My wife and I struggled fighting with each other when we first started traveling together. We’d leave the house for a trip, and the rest of the vacation felt like a war between two strong-willed people determined to see who’s will was stronger whenever a decision had to be made.
The trip would always feel less like a harmonious adventure, and more like a battleground to see who would win. I will tell you right now, THIS IS NOT THE WAY TO EXPERIENCE A RELAXING VACATION WITH THE PERSON YOU CARE ABOUT MOST.
As we packed our bags and prepared for our most recent vacation together, my wife said something that actually made me stop and listen. She said: “How we choose to think, can change everything about our life.”
The thought was a revelation to her; something she’d never thought of before. We got in the car the next morning and got on the highway for a long weekend in Green Bay, WI, where we were going to stay in a cabin on Lake Michigan.
My wife spoke as we drove, “Let’s figure out a way to make this vacation different than the last ones. I’m tired of always fighting with you when we travel together. I’m going to try changing the way I think, and hopefully this will change the way our adventures go.”
The sun rose over the highway, and the autumn colors of the trees glowed on both sides of us. I answered back, “Somehow, there has to be a way for strong-willed couples like us to not kill each other when we’re out exploring the world, but instead, use our strength to fight for and find our purpose in life.”
We arrived in Green Bay by noon, and Lake Michigan shortly after, thrilled that we made it through the first obstacle without any fighting. We were determined to keep this up. As we drove out to the cabin where we were going to stay, we were in awe by the beauty of it. It was a gorgeous little one-bedroom house on the lake shore with a wall of windows looking out at the water. The view was unbelievable, and as we stood watching waves roll off the big lake and break on the shore, we felt in love again.
“We may just have to stay here all weekend,” my wife said, “This place is incredible.”
My phone rang, and I answered it.
It was my friend from Green Bay. She was going to volunteering that night at Lambeau Field for the Green Bay Packers vs. Chicago Bears game. Instantly I knew I wanted to go with and experience an NFL game at Lambeau field. How often would we be in Green Bay when the Packers are playing?
But I knew my wife wouldn’t want to go. She hated football when we first got married, and I knew she wouldn’t want to leave the comfy cabin to sit outside in a cold football stadium. I prepared myself for a fight. She would want to sit and watch a movie in the cabin, and I wanted to go out and explore. I would say that we could watch a movie anytime at home, and she would say visiting a cold football game while on vacation is a stupid idea. We’d fight and argue it out until one of us would win, and the other would be unhappy and lose.
I walked over to my wife, and tested her. “My friends are volunteering tonight at the Packer game. We can go for free. How often do we have a chance to do something like this?”
I was shocked when my wife agreed, stood up and grabbed her jacket. “Actually, that does sound fun. Let’s go.”
I looked at her disbelievingly. “You want to go? We’re not going to argue about this?”
She grabbed the car keys and walked to the car. I told you earlier today, I’m tired of the way I used to think. I always wanted an adventure, but I was always afraid of risking my comfort to go out and try something new. I’m sick of living that way, so I’m going to change my perspective and try something new this trip.”
We both jumped into the car; excited to chase the unknown, and try a new way of exploring the world together.
“I think a lot of our fighting stemmed from me being worried about losing the time I had while on vacation.” My wife said as we drove to the stadium. “I’d feel the time slipping between my fingers, and it would turn into a big bummer because I never felt like I had enough time. I missed out on so many adventures that were right in front of me. I don’t want to do that again.”
We parked at the stadium and wandered through a sea of tailgaters parked on people’s lawns surrounding the stadium. People were grilling and excited, and the atmosphere was contagious. We got gate passes for Lambeau to help at the gates, and as the fans started to arrive, we helped hand out freebies to the crowd. I yelled to my wife, “Are you going to be OK?”
She responded with a huge smile, as thousands of fans flooded into the stadium. “Yes. You can feel the energy in the crowd. Look at these people dressed up for the game. I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s insane. Even though we’re from Minnesota, I feel part of the Packer family tonight.”
I could see the look in my wife’s eyes change. She wasn’t thinking about her time, or only herself anymore. She was immersed in a unique adventure, and as she helped others at the gate, the experience was bringing her more joy, than fear and worry ever did.
On the third day of our vacation, we were ready for more adventure. We were proud of ourselves that we were not fighting this trip. To keep the momentum going, we jumped in the car and headed up north to, Door County, Wisconsin. Door County is the Peninsula that juts out of the main body of Wisconsin into Lake Michigan.
The roads slowly got narrower, and the towns got smaller the further north we went. The fall leaves became brighter, and we found ourselves adventuring into a beautiful and magical place hidden in the Midwest.
We filled our day with stops at scenic overlooks, hikes on top of bluffs looking over Lake Michigan, and had dinner at a Swedish restaurant that had goats that grazed on the roof above us. We ended the evening watching sailboats come into the port, and felt the last warm summer breezes blow onto our faces.
On the way home, we discussed what had changed between us on this trip. Why weren’t we fighting like we normally did when we traveled? Why hadn’t this trip become a battle to prove whose will was stronger like the other vacations had?
My wife laid her head on my shoulder as we drove. “I purposely changed the way I think before we left home.” She said. “I used to only look at life through my eyes. On this trip, I tried to look at life through God’s eyes. When you let go of yourself, is when you can find the journey you’re supposed to be on.”
I let her comment echo in the car. I eventually responded. “So when you let go of your own wants, and just let God lead, is when we can find harmony.”
We returned to the cabin on Lake Michigan, and packed our bags to return to Minneapolis in the morning. As we lay down next to each other, my wife said her last sentence on our arguing free trip.
“I had been wrong most of my life, but now I am finally starting to understand. Life is more than vacations where we have to worry if we’re happy enough. Happiness can only be discovered when we focus on serving others. The selfless path is the path that leads to wealth, and when you can fearlessly travel down this path, you can find all of your dreams.”
Thank you for reading. We will leave you with this video we took as we drove into the Ellison Bluff State Natural Area. The colors of the fall leaves had us in awe. What are some of the great life lessons you have learned on the trips and adventures you have taken?
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