Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday Marriage Matters: Guest Post

Remember Mike and Stacy and their fabulous seal-and-send invites? It's okay if you don't. All you need to know about Mike and Stacy is they are poster children for marriage.  Mike and Stacy make marriage look fun, and they are always thinking ahead to their next adventure.  So when they told us they were going to join LV's Ride and ride their bicycles across the country, nobody thought it was a weird thing for two young married people to do, but recently it occurred to me that riding a bicycle with your spouse, and a group of 10 other riders, staying in churches and camping outside with them, for two months, might take a toll on a marriage.  So I asked them to share their story with you, and here it is:

As we flew out to Oregon for our west-to-east cross country cycling trip, days before our first wedding anniversary, we were filled with excitement. In addition to anticipating amazing views of scenery and landscapes and the joys and challenges of cycling for 60 days, we were looking forward to meeting our fellow riders. We said, "Let's not ride together all the time." We wanted to avoid being THE married couple, and make sure we weren't viewed as excluding ourselves from the roving community.

Just a few weeks into the ride, we needed to reevaluate. We didn't like riding miles away from each other, and arriving at our destinations sometimes hours apart. We found ourselves frustrated and less than impressed with our other companions. While it was fun to have different experiences to discuss at the end of the day, we wished we had shared the day's scenery and challenges with each other instead. We decided that since we were, in fact, married, people would understand if we wanted to ride with each other every day.

Being the only married couple in a group of 20- and 30-somethings as we traveled from town to town earned us an interesting label. We were often introduced as a novelty: "And these are our MARRIED riders!" Knowing we were married often caused people to feel they needed to cater differently to us. As strange as it felt, the response had its perks. Sticking together meant that the nursery room at a host church could be reserved for us (while the rest of the team slept sardines-style in the hall). It also gave us permission to sneak away every now and then - getting a hotel on our anniversary night and having our own two-person tent.

However, we quickly learned that traveling with your spouse isn't all honeymoon nights and lovely roadside conversations. Being each other's best friend meant we shared our greatest joys and our biggest trials. It's much easier to vent honestly (and sometimes take out one's frustrations) to the person with whom you're most comfortable. This meant that we could go for miles not talking to each other, or miles shouting at each other.  We also discovered more things on which we shared a deep connection. At each day's end, and at the ride's final end, we both agreed that we wouldn't have wanted to share the trip with anyone else. Having dozens of other riders from across the country with whom to compare, we confirmed that we were each other's favorite riding and traveling partner.

At the end of the trip, we were reminded of Rolf Pott's (author of Vagabonding) sage wisdom: Choose your traveling companions wisely. We couldn't agree more!

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