TRAVELS WITH NINA

is the online portfolio and journal of Australian travel writer Nina Karnikowski.

HOW AN ‘AWAY MARRIAGE’ WORKS

So this travel writing thing. How does it work when you’re in a relationship? How does it work when you’re married?

This is something I get asked about. A lot.

Many other travel writers I meet are single – in fact a good chunk don’t have permanent homes – in order to free themselves up to move around as much as possible. So I get a lot of questions: about whether I pine for my husband, whether I’m desperate to get back by his side, whether he gets upset that I’m away all the time.

The answer to all these questions, perhaps shockingly, is a big fat no. Because the truth is, Pete and I love our time apart. Not because we’re running off and having sordid affairs while we’re on our own. Not because we piss each other off and are desperate for a break, either.

We love our time apart because it makes our time together so much richer.

When a trip’s coming up, we make the moments before I leave really count. We’ll go out for a special dinner, spend the night just chatting and drinking wine, write each other letters to read while we’re apart… Basically, no Maccas on the couch watching Big Brother in our house.

And when I come home, I’m full of tales, inspiration and treasures from the road that spice up our conversations and bring masses of new energy buzzing around the both of us. Meanwhile Pete can spend hours regaling me with the highlight reel of what’s happened at the family vineyard (he’s a winemaker) while I’ve been gone.

But I suppose the real key to our successful ‘away marriage’ is that Pete and I are not two halves of one whole. We’re two whole people, complete without the other, and with our own passions, hobbies, and friends. We’re both independent and fierce individuals. We love each other with a passion that I believe is rare after seven years in a relationship, but we don’t need each other. We don’t feel lost without each other and we’re definitely not codependent.

Yes we’re often happier when we’re together, but we can also exist happily without each other for a few weeks at a time. We’re a great source of love and happiness for each other, but we’re not the only source. Travel and writing are great sources for me, making wine and music are great sources for Pete, and we give each other the freedom to indulge in those loves. We want each other to thrive, so that we can be the best versions of ourselves for each other when we are together.

I’ll admit there have been moments – like when I’ve reached the top of an intense volcano hike in Papua New Guinea, when I’ve had a close encounter with a leopard in Zambia, or when I’ve been enjoying a fancy resort in Sri Lanka by myself – when I’ve wished Pete could be by my side.

But those moments pass – quickly when I can jump on Skype and call him to share my tales, and even more quickly when I remind myself what a true privilege it is to do the work that I do.

It’s not for everyone, but it sure as hell works for us.

10 Comments

  1. Gwynne
    January 21, 2015

    So beautiful, and even more seeing and knowing this in the live filled presence of you guys ♡ thanks for sharing these wise words

    Reply
    • admin
      January 27, 2015

      Gwynne thank you for your support! These words means so much, coming from such a gorgeous light being as yourself x

      Reply
  2. Meghan
    January 21, 2015

    What a happy lovely read. You guys are perfect for each other. Adventurous romantics! Love

    Reply
    • admin
      January 27, 2015

      Right back atcha gorgeous, thanks for the lovely comment x

      Reply
  3. Mary Jane
    January 22, 2015

    Hi Nina,
    Beautifully written! My husband travels with work all the time and my friends always ask me how we remain faithful or sane even! But we love it, and love our time together all the more. Great job xx

    Reply
    • admin
      January 27, 2015

      Mary Jane this is so wonderful to hear! I’m thrilled to hear that other couples make it work too, we wouldn’t have it any other way. Thanks for your support and I hope you and your husband keep adventuring! x

      Reply
  4. Dean
    August 22, 2015

    26 years ago whilst on one of my own overseas adventures, I met my beautiful partner, Gina. Both young and free with Melbourne our home, destiny was about to write us a relationship that would become our own time together, uniquely special. Gina a fashion designer who loves her work and the many travels it brought with it, was she often away in order to make her own half the story, for ours. Many times within our 26 years, we have spent weeks, sometimes months apart from each other, but every time we arrived back together was it like falling in love all over again with the same beautiful girl I met those many years ago in the city of Angels. We are two spirits that would not have endured the 26 years if chained to each others side with the habitual seeding of common place insecurities. By this wonder of we, we have since given each other two beautiful daughters, two precious loves that would not have been had the relationship been different. So it is by that of our often distance apart, did the bond become stronger and the love more binding in order to have, our perfect story. … To your spirits both, I wish your love the same.

    Reply
    • admin
      September 1, 2015

      What a gorgeous comment and story, so happy to hear that you’ve made such magic in a situation that’s so similar to ours! May your futures be bright, bubbly and full of adventure, as it sounds like they will be forevermore.

      Reply
  5. Sophie The
    July 26, 2016

    Beautiful! This the only way to happiness in a relationship that too many couple ignore. Thanks for sharing your beautiful life with others Nina. X

    Reply
    • Nina K
      July 26, 2016

      Thank you for the lovely comment Sophie! I’m so glad you see it that way too. It’s a way of life that often gets judged but, like you say, the way to true happiness.
      Much love and happy travels, Nina x

      Reply

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