Chill out by tuning in. Dr. Steve explores how to strengthen your relationship on holidays.
The ant is knowing and wise, but he doesn’t know enough to take a vacation. Clarence Day
I am writing this as I sit overlooking a beautifully landscaped garden with a kidney shaped salt-water pool. In the distance a large freshwater lake glistens with mountains rising from behind. If I had been more organized, or less busy, I would have written this article before starting my vacation, but then I wouldn’t have thought of this topic. Life is like that sometimes, handing us opportunities where we least expect them.
I have been vacationing with my partner for seventeen years and each time I learn something new about myself, my partner, and about life. Up until two years ago, whenever we went on a road trip, an interesting pattern was present.
There is a crazy rush for me to get all my work done in the final week leading up to departure. I would squeeze in extra clients, unforeseen reports with deadlines would pop up, and the stress levels would rise. Finally, the day to leave would arrive. But wait, I have to pack my clothes and load up the vehicle. After a few hours . . . oops, breakfast, what about breakfast? Right, stop off after loading up and get something to go.
That’s better. I am now driving with my knees and eating some egg muffin type breakfast. With luck, we have officially left the city limits and it is before noon. After gulping down the food and drinking tea (coffee for my partner) we settle in for the drive.
And then “it” begins. “It” starts with a simple conversation, about anything, which quickly segues into bickering, nattering and complaining about each other. We argue for a couple of hours, and then stop. The rest of the trip is without incident, at least as far as complaining about past resentments.
This pattern occurred every time we took a road trip – without fail. It got to the point where we would joke about it. We were also interested as to why this was happening. Our analysis was simple.
My partner and I are fairly easy to get along with and arguments are infrequent. However, both of us have a tendency to let little irritations slide by. The road trips were when all those little complaints rose up and demanded to be heard.
Vacationing offers more than the opportunity to vent all ones complaints about your partner. Here is how we use vacations, or maybe, it is how vacations use us.
5 Wicked Reasons To Vacation With Your Partner
1. Seeing the other
On vacation I get to look at my partner. My eyes caress her body and I look at her, really look at her. I see where she has changed, how she moves, what makes her laugh, when she is relaxed, what concerns her, how she organizes herself (and me), and what gives her pleasure.
I get to appreciate my partner. Indeed, we use vacations not only to restore our energy, but to get back in touch with each other. Vacations gives us the time and space to do this. Being in a novel environment also contributes to seeing my partner anew. The habitual patterning and expectations are challenged while on vacation – or can be.
2. Re-calibrating the relationship
Vacationing together is an opportunity to re-calibrate our relationship. It is a time to re-connect in a different way. We actually have time on our hands. There is space to meander between moments, to think before speaking, to caress one another with words, physically, and with kind action. Vacationing is also about recreation. Being playful allows us the opportunity to create anew how we interact with one another.
3. Looking back and looking forward
Once we have relaxed and recovered from the drive and our work lives (this usually takes 3 days) and have started to enjoy the surroundings, conversation then focuses on our lives. What we have done, where we are in life and relation to each other, and where we want to go and how we want to get there. These conversations tend to come and go depending on our mood. There is no rush to solutions. It is more of a reverie and general orientation or realignment with each other and the universe.
4. Being in the moment
There is nothing like travelling away from your familiar town, city or country to wake you up. The senses come alive as if from a long slumber as the survival instinct kicks in. One has to be alert when engulfed in the unpredictability of travel. There are exciting moments and sometimes even dangerous ones (we were robbed on the highway in Spain once).
Travelling with a partner multiplies the possibilities of new experiences as you watch your loved one go through their reactions to an event. You can learn a lot about someone when in a novel situation. How do they handle stress, what are their strengths, and how do they react to your reactions? Obviously, this is a two way street as you learn about yourself as well.
Travelling offers the two of you the time to be together in a series of moments, all day long. This is an amazing opportunity to see how you like being with your partner. Or even, how you like yourself when with your partner.
Vacations are a great opportunity to re-connect sexually (definitely a trick if you have kids). In the summer the air is warm, the body is alive, whether from swimming, hiking, or playing tennis; maybe there is a Jacuzzi tub, sauna, massage, or the romance of sitting by a lake when camping and looking at the stars. All these experiences stimulate the senses and open the mind and body to further exploration.
There is time and space. Without a schedule you are able to make love on a whim, whenever the desire strikes. You are rested and have the energy. Work and all work-related stress in on hold during this special time.
I never regret going on a vacation – even when I get sick. I have vacationed on my own, with my best friend, and with my beloved. All are great in their own way, but when I am with my partner, that is when the vacation teaches me the most and becomes a refresher for the relationship. And what could be more wicked than that?
P.S.: Life is never static. After seventeen years of the above mentioned pattern regarding road trips, the past two years – no arguments. What gives?
I think we are better at bringing up our issues in real time and not letting them accumulate. Even if we don’t think they are important, we are discussing them rather than allowing them to go underground.
Photo: By author
First published August 23, 2014 with GMP as How My Partner And I Do Vacations, And How Vacations Do Us.