Hot Love On The Ice: How do adventuresome couples keep their marriages strong even in Antarctica?
We did it!! We did it!!
When we planted our feet on the continent of Antarctica a few days ago, we became the first marriage researchers to interview successfully married couples on all seven continents of the world. And we want you to know that we are very proud of that accomplishment!
As our loyal readers know, we have been engaged in our “labor of love” for over 30 years. We began our journey with this simple idea in mind – “Do great marriages around the world share common and pervasive characteristics.“
And now, after 30+ years of research in all 50 states of the Union, in 47 countries, and on all seven continents on Earth, our answer to the previous question is, YES! They do, even in the most isolated continent on the planet, Antarctica!
Let us now digress to explain the challenges of Antarctica before we zero in on what we’ve learned about marriage on this expedition.
First, understand that Antarctica has the coldest, windiest, driest, and harshest climate on Earth. Living and working there, even for short periods of time, is not for the faint of heart. Very few people stay on the Continent for more than six months at a time. It is very rare for a person to “winter-over” and work for a full continuous year on The Ice.
In the Austral summer as many as four thousand people (mostly scientists and support staff) are there. Cruise ships bring about 30,000 people a year to the continent, but almost exclusively during the Antarctic summer season (November-February), and few get to actually set foot on the continent.
Considering that there can be six months of sunlight and six months of nighttime, depending on the season, living here for even a short period of time can have its psychological and biorhythm challenges. The isolation and distance of Antarctica from the rest of the world can have deleterious effects on the marriages and relationships of people who work there or in the continent’s environs.
There are many misconceptions about Antarctica. Here are the real facts that impact how people live in Antarctica.
There are no roads, bridges, Interstate-type highways, cars, gas stations, hotels or restaurants. There are NO cities or towns and NO permanent residents. Moreover, by treaty agreement, NO country in the world owns Antarctica! Antarctica is NOT a country; it is a Continent, and an isolated one at that. If you would like to see the real Antarctic and its penguins enjoy our video, Antarctica: The White Continent.
Antarctica is unique amongst the world’s seven continents. Understanding this is an important first step towards gaining a perspective of the adventuresome spirit of the people who work and travel there.
A citizen of the USA can only get there if they are scientists funded by the National Science Foundation; members of the US Air Force who have been assigned there (most all who go to Antarctica volunteer to go); people who volunteer to work there in support roles (cooks, mechanics, etc.); tourists; and those arriving on a ship that are conducting research. The latter category includes us. We are marriage researchers and this is the only way could get to Antarctica to complete our research on successful marriages around the world.
During our expedition to Antarctica, we interviewed a number of married couples (mostly scientists and expedition team members) to ascertain if the long periods of separation and isolation create unique and specific challenges to their marital relationship.
The good news, of those we interviewed on this expedition, the most important finding is this – their marriages survive and thrive for the most part because they recognize that communication is at the heart of their relationship. Keeping in frequent touch with their spouse during long periods of separation is critical to sustaining their marital relationship.
Relatedly, those traveling on the National Geographic Explorer (the ship we sailed on going and coming from Antarctica) are explorers. Every couple we talked to and/or interviewed, are folks who have traveled the world extensively. They love being together and find that their many journeys can actually strengthen their marital relationship. Moreover, many volunteered to us that these travels kept their marriages vibrant, exciting, and alive.
Secondly, we were interested in seeing if the “Seven Pervasive Characteristics of a Successful Marriage” that we have discovered in our worldwide search for great marriages around the world, apply to people who work in or travel to Antarctica. While we expected to find some differences from the norm, we didn’t. Quite the contrary, our interviews reinforced the notion that great marriages around the world are driven by these common themes:
1. Togetherness: Two become one without losing the individual identities of each other. In successful marriage it is not you and me, it is WE!
2. Truthfulness: Couples talk about anything and everything. In successful marriage there are no sacred cows and no secrets.
3. Respect: Couples understand that you do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Successful love and marriage is about mutual love and respect.
4. Fitness: Successfully married couples understand that taking care of only their only health is not sufficient. They must also promote the health of their spouse. To live until “death do us part” requires a mutual concern about good health.
5. Joint Finances: It is not YOUR money and MY money. In successful marriages, it is OUR money.
6. Tactile Communication: Touching each other multiple times per day is the norm. In successful marriage touching says, “I love you so much I simply must touch you.” Suprisingly, touch does not HAVE to include sex.
7. Surprise: Love is characterized by the notions of variety and spice. Successful marriage is exciting, never boring, and full of unpredictable things. Don’t always do that which is predictable. Upend expectancies. Variety is the spice of life!
In summary, here is what we have discovered anew on this trip to Antarctica.
Successful marriage, love, and relationships all require simple acts. Simple gestures. Simple conversations. Success in love and marriage depends upon an accumulation of the doing the simple things to form the foundation for building a love that lasts.
It seems that successfully married couples around the world share much in common. After 30+ years of wandering the Earth in search of great marriages we are more convinced of the truth of this discovery than ever.
Whether it’s the top of the world, the bottom of the world, or all around the world, it is reassuring to know that great marriages are possible, even in the most isolated, harshest, coldest, windiest places on Earth!
Creating a successful marriage is not always the easiest thing to do. Your visiting our blog suggests you are highly interested in making your marriage work! And truthfully, we have learned over 30 years of marriage research that there are proven effective ways to ensure a happy and healthy marriage. In fact, we took hundreds of tips from the thousands of happy couples we interviewed and put them into our award-winning and bestselling book, Building a Love that Lasts.
**Today, you can see how you stack up to the best marriages around the world. Take the Marriage Quiz to assess your chances of achieving a successful marriage of your own.
By Drs. Charles and Elizabeth Schmitz
America's #1 Love and Marriage Experts