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5 reasons why a holiday won't mend a broken relationship

Lovers strolling hand in hand along a sandy beach; smiley children playing in turquoise swimming pools; intimate, candlelit dinners for two … Pictures in magazines, on TV and the internet persuade us that a holiday will give us the chance to get away from the stress of everyday life and be happy.  And while there’s little doubt that relaxing in a different environment can restore us as individuals, and even refresh us as a couple, getting away from it all is never a magic fix for a broken relationship.  Here’s why …

  • Preparing for a holiday is stressful.  Although holidays are meant to be about relaxation, many people find the amount of organising that needs to be done at home and work before they leave for their chosen destination puts additional pressure on their relationship.   If you are not communicating well with your partner beforehand, the chances are you will be unpacking a lot of resentment and simmering anger along with your beachwear and suncream.

  • Holidays remove the things that usually distract you from your relationship.  In a healthy relationship, this is one of the best things about being on holiday together.  You can focus on each other and enjoy your partner’s company without everyday life intruding on your relationship.  When a relationship is not working well, however, that same lack of distractions puts a spotlight on the cracks in the relationship and can make couples realise how little they communicate the rest of the time.

  • Sex can become a tricky issue.  Most couples regard holidays as a time when they can enjoy sex at different times of the day (assuming someone else can keep an eye on the children) and they vary their usual sexual routine.  Simply being in a different bedroom can be a boost to a couple’s sex life and there is the opportunity in warmer temperatures to cast off clothes and be more physical with each other.  However, couples who are struggling with unaddressed tensions in their relationship can find the prospect of more sex on holiday an unwelcome pressure which can lead to a negative spiral of arguments and unhappiness.

  • Holidays can lead to financial difficulties. When a couple are not getting on well, sometimes there is the temptation to throw money at their problems by booking an expensive holiday. Although the intention of investing (sometimes more than they can truly afford) in their relationship is a positive one, its success is likely to be limited and almost certainly short-term.  One of the features of a good couple relationship is knowing how to enjoy each other’s company for the 50 weeks of the year that you are not on an expensive holiday… and knowing that you won’t be facing credit card bills that you will struggle to pay off when you get home.

  • Unrealistically high expectations can lead to dashed hopes.  Couples who don’t address the issues that are bothering them in the belief that ‘it will all be OK when we have a holiday’ are simply storing up trouble ahead.  Talking to your partner when problems arise is a much better solution than waiting for the magic wand of a holiday to make everything right.  

So enjoy your holiday and the boost it can give your couple relationship.  But appreciate that it is the energy and focus you put on your relationship for the rest of the year that will truly keep it afloat.    

Counselling Directory is not responsible for the articles published by members. The views expressed are those of the member who wrote the article.

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Written by Val Sampson, Couples Counsellor

Relationships are hard work.  A new relationship may be a source of joy and transformation; a long-standing relationship may be much more of a struggle.  Add the stress of work and family into the mix and many of us find ourselves looking at our partner and thinking 'it shouldn't be like this'.
I work mainly with couples to understand what's gone wrong in their relationship and th… Read more

Written by Val Sampson, Couples Counsellor

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