Truly, this is not a blog title I thought I would ever write.
But here we are, the four of us (well, actually 7 of us but more on that later) in a tropical location on a ten-day family holiday. And I’m not going to write a real ‘how-to’ because really, who knows how to go on any family holiday, let alone one with complicated dynamics. But there is something interesting about this time and how it’s unfolding.
Most Januarys, we head north for a family holiday. My parents, Michael and I and our two girls. Oftentimes, like now, my brother joins us. Seven of us. We stay in a lovely apartment with room to move and a good pool. We’ve come here together as a family for quite enough years to know the drill – first stop the pool, favourite family restaurant, where we shop, exercise and visit.
As it’s an annual tradition, the holiday had been locked in early last year. Well before Michael and I separated. So it didn’t take either of us long to acknowledge the holiday – all booked and paid for – was coming up. It was at this point we made the choice to go ahead with it. But things had changed. In our everyday life, we had quickly adjusted to living separately under the one roof. Yet we knew the living situation on holiday would revert back to the ‘old days’. I tucked all this information away in a little compartment in my head. There was certainly enough going on without needing to worry about a future event.
As the January date quickly approached I became clearer about what I wanted from the time away. And basically it boiled down to all of us having a good, relaxing holiday. Which is no different from other years, except for the part about us being separated. So how do you spend 10 seemingly normal days with someone you are transitioning through to a new relationship with?
Here’s what’s working now
* There is no animosity between us. I’d heard that your relationship is near completion when you experience apathy and empathy. It sounded intriguing then, but those two feelings resonated when I thought about our relationship. I was no longer attached to Michael doing or being a particular way. I want the best for him, but I’ve released my expectations of how I want him to be. And he was always pretty relaxed about me, so we are both free to be ourselves. This is a pretty cialis 10mg online auschilled way to holiday.
* From a practical viewpoint, we have always been fairly independent as a couple. So the transition to being separated doesn’t look shocking or new to anyone. And life is no different when you change the physical location. We have done some activities together as a family, but we have gone our separate ways for others. Communication is, as always, key.
* Which brings me to my next point – this might be the last time we all holiday together. Never say never, as I know we can create this Life however we choose. But life as we know it is changing and this allows my mind to expand and see love in all possibilities.
* As I mentioned before, communication is a biggie. It always has been, but I’m aware of it now more than ever. I’m mindful not to take anything for granted. I’m also aware to share my expectations to not let any stories in my head get bigger than they need to. My parents and brother retain a good relationship with Michael and continue to be respectful around our needs. A pre-holiday conversation with my parents allowed me to share our wish to keep the trip as low-key as possible.
* Finally, fifteen years ago I chose to marry a very easy-going man. He is still that way. So if you are planning to holiday with your recently separated partner, it helps enormously if that person embodies the qualities of flexibility, calmness, kindness and love.
We have not created this holiday experience alone.
Right before leaving home, we had a therapy session together focussed solely on the upcoming holiday. It was useful in allowing us to explore what we both wanted from the holiday, what were the possible stress points and strategies to deal with them.
Honestly, though, the session would have been as helpful for a couple holidaying together under ‘normal’ circumstances as it was for us.
Never underestimate the value of a good relationship therapist to guide and support you through the everyday journey of married life.