Contributed by guest author Jennifer Chappell Marsh, MFT

When you’re in love it’s hard not to picture the rest of your life with the other person. Those butterflies in your stomach are exhilarating if not outright addicting. But having a romantic connection with someone and spending your life with them doesn’t always go hand in hand. How do you know for certain that they’re “the One” and not “the One You Shoulda Never Looked Twice at”?

That’s where travel comes in. Sure, the chemistry might be palpable as you stare lovingly across the candlelit table in your hometown’s newest hot spot, but is that attractiveness still there when you are a sweaty, grouchy mess heaving your luggage though a claustrophobic train station where no one speaks your language? Ah, the couples trip of your dreams. Travel combines the excitement of everything good about relationships but does not sugar coat the challenges of real-life, tough scenarios. Here’s how traveling as a couple can tell you if the relationship is for better or for worse:

You Are Not at Your Best, and That’s OK

Close-up of couple's feet sleeping on bed in bedroom

When you are traveling, you don’t have hours to prepare for a hot date. You may not look or feel your best and you won’t be able to spend hours on the Xbox building up your courage or meet with your best friend to decode “what he really meant…”  But, despite any bad moods (or, get ready for it…sharing a bathroom) you can totally be yourself and your travel boo sees the best in you.

You Care About Each Other’s Happiness (Shocking!)

Young couiple on water attractions during summer vacations

Warning: When operating as a couple, travel ideas may vary drastically. Just like when you’re hitched, the time you spend together on vaca shouldn’t be all about me, myself, and I. You want your partner to be happy, which means you may have to compromise on a few tiny things and go outside of your comfort zone for something that’s important to them. That may mean getting in a should-probably-be-illegal speed boat or spending an afternoon window shopping because that’s what your love dove has on their itinerary. And you’re going to suck it up and love every minute, all in the name of your “Roman Holiday” moment.

You Can Form Words into Sentences Under Pressure

Couple talking while having spritz in a lake view terrace

Sure, communicating is easy when things are going well or you’re blissfully strolling along the Seine hand in hand.  Or if you’re home and get into a tiffle, you can retreat to separate residences or just hang up the phone. But constructive communication can be challenging when you are stuck in a small hotel room in Italy with food poisoning or just got scammed out of a few hundred bucks for a “special” tour. When things get tough and you can’t hide behind your own apartment, having the ability to talk to each other respectfully is critical.

You Don’t Stomp Off into the Sunset—You’re a Team

Young couple talking on a rock by the sea at the setting sun

Things go wrong in life as they do while traveling. It’s inevitable that someone temporarily loses their passport or a train gets missed. When problems arise, it’s important that you can figure things out together in a healthy, no-drama way. When you are overwhelmed that your luggage didn’t transfer with the connecting flight, does your cuddle cakes spiral down the anxiety hole with you, or do they stay grounded and level-headed? Being able to balance and support each other is key to a successful trip (and marriage, if this whole traveling thing works out).

Marriage is for better or worse, which makes taking a couples trip a perfect test to see how your relationship weathers the good and the bad. If you think you’ve found “the One” then book your plane tickets…soon you may be booking the wedding venue.

JenniferChappellMarsh LMFT_headshot

Jennifer Chappell Marsh is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She has over a decade of experience helping people improve their relationships. She specializes in Couples Therapy and Premarital Counseling out of her private practice in sunny San Diego.