The Valentine’s Day of 2016 is the fifth anniversary since I met my special someone. Last March 29th, right after our fourth anniversary, is when we got married. I still can’t believed it’s been almost a whole year since the wedding. How time flies when you’re having fun!
I’m writing this post while sitting on the couch of my friend in Hong Kong. My husband Stephen is back in Korea, working. That’s right. I boarded the flight alone. It might sound odd to some people. “Huh? What? You’re not traveling with your husband?” Wherever I go, people ask “Is your husband with you?” I’m sure Stephen is getting the same question. People looked at me like I have two heads. But this isn’t our first time traveling or staying apart. Even before we got married, we spent time apart time to time because of our travel restrictions as two different nationalities, or sometimes for work, or different commitments. Our office is the world, so it was quite usual to spend time apart. Things didn’t change much after we got married. Since last March, I traveled to Mexico, Indonesia, Chile, Malaysia, and Hong Kong alone while Stephen was visiting Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Taiwan. Later this year, we’ll also be traveling separately. And you know what? That’s okay.
When Stephen was in Taiwan without me, one of his Taiwanese friend told him that our relationship was so special because it was an open relationship. Well, clearly he didn’t know that the expression ‘open relationship’ means something else in American culture. What he meant was, it was shocking to him that we could travel apart and be so far away from each other for so long and it didn’t seem to affect our relationship. I’ve heard that he was having a hard time with his own relationship with his longtime girlfriend. It’s quite common to face strains between relationships in Asia especially for women. Even though he was a man, our freedom in marriage rocked his world. Stephen explained to him that we could do what we do because we trust one another and we are committed to each other. We share same values, as individuals and couple, and we try to keep those intact. That’s a core of a strong relationship.
We were two separate people before we met. Just because we’re merging our lives together, we shouldn’t have to destroy what we had as individuals. Of course there was compromises and reorganizing priorities, but we are still who we are. A good marriage (I don’t know if I’m qualified to say this, since I’ve been married to less than a year, but oh well…) shouldn’t change what’s already there, but add more value. You shouldn’t NEED each other, but WANT to make a life together. I’ve learned that the hard way, and now I’m in a ‘open relationship (really, not in the way you think)’ with a great man.
But don’t get me wrong; we don’t try to spend time apart. It’s just another line in the job description. When it happens, we enjoy as much as we can. There are also undeniable merit to a solo travel.
Trust. That’s the key word. We trust one another, not just about relationship. I trust my husband won’t put himself in a dangerous situation. He’ll be responsible. He’ll meet great friends, and learn so many new things (and he’ll teach me). We’re in a committed relationship, and it’s an important factor in our relationship for both of us.
It’s a constant struggle to overlap our calendars together. But we’re making it work. So, if we have to travel apart, we will be okay.