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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Relationships: The Joy and Challenge of Vacations

Summertime is here, and it's the time for many people to go away on vacation. Most people look forward to going on vacation and couples often look upon it as a time to relax, rekindle their relationship, and take a break from the normal routine. But as relaxing as a vacation can be together, it can also present some challenges. With some forethought and pre-planning, some of these challenges and stressors can be avoided.


Relationships: The Joy and Challenge of Vacations

When we plan vacations with our spouses or partners, we often don't take into account that, as individuals, we respond differently outside of our normal routine. Even though many people complain that they feel like they're in a rut in their regular routine, that routine often provides a sense of structure and security. Without realizing it, at times, when we're outside of our regular routine and habits, it can be stressful. But for other people, it's an opportunity to thrive on novelty. So, if you're part of a couple where you thrive on having new experiences but your spouse likes the same-old-same-old, you could find yourself at odds with each other.

I hear many couples complain that one of them is the planner and the other one just wants to wing it. The planner might be reading travel guides a year in advance and going online to get the best travel deals, while the person who wants to wing it couldn't care less. Often, the complaint from the planners is that they feel like they're doing all the work while the person who isn't a planner reaps the benefits without contributing to the effort. The complaint from the people who like to wing it is that they feel badgered by the planners, and they couldn't care less to look at a travel guide until they reach their destination (if even then).

My suggestion to both types of people is to try to lighten up. Usually, the planner enjoys doing the planning and getting a sense that he or she is immersed in vacation locale long before they even arrive. So, for planners, enjoy the process and try not to be disappointed if your spouse isn't as enthusiastic as you are. For the people who like to wing it, I recommend that you show some appreciation and interest for the work that the planner is doing. You can tactfully let him or her know that while you appreciate it, it's not your thing. But I think it would be a good idea to make up for this in other ways. Maybe you take care of other aspects of the trip or you make reservations at your spouse's favorite restaurants while you're away.

You might have to deal with other compromises during your vacation, including whether you want to visit your family or your spouse's family while away, whether or not to take the children, what type of hotel you go to, and how much time to spend in different places. Be willing to negotiate and compromise.

Remember that the purpose of the vacation is to spend time together, relax and reconnect with each other romantically. So, plan on having time together to rekindle your relationship. Also, be open to being spontaneous sometimes. Sometimes, an unplanned walk off the beaten track can bring the unexpected pleasure and joy of discovering new people and places.

Vacation as a Time to Relax and Reconnect With Each Other

Another factor on vacations is that some people like to rise early and see all the sights while others view the vacation as a time to sleep later and rest. If you haven't talked about it beforehand, one or both of you might feel irritable and disappointed.

Although vacations are meant to be relaxing, they can also be stressful. Traveling by plane has become more complicated and stressful than it used to be. There are departure delays. The seating might be tight. There might be missing luggage when you get to the other end. Many people can take this in stride as a part of modern travel but, for others, it can test their patience to the breaking point.

Before you travel, it's good to know what kind of traveler you and your spouse each tend to be and talk about this and plan for it beforehand. For example, you might come to an agreement beforehand about how you'll spend your time. If you're an early bird who likes to beat the crowd to the local museums on your vacation, but your spouse would rather sleep late, rather than dragging your spouse out of bed to go somewhere where he or she doesn't want to go or arguing about it, agree in advance that each of you might want to spend the morning doing different things. You can agree to meet afterwards for a romantic seaside brunch.

If you know in advance that you each have different styles and preferences when you go on vacation and you discuss this in advance, you're more likely to enjoy your time together.

I am a licensed NYC psychotherapist and couples counselor. I have helped many individuals and couples of overcome obstacles so that they could lead more fulfilling lives.

Aside from talk therapy, I also provide hypnosis, Somatic Experiencing, and EMDR therapy.

To find out more about me, visit my website:  Josephine Ferraro, LCSW - NYC Psychotherapist

To set up a consultation, call me at (212) 726-1006.

photo credit: jerbec via photopin cc

photo credit: B Rosen via photopin cc