marriageMarriage is the ultimate travel commitment. It’s a one-way, non-refundable ticket for the journey of your life with another person. Together you will decide the direction each day will take, even though neither of you may ever know what the next stop is on the trip.

Gary and I have been together for 38 years. To my recollection, there has only been one year without travel, and that was because I had a broken shoulder that required surgery and physical therapy that dragged on far too long, leaving us stranded and traveless (which is a synonym for hopeless in my thesaurus.)

We have traveled together and apart, definitely preferring together. We have slept on picnic tables, in the front seat of more than one car, and in five-diamond hotels. If you had asked me a month ago if I’d enjoy reading a book about how to be married, I’d have most likely replied that I’d enjoy writing such a book, but would probably skip reading one.

But Jo Piazza wrote the book. Jo, who has barely been married a year. Jo, who married a guy six months after she met him on a Galapagos cruise. Jo, who was previously an inspiration to single women in their thirties.

But Jo is one of my favorite writers. Ever. I long to write the way she does. Even Gary is a fan. He is always reminding me, “Tell Jo how much I love her writing.” She strings words into sentences that overflow with vivid imagery and clear thoughts– the kind of thoughts that fly through my head, but never quite turn into coherent sentences.

Jo captures life in words.

Thus Gary and I found ourselves reading an advance copy of her upcoming book, How to Be Married: What I Learned on Five Continents About Surviving My First (Really Hard) Year of Marriage, knowing that we would enjoy the read, but never expecting to learn much. We were wrong. There is something in this book for everyone– married, soon-to-be-married, and even those who never expect to be married. The book is more like a primer on how to face new challenges.

There is travel. Jo and new husband Nick spent a good part of their first year traveling the globe as Jo researched how marriage works in other cultures. She captures the essence of paired relationships in more countries than most of us hope to travel to in a lifetime. She seeks counsel from both women and men about how she should face each day with her new traveling partner.

There is humor. Jo is capable of laughing at herself in her writing, and she is bracingly honest. When I say, “bracingly,” what I really mean is that you should brace yourself for descriptions of her sexual expectations of her honeymoon, body part descriptions from a co-ed sauna in Sweden, and an occasional F-bomb thrown in for good measure.

There is drama. It’s about marriage, so that’s expected. Jo shares family tensions, job concerns, and the kind of big-life decisions that we all face, and does it in a way that has you rooting for her and Nick. If you aren’t in love with both of them by the end of the third chapter, then you have no feelings left in your life at all.

There is marriage advice that works. The four most important things she gets right about relationship building (and about life in general) are:

  • Give up your expectations. Don’t go looking for fairy tales and shooting stars every day. This is my biggest piece of advice for travelers, as well. When we set ourselves up with glamorous expectations, almost anything can ruin a trip– or a marriage.
  • Close the door to pee. This is advice she got from a group of French women, who advised her to always maintain a sense of mystery with your husband. Wear sexy lingerie and always seek to be the mistress in order to avoid your husband having a mistress.
  • Build the marriage that works for you. Again, I’d offer this as good travel advice as well as marriage advice. We all have different likes, desires, and hopes. Build your marriage around that fact and not on what anyone else tells you is the “correct” way to be married.
  • The adventure is just beginning. It doesn’t matter how long you have known your partner. Each day is a new day in the journey together.

The book is due out in April– perfect timing for spring wedding gifts, but you can and should pre-order it on Amazon here.

Obligatory FTC disclosure that cheapens my love for Jo Piazza: I get a few pennies from the Amazon link if you use it to order the book, but that is my only compensation related to this post. Opinions are my own.