Dr Tracy Shaw

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Are Separate Vacations A Good Idea For Couples?

Interview Jet Magazine

Vacations are a time to get away from daily routines for relaxation and fun Many couples plan vacations together. But what happens when one person wants to go on a cruise and the other person wants to ski? Does one person give in and give up the vacation he has been dreaming about and saving for since last year? Or, should couples take separate vacations?

Experts polled by Jet say in most cases separate vacations are definitely a good idea for couples.

"It's a good idea for couples to take separate vacations some of the time," says Dr. Larry Davis, professor of psychology and social work at Washington University in St. Louis MO. "We need to take a break from everything at one time or another. It (a separate vacation) gives you a chance to put your life in some perspective and think about the relationship."

Dr. Davis, author of Black and Single, and his wife, who were expecting their third son at Jet press time, are among many couples who are taking separate vacations these days. While his wife, Shirley, traveled to visit family in Jamaica, Dr. Davis said he and a friend went to Mexico, stopping by Las Vegas on the way.

Separate vacations, says Julia Boyd, a psychotherapist in Seattle, WA, and author of Girlfriend to Girlfriend and In The Company of My Sisters, give couples a chance to pursue or enjoy interests their partner may not share.

"Vacation is a time for relaxation and fun," says Boyd. "If I'm dragging my partner to the beach and he wants to be in the mountains, someone is not going to have fun."

Boyd stresses, however, that separate vacations are a good idea after both people have put some time into developing the relationship.

"After a couple of years, sure," she comments about taking a vacations without your significant other. "In the beginning, especially new couples, they might need that bonding time together."

She also advocates separate vacations because time apart can be a boost to the relationship, thus making it stronger.

"With a little time away, you miss that person and you want to hurry and get back and share with that person," she tells Jet. "When you have trust in a relationship and in your partner, separate vacations should not be a problem."

Dr. Tracy Shaw, a staff psychologist at UCLA, believes that separate vacations are a good idea if the couple has taken a vacation together first, especially married couples early on in the marriage.

"The person you spend time with is the person you find yourself attracted to and that creates a more honest and stable relationship. And in the beginning, that's what a married relationship needs--a foundation on which to build." she tells Jet.

Dr. Shaw adds that for married couples with children separate vacations may be even more important, even though it may be harder to accomplish. She suggests that if it is financially possible, there should be a group vacation then separate vacations. Children, she says, can become a distraction and create some strain in the relationship for reasons such as the additional financial strain and just the additional responsibility that comes with raising children.

When everything is in tact, separate vacations can do good things for a relationship. But if trouble is already brewing between partners, a separate vacation may do more harm than good.

"If the relationship does not have trust and honesty as part of its foundation, then separate vacations can be harmful," warns Dr. Shaw "When the relationship is not stable, either partner can assume the other person is spending time away with someone else."

When one person in a relationship suggests a separate vacation to a partner, red flags will probably go up immediately. However, Dr. Allen Carter a psychologist in Atlanta, GA, says those types of feelings are only natural.

"Your mind starts to play tricks on you." Dr. Carter states. "Distrust and doubt come up. But couples must know that those kinds of feelings are just built in."

To overcome those natural feelings of doubt, Dr. Carter advises that couples talk honestly about whatever those little voices in their heads are telling them. And nothing should be left undisclosed.

"When you make love, you've got to get naked with your partner," says Dr. Carter. By getting naked with your partner, Dr. Carter means revealing all feelings and anxieties a person may have about separate vacations with a partner. "When you share those feelings with the other person, it deepens the relationship.

"Love is freedom," he adds. "And the purpose of any love relationship is to develop freedom."

Boyd notes that the person going away can ease any anxieties the person staying at home may have by making simple arrangements such as leaving a number where he/she can be reached and/or arranging to call home on a certain day and time.

Dr. Carter, also a professor at Morehouse College in Atlanta, points out, however, that although doubtful feelings may appear, separate vacations are still a good idea because time away is essential for any relationship, no matter how stable it may seem.

"I don't care how close you are to each other," he says, "sometimes you need that distance. It's part of any relationship, the need for closeness and the need for distance."

COPYRIGHT 1997 Johnson Publishing Co.
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

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Last Updated on Friday, 02 December 2011 01:54