Our vacation was approaching, and I was feeling disconnected from my husband. I knew that he felt it too. We had been having frequent arguments over minor things. I suggested to him that for some unknown reason we had a ‘thin thread of connection’ that was easily severed by minor disagreements that normally would not bother either one of us. In our long history together we’ve never bickered, as they say. When we have conflict, we have conflict!! Clearly these minor scrapes were a symptom of our relationship.
I knew that our vacation together would deepen our connection, or maybe it would become even more fragile. I was scared – I hoped it would deepen but I worried it would not. I mean, what would change?
To make matters worse, we were going on a road trip. Together, side by side for long hours in the car. How could this possibly have been a good idea?
So we began our journey together. We packed up the car and our little dog too. Fortunately, we had a smooth start; no problems as we drove to our first destination. We talked about many things, politics, work, new ideas that we wanted to focus on in our career and so on. We have always been good at intellectual dialogue and intellectual intimacy continues to be a strength in our relationship.
We arrived at our first destination (12 hours later!), went for a walk, grabbed a bite to eat and then settled in our room. The following morning, we went sightseeing but while enjoying the sights, my shoes began to hurt my feet, so we had to walk back to the room to change my shoes. My husband expressed more concern for my feet than the long walk back. I appreciated his care. Slowly, I noticed that we were feeling closer to one another.
We stopped for lunch, sitting outside, enjoying our food and a glass of wine. I looked at him and said, “I think that people try harder in their relationship when on vacation.” I got the response that I often get when I mention the word ‘relationship,’ the message is, “oh no, please don’t talk about our relationship”! I was slightly hurt and annoyed, as I had no intention of digging deep. I simply enjoy understanding relationships; obviously…it’s my passion in my work!! He saw my emotional reaction; I shut down just a bit, and he said in his loving humor “are you trying hard now”? I chuckled with humor in return, and said “no.” Both of us laughed as we recognized the humor in our response to my statement. Both of us recognized that we were trying ‘harder’ because we pushed through the minor tension with welcomed humor when otherwise we may not have done so. The conversation continued for just a bit, and both of us agreed that people try harder in their relationship when on vacation because no one wants conflict, especially when on vacation.
Now let me interject here and say that obviously it is easier to try harder when on vacation. Vacation is down time; relaxation and life’s worries are put aside for a brief moment in time.
However, it occurred to me trying ‘harder’ may not be as important when you’re not on a vacation together. When on vacation we were forced, if you will, to be together and more motivated to resolve conflict. At home, we can go about our day and if we have a minor argument we are not as motivated to work through it. We can go to work or when at home we can go to another room or do whatever we’d like rather than work it out. Long-established patterns are forced to change when on vacation. Patterns always evolve in a relationship. Patterns which are hard to change.
I shared with you that I was concerned about our long car rides together. As it turned out, our long car rides were a benefit. It was inevitable that we would talk when in the car for twelve hours together. We found ourselves sharing things with each other that we had never shared before. New discoveries about each other are always a pleasant surprise in a long-term relationship. And we reminisced about shared memories. We spent enjoyable time together; we laughed, and we talked. And we didn’t talk about our relationship. We didn’t need to – time spent together was deepening our connection.
I remembered that men open up more easily when ‘doing’ something, rather than in face to face conversation. A car ride can be a perfect time for conversation if he’s driving (doing something), conversation is less threatening.
There are times in a marriage when you have to find a way to get back to what you know and love about each other. I fell in love with my husband’s humor all over again. And I know and felt that he fell in love with my humor. I was reminded of how in sync we are in what we enjoy in life. Connection can be fragile and finding a way back to each other can be challenging. When living life, it is easy to forget those things that we love about each other. Life has a way of taking over. We focus on the negative; it’s so easy to do.
For us, we agreed that when we return home, we will try to stay in the mindset of ‘working hard’ and recognize that connection can be strengthened when we do so. I know that this won’t always be the case; however, changing long-established patterns can be a great asset to any relationship.
Here is what I learned about marriage while on vacation!
Patterns that evolve in a relationship can be destructive. Ask yourself: How can you change your relationship pattern?
Vacation minimizes stress, which positively impacts your relationship. How can you minimize stress?
And vacation is mostly (hopefully) positive and enjoyable. How can you invite enjoyable moments into your relationship? Do you balance remembering the negative with the positive aspects about each other and your relationship?
Remember, anything worthwhile in life is hard work. Being healthy by eating right and exercising is hard work. Being productive at our job is hard work. Taking care of our home is hard work. All of it has a payoff. It’s true for our relationship as well. Hard work pays off with staying fully connected with one another. And trust me when I say this to you, I know that there will be times when I will need to remind myself of this by rereading my blog! Life stressors have a way of derailing connection. Here’s to staying connected 🙂
One more thing…..I really would love for you to share your thoughts with me. I know it is not easy to do! Believe me, I know, it took me a very long time to work up the courage to begin blogging! But I want to get to know you! When you feel ready, please feel free to share your thoughts with me in the comment section. Thanks for reading!
Here is my gift to you, my new e-Book! I’ve included the lesson that saved my marriage. I really care about the work that I put out to you and I hope it is helpful. Please let me know!
And you can keep up with my writing on relationships, random thoughts and more by subscribing here. I’m here to help and to know that you are out there reading means so much to me!
If you think this blog will help a friend, please share it with them or share it on Facebook and Twitter!
Details of stories told in my blogs have been changed to protect the identity of people that I work with in therapy.
Photo Credit Always Shooting@flickr.comShare