Set Expectations When You Travel Together?

DW and I are going away on a kid free trip in a couple weeks and we are so excited! Our child is young so we have mixed feelings—going to miss the kid but excited to get our own special time.

This got me thinking about setting expectations. Early on in our marriage, a couple who mentored us taught us about communicating and setting expectations for trips, vacations and holidays (I mean observed days on the calendar, not trying to be cute by using the UK term for vacation 😊). Some examples of setting expectations can involve how we plan to spend our time, activities, lounging, intimacy, rest, etc:

When you travel on vacation, as a couple or even as a family, are you and/or your spouse intentional about sharing your expectations together? 

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    @sd595–I think a vacation is by definition “a getaway from the usual problems”. I don’t have to clean or do dishes or as much laundry, I don’t have to cook as much unless we are trying to save money by eating in a hotel kitchenette. If we are gone over a Sunday, we get to take a break from all the demands that crop up of a Sunday morning, DH gets a break from work problems, etc. etc. Yes, any problems that are purely between individuals will come along, but the change in circumstance is an EXCELLENT time to “take a break” from those as well. It’s a silly thing to reference, and I actually hate the movie, but it speaks truth: In What About Bob?, Bill Murray’s titular character is practically paralyzed with mental and emotional hangups. You can tell he is just so tired of feeling so limited all the time (or maybe that is me self-identifying), but when Dr. Leo tells him to “take a vacation from his problems”, suddenly he is able to let go of some of the smaller stuff and deal with what was really bothering him. YES, this is just a movie, but I have experienced much the same thing. When on vacation, I have put certain long-standing problems out of my mind and whenever they pop up I just think, “I’m not worrying about that right now,” and go back to focusing on what I always want out of vacation–connection with my DH and if she’s along, DD. Later, when I have to go back to the real world and deal with those problems again, at least I have a positive memory, some positive energy in my bank, regarding the marriage. It makes it easier to deal with whatever troll still lives under the bridge that we haven’t been able to evict yet.

    Under the stars Answered on February 17, 2020.

    I hear what you are saying Duchess.  A vacation can be a break or getaway from certain things.  The question is, what things are good to get away from and what things aren’t, right?  Getting away from those dishes and laundry?  Good.  Getting away from meeting your spouse’s sexual desires?  Not good.  That is really all I am saying – I don’t think intimacy is something that can or should be put on the break list for a vacation.

    on February 17, 2020.

    I disagree. If arguments over it are causing a break in emotional intimacy, or if it has become something done by rote, or if one spouse is feeling very taken for granted sexually, it might be a very good thing. We spent 5 years bathed in teenage hormones and the desire to have sex while we waited for marriage and sometimes I think about the irony of how horrified I would have been then to know how uninspiring we occasionally let it become now, and the difference is availability. I think this can happen especially in couples who practice sex with the same regularity as washing hair or even taking a shower–just expected all the time. (Not that it always does, but it can.) My daughter ate a turkey sandwich every day for lunch one year and then didn’t want one for a really long time after that. Then when she finally ate another one, it was the best thing she had ever tasted. My parents have a habit of eating at the same favorite restaurant almost every time they go out to eat until they don’t like it any more and then won’t go there again for years until one day they do and are amazed all over again at how great it is. Similarly, a break from sex (especially if intentionally augmented with alternate forms of intimacy) can be a chance to stoke the flames of hunger for each other and increase the value a couple places on physical intimacy.

    on February 18, 2020.

    My caveat is that any break should always be with the definite intention of working toward a state of not wanting any more breaks. Ideally, both partners are always delighted at the idea of sex with their spouse. We just don’t live in an ideal world yet.

    on February 18, 2020.

    If sex is a problem during everyday life, it’s gonna be a problem during a vacation. A vacation is probably not the best time or place to do the heavy lifting of repairing said problem. You’ll end up being disappointed in every way possible and have fewer if any good memories about the vacation. Ask me how I know…..

     

    on February 18, 2020.

    not the best time or place to do the heavy lifting of repairing said problem”

    That’s actually my point. If a couple is having problems and a vacation arrives on the calendar the best choice might be to agree to take a vacation from the problem. You’d know it was still there, but for those five days or ten days or whatever length of time it lasts, (depending on the exact problem) you could simply focus on other things instead.

    It’s worth noting that we don’t to the “big” type vacations like theme parks and cruises, so I could see how something like that would be a little more demanding than the low-key, historical-site-touring, shopping, and lounging types we do. If we are feeling less than enamored with each other, we happily take a couple hours to rest and read without feeling like we have slighted one another. But then we’ve never had major relationship problems to contend with.

    I have, however arrived on vacation eagerly anticipating all the extra sex we will have because we have a couple days with no other obligations, only to discover we are both so exhausted from the lead-up to the trip that we just crash instead. Which probably goes back to the original question of expectations.

    on February 18, 2020.
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      I try to be intentional about us sharing our expectations and I genuinely care that she has a good time. We usually end up happily compromising with each other and DW appreciates planning ahead.

      My DW is LD and we’ve learned that sex or physical intimacy ought never be assumed. I can look back and smile about it now, but it was tough for the first few years.

      Communication (CLEAR communication!) is important for us. This is especially the case when traveling. We are both fun-loving extroverts who love to travel. I have an active imagination and physical touch is my love language, so a great time or a fun shared experience always feels like it should naturally culminate with physical intimacy, sex in particular.

      (I say “should” because that’s my natural response, but I’m not saying my wife should “put out” whenever we have a good time. I do my best to be reasonable 😁.)

      Alternatively, my DW loves the quality time and that’s often sufficient for her to have a great time and feel loved. Communication on the front end always seems like a good idea for us.

      Queen bed Answered on February 16, 2020.
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        DW & I both love having sex in places other than our bedroom, especially if it’s camping, or just out 4-wheeling, and outdoors. So, sure, we have expectations, but that is because some good times always happens! We even plot and plan, and talk about it before the trip!

        King bed Answered on February 16, 2020.
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          @sd595, not everyone is running away from problems, and the facts are, many men do desire more sex while away and there are some wives, especially introverts, where traveling and interactions with strangers or family, take a different toll on them that effects sexual response/desire. Sometimes it is grace and understanding that is needed, not just expectations. This is where communication about what is needed by both, and expectations of both, would be useful.

          Under the stars Answered on February 16, 2020.

          I don’t see that a venue change (home or away) should cause a marital bed change.  We behaved this way at home and now we will behave differently away for example.  Vacations can be exhausting and that is certainly a factor that goes into it.  Opportunity is another factor depending on kids, etc.  Operating outside of 1 Cor 7 however doesn’t have a place in any of it in my opinion.  To provide a gendered example, if a high drive wife was looking for her husband’s body, he should make every effort to yield it to her.

          on February 17, 2020.
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            PS. I’d REALLY love to get out of this darned “double bed” so I appreciate you for responding! 😆

            Queen bed Answered on February 16, 2020.
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              If we’re going away without the kids, it depends on the purpose and duration of the getaway…but I’d say the longer the getaway and specific destination, the more we talk about  sexpectations.  We’re planning a wk getaway later this year and it’ll be a sexcation and then we’re also excited about staying home this Summer while the kids go away with their dad. 😀

              I’d also say that we both plan and expect hotel sex if it’s just us in the room.

              On the floor Answered on February 16, 2020.
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                We very seldom go away because DH simply hates to travel. As much as I wish he enjoyed the prospect of going on an adventure with me, he is anxious and on edge from the time we start talking about the trip until we are home again. (He is usually plotting the route home as soon as we are unpacked.) I have responded to this limitation in many different ways over the years, some good and some not so good, but have come to see there is little I can do but accept it. He does force himself to go along with it to please me when I insist, and I have insisted enough over the years that we have some travel memories. (Nothing very far, never longer than a week, with the exception of when we traveled for the birth of our daughter. For her, he flew and stayed many miles from home with a newborn in a hotel room while we waited for the legalities to process to the point that we could go home. The love that man showed for his daughter–and by extension me–through that trip is astounding. ~tears~)

                Anyway, because we travel so seldom, I am always about making it a sexcation and he agrees in theory, but the stress of preparing for the trip and the anxiety that we both deal with (him for travelling, me for,..everything) leaves us often too tired to follow through. That said, we have had some excellent vacation sex, AND it’s the time of year when I begin thinking of plans for travel and we will DEFINITELY be discussing these types of plans, and yes, expectations. We are still trying (with intermittent success) to up our sex game in general, so a trip will be an opportunity to “level up”.

                The challenge will be balancing our need for couples time with our need to create family memories with our DD in her dwindling years at home.

                Under the stars Answered on February 17, 2020.
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                  To quote a favorite marriage podcaster – “Expectations are just planned disappointments.”

                  I could regale you with multiple stories that prove that to be true.  That being said, communication is paramount in all aspects of marriage. So I suggest you both talk about what you would like to have happen on the trip. Share your desires but don’t form expectations. Sounds like you understand that fairly well already.  Avoid the trap.

                  King bed Answered on February 16, 2020.
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                    Like Patient Kind said, my wife is LD so I never assume or expect a lot sexually. If we go on a vacation, we usually have sex once or twice, but not daily like I have read some do. The only time we ever “preset” an expectation was a few years ago, we went on a 2 week trip and before we left, my wife actually asked if we could have a sexless vacation. She said she would love to go on a trip and not think about having to have sex.

                    We didn’t have sex for the two weeks, but honestly, I was frustrated and let down over the trip. The trip itself was awesome, but I have bad memories from it.

                    Fell out of ... Answered on February 16, 2020.

                    Ron – I feel you brother! I wish I had the magic answer or pill. (Well, there might actually be a “pill”, but it is frowned upon discussing here 🙂 )

                    I would offer you a couple tidbits of guidance, as I have navigated those waters myself.

                    1.  NEVER accept such a request again. Period.
                    2. Reassess yourself because it is obvious your DW is under a lot of pressure with sex. It’s not all you, but a portion of it is – address that portion ASAP.

                    I’ve not read much of your efforts here, so you may already be on the trail, but I thought I would share that for your, or whomever else reads it, benefit. Good luck!

                    on February 16, 2020.

                    Well, it is hard to not “accept” her request for no sex.  She doesn’t want to do what she doesn’t want to do.

                    I don’t pressure my wife for sex constantly. I only ask a couple of times a week, I don’t think that is asking too much.

                    My wife likes to take a break from sex occasionally, just no sex at all for maybe a week to two weeks. She is usually ok with some sex on a vacation, but that one time, she wanted a break. Not ideal, at least for me!

                    on February 16, 2020.

                    I think his wife’s feelings of being pressured are hers to own, not his.

                    on February 17, 2020.
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                      In more recent travels, we have talked more about expectations. We were almost forced to when it came out that I was dreading and wasn’t wanting to go on our anniversary trip because of the sex expectations.

                      One thing I have learned to do in the past 8 years, since sex began being assumed, is to remind my husband how things change for me when we do travel. Traveling seems to have the opposite effects on us.

                      Under the stars Answered on February 16, 2020.
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