Summer can conjure up visions of endlessly sunny days, relaxing by a sparkling, clear pool, and enjoying time as a family or with a partner. However, for many people, this is not always the full picture. If there is relationship stress and unresolved conflict within a family unit or couple, spending extra time together, away from normal daily routines can exacerbate this. It can take very little for what was intended to be a blissful summer holiday together to be the setting for arguments and upset.
Even the thought of an upcoming summer holiday can cause some people to feel anxious. Perhaps there are money worries, concerns about the weather being too hot, or arguments over where to go and what to do during those precious days or weeks away. Here are five things to consider that might hopefully lessen the anxiety and help families and couples handle stressful situations during what should otherwise be a fun, relaxing time away together.
As with so many experiences in life, fall-outs, misunderstandings and disappointments generally stem from misaligned expectations of what each person was hoping to get out of something, or achieve. Different people can have very different ideas of what constitutes a relaxing or enriching holiday. From beach days to extreme sports and everything in between. So, check in with your partner and children to ensure that they are on board with the holiday that is being planned. Or, if you are already away, find out what they are hoping to see and do on the days that you have left together. Speak up if you have expectations of your own – it’s no good sitting and seething about ‘missing out’ if no one else knows how you feel.
Compromise Is Vital
When you do speak up, always try and do so tactfully and with thought for the others in the group. Trying to pick a fight will only spoil things further and make it even less likely that you (or anyone else) will gain any pleasure from the holiday. Focus on compromising instead. Work out what is really important to you that you really don’t want to miss out on. Then, list the things that you would be willing to change or forego in order to reach a suitable compromise. It’s a bit like a couples or family mediation session – talking and compromising wherever possible can often help resolve a developing conflict.
Share The Load
Sometimes, resentment can build up if one person feels like they are doing all the work – cooking and clearing away in self-catering accommodation, or having to plan all the excursions and do all the driving. Share the load – both mental and physical – and help each other relax and enjoy some downtime. The same goes for preparations and packing before the holiday. Don’t let just one person be responsible for making sure everything has been included. Turn the packing into a shared activity and hopefully, that will make it more enjoyable.
What Can’t You Control?
While things like bad weather or illness can put a downer on a holiday, try to make the best of the situation you find yourselves in. If an attraction that you wanted to visit is unexpectedly closed, take the opportunity to get out the map or your phone and see what else you might like to do. Often, a bit of bad luck can bring families and couples closer together, so long as things aren’t too dire overall. It can give a shared purpose and a feeling of ‘us against the world,’ which can strengthen feelings and help rejuvenate relationships, even long after you have come back home again.
One great advantage to having time away from daily routines is a chance to talk about the future and what you want to get out of it. For some couples or families, this can be a chance to air any concerns and make plans to get relationships back on track. It could help you identify and discuss anything that is not going well. For others, it can offer clarity on how a relationship is progressing – or otherwise. If a summer holiday raises any concerns for you and your partner, it could be helpful to contact a family solicitor or mediator soon after arriving back home to see what you might want to do next.