Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Owen Redahan. MBACP. B.Sc.(Agr)
20th June, 20130 Comments
We all look forward to a break from work. The annual one or two weeks holiday, be it at home or abroad, is meant to be our battery-recharging time. Couples also see it as a way to spend quality time together far from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day living; perhaps even a chance of getting a relationship back on track.
Unfortunately the time away doesn’t always end up being as stress-free as we had hoped for. In fact, some couples find that they argue even more on holidays. Why is this? One reason could be that expectations are too high. Some of us believe that, with a bit of sun, good food and alcohol, we will relax and everything will be OK.
It can be especially hard for couples going away for the first time together. Holidays can make or break a relationship. Why is this? The key is that when we are away we change how we interact with each other. Instead of seeing our partner for a limited period during the day, perhaps if you think about it for only 3 to 4 hours in the day, we are together 24 hours.
This closeness can emphasise differing personalities. For example, do you prefer doing lots of activities, visiting museums, going on boat trips...or would you prefer to lie on the beach reading? If one of you likes activities and the other loves to read this could result in a heated argument. Discussing what you like to do as you are planning where to go will help prevent this type of argument. Hopefully both partners will compromise so that both of you do the other’s favourite activity at some point.
And talking of favourite activities - couples' expectations around love-making can also be challenging. If there have already been problems with one of the partners avoiding physical intimacy for whatever reason, the increased hope of the other to have sex could cause tensions. This other partner may be expecting things to change because he/she will feel everything is now more relaxed. And even if the couple do get physically intimate, it may not be enough for one of the partners and differences in sex drive may become apparent.
But holidays aren’t all bad. Flagging relationships can bloom again, new intimacies can develop. Being away from the stresses and strains of work and family commitments can help couple realise why they are together. And with careful planning, there needn’t be arguments and those days away can refresh and stimulate.
Some handy hints.
- Plan the holiday together. Be truthful about what you want from it. There is no point agreeing to an activity-packed two weeks if all you want to do is lie on the beach reading.
- Agree who will organise what - perhaps even write it down and have a schedule of when things have to be done. A bit regimented perhaps, but this will help reduce arguments.
- Agree a general plan of activities. Some time for relaxing, some time for activities and some for doing cultural things - if that’s what you both want.
- Agree a budget, with a little extra put aside in case something crops up that one (or both) of you really want to do. Spontaneity is great on holidays, but needs to be planned for!
- Agree that you can spend time apart. You may be loved-up now, but to keep that feeling going a little time apart will also do wonders.
- Plan to be at the airport with time to spare. There is nothing worse that starting off the holiday tense and wondering if you will get to the airport on time. Better to relax with a coffee in the waiting lounge.
The final suggestion is to communicate. Don’t assume that your partner knows everything. We can all forget, and keeping channels of communications open ensures that what we feel and what they feel and think can be included. Happy holidays, and I hope I won’t be seeing you when you get back!!
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