Travel Relationship Stress
I'm a big believer that couples need to travel abroad together in order to really know each other, and test the limits of their relationship. A single day on the road can contain the emotional charge of ten compounded days of life back home.
Travel brings out all the highs and lows—exposes the personal quirks and habits. It allows you to see how a person reacts under stress and pressure in a foreign environment, and how you as a couple handle that stress. Three months of travel can bring with it the telling experiences of thirty.
This is why many couples that start off traveling together don't end their trips together. Latin America is full of former young pairs, now freshly single. It need not be boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife—friendships are taxed and tortured just the same.
But I'm discovering—and living in the middle of—an entirely new twist on the travel relationship stress test game: the additional of an infant child.
Tatiana and I made a wonderful pair traveling SE Asia. We've almost been hip and hip since the Philippines in July 2007. But sometimes I feel like we—our relationship—are starting to crumble under the stress of it all.
We're bickering and quarreling with each other at increasing rates. I think we're having a strongly opinionated discussion about a topic (on fate, destiny and freewill, for example), but she thinks we're arguing.
She's taking things I say very personally, even though many times they're supposed to be playful. She doesn't feel good about her body. Her hormones are causing issues. She's homesick for her family in Lima. Neither of us is getting enough sleep. Neither of us is getting enough intimacy.
Baby care is lopsided, with her dedicating more of her time towards washing, nurturing and feeding Aidric than I am. She doesn't ever do dishes or take out the trash, but she takes a lot of pride in cooking (for the two of us), so I let take the reins on that the majority of the time. I, on the other hand, do 100% of our devastatingly exhausting travel logistics: planning, shepherding, transport, and accommodations hunting.
We naturally excel at the roles that we thrust ourselves into, but she regularly complains that she's in the kitchen all day, and that I don't play with Aidric enough. Frankly, at this age, I take more pleasure in exposing him to new tactile experiences and sights than anything else. I show my love in my own way, in part by taking endless numbers of photos and videos, retouching them, and sharing them publically for friends and family to see. This is something personal and long lasting that I can do for us (but perhaps isn't the tangible contribution she's seeking).
I know I need to do more of many things, but I'd rather change a hundred shitty diapers than deal with the frustrations of feeding Aidric by spoon a single time. I have no patience for his ritualistic 40-minute ADD food fights, and have told her as much from the time he started eating that way.
But these are all just little cracks compared to the fracture in the hull of our love boat caused by a lack of personal Craig and Tatiana time. From dawn 'till dusk, it's always the three of us, and the hour—or less frequently, hours—of time remaining in the day before crashing is spent in other ways (like me futilely attempting to keep current on photo sorting and travelogue posts).
Perhaps Tatiana is burning out on me, and with the routine. Her days are filled with too many peaks of pleasure and valleys of frustration. There's a lot at stake here for all involved, and I wonder how many patches we can keep welding in place before our ship turns into the Titanic.