Summer holidays are a highly anticipated time; a break from the regular routine to spend quality time with our partner. But this can also highlight problems in our relationships. So what should your relationship goals be on your summer holiday? Put another way, how do you ensure your summer holiday is a success and doesn’t badly affect your relationship?
Armele Philpotts – one of our counsellors who specialises in couples and relationships – gives her tips for how to be #relationshipgoals and not to let your summer holiday ruin your relationship:
When I was training with Relate our wonderful office manager would tell me all about the insights she had from working there over 15 years. One thing she told me was to take a good break over the summer. This was because, come September and the end of the school holidays, the phone would be ringing off the hook with stressed couples trying to book couples counselling after a terrible summer.
We all know that holidays can sometimes highlight problems in a relationship, or even cause a make or break situation. When we’re in our routine we can often ignore a distance or lack of connection. However, faced with one or two weeks of uninterrupted time together, or managing childcare on the fly, often issues will come to a head.
So what should your relationship goal be on your summer holiday and what’s the recipe for thriving over the holiday season, with or without children?
Summer can be a great opportunity to reconnect. Make the most of the long days to sit outside and be together. Play games, ask questions, get curious. Sending the kids off to play at a friend’s house or in a hotel kids club can be a great opportunity to grab some couple time.
Try something new
Holidays can also be a good opportunity to try new experiences together. Even if you find out you hate zorbing or surfing you’ll have a good story to laugh about later.
Talk about what you all want
If you’re hoping for a long summer of family lie ins and pot luck meals, while your partner is imagining being out every weekend trekking the Pennines and camping then you might be heading for some frustrating experiences. Equally if your teenager is expecting to lounge around the house watching TV and being waited on, while you expect them to be sharing some responsibility for chores. Problems arise when you’re not signing from the same hymn sheet.
Clarifying this in advance can save some tears in the long run. Talk about your hopes and fears for the holiday well in advance. This will be another good indicator that you’re on the same page and a good time should hopefully be had by all. Discuss what each of you is looking for, and include older kids in these conversations. It may well avoid a few disagreements and having to handle grumpy reactions .
Good questions to ask yourself are:
- What do I want/need from the holiday?
- What does my partner/family think I want/need from this time?
Make time for what you all want to do
Try and schedule some time for each family member to get a bit of what they need and want. This is a great learning experience for a self-focussed teenager. They may grumble about having to trudge round a museum because dad wants to, but getting their requested lie-in the next day as well as being included in the discussion will help them to understand each family member’s needs are being recognised.
Managing expectations and relationships will help ensure your summer holiday is a success!
When are things not right?
What might be an early warning that things aren’t as good as they could be?
Running out of things to talk about when we’re together can often be an indicator that we’ve lost our connection. When we first meet we have separate lives and can spend hours catching each other up with our histories, work experiences and friendships. Once we settle into a commitment it’s tempting to believe we know everything about our partner and to stop asking questions. Often when couples come to see me they tell me they rarely talk about anything other than the kids, even when grabbing some precious time together. Remember to stay curious – however well you think you know someone, you can always find out more.
If you think your relationship could use some TLC and don’t know where to start, we can help. Book a free 15 minute telephone consultation here.