Photo by Wilson Sánchez
Nine years into marriage, we were planning to leave town to visit family after Mark worked a half day. Mel packed up the kids and the car, and Mark just needed to throw in his suitcase. Mark was delayed several hours at work. By the time we met up, we were both irritated and highly stressed and just
wanted to hit the road. We argued and lashed out at each other, climbed in the car and gave each other the cold shoulder for the first few hours of the drive. It took until the next morning for the tension to subside. This was definitely a vacation “fail.” Sound familiar?
What was wrong with this scenario? We both let our stress get the better of us. I (Mark) let the stress of work build up in me right up until my time off begins. Being a type-A personality and having all that pent-up stress is a bad combination. We’ve learned over the years that I need my first day off work to be a relaxing day to “decompress.” It’s best if we don’t travel that first day off, so I can get my mind into vacation mode and be ready for fun and relaxation.
A lesson I (Mel) have learned is that during vacations we need a balance between planned activities and being spontaneous. Neither of us enjoy a jam-packed vacation itinerary, so for us that means checking out what there is to do at our destination, but also leaving time to relax and rejuvenate. Mark and I each choose one or two things we’d especially like to do during our vacation and then make sure to fit in both of our top priorities. I must be mindful of not pushing to do too much so that we don’t come home tired. The #1 most important thing though, is to communicate about it.
Vacation can be stressful, whether we’re planning and packing, driving or flying, visiting family or having a real get-away. As long as Mark and I tell each other our expectations and desires regarding vacation, we can work out something we both love to do, or a compromise at the very least.
What do you like to do on vacation? What kind of pace is right for your relationship? What are your needs, desires, and limitations? We encourage you to share lovingly and respectfully with each other about this, and we hope your next vacation will be even better!