A Love Story

Words by Dalene Heck

It was fourteen years ago this past August in which we first met. Pete: a cocky punk in business school wearing a tacky Hawaiian shirt. Me: corporate workaholic by day, loud and obnoxious party girl by night.Through a mutual friend we were introduced (while myself and several others were visiting said friend in Pete’s hometown of Edmonton). It was to be a fun weekend of golfing and testing the local watering holes, and Pete and I ended up paired on the golf course.

Thankfully he did not hold my obscene lack of skills in that area against me, we hit it off and all had a great time. Within a few hours, said friend came up to me and said: “Umm, I think Pete likes you”. To which I responded: “Umm, YEAH. He is laying it on super thick.”

The golfing turned into dinner, turned into an evening at a club. Drinks flowed and dancing commenced. Hands were held and there might have even been a smooch or two. The rest of the night was spent talking about Pearl Jam, the Oilers, whatever other loves we had in common (which was a lot).

I returned to Calgary the following day, exhausted and kinda indifferent on where our relationship stood. We did hit it off, but I wasn’t looking for anything serious, especially at a long distance.

He, on the other hand, told his mom that he had met the woman he was going to marry.

Two months later, he moved to Calgary.

In just over a year from that, we were engaged. And in October of 2001, we were married, at the very young age of 25 (me) and 24 (Pete).

We believed that our life was as good as it gets, even if it did always feel like something was missing.


Our marriage started out like any other. We worked hard, bought our first house. Worked harder and bought another. We talked about kids. We traveled as much as our scheduled vacations would allow: Mexico, Cuba, Costa Rica and a whirlwind tour through a few countries in Europe. We were happy(ish). We weren’t unhappy, but our marriage was definitely on auto-pilot. Outside of a few weeks spent abroad, our most significant “quality time” was the one-hour commute to and from the office each day.

But that was all normal, right? We believed that our life was as good as it gets, even if it did always feel like something was missing.

Then, the unimaginable happened.

Such events have the capacity to tear a marriage apart, but instead they brought us infinitely closer. While I clung desperately to Pete as the one good and stable thing in my life, his deeply compassionate side emerged in full force. And I never could have bounced off the bottom of that black hole if it wasn’t for him.  He never once complained when he repeatedly came home to me in pajamas, to a blubbering mess who felt worthless and unwilling to engage.

Instead, he patiently and gently supported me. When I went to bed earlier than him (most every night), he would stop what he was doing to briefly come to my side, kiss me lightly on the forehead and say: “Goodnight, my love”. Then he would leave me in peace, to hopefully find sleep in my restless, depressed state.

His love knows no bounds.

He later supported my decision to quit the well-paying job that no longer appealed to me, and his rubber arm was easy to twist into throwing it all away for this life of travel. (This from the man who once said: “Why do we need to go anywhere? Let’s just go camping every weekend!”) Thankfully he was enthusiastic, because in all honesty, the pull to travel was so strong for me that I’m not sure what would have happened if he said no.

Is there anything that this man won’t do for me? I’m not sure how I’ve gotten so lucky.

But as it turns out, the decision to travel was the best thing that ever happened for our marriage.

It didn’t start out that way – the first few months were rough. We went from spending a couple of waking hours a day together to a round-the-clock relationship. Traditional roles were tossed and new ones were being tested – we struggled to make the lifestyle work.

But we found our groove, and soon were assured that THIS was the best thing for us. THIS was what would bring us closer than we thought humanly possible. THIS would transform us such that any time spent apart would be with a desperate desire to be back together.

THIS…we now cannot imagine life any other way.

Such events have the capacity to tear a marriage apart, but instead they brought us infinitely closer. While I clung desperately to Pete as the one good and stable thing in my life, his deeply compassionate side emerged in full force.


We just celebrated our twelfth anniversary (in PARIS, no less!), and have spent over one third of our marriage on the road. Romance can be tough when traveling – some of our destinations do not exactly ignite sparks (Paris definitely excluded), and the combination of travel and work can become overwhelming. Never mind that we are now fully exposed to the others most cantankerous of moods, twenty four seven.

But he endures my episodes of hangriness (being hungry makes me angry = hangry), and I calm his rapid-fire cursing when he’s frustrated. We know when to get out of each others way and when to help. Pete has learned that it’s not about the nail.

We use the phrase “I’m inside your head” often as we constantly know what the other is thinking. We have our own language (mostly just filled with quotes from The Office) that few others can follow closely. I think we could even take this mission to Mars and survive intact. The only fault I see in being so in tune to each other is that some of our own independence is lost, completely out of our total devotion and yearning to always be together.

That is a “problem” I am all too happy to live with. I know I’ve got the goods.


Twelve years down, forever to go. I can’t wait to see what we get up to next.

81 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • October 24 2013

    This made me cry. Just sayin’. x

    • October 25 2013

      Sorry! (Well, not really.) 🙂

  • October 24 2013

    Your story had me all smiling as soon as I’m done reading it 🙂 Congratulations to you and Pete for your anniversary. Wishing you many, many more to come!

  • Jan
    October 24 2013

    Such a sweet story! Happy 12th anniversary!!

    • October 25 2013

      Thanks Jan! And congratulations again on your wedding! 🙂

  • October 24 2013

    This is insanely romantic & that is one of the cutest pictures ever. I wish I would get my bf to travel with me forever, but I know exactly what you mean when you talk about your relationship, unconditional love and being together 24/7 (and oh, yeah HANGRY. I know that one all too well – as does my boyfriend). Happy anniversary!

    • October 25 2013

      Thanks! Hopefully you can twist his arm too. Just don’t try to do it when he’s hangry. 🙂

  • October 24 2013

    I’m choked up! What a beautiful relationship! One of rarity!

    • October 25 2013

      Thanks Jody! I hope it’s not that rare. 🙂

  • October 24 2013

    Love this!! Happy anniversary!
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..Things your scuba diving instructor will never tell you….

  • October 24 2013

    This is really sweet. My husband and I also met 14 years ago and have been married 12. It’s so interesting to see how the relationship changes over time. Congrats on not only building a beautiful relationship but making a life that brings you both happiness.

    • October 25 2013

      Thanks Jenna! I feel very privileged for all what I have with Pete, and in this life!

  • October 24 2013

    Fantastic story, beautifully told. Congratulations galore on your 12th anniversary and hope you keep on traveling with the same adventurous spirit. Truly inspiring, kudos!
    Lunaguava recently posted..Fallen Idols of San Juan Chamula

  • Beth
    October 24 2013

    Very sweet! Congrats on celebrating 12 years– and getting to spend that time in Paris 🙂

    • October 25 2013

      Paris was a total surprise for me (Pete planned it all), and it was the BEST surprise!

      • Beth
        October 29 2013

        Jealous! That would be an amazing surprise!

  • October 24 2013

    Lovely post!!

  • Becki
    October 24 2013

    Oh my God!! I’m a blubbering mess after reading this post. My hat goes off to you and Pete for working through a very difficult time when so many couples these days would just give up on. Love this post, I’m such a sucker for a great love story 🙂

    • October 25 2013

      Thanks Becki! And you’ve got a great one of your own. 🙂

  • Caro
    October 24 2013

    Ugh. You two are just amazing, I love your story SO much. I see a lot of Matt and I in what you reveal of your relationship and it’s inspiring. Thanks a lot for sharing you beautiful story!

    • October 25 2013

      Thanks Caro! Would love to meet up with you and Matt someday and compare notes. 🙂

  • Yemeister
    October 24 2013

    That’s beautiful Dalene!

  • Dayna
    October 24 2013

    Love you guys! So happy I could stand up with you guys that day 12 years ago. You have come so far in that time and I love reading about your current adventures!

    PS – I totally remember you coming back from that Edmonton Roadtrip after you met! xo

    • October 25 2013

      Love you too D!!

      And that was a week after you met Rob! And a week later we took our road trip to Seattle!! Ah, such good memories… xo

  • October 25 2013

    Aww this was so sweet, I almost teared up. Congratulations! 🙂

  • Gunes Gunter
    October 24 2013

    I am so happy to know you. Love you both.

    • October 25 2013

      Thank you Gunes! Love you too!

  • Sam
    October 24 2013

    I’m all too familiar with the state of hangriness, and I am also lucky to have a partner who can tolerate/manage me when I enter it! Happy anniversary, you guys. So sweet!

    • October 25 2013

      Thanks Sam! We all need someone who can put up with our hangriness. Glad you found yours. 🙂

  • Joy
    October 24 2013

    How fabulous to have met and married your soul mate. I’m so happy for you and like the other comments posted I was moved to tears. You of all people know how easy that is. 🙂

    Enjoy the journey. Ain’t love grand?

  • October 25 2013

    Aww, that is such a beautiful story! You two are the sweetest! Enjoy Siem Reap! xxx

  • Jacquie
    October 25 2013

    I love you both so much!!!!! Your marriage reminds me of my own (with different details). It isn’t often I meet people so happily married (as I am, as you both are) and when I do, I love it. I get it. I am thrilled for you both every day.

    Also, I accidentally stepped on Oz’s tail tonight. Man…I cannot do right by this cat lately.

    • October 28 2013

      We love you and your cute hubs too! Awww….it’s easy to do right by Oz! Rubs and tail pulling. 🙂

  • October 25 2013

    That is such a nice story! I’ve got a little tear in my eye now. (Coming from someone who also met her partner on the road, and moved to the other side of the world to be with him!)

  • October 25 2013

    you guys are one of the best couples I know! here’s to the rest of your lives full of such a big love and happiness!

  • October 25 2013

    Can I just say…. AWWWWWWW.

    You guys are awesome – definitely an inspiration for all those traveling couples out there!
    Amanda recently posted..Behind the Scenes at the Colosseum

  • October 25 2013

    What a beautiful story — this was almost too sweet! You guys are my relationship heroes! 🙂
    Julika recently posted..Picturesque Monday: Malahide – An Irish Castle Dream

    • October 28 2013

      Heroes! Oh no, I don’t want that pressure. 🙂

  • Adelina
    October 25 2013

    What a lovely story! Congratulations & happy anniversary! I hope I’m as lucky as the two of you 🙂

  • Rob
    October 26 2013

    Being the ADD adult I am and there being so many travel blogs I follow I never actually read the “why we are traveling” entries before.

    Tough times, but ultimately with good result.

    I was amused at the “married very young at 25” line. My folks were married at 19 & 16, and that wasn’t so unusual in 1950s Toronto.

    I do have to say, though, as a guy and an engineer it’s almost always about the nail.

    • October 28 2013

      Yes, my folks were married quite young too (19 and 20), but nowadays, I think 24 and 25 is SUPER young.

      Haha, it is almost NEVER about the nail!! 🙂

  • October 27 2013

    Aww such a sweet beautiful story.
    Brendon recently posted..Bloghouse: How 4 days In A Castle Changed My Life!

  • Aggy
    October 28 2013

    Seriously romantic, you guys are so lucky!
    This is what I call a love story

  • Stephen
    October 29 2013

    Wonderful story! Congrats, on making it 12 years.

  • Joanie Joan
    October 30 2013

    Awww you guys! I loved reading this. Like many others, I’m teary eyed. I know that Pete was there for you at your most vulnerable and you would do the same for him. 12 years! Happy years. Heart all melty. (Nice work on the surprise, Pete!) You two are inspiring in many ways and defintely in love. Real love. Looking forward to spending time with you both & spring rolls this winter! 😉 Love to you both xo

    • October 30 2013

      Can’t wait to see you Joanie! xoxo

  • October 30 2013

    Life wasn’t easy, but you made it work. I love that. Happy Anniversary and with any luck I hope to meet you guys somewhere on this beautiful planet one day.

  • Snackity Snackbox
    October 30 2013

    You GUU-UUYYYYYS. Like I needed those tears today.

    Congrats. And a big sigh of romantic awesomeness. I don’t know many people who can hold hands like this while running through the marathon of life. You are inspiring. Cause that’s hard work, yo.

    HeckticTravels: inspiring romance on four continents and counting 😉


    • November 4 2013

      Snackity Box! You are an inspiration to me, more than you can know.

      Can’t wait to see you soon!

  • Mariella
    October 31 2013

    I’m in tears. You guys are awesome. I’mnot gonna say a lot because it doesn’t seem to adequately express how much respect and admiration I have for you. xx

    • November 4 2013

      You are far too sweet Mariella. 🙂

  • November 1 2013

    Very sweet story, even through the hard times. I understand how it feels to think that the only time you really have each day is connecting during your commute. Looking forward to the day we leave for our own travels.
    Kimmy @ AfterGlobe recently posted..Getting to Know AfterGlobe: Our Love of Halloween

    • November 4 2013

      Thanks Kimmy! Hope you don’t have too long to wait. 🙂

  • Carmel
    November 1 2013

    Oh man, even though we’ve only been traveling for a little over 6 weeks, I can just relate SO much to this post. I just love it and hope that we will continue to find strength in each other and our travels, even during the stressful/not-so-fun times. I know we have so many more hurdles to jump over and challenges ahead, but that’s life. Life is a series of challenges that will hopefully help us grow and highs and lows…and so far, I’m sooooo grateful to have Shawn by my side, as you and Pete have each other. I just love it. As it was just our anniversary and I’ve had my own similar tragedy in life. It’s really inspiring to hear how beautiful and worthwhile you’ve made your lives.

    • November 4 2013

      We are blessed, indeed! Even with the bad times.

  • November 1 2013

    So very sweet! Happy anniversary and here’s to many more!
    Edna recently posted..The 5 best things I ate in Paris: Extended Edition

  • saraannk
    November 2 2013

    Sounds absolutely beautiful. You are one lucky couple =)

  • Ali
    November 3 2013

    I love this story! So sweet!
    Ali recently posted..Is Your Layover Long Enough?

  • November 4 2013

    Beautiful. I’ve always thought of travel as an important test in any relationship and it sounds like you guys passed! Here’s to many more happy years!

  • November 4 2013

    Love like that is beautiful and rare. You are both very lucky to have each other, and I wish you an eternity of continued happiness together 🙂
    Hannah recently posted..Taking the slow road

  • November 6 2013

    What a beautiful story. =) May you both have a lot more happy years.

  • Juliane Fischer
    November 10 2013

    I’ve heard about such love stories on TV, read about it in magazines but until 1,5 years ago I never actually met someone who was as much in love with his/partner as you two are with each other. And it’s not just the love, it’s the kind of way you two treat each other and how you manage to spend 24/7 together, that just amazes me. You and Pete are a true inspiration to every couple out there. Should you ever write a book on How to keep the love life sparkle – it’ll be a bestseller! 🙂

  • November 11 2013

    It was very similar to reading our own story – desperately in love, travel besties, he is my yin and i am his yang, (don’t know the difference) – I am happy for you guys. It is a rare occurrence that it just is ‘meant to be’. I think that travelling together is the biggest test of a relationship.
    Contented Traveller recently posted..Nozawa Onsen, it’s nearly time. Is everyone ready?

  • Sam Kelly
    November 21 2013

    Damn I adore y’all 🙂

  • Toni
    October 10 2014

    When a relationship is reciprocal there’s every reason to believe that the love will grow stronger everyday.

  • Raj
    November 25 2014

    What a lovely touching story… I’m glad that your relationship has bloomed so nicely and that travel plays a major role in it.Here in India we believe that If you have someone that you think is the one, take that person and travel around the world. Buy a plane ticket for the two of you to travel all around the world and go to places that are hard to go to and hard to get out of. And if when you come back home, when you land at your country, and you’re still in love with that person, get married at the airport. May you have many more years of love together… 🙂
    Raj recently posted..Announcing Delhi to Kolkata Small Group India Tour 2015 in Luxury

  • December 27 2014

    This is such a sweet story and touching to hear from a couple still in love after so long. I’m glad that you were both able to make the changes that you needed in your life when you needed them. I watched my parents really struggle to move forward when they hit a rock in the road, and change is daunting, it is scary, but sometimes it’s necessary.
    Charlie recently posted..I Want To Travel, But What If I Run Out of Money?

  • Megan Van Ostaeyen
    January 14 2015

    This is my first time reading your blog, and I’m already obsessed. I love how you don’t just give the top places to eat in whateverland, but truly tell a story. Your love story is touching and real! Thanks for sharing something so personal. Can’t wait to keep reading!

  • January 21 2015

    I love this story and you wrote it beautifully. I have to laugh at the hangriness part. We use the same word and I try to give Matt a heads up that I am in the “danger zone” before the hangriness really kicks in! Hope you guys have another awesome year!

  • January 31 2015

    This is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever read. Your relationship is beautiful. Also, hangry is definitely a thing! I’ve been enjoying the blog so much, and wish you all the best in your future adventures together!

  • February 14 2015

    This is so beautifully written! I love the part about finding your groove on the road, dynamics are totally different when you spend 24/7 with each other but once you find your groove, it can be pretty magical! We often joke about what we’ll do when/if we return to a more conventional lifestyle and we have to spend days apart. LOL.
    My husband and I also met while I was living in Edmonton, him in Calgary…and 3 months later I moved to Calgary! 🙂

    Love reading your blog and following along with your adventures!

  • Victoria (Girl Tries Life)
    February 14 2015

    Aw, guys, really? And now… I’m crying. So happy for you both.

  • Clara
    March 2 2015

    This is a sweet, sweet story! Too bad I stopped believing in love, or meeting the “right” person that would fit me like a jigsaw puzzle. You are really lucky! He is, too! 🙂

  • June 21 2015

    Rad story you guys! We just started our own travel adventure and came here after reading your writeup about housesitting. We’re getting things dialed now, but might want to experiment with that down the road somewhere. Thabks for the great tips- keep on keeping on!
    SohCrates recently posted..Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

  • September 6 2015

    We love following you two, such an inspiration! My wife Erica and I just finished our first 6 months away from Canada! …our 7th Anniversary was just spent in Paris also, an amazing city no doubt! 🙂
    Brian Shuchuk recently posted..Six Months In The Netherlands, Real And From The Heart

  • Muhammad Numan
    April 25 2016

    Which will be the best? To travel alone or with friend or with spouse?

    • April 26 2016

      I wouldn’t say that one is better than the other – they can just both be very unique experiences!

    • May 7 2016

      Well, I think depends on each individual. I have ever travel alone, with friends, and also with a partner. We can not say travel alone is good or travel with a partner better. I used to travel alone then after having a partner like to travel with a partner. But after breaking up I like to travel with friends or alone. So I think it depends on our individual and situation. ; D
      Youmi Hapsari recently posted..7 Tips Traveling On A Motorcycle In A Safe And Comfortable

  • Jimmy & Tina
    September 26 2016

    What a beautiful story, I love every second of it. We are actually working on ours and happy to see other traveling couples are writing about how they met. Our story began in Oklahoma where I was travelling on business and my Jimmy was away on holiday. Long distance doesn’t begin to explain as I am from the US and he is from the UK. Your story is inspirational and I love to hear about how people meet, everyone has their own unique story! Thanks for sharing!

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