Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Holidays - Heaven or Hell?

Having some time off booked in my diary not only gives me something to look forward to it also helps me maintain my equilibrium. I feel pleased  there's a balance to my life. I enjoy my work - and I equally enjoy 'free time' with its lack of daily pressure. 

Hang on a minute, did I say without pressure? I haven't yet managed to get ready for a holiday without feeling stressed: is everything I need washed? Will I have room for everything? Are the houseplants taken care of? The list goes on. It's almost as bad when you get back home, as you pick up the threads and discover an overgrown garden, an empty larder and 101 unanswered emails! It must be worth it though - look how we talk endlessly about those precious memories and experiences - of exotic or familiar places and quality time spent with our nearest and dearest - that we call holidays.

We're just about to spend our second long weekend away under canvas this month. We're really looking forward to it. And we're equally aware that the responsibility for whether or not it lives up to our expectations as a holiday rests with us.

What makes a good holiday?
There cannot be a single answer to this question - everyone has their own opinion and couples often seem to have completely different ideas. If you're going with someone else, there's one thing you can do beforehand to give it the best chance of being the holiday you want it to be.  Avoid assuming you want the same things and ask each other:
When we are on holiday, what would you like to have happen?

For this late August holiday, Nigel and I have agreed we just want time to 'be'. For us this means time to read books, to walk with the dog, to enjoy good pub meals and to cook a hearty breakfast to eat outside. We'll probably fit in the odd game of scrabble or cribbage. We might find some folk to talk to. On the other hand we might not. Whatever the English weather is likely to throw at us on a bank holiday weekend, we now have similar expectations of what we want to do - or not do in this case!

And what sometimes goes wrong?
Incredibly the greatest holiday stress happens when people are actually away - supposedly enjoying themselves! When Nigel and I return from our late summer break, experience tells us we'll be busy. Too many couples find their close proximity on holiday has brought up issues they've never found a way to deal with. Add to that the potential financial pressure of paying for unexpected holiday expenses or the constant demands of other people or children on holiday with you and it's not surprising that holidays leave some people feeling more stressed than before they went away. It's a short step to deciding the blame must lie with your partner or your relationship. Give us a call if this rings a bell for you!

Spending quality time together
There are some practical things to be done to prevent holiday stress, like budgeting and deciding how to plan in some 'me time', even if it means sharing childcare duties. However, the most important thing is to put a little thought into how you will use your time together to recnnect at a deeper level. When we first get together we cannot imagine ever being bored in each other's company. As time goes on it's easy to make the assumption we know each other so well there's nothing left to talk about. THIS IS NOT TRUE!  Here are a few questions to get you started:
  • What is your favourite view?
  • What is the best experience you have ever had?
  • What is your greatest achievement?
  • What sound moves you the most?
  • What is your favourite food? 
Look up our Happy Relationship Quiz to find more things to talk about. Tune into BBC Radio Solent (96.1 fm) at 1.15pm on Friday 2 September when we'll be talking to Katie Martin about the pressures of weekends or nights away.

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