romantic-vacations

How to avoid vacation-destroying arguments

Feb. 13, 2013 at 2:17 PM ET

It never fails. You spend a lot of time and money on a romantic getaway, then you and your partner get into a disagreement over where to eat or when to go snorkeling and the vacation is ruined, or at least on the verge of collapse.

“Vacations, while purportedly about rest and recreation, can often be quite stressful. People are out of their routine and the expectations to have a good time may be high,” said Lesli Doares, a relationship coach. “Any dissatisfaction that is already present in the relationship may be kindling lying in wait for a conflagration to erupt from the mildest disagreement.”

“Typically couples don't argue about new things. Rather, they tend to bicker about the same things over and over,” noted Christina Steinorth, author of "Cue Cards for Life: Thoughtful Tips for Better Relationships." “If you know this, fix the initial problem -- whether by taking less luggage or preparing a better budget. This can change the pattern of your interactions and stop an argument from starting in the first place.”

To keep the good times keep rolling on your next getaway, check out five of the most popular argument starters and tips to keep calm and carry on.

What time to get to the airport
Be willing to meet in the middle when it comes to leaving for the airport to reduce ill will, suggests Steinorth. However, it’s sometimes best to simply honor the leave time of the most anxious person. Having one person overly stressed is never a good way to kick off a vacation.

Driving and managing directions
If you are driving, figure out how to get where you’re going before you get in the car. Print out directions or set the GPS, then talk to the driver about what he or she needs from the navigator. Build in time to get lost, too, since it’s bound to happen at some point on your journey. If you get lost and things start to get heated, bite your tongue, pull over, get out of the car and look at the scenery for a few minutes.

What activities to do and when
Talk about activities you each want to do ahead of time, like before you even book the trip. Make individual lists, then decide jointly which activities to do so you both are excited about the trip. “If one of you is set on doing something the other won’t enjoy, agree to do it solo,” said Doares. “Otherwise, willingly participate in your partner’s activities and create a shared experience.”

Spending too much money
Eliminate spats over money by agreeing on a budget before you start your trip. “Anytime you can prepare ahead of time, you will always help reduce the possibility of an argument later,” saod Steinorth. Be open to exceptions, but consider whether a purchase is worth an argument if your partner doesn’t agree.

What to eat and where
Divide up vacation days and let each partner choose where to eat and when every other day. Come to this agreement before you leave for vacation to minimize cuisine complaints once on your trip. “Veto power should only be exercised if there is truly nothing on the menu for one person to eat, or if it will blow the budget,” Doares said.

If you do find yourself spiraling toward conflict on vacation, give yourself some time before you engage, Steinorth suggests. "When we lash out immediately, we tend to come across more harshly than we intend, which sets up a harsh response."

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