(NEW YORK) — A couple that wanted to follow their passions in life took a leap of faith.
Kyle James and Ashley Grigsby of North Carolina quit their jobs in 2015 and set off for New York City before heading on a worldwide adventure. They booked a one-way ticket to Paris as their first stop to travel the globe and enjoy as many life experiences together as possible.
“We got really wrapped up in those routines, and we needed a change,” Grigsby told ABC News.
“We saved every dollar we could get our hands on — knowing that we were going to be in Greece and all these places,” James said.
After 114 days traveling, James and Grigsby had checked off 15 countries and 38 cities, packing in a lifetime of memories and experiences. James realized that he could use his background in writing and publishing to turn their journey into a book, which he titled, “Not Afraid of the Fall.”
“Every single one of those cities, we took something from it. This book is built by every single one of those cities,” James said.
The pair also found that the experience deepened their connection.
“It was one of those experiences where you go in and you sink or you float, and I think we came out better than ever,” James said. “I think we’ve created something really special here.”
Research has found that couples who try something new together experience increased relationship quality.
“One thing we all have to remember is that if you’re in a relationship, it’s either growing or it’s dying,” relationship expert Paul Carrick Brunson said on Good Morning America on Thursday. “There’s no in-between, so what we have to do is remember that we always want to experience new things. Learn a new dance, a new language, experience new things — and that’s what Kyle and Ashley did.”
Dr. Logan Levkoff, a relationship and sexuality educator, told ABC News that there are highs and lows from this kind of adventurous relationship.
“Traveling can be wonderful, but it can also be very stressful,” Levkoff said. “You get to see someone through their best times and also their worst. … All of these things are clues about not just your partnership, but about your partner.”
After Grigsby and James were back in North Carolina and he received an advance copy of his book on their journey, the couple took a hike where he gave her a surprise.
Once they reached the same spot where they had shared their first kiss, James handed Grigsby the book and asked her to read the special dedication to her. James had penned a letter pouring his heart out about their journey around the globe and finished with a marriage proposal.
Grigsby accepted, and the couple has started planning for a wedding in Croatia on July 3, 2018.
“We’re hoping to do some traveling before, some traveling after, hopefully some traveling long after that,” the bride-to-be said.
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