The Joys of Inter-marital Travel
There comes a time in the life of every marriage when it seems like a good idea to bring another couple on vacation. Traveling with another couple is a lot like being married to them, so it is important to make a suitable choice. Savvy traveling couples negotiate prenuptial and separation agreements before proposing a trip. For instance, failure to achieve consensus on so important a matter as accommodations, a five star chateaux versus a no star yurt, should be taken as an indication of terminal incompatibility.
Intensity of sightseeing is another potential vacation breaker. There are hundreds of Greek ruins on the Aegean coast. Our friends Monica and Douglas have to visit and climb on top of all of them, including Troy, which even her guidebook described as "a few vague piles of stone." My husband Larry and I, on the other hand, are quite content to knock off the requisite sites: one theatre, one temple to Aphrodite, one temple to Apollo, and call it a day. Because of our mutual candor, the four of us were able to agree in advance to a marriage of convenience. We would rent two cars, split up after breakfast, and re-marry at dinner.
When you're traveling with another couple, the numbers can work for or against you. You have two more people to walk and talk with, two more people to share the driving, and one other person who's interested in going shopping. On the other hand, now that you are four, it is also twice as likely that someone will lose a passport or leave their prescription drugs in the last hotel. However, it is also twice as likely that no one will yell at you. This is because the other couple is watching. When two marriages travel together, they tend to be on their best honeymoon behavior.
The rain in Spain stayed mainly wherever we went, at least for the ten days we vacationed there with our friends Karen and Barry. Had either couple been traveling alone, I suspect the mood would have descended rapidly through the first four of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining and depression without ever arriving at acceptance. On the eighth consecutive day of precipitation, we ducked into a restaurant to escape what was a torrential gale. After lunch, the rain had diminished to a steady downpour, causing Barry to remark, "Aren't we lucky?" Had I been married to him and had we been traveling alone, I would have torn his head off. As it was, no one dared be grumpy in the face of his pathological good cheer.
On another occasion, Larry detected what he thought was hostility in my voice. "Hostile? I'm not being hostile," I said. "It's not what you're saying, it's your tone," he answered. "Tone? What tone?" I replied, looking to Karen for support. "I'm not touching that one," she answered, and we all enjoyed a good, knowing, inter-marital laugh.
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