The Crucible of Intensity: Couples on Vacation!
How to avoid disappointment and have the best vacation as a couple.
- Discuss expectations.
- Acknowledge different styles and preferences.
- Don’t expect a different location to fix things between you (hint: the issues are still there).
- Be nice!
A vacation together can be one of the ultimate bonding times for a couple. Sun and sand, or perhaps exotic locales are more your thing. Wandering through a bazaar together or lying in a hammock side by side…Or arguing the minute you get there: “You forgot your SHORTS?!”…read more…
Begin by discussing your expectations of a vacation. Is it about action or relaxation? Don’t forget to take time to talk about what things actually look like; one person’s slow cycling trip can be another’s idea of crazy action. Using the question, “What does that look like, for you?” can be very helpful here. Agree on a mixture of things that fulfill both of you, and also how much alone and together time works for you both. Compromise, and clear support for each other are good tools in your box here.
Take time to appreciate your differences before you go. One couple I know discovered – after many years of arguing the instant they arrived at their destination – that they simply had different levels of energy. She would arrive excited, wanting to explore, whereas he found travelling exhausting and stressful, preferring to hunker down in the hotel room with the TV until he felt settled enough to explore. Now, instead of arguing about each other’s choices, all they do is drop the suitcases, exchange a wink, and do what comes most naturally.
Unless you truly share a passion for something, or you have a very clear idea of what you both want, avoid last-minute bookings. Better to take into account what each person wants from a vacation, and plan something carefully that allows both of you to fulfill your separate desires.
Money matters: apart from the budget to be agreed on, there are those extras you might be buying before you go or while you’re away. Does the budget allow for that $300 bikini? How about those designer sunglasses? Discussion and agreement should mean less nasty surprises when the tan is fading and the credit card bill comes in.
A vacation can be a time to deepen connection and get to know a different side of your partner. To help things along, consider taking a book that touches on aspects of couples work. Each of you can read favourite sections aloud as a prompt for discussion. Perhaps begin and end such conversations with an appreciation session to ensure a safe and loving atmosphere.
Whatever you do, don’t try and change him or her. If his favourite vacation wear is a pair of glaring shorts and a string vest, try and focus on what you like about him, rather than hold on to the irritation of appalling fashion choices. Love him or her for who they are.
And remember, don’t go on vacation to fix things: get a counsellor or go on a relationship-building workshop.
Consider planning a surprise for your partner. This doesn’t include the kind of surprise that is, secretly, a weapon to get them to do what you want to do (scuba lessons for a claustrophobe, or a spa day for a gritty outdoorsman anyone?), but is perhaps a small token that shows your love and appreciation. When thinking about this, it’s helpful to know your partner’s preferred “language of love”. Go to http://www.5lovelanguages.com/ then click ‘Discover your love language’. Note that there is a PDF download available here too. Take a couple of print-outs away with you to complete and inspire discussion, understanding and connection.
Lastly, don’t forget that most of us can find vacations stressful from time to time. Help each other by being loving and considerate. Be kind. It matters!