Relationship Tips and Tools for avoiding holiday conflict.
Forty million of us in the UK will be heading off on holiday in July and August hoping to catch up with some R&R along with some summer sunshine.
At the top of most couples holiday wish list is a desire that the holiday is stress-free and relaxing – after all that’s the whole point of them. Unfortunately summer holidays can offer the potential for any underlying relationship tensions to hit the surface. Rather than being a much needed break from work-related and/or relationship stress, our summer holiday can end up in long, strong silence’s, arguments and resentment. Many relationship counsellors report that there is a significant increase in couples seeking counselling in September and I too have noticed this at my own counselling practice.
What Triggers Conflict
Everyone wants their holiday to be stress-free, but each of us has different ideas about what we want to do. For instance we might want to spend a large amount of time on the beach, while our partner’s ideal break is trawling the local markets for bargains or on the golf course.
Sometimes one half of a couple may find it very difficult to switch off from work or other commitments back at home, this can leave the other feeling uncared for or feeling that the relationship is unimportant. This too can create resentment or arguments.
For many synchronizing the right amount of time off work combined with organizing all the other practicalities can put a strain on the relationship before leaving.
There are also a lot of financial pressures for couples these days and holidays can be expensive, especially if you have to go during the school holidays. This can cause arguments about spending money.
Relationship problems seldom happen overnight; they tend to build up over time. Couples can sometimes fool themselves into believing a holiday will solve everything on it’s own. If there are underlying relationship tensions, they often surface on holiday. Partners can feel discouraged or exasperated because the holiday does not offer the answer to deeper relationship problems.
Here are four simple tips to reduce your chances of arguing on holiday:
1, Before you go.
Make some time to sit down together and explore what you both want from your holiday – you may have quite different expectations. Talking about it openly in advance gives you the opportunity to learn what each other is hoping for. Focus on what you do want rather than what you don’t want. This keeps the flow of energy positive and any tensions are less likely to surface.
You may need to negotiate, for example if one of you values time alone and the other enjoys spending most of the time together, you might need to come up with some clever compromising on how you balance your time.
2, Avoid Misunderstanding
Agree in advance who is taking responsibility for what, for example:
* Who is booking the holiday
* Who does the packing for the holiday
* Who is doing the driving, both to the destination and on the holiday itself.
* Who is responsible for entertaining any young children on the journey
- Money is a thorny topic at the best of times; agree in advance how much you going to spend and how you are going to divide it, and stick to what you have agreed on.
3, Escape the rat race?
Explore together what is an acceptable amount of time to spend on mobiles or the Internet while you are on holiday. Negotiate – be prepared to be flexible and accommodating with each other. This shows that you are both taking the relationship seriously and offering reassurance that the relationship is important to you both.
4, Don’t confuse quantity with quality.
A desire to be close or feeling connected, doesn’t mean you have to spend every minute of every day together. Doing separate activities means that you can both get your needs met even if you enjoy different things. In addition to allowing each of you personal space, agreeing to spend some time apart allows each of you to feel respected and trusted within the relationship. Sharing different experiences and news over a drink or a meal later on can be a wonderful way of showing interest in each other which in turn creates a feeling of connectedness.
Holidays can be a fantastic way for couples to enjoy some quality time together. Good, open communication in advance of a holiday can go a long way to stop misunderstandings and alleviate tension.