I once told my love story to a complete stranger. He was an older gentleman from San Francisco who was visiting his nephew in Kuala Lumpur. We got to talking and he seemed to be very wise and have a kind heart, so I shared my story with him. I explained that I had met a girl from America online and she was now staying with me for a few months in Malaysia. I said that we were very serious and hoped to get engaged soon. He gave me the name of an American lawyer and a piece of advice: “You should try living with your partner and, more importantly, try traveling with your partner before you make such a big decision.”
I don’t like traveling, but I whisked my girlfriend off to the Perhentian Islands to see if this man was right. After the trip, I agreed with him. There are many great reasons to travel with your partner and I definitely learned some things on our trip.
We have some fundamental differences. My girlfriend saw this trip as a romantic weekend away from the world. She convinced me to leave my laptop at home and bring books instead. Well, there may not being any cars on the Perhentian Islands but there is cellphone reception! Late at night, after a long day of snorkeling and sunburn, I began to read news on the internet via my cellphone. That move was nearly the end of our relationship. Even though she was falling asleep, she didn’t want me accessing the internet on my phone. In her mind, this was a technology-free vacation. In my mind, a little internet browsing never hurt anyone. We argued, but woke up the next day in a better mood (the beautiful island view from our room certainly helped). The moral of the story: we really don’t agree about the role of technology in our lives! I like to leave the TV on all night; she likes to avoid the TV at all costs. Neither of us will change our opinion on this issue, so we had to decide if we could live with the other person’s attitude. Traveling brought this issue to the forefront and helped us deal with it then so it didn’t bite us later.
We do a pretty okay job managing money together. The food at our resort was of great quality, but it was expensive. Without speaking to each other, we worked out a system for ordering: I’d choose food for lunch and we’d share it, then she’d choose food for dinner and we’d share it. We were both aware of the cost of the vacation and willing to sacrifice a little, without negotiation, to save our pennies.
I’d do anything for this woman. I cannot swim at all and I have the biggest fear of drowning in the ocean. Somehow, I managed to summon all of my courage so she wouldn’t have to go snorkeling alone. Jumping off the side off a boat in to the ocean, hoping my life jacket would keep me afloat, was one of the scariest moments of my life. We spent six hours swimming with sharks, turtles and all kinds of fish. She thought it was wonderful; I thought it was awful. I’ll never do it again and I never told my mother, but I don’t regret going snorkeling for my girlfriend that day.
Having a good partner is motivating. At the time of this trip, I had lived in Malaysia for six years and never visited any islands. My girlfriend got me to try something new and I have lots of good memories (and photos!) to show for it. Tomorrow we are heading off to Bali, Indonesia for even more new experiences.
Today’s guest writer is the fiancé of In Love Abroad’s creator and main writer/designer/lady extraordinaire. He spends most of his time working, cooking and rooting for Liverpool. He’s also a great brainstorming partner and proofreader.