My husband, Duane, and I are packing our luggage to head home from a four-week vacation in Italy. As we packed, I remembered our last European vacation together 25 years ago. We had fun on that trip, but we had several heated arguments during a 10-day trip. This current trip stands in sharp contrast, as we both enjoyed ourselves without arguing.
How did we do it? When there is only one person you can have a meaningful conversation with (Duane and I are both bilingual – French and English – but neither of us speaks Italian) you have an incentive to avoid pettiness. And maybe a 25-year marriage has taught us how to live in harmony. But over the last four weeks, I’ve discovered a few “secrets” I can share with you that may help you make your vacation a blissful time together.
1. We both remained open to allowing the other person do what they wanted to do.
Duane is an artist and a life-long devotee of Michelangelo and other great artists of the Italian Renaissance. He’s dreamed of this trip since childhood, and of course, wanted to experience all the art he’d only read about. I can confirm that there is a lot of art in Italy! I think Duane wanted to (and did) see it all! Though I’m more of a history buff, I went along with him even if I didn’t think I’d be interested because I knew it was important to him.
On the other hand, I wanted to go to Venice. As a child, I watched a show about a boy and his pony in Venice that made me yearn to see it first hand. Duane wasn’t keen on Venice, but knowing how important it was to me, he even encouraged me to add an extra day to our side-trip to Venice so I could really explore the sites.
We each benefitted by allowing the other to do things that were important to them. I learned to appreciate Renaissance art and artists, which I had always thought to be dark and morose, and Duane gained a lot of inspiration from Venice, which he thoroughly enjoyed.
2. Consider the consequences of verbalizing petty annoyances (and ignore them.)
Many times, when Duane did or said things that annoyed me or when I woke up on the wrong side of the bed, I chose to ignore these feelings. I knew they were not worth the fight and reminded myself that I must also be annoying him and he wasn’t mentioning it either.
Spend a lot of time together and you’ll get on each other’s nerves. You can choose to ignore it; you can even choose to be in a better mood. Yes, you can “choose” your mood. You do have a choice in how you respond to your moods and your partner’s moods, and the choice you make can make or break your vacation.
3. Enjoy what your partner brings to the mix.
Duane, like many ADHDers, often acts like a big kid, always finding or creating fun in any situation. He also has a great sense of direction, where I have none – if I’d come to Rome on my own I might still be lost in some museum or other! I enjoyed his playfulness and being able to find my way with him, while he relied on my communication and project management skills to organize our stay at the various places we visited and to “translate” in my very bad and shaky Italian what we wanted.
This was a trip of a lifetime for us, a trip we’d dreamed of for many years and budgeted and saved up for more than two years. Being able to spend it in harmony provided us with memories we will share and enjoy for years to come.