Vacation Time! Leave Your Baggage at Home
Magic at Midlife: Your Relationship Roadmap for Romance After 40
It's mid-summer, and if you haven't already taken a vacation, you may be thinking about one. When midlife couples plan a vacation, they need to take care that the only baggage they bring is their suitcases! Often couples who meet later in life have differing expectations about vacations, and a little preparation can prevent unnecessary clashes on your trip.
In your previous relationships, did you have a specific role during vacations? For example, were you the Planner, the Driver, the Map Reader (possibly supplanted by the GPS now), or the Tour Guide? You probably had certain responsibilities or ideas about what you were supposed to do. Now that you have a new partner, have the two of you discussed who will do what?
Joyce always selected the destination, made the reservations and arrangements, and planned family trips to the minute. She expected to do the same in her new relationship with Ron, only to find that he was used to taking the lead in vacation planning as well. In fact, they each booked a hotel room for the first night of their trip, without consulting each other, and then discovered they had reservations in two separate places! After a few power struggles about who would do what, they realized what was going on and began to enjoy working together to plan a vacation that satisfied them both.
Tracy has always used her annual leave to visit family members in distant cities. She expected to sleep on a pull-out sofa, babysit for her grandkids, and cook for a crowd. Her new partner Michelle thinks of vacation as an idyllic getaway, and is willing to save for months to stay in a luxurious resort in a tropical location. The two of them had to talk through their values, their finances, and their preferences in order to find a compromise they could both live with. Michelle agreed to go for one family visit with Tracy, and Tracy took several shorter trips throughout the year to see her grandkids by herself. Michelle covered most of the cost of a resort vacation, and Tracy saved enough leave time to accompany her. They both enjoyed their trips and felt that the arrangement was fair.
Here are some good conversation-starters about vacation expectations:
- What was your favorite place to visit?
- Where have you always wanted to go?
- What would a typical day on a great vacation look like for you?
- What do you enjoy the most and the least about getting ready for a trip and taking the trip itself?
- What is most important to you - the location, the accommodations, the people we would visit, the distance we would have to travel, or the activities at our vacation spot?
Remember to listen without judgment, and show a real interest in your partner’s answers. These conversations will go a long way toward keeping the fun in your vacation!
Northwest authors Jennifer Y. Levy-Peck, PhD, a psychologist, and her husband Charles Peck are write a weekly column on midlife relationships. They are working on a new book, "Magic at Midlife: Your Relationship Roadmap for Romance After 40."
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