It is August – the holiday month! The month when we are all chilled out and everyone is getting on and blissfully happy.
Maybe … maybe not!
More often it seems as if everyone returns from holiday saying they need another one just to get over it.
Whether it’s just time off work spent with family or a holiday abroad that you’ve been saving for all year, holidays have the potential for any underlying relationship issues to come out. So rather than being a much-needed stress-free break from work-related and/or relationship issues, holidays can easily end in arguments and disappointment. Last August an online survey carried out by GMTV and Netmums revealed that:
- Two-thirds of us argued on holiday
- Almost 60% argued most with their partner
- Two-thirds had 2-5 arguments
- A quarter argued mainly because they had different ideas about what to do
- A third won’t be going on holiday with them again next year
These findings are not unusual. Many relationship counselors report that there is a significant increase in couples seeking counseling in September.
This month on thecoupleconnection.net we are looking at why things go wrong and what you can do about it!
So have a look at the reasons below and see how many seem familiar to you.
Why things go wrong:
- Maybe there was a clash of expectations – if you both have very different expectations for the holiday you are going to run into problems.
- Did you talk openly about what you wanted from the holiday beforehand?
- Did you expect your holiday to put everything right? If you’ve been having a hard time, not getting on you may well have put a huge pressure on a single week away sorting absolutely everything out.
- Did you/do you see holidays as a test? Often when couples are worn out, stuck in a rut or even thinking about separating the holiday becomes some sort of test as to whether the relationship works.
- Have you been very busy with the day-to-day? Couples can become disconnected; then expect that as soon as they are on holiday they will magically connect again. When this doesn’t happen immediately they getaway, they panic and put even more pressure on themselves.
- Are you a good traveler? Traveling brings out the best and also the worst in people – you will have very different ways of doing things, different personality traits: one of you might want everything planned in advance whereas the other might enjoy a relaxed ‘let’s see what happens’ approach.
- Has one of you done most of the organizing? If you haven’t shared time and effort equally, one of you may be feeling resentful and that all the responsibility for how things work out will be down to them.
- Are you trying to holiday on the cheap? Holidays with extended family or friends can be tricky – deep down your partner might not want to holiday with the in-laws.
- How important is having good weather? Sometimes people put too much importance on having the perfect weather. A holiday shouldn’t ever be just about the weather.
- Have there been issues building between you? Holidays tend to bring out the ‘not so good’ things that may have been bubbling away beneath the surface.
So what helps?
- Compromise – define what you both want from the holiday.
- Share the planning and recognize the effort required to make it happen.
- Set out some very realistic expectations beforehand.
- Know your limits and be honest about what you do and don’t want from the holiday – what can you be flexible about?
- Be clear – what is the holiday actually ‘for’?
- Trying something new – be open to having fun together. You might surprise each other and this can be good for a relationship! Plus you might even surprise yourself.
- If you opt for a holiday with extended family or doing something cheaper – make the best of it. Focus on the positives.
- Keep in mind what you are trying to do. If only for kids’ sake – remember what they are witnessing. Do you really want their memories to be of stressed out, unhappy, bickering parents spoiling family holidays?
- Remember bad weather is annoying and you can feel frustrated and cheated but recognize it for what it is. Bad weather doesn’t mean you have a rubbish relationship.
- Don’t make the holiday some sort of test of your relationship.
- Don’t allow low points to make you feel or say ‘well that’s it then’. A ‘we can’t even get on when we are on holiday’ attitude will more than likely ruin the rest of your holiday.
- Focus on the positives.
- Think about past holidays – what worked and why.
- Share your memories of good holiday moments.
- Try lowering expectations – it takes the pressure off!
- Adopt a ‘make the best of it’ attitude – and try and show goodwill.
- Lastly, if things don’t go well, resolve to do something about it when you get back – share your commitment to working on things when you get home.
- Think about doing it differently the next time.
You may now want to do the Holiday checklist exercise in Work it Out.