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Some Considerations for Couples on the Road

Some Considerations for Couples on the Road

The true test of a relationship is a trip away together. Follow these steps to perfect it.

Can you describe the ideal companion? What do you call someone who wants to have sex first thing in the morning, never asks you to go shopping with her, and gives up control of the TV on Saturday afternoons? Maybe, but until you've spent a holiday together, your relationship, no matter how sexually charged or compatible, remains unproven.

Holidays: a perfect storm for sin and corruption Going on vacation is supposed to be a time of relaxation, but if you don't know what you're getting yourself into, traveling with a significant other might actually increase your stress levels.

Valid points can be made about why couples quarrel on vacation. Some people find that being on vacation makes them more anxious than usual because they are no longer in their normal environment. In addition, because you've convinced yourself that you should be enjoying every second of your vacation, even the smallest disagreements and annoyances tend to escalate. Many marriages end over issues that would have been less significant if they had arisen during a typical week.

Because vacation time is so precious to most of us, everything seems amplified while we're on vacation. However, poor preparation leads to more holiday arguments than unreasonable expectations. While you may be powerless to control your heightened holiday emotions, you may take steps to prepare for physical contingencies, thereby decreasing the likelihood of fights in Quebec and sulks in the Seychelles.

Follow these guidelines if you and your significant other are planning a trip together; they will help ensure that you both come back from your trip wanting to look at each other rather than turning away.

It would be pointless to drag her off to go mountaineering in the Himalayas if she'd rather be lounging on a beach in Thailand, so be sure you both want to go to the same destination. Maybe you shouldn't spend the holidays together if your concept of fun is completely at odds with hers. Or you could make a deal and pick a location that caters to both of your interests (like a resort where one of you can go scuba diving and the other can read a book and sip a pina colada by the pool).

Of course, you might not know what her likes and quirks are until you get there, and then you can find yourself trudging from monument to monument to inspect antique firestones despite your hopes of examining a friendly bar. The holidays reveal hidden qualities in our significant others. That's why you should have a chat about your ideal vacation before you reserve a place. Give her a chance to share her thoughts, even if you suspect she's simply agreeing to your destination decision because she wants to make you happy.

It's great to find someone who shares your passions, but any relationship is doomed to have at least some points of mutual disinterest. Make it clear that you have no problem going on your own to find the tallest redwood and that you have no plans to join her on her visits to Cambodian orphanages (unless you want to).

Split the cash in two. Most holiday stress can be attributed to two factors: finances and getting lost. Even if you get lost, if you have enough money to buy somewhere to sleep, you'll be okay.

Regardless of how well a couple gets along in other ways, there is always one person who is the spender in the relationship. That multiplies by a factor of 100 when you're on vacation. One of you will be cautious about making any rash decisions, while the other will spend a fortune on souvenirs you don't want and can't fit in your bag.

Some couples avoid disagreements about money by designating one partner as the "holder of the resolve." Arguing that "I'm the one in charge of the money, and I say we can't have more than one ice cream a day" is a recipe for conflict is false. Even if one of you is paying for the vacation, each of you still needs access to your own money; otherwise, the power differential will lead to resentment.

Figure out how much the whole trip will cost. Assuming you don't need to worry about paying for lodging, you may focus on determining how much money you'll need for eating each day and adjusting accordingly if one of you wants to splurge one day. Split the cash you have set aside for entertainment in half. Then, if one of you goes and buys a three-meter mahogany giraffe with their entire allowance, that's their business. The surviving partner should have the right to decide how the joint finances are handled.

Third, don't criticize the pilot; voting on routes doesn't function in a democratic system. Before leaving, play a game of roulette or draw straws to determine who will be in charge of navigation, whether you'll be doing the driving or just need to locate cabs or stations. You could also take turns, but if one of you is the driver or the navigator, the other should be quiet.

If you don't discuss this beforehand, you can find yourselves in a ditch when you suddenly hit the brakes in the middle of a downpour and ask each other, "Do you want to drive?" Don't interrupt her if she's behind the wheel. And if you know she made a mistake, don't ever let on that you were the one who knew the correct route.

If you follow this advice, the holidays, and maybe even the rest of your life, will be much more enjoyable. In many friendships and partnerships, the question, "Shouldn't you have turned left there?" rings out as the final knell.

Discover if she is a snorer. It's unusual for a couple to take a vacation together before they've had ample time to get to know one another, but it does happen. Though you may have slept together, how well do you know each other's private quarters? How long has it been since she asked you to do your hair? Is this your first time witnessing her morning yoga practice? Do you know what other people do that really gets on your nerves?

Finding out on your first night away from home that she grinds her teeth could put a damper on your entire vacation. Or you might accept that life will have its share of annoyances and determine ahead of time that you will let certain annoyances wash over you until they constitute a fundamental violation of every principle you hold dear.

Let's pretend you're already acquainted to the point where you can tolerate each other's peculiar quirks. You might realize that even if you're on vacation together, she still isn't as aware of your needs as she should be (or as you should be of hers), driving you crazy.

While vacation is a time to unwind and take it easy, that doesn't give you license to slack off entirely. Don't count on her to pick up after you when you're not there if she doesn't do so when you are. And gently tell her that just because she's on vacation doesn't give her permission to shave her legs with your razor.

You have a friend who has a place in Manhattan and has been urging you to come stay with them. He invites you to "bring your new girlfriend." You're going to love it here, fellas. Not at all. Not if you want to spend a lot of time catching up with an old friend and this is your first trip together. Even if they get along great, a first holiday is about romance, and it's impossible to experience it with a friend and a lover at the same time.

Maybe neither of you is the romantic kind, but you're both excited about the prospect of a group vacation. Going out of town to spend time with someone you only know through a third party isn't the best option, but meeting up with someone you both know through common friends is fine.

While on vacation, you may also notice that one of you is naturally more outgoing than the other. When all you want to do is have some quiet time alone with her, she insists on inviting the other two couples she met on the train to join you for dinner. You can't foresee these kinds of events. All you can do is explain why you want to interact or why you don't and try to find a middle ground.

Suppose number six happens: You can't ensure that your first holiday together won't be tense, but you can prevent it from becoming a living hell because of arguments. It may feel awkward to broach the topic of fighting before leaving, but it's better to be prepared. Determine that you will not leave in a huff, even if it means staying incommunicado for three days. Nothing is more embarrassing than coming home all by yourself. Having the fortitude to see things through provides you with breathing room to recover from disagreements.

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