By Conor Sanchez
When my Michaela and I got married, I recall a lot of people asking me, “Are you ready to settle down?”
I had heard the tired expression before, especially in reference to someone about to take the plunge, but when it was finally put to me, I actually found it a little perplexing. While I caught its allusion to the fact that my single life was coming to an end, I had to laugh when I considered what lay ahead of me.
I was about to marry someone with whom I planned to travel the world, learn new languages, join the Peace Corps, possibly live in a rural village in Africa, and hitch rides on the back of pick-up trucks to get to work. We had no idea if we’d return to the United States or continue working elsewhere in the world, where we would end up going to graduate school, or which city in the United States we’d finally call home. One day we’d have kids, consider buying home, and buy a car.
Does anything about that sound to you like “settling down?”
The truth is I have yet to meet a married couple whose life truly settled down after saying, “I do.” Perhaps they put down some roots, had a couple of kids, and found a comfortable home to buy, but by no means did their lives settle down. Their families grew, their belongings multiplied, they took vacations to “get away from it all,” they got promotions, they quit their jobs, they found previously undiscovered passions, they helped their kids find their life’s work. In short, they had a pretty awesome adventure.
As individuals, we often tell ourselves things like, “it’s the journey, not the destination” or “focus on the climb.” These are both great mantras for getting us pumped up for life’s big adventure and all the crazy things it throws at you, good and bad. But the same goes for couples.
My marriage is way too young for me to be giving advice on what leads to a long and happy life together, but the healthiest marriages I’ve been fortunate enough to encounter have all shared one common trait: a voracious appetite for adventure. For them, marriage was the cornerstone – not the capstone – of their wild sense of exploration. It fueled their desire to see more, do more, and be more. It indulged their individual yearnings to discover the world and after years of doing that together, they were able to look back and say, “Wow, that person took me places.”
It’s a big part of why my wife and I settled on the name “The Nicadventure” for our blog, which we keep to inform our family, friends, and whoever else wants to read about our time serving as Peace Corps Volunteers in Nicaragua. We wanted to serve our country. We wanted to work at the grassroots level. We wanted our shared experience living and working in a foreign country to promote a better understanding of Nicaraguans on the part of Americans. But another part of us also wanted to remind others of the adventure just aching to be had out there, whether you’re single, dating, married, or committed.
This is what was on our minds on wedding day so you’ll forgive me if a question about “settling down” caught me by surprise. What I expected to hear – and indeed did from people who knew us well – were things like, “Are you excited?” and “Are you pumped?” The answer to which was, and continues to be, a resounding yes.
So whether it’s backpacking through Europe, having a second child, or – if you’re as crazy as us – joining the Peace Corps, happy Valentine’s Day to all the couples out there who refuse to settle down.
Keep the adventure alive.