Some individuals might, right off the bat, disagree with the title of this post. You might think, “Vacation isn’t real life. If you can’t get along in real life, surrounded by screaming kids, dirty dishes and bills, you aren’t meant to be together.” And to that I say, you’re correct. If a couple absolutely cannot get along under normal conditions, then they don’t have much hope. But this article isn’t for people whose relationship is constantly on the verge of breaking. This post is for couples who have been together for a long time and who feel like their relationship could use a little jump start every so often. It’s for couples who know they love each other, but sometimes don’t really feel the buzz and excitement that comes with love. And, yes, it’s for couples who feel like dirty dishes and bills are affecting them a bit too much. Here is why taking regular vacations together could save your relationship.
It’s good for your health
Long-term couples often argue about one another’s health. One person wishes the other would eat healthier because he has high cholesterol. One person wishes the other would make more attempts at stress management because she has high blood pressure. Worrying about one another’s health can often manifest itself in bickering. Vacations, fortunately, are good for your health. Studies have found that people who regularly do things they enjoy tend to have “lower blood pressure, lower stress hormones and smaller waists.”
It’s good for your overall stress levels
As the previously mentioned study shows, doing things that make you happy on a regular basis can result in overall lower stress hormone levels. But one study also found that people who have extremely relaxing vacations can continue to feel relaxed up to two weeks after vacation.
You can be kids again
You are not responsible for anything on vacation. If you have kids, you don’t need to worry about them (if you left them with a babysitter). You don’t need to worry about going to bed at a certain time or getting up at a certain time. You don’t need to worry about responding to emails or filling out time sheets. When you remove yourself from your responsibilities, you can get back to being children—which is when you have the most fun and are your most true selves.
You’ll experience new things together
Experiencing and learning new things together strengthens your bond as a couple. When you are side-by-side, taking in new information—say in a sailing class or on a museum tour—you become more connected because your brains are experiencing the same expansion.
You always have something to look forward to
Half the fun of going on vacation is planning it! So the perks of the trip extend beyond the actual trip itself. And it’s amazing how, when you know vacation is just around the corner, things like crying children and dirty dishes don’t upset you quite as much. Knowing there will be a break from the chaos helps you tolerate the chaos with more patience. The trouble comes when there is no end in sight to the mayhem, which is the case for couples who don’t take regular vacations.
You’ll have more sex
Because your stress hormones will go down and your happy hormones will go up, you’ll be naturally more inclined to have sex. And having sex is an important part of strengthening your bond. Plus, there’s nothing quite like hotel sex.
No arguing over whose friends you’ll see
If you vacation every few months together—even if it’s just for a weekend getaway—that’s one less weekend where you have to argue over whose friends you’ll see. That’s one less weekend where you have to argue that your in-laws stop in too much. It’s just you and your boo.
You’re a safe port in an unfamiliar place
When you travel to a new place, you may not speak the language, you may not understand the customs, and you may get lost. When you’re in unfamiliar territory, you’re reminded what a safe port your partner is for you—not just while traveling, but also in life.
You’ll realize work isn’t that important
When you’re in the middle of work, you can have this illusion that if you just finish this document or just achieve this promotion, you’ll find happiness on the other side. But when you go on vacation, you’re reminded what real happiness feels like. And that promotion pales in comparison. This is a valuable perspective. When you go home, you may not be quite as chippy with your partner if he interrupts a work call. You’ll know that, while work is important, it’s certainly not going to provide the greatest source of happiness in your life.
No dishes or laundry for a while
Not having to cook, clean, fold laundry, wash dishes or even tidy up for several days is only good for your relationship. The more chance you have to really get along and not argue, the more you’ll want to continue to get along back at home. Next time your partner forgets to clean a dish, you may just wash it for him instead of yell at him, because you know getting along feels better than having him wash the dish.
You can daydream
Visiting new places together gives you the opportunity to daydream a little. New places and experiences may inspire you, and give you ideas about your career and your goals. New places often spark conversations about where you’d like to retire some day, or own a vacation home. Travel really lets you and your partner imagine a full life together.
You’ll come together more on finances
If you both love to vacation and agree to make it a priority, you may suddenly agree more on finances. If you have the shared goal of putting aside X amount of money for vacation, then you’ll each be more willing to compromise and make sacrifices to get there. Suddenly, you aren’t not buying those shoes to make your partner happy—you’re not buying them so you can both enjoy vacation.
You’ll discover new sides of each other
You and your partner are complex and versatile individuals. But since you spend so much time in the same places, doing the same things, only small portions of your personality are able to come out. Traveling to new places and doing new things helps you constantly discover new sides to one another, which keeps your partner exciting to you.
You can focus solely on each other
Remember when you started dating, and when you were together, the rest of the world melted away? You noticed every little thing your partner did, from the way he laughed to the way he moved. You appreciated every tiny detail of his physical appearance. You saw nothing but him. You can get that again, on vacation.
You’ll get out in nature
If your vacation involves time in nature—which it should—you and your partner will feel especially relaxed and bonded after. Being in nature will remind you how small you are, and how fleeting time is. It will reinforce your desire to spend as much quality time together because you’ll be reminded that you don’t have forever.