Do all husbands think their wives don’t listen to them?
I know my husband does at times. Actually, we were laughing about it this weekend.
I have a lot on my plate right now and it’s really hard to keep my mind from wandering. So, quite a few times while we were out together doing errands on Saturday, my husband would comment something and I would say “uh huh” and then he’d laugh and say “you have no idea what I just said do you?” and I’d say “what?” At least he has a sense of humor about it most of the time.
Sometimes, when he’s not quite so amused, he’ll sing a line from the song ‘Mr. Cellophane’ from the movie Chicago’s soundtrack. The lyrics go like this …cause you can look right through me, walk right by me, and never know I’m there…
This is his way of saying, your not listening to me or there you go again. Listen to me and slow down.
I think he is exaggerating. I’m really not that bad! Okay, maybe I am that bad; but that doesn’t make me a bad person! I am headstrong; once I get an idea in my head, I’m off and running with it and there’s very little any one can do to slow me down.
This was true about seven years ago. I got a great idea in my head, and shared it with my husband. This was the idea where I thought we should trade our home with strangers in other countries, in order to afford cultural family travel.
If you have been following my blog, you already know that my family has been home exchanging for the past five years, and that I have written a book on the subject. That book, Have Home Will Travel, will be published at the end of the month. That’s why I’m so preoccupied at the moment.
But, I thought I’d share with you an interview that I’ve included in my book. You see, I interviewed my husband on the subject of our international home exchanges, including what he thought about my ‘great’ idea when I first introduced it to him back in 2008.
The fact is, in order to engage in international home exchange, you have to have buy-in from your spouse. Sometimes your spouse is all that stands between you and a great international home exchange. Let’s see how it all went down in my case.
Here’s an excerpt from that interview:
Me: Do you remember the first time I mentioned international home exchange, back in 2008, and suggested I’d like to try it? If so, do you remember what your immediate thoughts were?
My husband: I found it odd, the idea of having strangers come stay in our home; but, it didn’t really concern me that much. I was more concerned that you were thinking about planning an expensive trip to Europe. To tell you the truth, I was hoping you would realize that home exchange was a far-fetched idea and forget about it.
Me: But of course I didn’t; when I actually found a home exchange partner (in Spain) who was interested in exchanging with us, what did you think?
My husband: I’m sure I thought “uh oh, she hasn’t dropped the idea. What do I do now.” I was really concerned, not about the home exchange part, but about the cost of a trip to Europe for the whole family. Obviously knowing how headstrong you are, I was afraid you would plow forward with plans, and not concern yourself with the practical, financial, aspect of the trip. I know I told you to show me the budget for the trip including where the money would come from. I’m also sure I told you that the trip had to be paid for up front—I didn’t want to incur any debt to finance it.
Me: I am sure that is what you said, and you repeated it for the next year, while I planned the trip. Actually, truth be told, you didn’t talk about the trip much during the almost year-long planning. I couldn’t get you involved in it. I know I’ve joked with you that you didn’t believe we were actually going until we were on the plane taxiing down the runway. Why?
My husband: I really didn’t have your confidence that the trip was attainable. I love European travel as much as you do, and as much as I wanted to go on such an amazing trip with the family, I had my doubts that it would all work out. I felt I had to be the voice of reason and that I might have to pull the plug on the trip if the home exchanges that you arranged, three of them, fell through. I would have had to cancel the trip. I did not look forward to disappointing you. So, I preferred not to discuss the trip too much. I didn’t want you to think it was definitely a ‘go.’
Me: Okay, that makes sense. So, fortunately none of our home exchange partners cancelled, and the trip was a ‘go.’ How did you feel once we were on the plane?
My husband: I still had concerns about the cost of the trip. Europe is very expensive and I was not convinced that the home exchanges would work out. I feared that we would end up paying to stay in hotels. But I made the decision to put those concerns aside, and enjoy the trip. So, once on the plane, I was actually very excited. First of all, you know I love to fly. Just being at the airport excites me. Second, to be traveling to Europe as a family was something I never thought would be possible. I wasn’t worried at all about the home exchange families coming to our home. I knew you had communicated with each of them for months and that you trusted them. I was just concerned about last minute cancellations. I’d seen pictures of each of the homes, and they all looked great, so as long as no one cancelled I figured everything would be okay.
Me: What did you think of Southern Spain (Andalucía) and the Spanish exchange home?
My husband: I had never been to Andalucia, Spain and I found the mountains and the remoteness of the landscape, on the hour long drive from the airport to the home exciting. Then, when I saw where the exchange home was located, I thought that you could not have found a more remote location. The location of the house was not what I expected. It was extremely remote. It was really wild and I loved it. The house reminded me of houses in Italy, all stone outside and tile inside. Not only was the house really there, it wasn’t going anywhere—it was built like a fortress. I loved the Spanish style window grates, the heavy wood door and shutters. The pool looked clean, and I was assured it would be taken care of for us during our stay. It was all much better than I expected.
Me: Did you enjoy that first exchange?
My husband: Boy, did I. Southern Spain was a great surprise. I didn’t know about the Moorish roots in Spain, and loved the Moorish influence that we saw in Grenada and Cordoba. That was fascinating. It was great to relax at the house, by the pool, when we were not out sightseeing. I really liked that hardly anyone spoke English in this remote area and that I had to speak some Spanish. Fortunately, knowing Italian made that easier for me since the languages are so similar. I really liked visiting towns without tons of tourists and with real local culture. On several occasions vendors pulled right up to our exchange home and called for us to come out to see what they were selling. One was the bread man and the other a produce vendor selling melons. We were told by locals that this was normal and to expect them. I know I was a bit disappointed that we were not home when the fish man came by. I also got a kick out of seeing the olive groves being groomed each day. A man on a tractor pulling a clanking contraption behind him could be seen over our fenced yard. He’d wave to us as he got close to the house. This just added to the local ambiance and it reminded me that while on this trip I didn’t have to do any yard work!
Me: I loved that home exchange in Spain myself. I’d go back there in a heartbeat. What did you think of the home exchange experience overall?
My husband: Well for starters, the house was big and we had plenty of room to spread out. That was nice, and having the pool was great. We could relax and cool off and have fun with the kids. We didn’t always have to be out doing something. I actually got to relax a lot. It took a few days to settle into the house, but once we did, it was really comfortable. I felt very at ease there. As for home exchange, I was pleasantly surprised by how smooth everything went. The directions to the home were great, we found the house no problem and the key was where it was supposed to be. When I realized there were no problems, I think I finally let my guard down. When we left Spain, I was less worried about the next two home exchanges on this trip.
Me: I wish I could ask you about all of our home exchanges to date; but we only have so much time and space. So, I’ll just ask you which home exchange has been your favorite, to date?
My husband: They have all been amazing. I’ve loved every experience. But, if I had to pick a favorite, it would be the home 10 miles outside of Paris, France.
Me: I’m glad you can pick one; because I don’t think I could choose one. Why was this one your favorite?
My husband: It surprises me a little to say it. I found that I really loved Paris. Not that I didn’t know it was a great city; but I didn’t think it would rank among my favorites—like Rome. But it did. The fact that we were able to drive into Paris in fifteen minutes from the exchange home was incredible. My favorite memory of our entire six week trip that summer was the night you and I left the kids with your mother and explored the city by night. No offense to the kids, but that was actually our last night of the trip; I really didn’t want to leave. Paris is amazing by night.
Me: I can honestly say that I didn’t want to leave either! Well, unfortunately I need to wrap up this interview. So, what do you think about home exchange now, and do you recommend it to others?
My husband: The reward really is fantastic. I have no qualms about home exchanging. We have never had any problems with it. We have found that the people who home exchange are like us—reliable. They have the same motivation that we do. It’s simply that it’s an affordable way for a family to travel. All of our exchange partners have been families. In fact, they have each had more kids than us, three or four. Once you try a home exchange, you realize how nice it is to live like a local and enjoy a big family home. There is more to home exchange than just the savings. I won’t lie, there is also a great deal of planning and work involved, but if you want to travel, it’s worth it. To me, the family time together, on these trips, makes it all worthwhile.
Me: So, we are planning to travel to Europe again during the summer of 2015, and of course we will want to arrange a few home exchanges. Where do you want to go?
My husband: I have not been to Germany yet and I’m dying to use my high school German; so I hope we can find a home exchange in Munich. I’d like to visit Nuremburg too. I’ve been to Austria, but I’d like to go there again, this time with our family. I’d like to go to Vienna and Innsbruck.
Me: I can’t wait for the summer of 2015! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’m so glad I married someone who loves foreign travel as much as I do, and I’m really glad you were so supportive when I brought up this crazy harebrained thing called international home exchange. I think it’s the best thing we’ve ever done! You?
My husband: Agreed; you get no argument from me. I love it too.
The fact is, my husband is very supportive of all my ‘ideas,’ including my changing careers and becoming a travel writer/blogger/speaker and coach. I know there are many spouses out there that are not nearly as supportive. So, I was thrilled to have a new book being published on or about April 30th in which to acknowledge him in. Here’s a preview of his well deserved acknowledgement.
On a personal note, I want to thank my husband. While it was not a prerequisite for a husband, I simply got lucky ending up married to a man with a foreign heritage and an openness and passion for cultural travel that is almost as intense as my own. He has supported me unconditionally in all the myriad, seldom mainstream, preoccupations that I often get over-involved in as a result of my deep desire to continue our family’s cultural travels. As always, Angelo has graciously supported me in this book endeavor, my most current preoccupation. I am grateful for his never ending support in all that I do.