noun wan·der·lust \ˈwän-dər-ˌləst\
: a strong desire to travel
My parents like to move. By moving I don’t necessarily mean exercising, though they put me through the paces on a long and winding walk recently. They actually like to move, as in houses, as in East Coast to West Coast and back again. This makes Mother’s day difficult, as I frequently have to ask for the correct address for a flower delivery. I can’t pretend to understand their motives, and I often poke fun, but ultimately I believe that theirs is an (extreme) example of Wanderlust.
Mariam Webster’s defines Wanderlust as “a strong desire to travel”; I would go further and describe it as the desire to explore the mystery and excitement of somewhere else. I am married to a Tour Director, and Wanderlust is an inherent part of who she is.
Though I have only recently learned the love of travel, as the spouse of an explorer, I have two choices: 1) Support and encourage her wanderlust, or 2) don’t.
I have found that the benefits of the former choice far outweigh the benefits of the latter, but it isn’t always easy. For each evening on the road there is one less evening at home. For each dinner with the tour group there is one less dinner together. In exploring my feelings about this I have realized that, while I miss my wife when she is away, she is exuberant about her life and her chosen career, and this brings exuberance into our life together. While we may have less time together overall, the time we spend is of greater quality.
I must admit that the off season is easier because I am able to spend a good deal more time with the person who matters most to me, but what about the busy season when our lives can often become like two busses passing in the night?
Here’s what I found helps (I am not perfect by a long stretch, this is trial and error):
1. Encourage rather than complain. I share in her success because I share in her happiness. I could complain about her absence, but that takes away from her presence. I prefer to see her happy about her career, not worried about me. She misses me too. She works hard and shouldn’t have to feel guilty about it.
2. Little things mean a lot. While she is by far the better cook, there are times when she enjoys coming home to a meal she didn’t have to prepare. This means me picking up pots and pans rather than a takeout menu (though those can be useful).
3. Keep things tidy. Simply coming home to a nicely made bed or a clean bathtub can take the pressure off. I can be, and often am blind to things like this, having taken for granted in the past that things like this magically get done (and thus have taken for granted her efforts). Someone has do these tasks, and that someone should often be me.
4. Listen. Her life is interesting, her work challenges are difficult, and the people she encounters are often interesting or difficult as well. Story time is a wonderful thing.
5. Share in the Wanderlust. When married to a tour director life can become an adventure. It is a lot of fun to dream together of where we will travel on our next vacation, or the places that we will explore over time in our lives together.
So, I married a Tour Guide. When it comes to our lives together, I have found that it is much more rewarding to support her wanderlust than to miss the bus.