Why do couples fight on holidays? Does it mean it’s not a healthy relationship? How to keep your trip fun instead of turning it into a domino of disappointments?
Whether it’s about a long-awaited vacation, a weekend getaway or a holiday trip to visit family — with or without kids — this article is for you.
Trips together can be a great booster to your relationship. They have the potential to bring novelty, excitement and adventures. They increase the healthy hormones in your body and — combined with a relaxed state of mind — create space to rekindle intimacy, passion and romance.
So why do couples fight on holidays or when traveling?
There can be a lot of different reasons, some of the most basic and common (although not always obvious) being the lack of sleep and stress. Some people get grumpy and impatient when underslept, others get genuinely stressed when planning trips — especially if the travel-related tasks and responsibilities are not distributed evenly.
It could also be about the destination — if you’re stuck in a traffic jam for hours on a way to visit your parents with whom you’re not particularly close, it’s going to put you into a very different mood than sipping bubbles on a flight to Maledives.
There’s obviously more to it, like the behavioral patterns of how much in control both of you have to be when making decisions — and how you both handle conflict. The battle might not be worth fighting for at all, but you might fall for it anyway out of habit or childhood conditioning.
Regardless of the reason, here are 5 tips on how to avoid bickering and fighting while traveling — especially if you have kids.
Tip 1: Separate family & friends’ time from romantic getaways
Do not rely only on your holidays to have quality time with your partner — especially if your kids, parents or even good friends are involved.
Maybe there are too many people with too many opinions on what you all should eat for a dinner. Or whether to go to that art museum, on a hike or chill on a beach.
The expectations for an amazing trip get higher, the busier your daily routine. But what often happens is that vacation can be even more stressful than your normal life, as you can’t send the children to kindergarten, the babysitter isn’t there to help and you can’t escape the chaos of it all by going to the office.
When your children are around, you switch roles automatically. There’s the parent side to you and the lover side, but the first one will always be dominant if you have your offspring nearby. It’s just nature.
It’s a bit counterproductive to expect romantic holidays when travelling with the kids — obviously, some romantic moments might potentially happen — but it’s safer to set the focus on quality family time.
So tip no.1 is to actually separate family & friends’ time from your romantic escapes — and plan them in smaller bits across the entire year.
Take each other out on dates at least once a month. Maybe that includes hiring a babysitter for an evening or asking a friend for help, but it’s absolutely crucial you keep reconnecting as lovers on a regular basis.
I describe this in detail in my ebook “3 Golden Rules” which you can download HERE for free.
Tip 2: Do your best to unplug
Even when you don’t have kids with you and are not visiting anyone’s parents — if your mind is still in working mode, you’re much more likely to get stressed, overwhelmed and end up fighting with each other.
As a fact, a survey done by a consulting firm Korn Ferry shows that the habit of checking work emails and working while on vacation is what couples fight about the most while away!
But let’s say you are able to stop yourself from checking the inbox — yet your thoughts still keep spinning around those work-related issues and responsibilities. My advice here would be, to be honest about it with your partner.
Tell them you find it hard to unplug. Tell them why. Thank them for their patience as you’re trying your best. Acknowledge the elephant in the room before it turns into an entire zoo. Be vulnerable with each other.
And then you might as well…
Tip 3: Boost excitement
Get these endorphins going and they’ll surely contribute to your sexy vibes. I always try to find time to research our destinations and book ahead some fun experiences. Ideally, something to stimulate all of our senses, get us out of our heads and back into our bodies.
Airbnb Experiences are usually a great source of inspiration.
One of our out-of-the-comfort zone practices is to book a professional photographer for a fun, romantic photoshoot. That way we go back home with a stunning set of digitalized memories, which I turn into a physical album later on. Plus, we discover unique places a tourist would never do as local photographers are some of the best guides out there.
Seriously, it’s a win-win.
You can book a photographer through Airbnb Experiences or via those sites:
If worse comes to the worst, none of this is working and the tension keeps on rising…
Tip 4: Don’t tell them to “calm down”
…especially if you’re not calm yourself. First of all, walk your talk.
If your partner is grumpy, irritated or venting — and you’re still able to keep your cool — try holding space for them. Obviously, I’m not talking about situations where they’re lashing out at you — that’s a different scenario.
Never accept abuse as normal behaviour.
But if they’re clearly overwhelmed and upset, try approaching them with compassion. Sometimes allowing them to get it out of their system is enough. Other times it’s helpful to hold their hand or give them a hug — you might not always feel like it, but trust me, it does change the vibe.
If it keeps on going, you could ask questions like:
“Please help me understand better what’s going on.
What about this is making you upset? Why is this important?”
Remember that your tone of voice is crucial here — don’t sound sarcastic or patronising. It would be counterproductive and hurtful.
Finally, during your heated discussions, it’s better not to raise your voice, call your partner names or tell them they’re “acting like their mum / dad”. Giving them a silent treatment might not be the most constructive approach either.
Tip 5: Learn what is your conflict style
What is a conflict style? It’s how you react, behave and the language you use when tension appears — whether you do it consciously or subconsciously. It explains why you clash or why you both react differently to the same situation.
Once you recognize your own language in heated situations, you can understand yourselves and each other better.
There are different schools of thought here, but in my therapy room I talk about two dominant conflict styles, closely attached to two animal archetypes:
Download my free e-book and read the chapter “Golden Rule #2 — About Conflict”.
The Golden Rule #2 is to understand your archetype animal, your conflict style and that of your partner.
It’s life-changing. Trust me. Been there, done that.
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Let’s make the world a happier place, one couple at a time.