My wife (Angela) and I recently returned from vacation. During our trip I was reminded of how cumbersome traveling with a spouse can be. Together you endure many obstacles.
These obstacles include, but are not limited to:
- Booking, paying for, and agreeing on transportation and lodging;
- Finding decent airport parking;
- Waiting in long security checkpoint lines;
- Working with difficult American Airlines employees;
- Fishing for luggage at baggage claim and deciding who’s going to wait at which end of the carousel;
- The uneasy feeling of taxing with people you don’t know;
- Rushing to connecting gates, etc.
All of this – and more – can test a couple’s teamwork, patience, and love for one another.
During our travels, my wife and I had a brief conversation with a young, good-looking couple. I was reminded that our traveling difficulties weren’t unique.
With a thick New York accent, the woman was honest about their travel experience. “If we don’t kill each other before this trip is over hopefully we can take it the next step in our relationship.”
After an awkward courtesy chuckle, I wondered why traveling together can make-or-break relationships. It is something you get to do with someone you love
Then I remembered, people enter relationships with all sorts of preferences – including travel preferences. Preferences create expectations. And when we experience unmet expectations we become annoyed and eventually release a fury of anger towards our spouse.
But even when we try to meet expectations, situations can still unexpectedly become volatile. Is there any hope for traveling in peace?
Fortunately, we’re not abandoned to figure out how to travel with a spouse. Though there isn’t a manual written about our significant other, the gospel is the perfect manual for how to travel with the one you love.
1 Corinthians 13
“Love is patient and kind…”
I move extremely slow sometimes. It takes me a while to get my bearings and figure out what’s going on. This can annoy Angela, but it helps her love me more. The more she remembers God’s patience with her, the more she is able to have patience with me.
When she exhibits patience with me her responses are more kind. Additionally, she learns to appreciate my attention to detail to ensure we’re where we’re supposed to be.
On the other hand, I must confess that I did not display God’s patience nor kindness during our last trip. When we were told at the check-in counter – at 4:30 a.m. – that we were late for our 5:30 a.m. flight every bit of flesh rose up in me. I was not loving, patient, nor kind, and Angela saw every ounce of it.
“…it is not arrogant or rude…”
My responses to the American Airlines employees were rude. I was rude because I was arrogant. I was arrogant because I bought something so I felt entitled to be treated with respect.
God reminded me that he purchased me by the blood of his innocent son, but I denied his grace and mercy. He didn’t respond arrogantly or rude. He didn’t act out in fury. He pursued me with more grace and mercy. When he allowed me to see his beauty, he didn’t turn around and arrogantly say, “Oh, now you want to love me?” He responded with more grace and more of himself.
This should have been my posture towards those employees. I should have responded with patience and grace. That would have been a better testimony to them and to Angela of God’s grace. Yet, he still doesn’t give me what I deserve – he responds with more grace.
“…It does not insist on its own way…”
I like to pack the least amount of items possible when traveling. The length of the vacation doesn’t matter. I find no joy in stuffing my suitcase to the point that it must be sat on to be zipped.
My wife, however, likes to bring half of our apartment with us. She thinks about all the things we might need on the trip. No matter if it is an overnight trip or a weeklong vacation – she’s going to make sure we have more than enough of what we need.
Her over-packing annoyed me, and I self-righteously insisted she packed less. “Look how little time it took me to pack – and I was even able to secure it with one swift zip.”
However, I soon realized the genius of her desire to bring everything when I didn’t have enough of the things I needed. Likewise, she’s realized she doesn’t need to bring everything and has learned to pack a little lighter. We’re learning to love each other by not insisting on our own way of packing.
“…it is not irritable or resentful…”
If you’re like me, you can become irritable if things don’t go the way you hoped. Maybe your spouse embarrassed you or the trip isn’t go the way you envisioned it. Disappointment can quickly settle in.
Disappointment can develop into a sarcasm assault on the person who is most vulnerable with you. They are usually the first victim of your dissatisfaction. Blaming them for your misery develops resentment.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can rely on the love poured out from God to overcome our resentment. Our cultural definitions of “love” is sometimes-y and finicky. But not God’s love. God’s love is faithful and never irritable nor resentful towards us.
The Only Hope For Functional Travels
Our only hope for dysfunctional traveling is the love of God. I’m not a marriage expert – and I’ve yet to meet one. But I can confidently assume that keeping our eyes on the gospel will help us travel better together.
As we learn more about, remind ourselves of, and dwell on God’s love for us, the Holy Spirit will transform the way we travel with our spouse. Only gospel-centered traveling can successfully ease the tensions with the people we love to travel with.