The first and last time I went on a cruise was with a former partner of mine. Within hours of boarding, we got into a huge screaming match about our different interests. I wanted to explore the cruise ship, spend time by the pool, and plan our excursions on the island the next day. He wanted to spend three days at the bar. You can guess what happened next. Take it from me — fighting with your partner on vacation is the absolute worst.
We spent the rest of our first night on the ship screaming at each other until he blacked out from excessive alcohol consumption. I didn't care to leave the room or do anything else after that and it was pretty much impossible to go home at that point. The next day, I tried to ignore the whole thing. He apologized. I said everything was fine. And we went about our day as planned.
We had booked a day at a resort in Freeport, Bahamas — one of the on-land excursion options included in the cost of the cruise — and I was determined to make the most of it. I would be lying if I said I didn't immediately know that this fight signaled the imminent end of our relationship but it doesn't necessarily have to be that way for you if you don't want to break up.
Trina Leckie, relationship expert and host of the breakup BOOST Podcast, says that it's always a good idea to discuss how you intend to resolve conflicts before going away with your partner. But if you haven't, here's how to deal when you and your partner get into a fight while on vacation.
Aim to resolve the argument as quickly and conclusively as possible.
Leckie explains, "Arguments are part of relationships and we can’t plan when they will happen," which is true. But an indisputable fact about vacations is that they are short-lived. You won't be there forever so it's probably best to spend whatever little time you do have there enjoying your break from reality. You definitely don't want to waste an entire day or days being upset with your partner, which is why it's best to tackle any disagreements head on.
Explain to each other why you're not pleased with the situation and identify your best possible outcomes. As long as you are both committed to having a good time, coming to some sort of compromise should be a priority. It's important to make sure that each person feels that their concerns are understood and addressed. Apologize sincerely and if necessary, establish new rules for the remainder of the trip to avoid a repeat or similar scenarios.
Spend some time apart, if necessary and feasible.
Sometimes, after an argument you need to spend time alone with your thoughts. Fighting with a partner is mentally and emotionally draining and it's impossible to expect things to go back to normal right away.
Leckie's advice? "Spend a few hours apart or even a whole day apart and then reconvene in a calm manner, have a brief discussion, and try to move on from it."
In reality, you might not have enough time to spend an entire day apart without wasting your trip. Instead, you can try going for a walk alone, meditating, or taking a long shower to regroup. What's done is done but there's still time left on your trip to enjoy each other's company.
Try to enjoy the rest of your trip.
It can be tempting to hold on to the anger you felt during the argument, especially if it's an argument you've had before or one about something that your partner knows is very important to you. The truth is though, you'll only be punishing yourself by staying mad. Leckie says, "Unless it has to do with cheating or abuse of some sort, it is probably the type of thing that you should be able to at least let go of for the duration of your trip. Don’t let stubbornness get in the way of what can turn out to be a great time."
On the other hand, it's possible that your partner will be the one having a hard time moving on from the fight, which isn't something you can control. "If your partner can’t let it go after you have tried your best at rectifying the situation, then you need to make the most of the trip on your own. You will likely regret it if you look back and realize you wasted your time sulking in a hotel room when you could have been out exploring new territory," Leckie warns. It's up to you now to take care of yourself.
As best as possible, do things to help keep your mind off of the tension in your relationship. Revisit the argument when you get home, pointing out that your partner's refusal to resolve the conflict basically ruined the trip for the two of you. You won't be able to get that time back but at least you'll have a better idea of what the future holds for you and your partner.
The good news is that working through an argument — especially without the influence of others like friends and family — often forces couples to strengthen their problem-solving skills as a team. Who knows? That argument about whether or not you should opt for room service might even make your relationship stronger.
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