How to prevent holiday arguments

familyonholiday1You’ve done all the talking and negotiating in advance, you’ve agreed about what you want to do and what you don’t want to do, but no sooner have you slipped on your bikini or your snorkelling gear or your walking boots than it all goes belly-up with a more resounding splash than your first topple into the hotel pool.

When you are in an unfamiliar environment and separated from your comfort zone, you may react in unexpected ways.

Your body clock ticks to a different rhythm, the climate or weather can have unusual physical and mental effects.

Unrelenting proximity to others can affect you in surprising ways. The realisation that this is it for a week or a fortnight or a month can cause all your previous rational discussions to collapse into feelings of annoyance and irritation.

You don’t want conflict and quarrels to ruin your holiday. You can maintain harmony and ease difficulties by applying these suggestions.

Deal with the little things as they happen

Your holiday time is limited and precious, so when something flares up, or threatens to, sort it out straight away. If someone seems dissatisfied with an arrangement or a suggestion, acknowledge that you have noticed. You could play the ‘ignore it and it will go away’ card but that puts the ball in the other person’s court.

Use phrases such as

  • You don’t seem happy with that.

  • I think you don’t like that idea.

If you sense that someone needs more space, or more company, use phrases such as

  • What do you think about us all having an hour or two to ourselves this morning?

  • Are you happy going round the market/gallery/by yourself?

  • Would you like some company on the boat trip, or would you prefer to do your own thing?

If you feel yourself getting tired and tetchy, decide what would make you feel better, and let people know. There is no need to blame anyone else for your own feelings.

Use phrases such as

  • You know, I’ve had enough of the beach for a bit. I’m going for a walk along the front.

  • I’m going for an hour’s rest.

  • I don’t know about you, but I’m starving. Let’s get a sandwich at that bar.

Don’t store up complaints until you get home in the mistaken idea that saying something will spoil things for everyone. If, on your return, someone says, ‘I didn’t want to say anything at the time but I would have liked at least another evening at the casino/I don’t think the room allocation was fair/the restaurants were too expensive,’ your feelings about the holiday are soured and you wish they had made their feelings known before it was too late.

Stay in the present

Even though you may have made certain decisions and plans, if the situation changes, there’s no point in harping back. Deal with the situation you are faced with.

If everything is more expensive than you had anticipated, adjust your arrangements.

If you had planned to visit a certain attraction and find that it is closed for refurbishment, choose something else to do and don’t blame yourself or any of your party for the situation. If you had decided that you wouldn’t pal up with any other holidaymakers, but happen to meet people whose company you enjoy, don’t feel you have to stick to what you had said. Just check that everyone is happy with the arrangement. Treat your previous discussions and your hopes and plans as a framework, not a blueprint.

Ignore the bigger picture

The bigger picture is the context of your life outside the bubble that is your holiday. In that life, in your real world, the big things matter as much or as little as you want them to. On holiday, deal with only what happens in the bubble.

A holiday is probably not the best time to deal with the big issues in your life. It might affect the way that you see things, and time and space in a bubble may give you clarity and insight. These perceptions may be accurate; they may have been skewed by circumstances. It might be best not to share them there and then. Hold on to your thoughts and check them out when you return.

So when the tension rises because someone mislays keys or documents, or gets the opening hours wrong so that you miss an event, ignore the big picture of ‘this is typical and I’m sick and tired of your unreliability’. Bringing real life into into the bubble situation is only going to make things worse. If you feel that someone is behaving selfishly, reinforcing this feeling with examples from real life of their selfish behaviour is only going to fuel your annoyance. Stick to the specific, small example and either address it or deal with your feelings about it.

There might be no cure for the summertime blues, but paying a little attention to how you communicate will help to keep the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer holidays harmonious and enjoyable.

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