanted to go, roughly what dates we would be in each place, and how much money we would spend in each county. (Check out our checklist and budget for a point of reference.) We then researched the first several countries we planned to visit so we knew what to see and do. Once you’ve been on the road a few months, you get comfortable constantly being in new places, and you learn how to be more flexible. However, in the beginning while you’re still adjusting to the travel lifestyle together, it’s easier on your relationship if you both know what’s going on.
5. Forgive one another, take care of each other, and laugh together.
Okay, I know technically that’s three things, but they are all equally important in order to keep your relationship strong on the road. You are going to fight, but if you want to get past it, you have to get over it. You will only fight more if you hold onto a grudge and let every little thing bother you. Also, nothing makes a fight worse than bringing up old fights, so don’t sweep things under the rug, deal with them as they come, and then move forward.
If you take care of each other emotionally and physically, the fights will be few and far between to begin with. Hanger and fatigue are common prerequisites to an argument, so take care of each other’s basic needs, and make sure that isn’t factoring into your current mood.
Finally, don’t forget to laugh and play together. Peter and I have received many compliments on this trip from people saying they can feel the love between us. I think that’s because we aren’t afraid to show each other our silly side and have fun together. Remember that you married your partner because you click with them like no one else. On your travels, you’re going to see and experience amazing things that will bring you closer. Remind yourselves to appreciate each other, take care of one another, and have fun!