Last year we set off to an expedition that took us 5 months. Between June and October we crossed 18 European countries and drove 26 000 kilometers in order to get to Gibraltar through Nordkapp. Before our journey many asked us: “Do you actually realize that you are going to be together 24/7?” They were surprised by our surprised faces. We never perceived it this way. We had concerns related to the economical and logistic aspects of the expedition. We however never were afraid to be together 24/7. And so we usually answered with a question: “Do you actually realize that we are married?” Today we finally can share with you the real experience and how we did not divorce (yet).
1. We are a team – one, good, well-coordinated
It is not clear whether we are so successful because as spouses we create a good team or we are such a good and well-coordinated team because we are married. It is however a fact that we match together as a puzzle. Each of us has different talents and different weaknesses but together we are perfect. That was reflected in the preparation activities for the expedition as well as during the expedition.
I was responsible for communications and advertising, for gaining the sponsors and for packing. Tomas easily managed everything related to car, to the technical issues, to maintenance of our electronical equipment and he was the main photographer of the expedition as well. As a result we realized a successful expedition, created a couple of interesting travel blogs and travel presentations and counted thousands of unique pictures.
For sure you heard already the statement that one of the most important things in a relationship is communication. We can confirm it. Communication indeed is an important precondition of a fully functioning relationship as well as a significant condition of a meaningful existence in the relationship.
Normally, Tomas and I agree on all important things. Without long discussions we took the decision to quit the job and we also quickly agreed on what to do next.
The expedition however revealed some weak points in our ability to communicate that we had not noticed earlier. The reason could be that never before we were forced to maneuver our car in a complicated terrain. In such situation it was basically irrelevant who sat behind the wheel and who stood outside in order to navigate the driver. Although we always could get the car out of the danger, generally, a discussion filled with various emotions followed immediately after that. The impression of both conflict parties remained unchanged. The one outside the car was sure the one sitting inside is not listening to him/her and does not follow his/her commands. The one sitting in the car was sure he/she followed the instructions of the one standing outside. The instructions however were useless. Up until now we could not find a clear explanation to this interesting phenomenon. We however do not give up and believe that there will be enough opportunities to explore this communication phenomenon during our future expeditions.
No doubt, empathy is good for life in general, not only for life in a relationship. Never before we had the impression we would have lacked it. During the expedition we however found out that we lacked the so-called nutritive empathy. If you never heard of it, do not worry. Neither did we. We however can describe how it manifests.
Lack of the nutritive empathy normally manifests exclusively in situations related to eating. Women for sure are well aware of the following situation. A hungry man is equal to a complete disaster. When you however find yourself in an emergency situation, with limited food supply and miserable kitchen equipment (and that is a very frequent occurrence during an expedition), it is nearly impossible to prepare three meals per day and to feed your man in the ideal intervals of 4 hours.
Although the expedition chef could think that together with the boarder they are in one boat, i.e. means they starve and feast together. It is however not valid if the chef is female and the boarder is male. That is the moment when the lack of nutritive empathy usually manifests. And therefore, never ever leave your man’s stomach empty. His empathy and ability to communicate increases or decreases equally to his stomach being full or empty. You never reach an agreement with a hungry man. So here is the recommended procedure. First, feed your man. Wait half an hour approximately. Then continue in the previous communication. You will reach the agreement quickly and there will be no obstacles harming your further cooperation left.
Let’s face it. Although we met each other at work, we never were forced to cooperate. Of course, there were a couple of occasions when we had to move some furniture, paint a room or wash the car together. It is however easier to cooperate by manually performed activities in comparison to exclusively conceptual work which result never exceeds the highly abstract level.
As everywhere else also here it is important that we do not give up. We overcome the obstacles and do everything in order to make our cooperation work. That is sometimes very noisy; it is however also very quiet afterwards. Obviously, we are on a good track.
5. Good memory
Good memory is important for every relationship. We knew it already before the expedition. We anyway had many opportunities to repeatedly validate this statement during our way To Gibraltar through Nordkapp. If you think that we mean that part of memory where it is recorded who when what said or did, eventually did not, we have to disabuse you. In fact, we mean that particular part of memory which is so important for a relationship (a successful, harmonic, equal and balanced one). It is the one where the reasons are recorded. Why you love each other. Why you stay together. Why you have decided to make the other one part of your entire life. This part of memory is so much more important than the other one mentioned above. And this is valid not only prior to the expedition, but also during the expedition as well as after the expedition.
No reason to divorce
Everyone who has ever been in a relationship is very well aware of the following. Sometimes you are the happiest in the world. Sometimes you face a misunderstanding. Sometimes even the best intention turns into a disaster and sometimes you keep being troublesome because you simply cannot help it. The quality indicator is however the ability to solve the problems together under any circumstances, to clarify the misunderstandings, to forgive the mistakes and to fully enjoy the time spent together. The expedition To Gibraltar through Nordkapp set under examination our personal qualities and the quality of our relationship as well. We do not try to pretend that it is “Made in Switzerland”. It has however great potential and we plan to utilize it to 100%.