If Instagram is to be believed, holidaying as a married couple is a series of perfect squares consisting of sunshine, smiling faces and exotic places.
It’s an incomplete picture. Holidaying is amazing, but there’s more to the picture than the squares of Instagram.
Between the squares there can also be a whole lot of waiting, rushimg, stress and confusion. With all of this going on, I feel like I’ve got to tell you the one thing that no-one tells you about travelling together as a married couple.
Here it is.
Holidaying together isn’t a series of perfect snapshots. You’ve got to learn to deal with the moments between the squares, together.
Let me unpack this a little bit.
Between the squares, things will get a little tense.
This isn’t a possibility, it’s a guarantee. Things will go wrong on your holiday. This isn’t routine life where the worst case scenario to your morning is you forgot to buy milk or you ran out of hot water. You’re living out of a suitcase, in a country where most people can’t understand you, and you have to be somewhere before you miss your flight. Did I mention it’s 2:45AM and your alarm just went off? If that doesn’t make you just a little bit snappy, you’re not a good person, you’re probably a sociopath.
Between the squares, great communication starts with timing.
If you’re in the middle of a stressful situation, chances are it’s not the best time to talk about your feelings. Run. Catch the flight. Maybe one of you will snap at the other. Suck it up, you can talk later. You’ll feel better about talking on a plane you didn’t miss.
Between the squares, honesty is required.
You’ve got enough baggage as it is, (sorry about the cheesy travel metaphor but it’s true!). Don’t for a minute think that holding onto a grudge is going to be better for you or your spouse in the long term. When the time is right, talk through what might be frustrating you. As a heads up from personal experience, there’s a good chance you’re tired and it’s annoying you more than it would have if you’d had a decent night’s sleep.
Between the squares, you can’t take yourself too seriously.
We’ve got this system for arguing, (I mean, ‘discussing things’) where we ‘rouse’ on each other. I know, it sounds weird to have a system, but it works. One of us can say what is annoying us, and the other listens and then says “I just got roused on”. Sounds random, but it’s this little thing that just lightens the mood. It’s also our way of recognising that we can annoy each other, but we love each other like crazy.
Between the squares, forgiveness is essential.
Once the tense moment is done, let it be done. Love keeps no records of wrongs. Enough said.
Things are going to go wrong, and you’re going to get frustrated. That’s not just okay, it’s healthy! We are learning to be flexible, to deal with ambiguity and to problem solve together. We’re learning to handle stress, to communicate frustrations and to extend grace to each other.
When we travel, the Instagram moments are truly incredible. In a strange way though, I feel like it’s between the squares where our marriage is strengthened.