Summer is a time for vacations, romance, relaxing and fun in the sun, sea and sand. Everyone loves this season... well almost everyone. Did you know that the rate of divorce skyrockets following this normally pleasurable time? We receive more applications at the end of summer than any other time in the year. Part of the problem is that couples usually plan vacation in advance and as departure dates approach, the lure of a getaway makes it harder to deal with serious issues and make decisions about separation and divorce.
My first article, 'Holidays Are Over and so Is Your Marriage, Too' mentioned how foolish it is to delay your divorce decision (D-decision). I wrote about the fact couples often know that their relationship isn't really working anymore and far too often, simply lack the strength and perseverance required to make the D-decision before a vacation starts. This avoidance often results in an unpleasant holiday experience, since the problems of a failing marriage follow the couples wherever they go.
There are two common situations:
The deceased relationship
The relationship is theoretically over, but the couple lacks the resolve and strength to pull the plug. This sort of stagnation and denial usually result in the worst vacations. I once shared the example of a husband and wife who went to the beautiful Caribbean for a break, only for the wife to turn around and cheat every night with her colleague, who had secretly travelled to the destination and stayed only 300 feet away from their hotel room. The holiday was romantic, little did the husband know.
Reviving a neglected relationship
External circumstances and responsibilities, such as work and kids, can put an enormous amount of pressure on relationships. When this is the case, a drastic remedy is in order. Going on vacation could be of great value to gauge your relationship and discover greater insight about where you stand as a couple.
I have five tips for you to take into account when embarking on a test-vacation.
1. Vacation quarrels are a positive thing
You might not expect this to be true, but vacation quarrels are a good thing. They often happen in the first days and it will clear the air. If your relationship is doing well overall, an argument can lead to a new starting point. Being away from home, your daily lives, and routines, you only have to rely on each other the way you did when your relationship started, before your lives were joined. So don't avoid any discussions; face the issues, open up and take full advantage of the opportunity to find common ground and come together.
2. Leave your friends at home
If your intention is to test your relationship, then it is important to keep your friends at home. Friends shift the focus from your couple to your social circle, stimulate you to behave accordingly. It's is possible that one or both partners will avoid any discussion regarding their relationship completely because of the presence of friends. This makes sense because as mentioned above, discussions about relationships can become heated, and while this is ultimately positive, it's not what most couples want to do in front of their friends.
3. Avoid negative triggers
Alcohol lowers inhibitions, sometimes making it easier to discuss difficult subjects, but the other side of drinking is negative, exaggerating emotions and reactions. Next to that take care of your timing when discussing difficult subjects. At the end of a busy day of intensive travelling tiredness can complicate conversations.
4. Try to compromise
When on vacation, try to compromise. Even if it's not your strength at home, making the effort to compromise will help you have a better time. Having different interests is what probably attracted you to each other in the first place, so share these interests with each other alternatingly. Also, try not to be obsessed with everything being perfect, like the pictures in a vacation catalogue. When something goes wrong (and a lot of things go wrong when travelling) see the humor and compromise!
5. De-stress before leaving
Test-vacations when your relationship feels neglected require that you are relaxed and thinking clearly. Please don't jump in the plane after ending your last workday. Both you and your partner should aim for one or two days to de-stress so that you can leave in the most positive state of mind possible.
Whether you are in a deceased or neglected relationship I wish you all the strength and best to enjoy your vacation the coming weeks, have a wonderful summer!