Not only do working parents have to juggle jobs and child care for more than six weeks, with the constant battle of trying to keep their offspring entertained, they also face the prospect of a not-so-happy family holiday. Far from being the carefree, relaxing time depicted in glossy travel brochures, the annual summer vacation can be fraught with pent-up tensions and unfulfilled expectations.
As we’ve written in previous blogs, September is one of the busiest months of the year for divorce lawyers. That’s because, as with the Christmas break, the long summer holidays prove a testing time for families where relationships are already strained.
Couples who have worked hard all year and looked forward to finally spending quality time together on a white sandy beach fringed with palm trees can discover that the reality is far from idyllic.
Being with your partner 24/7 when you don’t spend much time together normally can be wonderful – or can bring into sharp relief that all is not well in your marriage. Throw into the mix a couple of truculent teenagers or lively young children and what should be a happy holiday could become an ordeal.
Holidays can be further marred by the intrusion of social media and work-related emails pinging into your smart phone, laptop or tablet. Instead of enjoying face-to-face communication with your family, many people will spend a lot of their holidays hunched over a flickering screen.
So, if you’re hoping for a peaceful time away with the family, but have a niggling feeling that your annual summer holiday is going to be stressful and expose cracks in your marriage, take time to plan it carefully.
If you’re planning to book last-minute, don’t grab at the first holiday that fits the dates you want: choose carefully a location and resort that all the family will enjoy. If your partner likes golf, but you prefer sunning yourself on the beach, pick a hotel or apartment near a golf course and a beach. If you have young children, make sure the hotel has kids’ clubs so you and your spouse can enjoy a bit of “us” time.
However much the children might like splashing around in the sea or pool, plan a series of excursions to keep everyone interested and focused.
Depending on where you’re going on holiday, this might be a good time to learn a new skill you and your partner can both enjoy, such as scuba diving or painting.
Don’t go on holiday for the sake of it: If money is tight or you can’t agree where to go, stay at home and instead plan day trips to cities, stately homes or rural spots you’ve not yet visited.
Whether at home or away, don’t be tempted to check your emails or log on to the internet chat to cyber friends: resolve to have a holiday from all forms of e-communication and give your attention to your family instead.
Don’t expect too much from a holiday. The more you built it up in your mind beforehand, the more likely it is that you’ll be disappointed. Accept that it might not be the vacation you’ve dreamed of, but try to enjoy it anyway.
If there are problems with your hotel room or apartment, sort them out straightaway rather than letting them irk you throughout the holiday.
If, while you’re away, you realise that even in the sunshine your marriage isn’t working, quietly resolve to speak to a divorce lawyer on your return. That way, you can relax a bit rather than struggling to get blood out of a stone. You might find that not getting wound up about the situation takes the pressure off and makes it less fraught.
I hope you don’t need to make an appointment with Benussi & Co at the end of the summer, but be assured: if you do need our advice in September, we will be there for you.