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"My Wife's Separate Vacation Spells the Beginning of the End of Our Relationship"

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"My Wife's Separate Vacation Spells the Beginning of the End of Our Relationship"

By Sam Vaknin
Author of "Malignant Self-love: Narcissism Revisited"

Separate vacations may, indeed, signify the beginning of the end of your relationship - or serve as a boost to its quality and durability. It all depends on several factors:

1. Topical vs. recreational vacations

If your wife is addicted to chess and you can't stand the game, she has the right to travel to attend a tournament in another city. If you are an expert skier and your spouse prefers more sedentary pursuits, why drag her along to your ski resort? Separate vacations that are centered around the hobbies and interests of the "absconding" parties are legitimate and should not threaten the stability of the marriage or the relationship. On the contrary: your intimate partner is likely to return rejuvenated and to miss you to boot.

Not so with recreational vacations. These should be shared. The pressures of modern life - careers, kids, financial stressors - make intimacy and pleasurable memories scarce commodities that should be hoarded. Quality time together in a romantic ambience is indispensable.

Ideally, there should be a balanced mix of both types of vacations: separate and joint. Spending every waking minute together is a recipe for marital disaster. But drifting apart into a private universe with experiences and memories that are not shared with your partner is likely to lead to a breakup.

2. Travelling mates

Going on a separate vacation with friends of the opposite sex is a no-no. Issues of trust and romantic jealousy are bound to rear their ugly head.

3. Length of vacation

Separate vacations should not exceed a few days, preferably on a weekend. Distance makes the heart grow fonder, but a fortnight of separation may break it - and the relationship - altogether.

4. Fairness and reciprocity

Separate vacations should not "break the bank" and consume the entire family budget leaving nothing in the till for the non-vacationing spouse and for a future shared vacation.

While away, the non-vacationing partner has to assume the vacationing partner's chores. It is only fair to reciprocate by assuming some of his chores in return and upon return.

5. Trust and cheating

It is far easier to cheat on a vacation. The combination of anonymity in a strange place, the thrill and excitement of the unfamiliar, and the proximity of potential mates may prove irresistible. Summer flings are a well-documented phenomenon, for instance.

The short and the long of it is that there is no way to prevent your wife from cheating on you if she is so inclined. But, this applies even when she is not on a vacation! Cheating can occur any time, at any place!

Some palliatives include:

- Your wife can update you frequently as to where she is; what she is doing; and with whom;

- Your wife can agree not to consume alcohol or drugs while away (to avoid disinhibition and tricky situations);

- Your wife can refrain from including herself in potentially compromising situations.

Ultimately, whether she cheats on your or not depends on the strength on your relationships and the trust that underlies it. Still, studies have demonstrated conclusively that, given the right circumstances with the right person, people - men and women alike - would cheat, even if they are in a perfectly happy and healthy relationship. This is just one of those sad facts of life.

Which leads me to my last point:

6. Quality of the relationship

The accepted wisdom is that separate vacations are ill-advised when the relationship is tottering on the verge of dissolution. My view is different: separate vacations allow the partners in such a dysfunctional liaison to re-experience being single and to re-consider their propensity to break up with their current partner.

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Jan/13/2013, 9:07 am Link to this post  

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