“You learn so much about your spouse on the road that wouldn't come up at home.”
Jo Piazza and her husband, Nick Aster, spent one year traveling around the world on honeymoon. Or at least in a honeymoon state of mind.
After their wedding in September 2015, the couple decided to treat their first year of marriage “like a continuous honeymoon,” Piazza told Travel + Leisure. From their home base in San Francisco, they set off once or twice a month to explore a new place together.
“I figured we could spend the first year of our marriage nesting at home binging Netflix and gaining the first year of marriage 15 [pounds] or we could travel and crowdsource marriage advice from around the world,” Piazza, a former travel editor, told T+L.
Piazza compared their first year traveling together to “marriage bootcamp,” saying that it changed the way she and her husband interact with each other.
“You learn so much about your spouse on the road that wouldn't come up at home. You're forced into and out of difficult situations,” Piazza said. She got food poisoning four times — including once at the Entebbe airport in Uganda. He got altitude sickness at Mount Kilimanjaro. In each unusual case, they were forced to help each other.
But she also said that traveling together builds stories that bring two people closer together.
“A day doesn’t go by now that we don't recall one of our stories from that first year together,” Piazza said. “From the time I bought my husband an engagement ring and proposed in the Atacama desert, to the time we crashed an embassy party in Paris or slept on the hippo highway in the Maasai Mara convinced a giant beast was going to crash into our tent at any minute.”
But more than just gathering stories, the duo traveled around the world, asking people from all different cultures their advice on marriage. In Denmark and France she learned to “put away your phone when you're spending quality time with your wife, husband, girlfriend or boyfriend.” From Orthodox Jewish women in Jerusalem, Piazza learned that it’s important to take time “to take care of yourself before you try to take care of a partner or your family so that you can stay strong and centered.”
And there was some advice that was the same no matter where in the world the couple traveled. They learned how to communicate properly, maintain their own lives outside of the marriage and remember to say thank you.
There was one other thing that most cultures agreed about: Piazza said that almost unanimously, people around the world believe that Americans “complain more about marriage and love than anyone else in the world.”
It may be time to follow Piazza’s lead, stop complaining, and hit the road.
Piazza’s advice and stories from the road are compiled in her new book out this week, “How to be Married,” now available for purchase.