Meg Luce: Relationships and travel
How does your relationship do on the road? Are you good travel buddies? Whether it’s planes, trains or automobiles, people are again planning trips. After being stuck at home during the pandemic, the opportunity to get out of town is a welcome change.
It’s a good time to think about how to enjoy your relationship while traveling. So what will you pack in your emotional knapsack to make it a good trek? After returning from a car trip north, this is fresh on my mind. Plus, I get boatloads of ideas from the couples I work with for practices that can make all the difference for a fabulous time together. So here are some tried and true ideas for your next journey.
Enjoy talking ahead of time about your upcoming plans. Discuss your preferences for the trip rather than discover what your priorities are once you hit the road. One of you may want to kick back and relax, and the other to go full tilt to see all the sights. Work this out ahead of time. You can each write out a list of ideas for your trip. Practice some give and take and perhaps even take a few hours apart to do what is important to each of you.
Pack your patience pants! Oh yes. There will be traffic. There will be annoying bathroom stops. And wrong turns will occur, even when using your GPS. (“What, I thought Starbucks was THIS way!” she said for the fifth time.) It’s all a part of the journey, and it doesn’t have to spoil it. Get those patience pants cinched up, and you’re good to go.
Set a Good Tone
So many couples complain about the impact of their partner’s testy tone. And couples have super-sonic tone detectors, and they never miss a single syllable of snark. Am I right, or am I right? What a buzz killer it is to have a nasty tone. If, instead, you keep a positive attitude, you’ll have a much better trip (and so will your partner!)
A few words of appreciation go a long way to keep the good vibes going. “Thank you for driving and getting us here safely.” “You found us just the right spot to stay.” “So glad you could get time off work.” There is a lot to appreciate if you take the time to notice.
One Crazy at A Time
My favorite saying about relationships is by Heinz Kohut, known for his development of self psychology. He said, “The mark of a good marriage is when only one of you goes crazy at a time.” The quote acknowledges that we all have our bad moments. So when one of the couple is melting down from being too tired, hungry, or otherwise discombobulated, it’s super helpful when the other can stay calm and reassuring.
Here is a scene from our recent trip to Whidbey Island.
Meg: “Omg! (Hyperventilating) Where is my laptop? Did I leave it at the last stop?”
Dave: (pulls shoulder out of socket while reaching around in backseat) “It’s here. All good.”
He could have complained about how I am obsessed with the location of my laptop at all times. Or he could have griped about hauling the thing around Deception Point on our hike. (Major points score there.) Letting the other have a bad moment while holding steady is a huge strength to your relationship.
Try doing a visualization exercise before departure. Use your imagination to set positive intentions for maximum enjoyment of traveling together.
Here it is: Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and imagine your trip. How will you be? Imagine all the ways you want to show up —calm, enthusiastic, fun-loving, relaxed. You get to decide how you will interact on your getaway. Picture it, take it in, and feel it in your bones. While on your trip, if you get off track, that’s okay. Just come back to this image of you showing up the way you want in your visualization.
All aboard! Have the best trip ever, regardless of the sights.
Meg Luce, M.S., is a Marriage and Family Therapist in Grass Valley specializing in helping couples create satisfying relationships. You can find her contact info at https://NevadaCountyTherapist.com
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