On September 18th, Kait and I took a day off in Grand Junction to celebrate our two-year wedding anniversary.
In many ways, this walk has been a sort of strange extended honeymoon for us – we get to travel, spend time – a LOT of time – together, and sleep beside each other under the stars. It is also a true test of our relationship, and our commitment to our marriage, to each other, and to our lives in general. This walk is not something we could do without truly believing in it, and fighting through every doubt to keep walking side by side.
Before we left, Tyler warned us that traveling with other people can be…less than pleasant. When I told him that we had sleeping bags that could zip together, he cautioned that I might want to bring a separate tent. I didn’t say it to him at the time, but that was one of the most absurd pieces of advice that anyone ever gave me. Sure, the potential for Kait and I to get completely sick of each other was there – but our relationship is not a transient deal. The promises we made to one another on our wedding day are serious and long-lasting, and we have challenged ourselves to overcome any and all obstacles, disagreements, and petty frustrations that we encounter in our journey through life. So no matter what the days bring, no matter how frustrated we can get walking 5 feet from each other all day, every day, we still share our little home of a tent.
I don’t know what it is that has undermined marriage in our society. I think a lot of it boils down to communication – or a lack thereof. People seem so wrapped up in what others think that they become afraid of truly expressing themselves. Egos rage and boil under the surface, and small problems that could be easily managed with a simple – albeit difficult – conversation end up tearing a couple apart from the inside. But out here, we don’t have the time and space and backhanded luxury of letting our petty arguments fester and grow in silence – so we talk. We work through everything together. You can slam a door, but you can’t slam a zipper. If we have a disagreement (which we do, pretty much every day) we talk it out. It doesn’t matter if the argument is large or small, important or insignificant – we talk about it. It isn’t always pleasant, and it’s rarely easy. But marriage is not supposed to be a free ride – it takes hard work, and understanding, and compromise.
Back when we left the trail to go home for Kait’s grandmother’s funeral, she got a chance to spend some time with her father, Tom. Tom’s a smart cat – he is self-educated, honest, and very hardworking. While they were talking, Kait said, “I hope you can see the value in what we are doing.” and Tom’s response blew us both away. He talked about how many newlywed couples dive right into the daily grind, off to work and rarely spending time together, and cruising right into having kids without ever really spending time just being married. But we have done quite the opposite. We have chosen to spend the better part of a year side by side, facing constant challenges and stress together. We have the time to talk, the time to explore each other, and the opportunity to face great obstacles as a team. He said that this walk was one of the most valuable investments that we could possibly make in our relationship. Like I said, Tom’s a smart cat.
Many days are difficult. We disagree a lot. We realize how young and flawed we are, and that there is a lot of work to be done if we will stand the test of time together. At the end of every long day, we are married and in love and committed to the life’s work that is our marriage. This walk is a challenge on every level – emotionally, mentally, physically. But most importantly, this walk is a direct challenge to our commitment. If we can fight through this together – and love each other more and more every day because of it – then we can handle anything.
Here’s to every future step, and to many, many more miles together.