Has Your Relationship Suffered Over Summer?
Has Your Annual Holiday Widened The Cracks In Your Relationship?
Here's some emergency rescue for a rocky relationship!
The summer holiday season is drawing to an end and spending time on holiday with your partner may not have been the blissful experience you expected. Relationship research has highlighted the uncomfortable fact that one major "hot spot" for couples is having a holiday together! This is the last thing a couple expects. But instead of enjoying each other's company what happens is that problems bubbling just below the surface erupt when away together.
Couples who recognise they have a troubled relationship sometimes decide to go on so-called "make or break holidays" with varying degrees of success. Making a holiday your last stand is not always the best solution. It puts enormous pressure on you to solve long-standing issues in a short time. From personal experience I know this is true. It was during my first husband’s and my annual summer holiday in 1991 when I decided our marriage was over. The holiday simply couldn't patch up the massive, Grand Canyon-size cracks.
But if you're holiday was more rowing than relaxation, and you don't want the fall-out to be the final nail in the coffin for your relationship, try the following emergency rescue strategies now:
1/ Agree A Moratorium!
It's easy to keep going over the fact that you spent a good deal of money on a holiday that was a "waste" of time. With growing anger you add this topic to the list of things you already argue about. Agree a moratorium now on your disastrous holiday and put it behind you. I recommend that acknowledging the holiday was hellish is a good step. Because it’s been the biggest wake-up call to you both to pull your fingers out and improve things. After all you’ve been ignoring your problems during the rest of the year. You can now move forward reading from the same page and that's the best starting point for repairing damage to your relationship.
2/ Under The Microscope!
Your next step is to put your holiday under the microscope and evaluate what really happened. Treat it as a microcosm of your whole relationship. Use this checklist to guide your analysis: A/ did you want to do different things? B/ did you argue over issues related to home? C/ did either of you raise "working hours and stress" as leaving you "too exhausted to enjoy your holidays"? D/ did you feel you had nothing to say to each other? E/ did you argue over things like excess drinking or not enough sex? F/ if you have children, was childcare an issue on holiday? G/ did other things, not listed, cause arguments?
3/ Hold Your Hands Up!
Make a note of every area you ticked. By clarifying what exactly you were arguing about you can start to move forward on these today. This is not a "blame session" but it’s quite simply about who was saying what, about which areas. Not whether they were right or wrong! Write this out in list form with headings for each area you argued about and where you had differing points of view.
4/ Make Some Headway!
Having completed that step you’re now able to shed light on your relationship problems. You've actually teased out the different areas that niggle you rather than letting them simmer in one big melting pot of anger. That’s what’s been happening pre-holiday. This leaves you able to gear up to making some changes in your relationship.
Putting your problems to one side for the moment, look at what the highlights of your holiday were. Even a couple that's berated each other on the beach and snapped at each other while swimming will have shared something fun. What was it? Did you manage to put your arguing aside when dining out in the evening or when lying side-by-side reading on the loungers? Take these highlights and use them! Build them into your daily routine in whatever way you can - dining out more, sharing books, etc.
Next plan some action by first tackling the area you agree will be easiest to make headway on. For example, after mulling it over you might decide it's easiest to tackle making time to share a hobby because while away you realised you'd lost that basic connection, rather than improving your sex life. You both might think that you'll feel more affectionate towards each other once you've spent more quality time together. Carve out some times in your diary for whatever action you plan to take.
You've learnt that during the year you let things slip to a dangerous level. So you need to agree to "regroup" every couple weeks and highlight how your plan of action is going and what you're enjoying about each other more. I say every couple weeks because there's nothing worse than feeling you have to talk about your issues - and any progress or backtracking - every night. It's more important to feel your life isn't dominated by problems in this way but that you touch base on them every other weekend or so.
Finally, this summer's holiday wasn't what you planned but don't forget you've had previous holiday magic that you can rekindle again. Each day say something kind and loving, be a little affectionate, and slowly rebuild your relationship once this emergency plan is ticking over.
Published in The Express Newspaper