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.