Going on holiday with a partner is the true test of a relationship. Hereís how to get it just right.
What makes a perfect partner? Someone who wants to have sex first in the morning, never asks you to go shopping with her and renounces all rights so the remote control on Saturday afternoons? Maybe, but no relationship, no matter how erotically charged and compatible, is proven until your first holiday together.
Ah, the holiday, that breeding ground of vice and corruptibility. You go on holiday to relax, but unless you know exactly what youíre getting into, going on holiday with a partner is likely to leave you more stressed than you were when you handed in your leave form.
There are sound reasons for couples fighting when theyíre on holiday. Because youíre out of your familiar, everyday situation, holiday actually increase some stress levels. Also, because youíve convinced yourself that you should be having a wonderful time during every second of your precious holiday small fights and irritations tend to get magnified. A lot of couples break up on holiday, over things that would not have mattered quite as much had they happened during their normal routine.
Everything is more intense when youíre on holiday because itís such a valued time for most of us. But more holiday fights are caused by lack of planning than unrealistic expectations. You might not be able to do anything about your heightened holiday emotions, but you certainly can plan for physical eventualities, and in so doing hopefully prevent quarrels in Quebec and sulks in the Seychelles.
So if you are planning to go away with a partner ñ especially if itís the first time the two of you will be taking a trip together ñ follow these rules and perhaps youíll still want to look at each other when you return.
1. Make sure you both want go go to the same place ñ Itís no use dragging her off to go hiking in the Himalayas if sheíd far rather be lying on a beach in Thailand. If your idea of a good holiday is vastly different from hers, perhaps you shouldnít be together, or perhaps you should take separate holidays. Or you could compromise and choose a place that offers both your types of enjoyment (such as a resort where one of you can go scuba diving while the other lounges next to the pool with a book and a pina colada).
Of course you might not know what her interests and idiosyncrasies actually are until you get there and find yourself shuffling from monument to monument to examine ancient firesoes, despite your longing to examine an affable pub. Holidays show us sides of our partners that we didnít even suspect existed. Thatís why itís important to discuss you idea holiday before you book the hotel room. If you think she might be agreeing with your choice of destination only to please you, thatís her problem, but give haer a chance to voice her preferences.
It is always more fun to do the things you love with a partner who loves the same things, but itís inevitable that there will be areas of common disinterest between you. Make it clear that you donít mind pursuing your quest for the tallest redwood on your own, and make sure she knows that you donít intend accompanying her on visits to Cambodian orphanages (unless you want to, of course).
2. Divide the money. Money and map navigation are the two most common causes of holiday tension. Money is perhaps more important because even if youíre lost, youíre still okay if you can afford a bed for the night.
No matter how compatible you might be in other spheres, in every couple there is a partner who is the spender. This is increased a hundred-fold when on holiday. The one with the more careful nature will shy away from impulse purchases, while the other spontaneously lashes out on memorabilia that you donít need and that doesnít fit into your suitcase.
Some couples try to prevent money fights by nominating one partner as holder of the resolve arguments by saying. ìIím the one in charge of the money and I say we canít have more than one ice cream a dayî is only going to lead to acrimony. Even if one of you is financing the holiday ñ in fact, especially need to have access to your own money, or the power imbalance will lead to bitterness.
Workout the budget for the entire trip. Say accommodation is paid for, work out how much youíll need each day for food, and if one of you wants to exceed that budget on a particular day, then economize the next day. Divide your spending money in two and share it. Then, if one of you blows their entire allowance on a three-meter mahogany giraffe. Itís only faire for the partner who still has money to dictate how itís spent.
3. No bagging the navigator- Democracy does not work when it comes to directions. Whether youíve driving yourselves around or simply have to find taxis or stations in unfamiliar places, either draw lots or play roulette before you leave home to decide who will be in charge of navigation. Or split the duties, but when one of you is driving or reading a map, the other keeps his or her mouth firmly shut.
Talk about this before you go, otherwise youíll end up in a ditch when you slam on brakes in the pouring rain and shout, ìDo you want to drive?î If sheís driving donít say a word. And if you know she took a wrong turn, never admit later that you knew the right road to take all along.
Stick to this rule and thereís a good chance youíll have a happy holiday and perhaps an entire life. The words ìshouldnít you have turned left there?î have been the death knell of too many relationships.
4.Find out if she snores. Itís seldom that a couple goes on holiday without first getting to know each other well, but it happens. You may have shared a bed, but do you know each otherís bathroom? Does she know it takes you half an hour to do your hair? Has she done her morning yoga routine in front of you? Are you familiar with otherís most irritating habits?
A first holiday can bring nasty surprises, if you discover on your fist night away that she grinds her teeth, it could ruin your trip. Alternatively you could be prepared for some irritation, and decide beforehand that, unless itís a non-negotiable violation of every value you hold dear, you will allow certain annoyances to wash over you.
Say you know each other quite well already and have learnt tolerate each otherís curious habits. You could still find that being on holiday with her drives you nuts (or vice versa) because she thinks that being away means she doesnít have to be considerate of your needs as would be when youíre both at home.
Being on holiday does mean you can relax, but it doesnít mean turning into a complete slob. If she doesnít clean up after you at home, donít expect her to do it when youíre away. And if she thinks being on holiday gives her licence to use your razor on her legs, explain (gently) that it doesnít.
5.Donít combine buddies and new lovers ñ You have a friend with a pad in Manhattan whoís been begging you to come and stay. ìBring your new girlfriendî, he says. ìYou guys will have the best time here.î No you wonít. not if youíve never been away together before and you want to spend a lot of time catching up with your old buddy. They might like each other and get along fine, but a first time holiday is about romance, and youíre not going to get that when youíre trying to divide your time and attention between a friend and a lover.
Perhaps neither of you is the romantic type and youíre both quite keen on the idea of going away with other people. If these are mutual friends, no problem, but going away to meet someone whom only one of you knows isn't a good idea, donít do it if it's the first time the two of you will be spending time together.
You might also discover when on holiday that that one of you is more sociable that the other. She wants to invite those two couples you met on the train to join you for dinner; all you want to do is spend time alone with her. These are things you canít predict. All you can do is reasonably explain your desire to socialize ñ or your objections to talking to strangers ñ and try to reach a compromise.
6.If it all goes wrong.- There is no way to guarantee that your first holiday together will be fight ñ free, but you can stop fights from turning your holiday into a nightmare. It may sound stilted, but if you can face up to it, talk about how youíll deal with fights before you go away. Make a pact that neither of you will storm out, even if it means spending three days in silence. Thereís nothing more mortifying than returning home alone. Having the staying power to see it through gives you time to get over fights.
If all else fails then remember to;
Always keep your own passport and ticket if she leaves with your documents, youíre going to look an idiot in a foreign place.