Over the summer when we spend more time with our family unseen differences can become exposed. Our imagined fantasy of who our partner is, can crumble as we face up to their reality and spend more time with them and their family. The much anticipated holidays can leave you feeling cut adrift and without the predictable routines of work, school and activities your relationship is likely to be brought into sharp focus.
At Tavistock Relationships, our experience of working with relationships, providing couples therapy, to people of all ages and profiles, has enabled us to observe some of the vital ingredients which enable relationships to survive all manner of circumstances.
Every couple relationship is dynamic and unique, however, within the thousands of session of help we deliver each year, we find many common threads. And it’s a very clear finding of ours that similar attitudes to socialising and activities, household chores, money, work and sex are crucial if your relationship is going to thrive.
So as you dive headlong into the holidays check out our top five relationship must-haves. If one or more of these ingredients is missing from your relationship, things could soon start to feel strained.
Spend time together
Holidays are a great way to be around each other and to reconnect with the things you have in common. Successful couples need to devote time to being together and enjoy activities together like sports, hobbies, socialising with friends and family and nights out. Use your time away from work to talk to each other about what you both want and need – individually and as a couple. This will help you be closer together both on holiday and when things go back into routine.
Holidays are expensive and can highlight different attitudes to your finances. While many people are comfortable spending beyond their means and taking on debt, others may want to ‘save for a rainy day’. While you will need to accept and tolerate each other’s differences, it’s important to feel safe and secure, so being attentive to the other’s needs, alongside one’s own, is an important part of relating to each other.
Share the chores
If you’re at home over the holidays – or have booked a self-catering holiday – household responsibilities could become a battleground. Resentment can quickly build when one partner feels they are taking on the lion’s-share of domestic chores, so team work is important to minimise blame and create more time to relax together.
When the holiday draws to a close, work stresses can become an issue. Many of us define a significant part of ourselves through the work we do and it provides a social network, a framework for the day and a predictable rhythm to life. When things go wrong we can be left with feelings of inadequacy and resentment and this can spill over into our relationships. You and your partner will need to sympathetic and supportive with each other if your working life is making you unhappy.
This is the currency that couples commonly use to assure themselves of their specialness to each other. In almost all relationships there will be a difference between how much sex each partner wants and needs to feel satisfied and secure. Holidays provide an opportunity to check in with your partner and see how they are feeling.
The key to managing all these areas is communication – something that can be easier to advocate than to do. Any relationship is like a seedling – it needs daily attention to flourish and grow. Take the time offered by your holiday to give your relationship a bit of special attention.