Are you planning your first vacation as a couple? YAY, what a great step in your relationship. There is no better way to really get to know someone than spending concentrated time together, outside of your natural habitat.
Unfortunately, for too many couples, their vacation together is not all fun. For instance, a study by Club Med found that over half of couples fight about what to do on their holiday.
Fight, on holidays? I’m not surprised. I remember an early vacation with my husband-to-be. As we walked the streets of New York City (a big city for two small-town Ontario people), I wanted to wander. It’s what I always did as a single person. Sure, I got into trouble from time to time, but I always met colourful characters and found hidden gems.
Wandering, looking for adventure, was not my boyfriend’s idea of a good time. He didn’t even cross the street unless the light was green, never mind if there wasn’t even a car in sight. Wander? Never!
We were like the Pushmi-pullyu (pronounced “push me-pull you”) character from the Doctor Dolittle children’s story—two heads on opposite ends of a body. I wanted to go one way; my boyfriend wanted to go another. We were stuck.
My husband and I eventually worked out our different vacation styles. Here’s how we do it.
Plan as a team. We research places before we go. This way we plan to see places and do things that interest both of us, and also some things together that only appeals to one of us. When we went to Newfoundland years ago, I hiked more than I would have on my own. And my husband agreed to a major detour to visit an island off the coast that I badly wanted to visit. While we both did stuff that wasn’t on our “A” list of activities, we did enough that was—so neither of us felt disappointed or resentful.
Get out of our comfort zones. According to the Club Med survey, men are more likely to get annoyed that their partners just want to chill, and women are more likely to resent feeling pressured to do activities when they prefer to relax. It’s important to be a good sport on vacation together. Vacations are more memorable when we stretch beyond our comfort zone—plus, it makes for better photo ops! Say “yes” to new experiences—don’t be a stick in the mud!
Spend time apart. In our normal day-to-day lives back home, we each have our own work so we spend most of the day apart. On vacation, our time is concentrated so there is a greater chance we’ll butt heads in some way. We both recognize that we need our own space every day. My husband will go for long runs, while I explore little boutiques, which gives me time to chat with locals (something I love and he doesn’t so much). It’s fun to swap stories when we come back together more refreshed.
Being a couple requires compromise. Compromising on your vacation is just one more thing in that long list of compromises! Taking separate vacations is always an option of course, but creating shared memories together is a far better way to go.