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Joan Pickett, LPC
Vacation Season Smooth Sailing Or Shipwreck?
Joan Pickett, LPC

Vacation Season Smooth Sailing Or Shipwreck?

When planning for a vacation

Are you and your spouse in a “marriage drought” and dreading being confined together?

Are you overwhelmed with the idea of being with your children for 24 hours a day for

several days?

Do your children want to be with YOU for 24 hours a day for several days?

These are just some but not by any means all of the common pitfalls that have the potential to leave vacation dreams shipwrecked on the craggy rocks of our expectations and assumptions. As the days fly by and the departure date speeds closer, the idea of being freed of the responsibilities of ordinary life in exchange for freedom and change of scenery grow more seductive. Of course, these may differ greatly for each family member. Children rarely want the same kind of pace their parents desire, and sometimes spouses dread the enforced time being in each other's company.

What Can Be Done To Avoid

As with most issues in life, an honest analysis is the essential beginning point. What do I want from this vacation? What can I compromise on? What is my greatest fear? Pen and paper are helpful!

Next, comes encouraging one's spouse to develop his or her list so that the two of you can work out the adult agenda and any areas of conflict or disagreement between you. If there has been no meaningful communication between you for a while this can be a beginning in opening up the channels!

Finally the children can be invited to develop their own lists. It is important to pay special attention to their fears as sometimes children have a clearer memory of what went wrong last year than the adults.

When lists are finalized it is time to put them all together. As much as possible, everyone should be allowed to know what is important to each person. Potential reefs can be identified and a general discussion of how these can be avoided will ensue. Does this sound unrealistic? For many families it may be, but the most important part is the “lists”. If bringing the family together for discussion seems unmanageable, then you can follow the development of your own list with little informal chats with each family member about their hopes and fears. Then at least one person can be the navigator, sailing toward hopes and avoiding fears along the way.

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