What Your Vacation Drama Says About Your Relationship

Statistically speaking, it's really weird NOT to fight on vacation.
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The sheer concept of a couple's vacation sounds great–you're finally getting uninterrupted alone time with your boo in an exciting place, and snapping some cute pics to boot. But, ironically, this also adds so much pressure to have the ~perfect~ romantic getaway that it can, in turn, make you argue more (and subsequently wonder if you should break up if you can't even enjoy Palawan together).

In fact, according to a 2016 study35 percent of millennials stated that travel-related disagreements could be ultimate dealbreakers for them. But how can you tell which issues are "normal" vacation couple fights, and which ones are a larger reflection of incompatibility? Here are four common vacation problems, what they say about your relationship, and how to fix them.

One person is annoyed because they're doing ALL the planning.

Just like with dividing household chores, it's hard to perfectly and evenly delegate planning a vacation. But if one person ends up figuring out the logistics of getting there, finding things to do, and frantically scrolling through restaurant Yelp reviews, it can build resentment if their S.O. is full-on relaxing (which, to be fair, is the entire point of vacation).

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"When it comes to travel, there are those who plan every pit stop, fill-up, and hotel along the route, while others want to take their time and see where the road leads them," says Dr. Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D., chair and professor of counseling and counselor education at Northern Illinois University. "The people who want to plan out a moment-by-moment itinerary seldom seem to end up with a partner who likes to do things the same way."

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She also notes that this is a very natural dynamic (usually brought out by vacation) and that actually, it's not a bad thing at all. "If you think about it, if both partners are both serious planners, it might be pretty stressful if the two sets of plans differed too much." Then you'd be arguing about the things you HAVE to squeeze into your three-day Paris trip, which is much harder to solve.

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Plus, the person getting stressed planning the perfect vacation isn't just doing it for themselves–they want their partner to have an amazing experience too, and probs won't be able to stop caring so much. For that reason, Degges-White recommends the planner communicate wanting a little help, and the relaxer to contribute some feedback, even in just helping decide on a bar.

And if that still doesn't work and the planner remains rigid and resentful, then you might want to see if you can keep dealing with this on every future vacation.

You have completely opposing ideas of what you like to do on vacation.

While you may both love Netflixing or going out to eat at home, vacation can be a very different deal. Especially with so much money on the line, there's pressure to get everything you want out of it, whatever that means to you. So what happens when one person's fun is sightseeing from the crack of dawn while the other's is sleeping in and taking things slow?

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"When both members of a couple have very different ideas, it can be frustrating at first glance," Dr. Degges-White says. "However, if a couple cares for one another, then they may be able to figure out the best compromise."

One idea is that you plan a two-part vacation–one where you spend time going on tours and hitting all the landmarks–and the other where you just lounge. It can be splitting up activities in one location, or flying to one busy city for one part of the vacation and a chiller area for the second half.

The other thing Degges-White suggests is booking a cruise, which "can be a great way to allow both parties to enjoy their own 'personal vacation' while together." With cruises, you get both day trips and time to just hang out by the pool.

But whatever you decide, if you can make this work, you have incredible compassion for each other and excellent communication skills if you can compromise on something like this.

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You're suddenly bickering over the smallest, DUMBEST stuff.

This may seem obvious, but if you rarely squabble over tiny things like where to eat, it could just be the stress of being in a new place. "Travel usually brings out the worst in everyone," Degges-White says. "Irritation can build really quickly when you’re hungry, stressed, exhausted, or overwhelmed."

People tend to think that being in the place you've been dreaming about means you have to be happy the entire time you're there, but uh, jet lag is real, as is being anxious about navigating a new place or making sure dinner is at a great restaurant, even though you're both starving right now. So give yourselves a break and don't overthink it! People who don't get a little snippy on vacation don't exist.

The only red flag, according to Degges-White, is if the behavior is suddenly very alarming, like they're screaming at you or threatening to break up if you don't agree with their plans. This is doubly true if you had perfect trips during the honeymoon period, but now they feel they can fully unleash on you. Vacay can warrant a bit of crankiness–it doesn't greenlight full-on tantrums.

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You keep having huge blowup fights that ruin your vacation.

Sometimes, spending consistent time with each other is exactly the thing that brings all your dormant, swept-under-the-rug issues to life. If you find yourself getting into fights that don't really have to do with vacation plans and more to do with bigger problems about the relationship as a whole, that's a sign that you'll need to really address these when you get back.

"Vacations are not the ideal time to work through big conflicts because there’s often nowhere for either of you to escape to if the argument gets super-heated," Degges-White warns. "This is one time that it’s okay to rely on a Band-Aid fix for a relationship issue until you can get back home and see how serious it really is."

Because as pressing and crummy it feels to have an unresolved argument on a vacation, adding "you spoiled the trip" to the list of complaints only makes the problem feel more insurmountable, and the important thing is to get to the root of the issue.

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"Just because two people are not the best travel companions doesn’t mean the relationship is doomed to failure," Degges-White says. "However, if the stressors and unpredictability of travel show a side of a partner that you feel you just cannot tolerate for the long term, you may need to make some hard decisions."

Because travel CAN be stressful, but it's not a life-or-death matter to deal with flight delays or driving through a new city. If these things always trigger massive fights, you may not be able to work well together when it actually matters.

But if you can use the experience to really work through things and change, you'll be SO solid the next time vacation rolls around (and yes, you will still fight about where to eat).

Follow Julia on Twitter.


This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.

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