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?
@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.
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.
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!
@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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.