I see pictures all over social media of people I know at exotic locations, forced smiles and sad eyes…I know of at least six such couples who are in empty marriages but putting up the farce of forced merrymaking.
‘It’s for the kids, you know’
The refrain I hear most of the time is “You know it’s only for the kids” but hey, the kids are more perceptive than you think. It breaks my heart when a 7-year-old tells me a ‘secret’ that her parents fought every night for the eight nights they were in Europe. Or a 16-year-old letting on that her mother was sulking as usual and her Dad is way cooler than Mom.
Why do people think a vacation is a quick fix solution to problems?
Spending time together away from the rigours of daily life can be therapeutic…or traumatic.
Like a close friend got back from a vacation and took to drinking every night, glad that she didn’t have to stay in close proximity to that man till next summer. It’s a very sorry state to be in.
Increasingly I see it all around, this need to come across as the perfect family on social media and to extended family. While at home the couple is busy pursuing their careers or being helicopter parents to the kids, when on a holiday the reality comes biting.
We need a vacation from a vacation
I know of someone who read books through the night because his wife was so used to talking after the kids slept that he had to escape. At home they have separate bedrooms.
Another friend realised he had nothing to talk about with his wife. The kids insisted they go for a romantic dinner in Paris and after the first ten minutes they had to pull out their phones to get through their evening.
As I keep telling a host of people in such situations, seek professional help. If the marriage is worth saving, take concrete steps in the direction, not Band-Aid solutions that cost the earth and leave you feeling empty.
Another person I know pragmatically told me that she is bringing up the kids and she has every right to demand foreign holidays for the kids. Well, if just she and the kids went on his money, they would have had a better time.
Hurting in unimaginable ways
It’s heart-breaking when you hear kids say things like, ‘I get tense when Mom and Dad are both around, Mom screams at us more than she normally does’. Of course it bothers the kids and will affect them in ways that you can never imagine.
Related reading: The violence of silence…how lack of communication affects a marriage
I remember hating one beach in Goa because my parents had a huge fight there. I was seven and thought they were mad because they were fine the next morning.
Another couple I know insisted a single friend tag along to Switzerland so that the trip would be ‘bearable’. Taking your kids to an exotic place is not a box you have to tick. Send them on a school trip instead. It’s heart-breaking when they have to play peace maker, or even worse, take sides between adults.
Ten minutes later both parents wear plastic smiles and tug at each arm while you pose in front of another monument.
Nobody is getting fooled, so please get your house in order before you take off on another jet plane …