You have the same conversations every year – where shall we go away this year? What shall we do? When shall we pay the deposit? Have you booked the time off work yet? How do we get there? Have you packed your shaver?
By the time you finally arrive at your destination, after a long drive with multiple wrong turns and confusing directions given through gritted teeth, you’re barely speaking to each other.
You’re starting to wish you’d not bothered with this holiday at all and the thought of seven long days and nights with no-one but Mr No-I-Don’t-Need-A-Map-I’ll-Figure-It-Out-On-My-Own for company might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
But then a fresh face appears at the window of the holiday house – your sister and her husband have already arrived, opened a bottle of something sparkling, and put the dinner on. You smile across the car at each other and your shoulders visibly drop as you both begin to relax.
It’s going to be okay. The holiday can start now.
Group holidays aren’t what they used to be. 18-30 drink-a-thons with busloads of twenty-somethings wearing nothing but a bikini and a hangover might still be popular with some, but the group holiday has had a makeover and its new look is probably far more your cup of tea.
Three generations coming together from the four corners of the country once a year is easier than ever with improved transport, lower prices and handy online planning tools.
You can set-up your own Facebook group to keep everybody in the loop, confirm flight times, vote on which holiday house is best, and arrange payments to the accommodation provider; online banking means it’s never been easier to split the bill; and when was the last time you had the chance to tease your brother face-to-face about his love of Genesis when you were growing up?
Those group holiday opportunities are too good to miss.
And they’re also good for your marriage.
When different couples come together for large group holidays it often brings the individual couples closer together.
Any tension between you as a couple is instantly defused in large groups as you conform to social norms, making petty arguments silly and small.
Here are seven solid ways group holidays are great for your relationship:
1. Make an effort
Think back to when you first got together as a couple – you would spend hours preening in the mirror, perfecting your hair and your make-up before heading out the door with a skip and a jump to meet your new squeeze. How about now? You’re probably more likely to get changed into a onesie or a pair of pyjamas before you tuck into dinner in front of the TV.
But with a group holiday there are certain expectations – staying in a grand house or castle lends itself to formal dinners, shared with friends and family around a long solid oak table, under the sparkling crystal of the chandeliers and the original solid wooden beams.
A onesie wouldn’t quite fit with the occasion so use the opportunity to let your hair down and get your glad rags on, just like in the early days of your relationship, and remember just how delicious he looks in that dickie bow.
2. Relax in a new setting
A group holiday takes you to destinations you may never have visited before, away from the housework and the daily grind of normal life.
This is the perfect time to fully detach yourself from the normal distractions and get to know your partner again.
3. Have a laugh
One of the things you always loved most about him was his sense of humour – he used to have you in stitches when you were getting together but when was the last time you threw your head back and laughed at one of his one-liners or stories?
The laughter may have reduced with the demands of work, family, house and social life, but spending time together on a group holiday you might just start to see him as you used to: cracking jokes, sharing witty stories and entertaining old friends over drinks.
4. Take time out
On large group holidays there is always plenty to choose from when deciding where to go each day – maybe you spend the morning with your sister and nieces hitting the shops while hubby goes walking along the coast with the rest of the family.
Recent research shows that the secret to a long and happy marriage is spending time apart doing different things. Not only does this make time together more special, it is also rejuvenating for each person.
5. Do something new together
Getting out of a relationship rut is difficult – it’s much easier to do what you’ve always done – but research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that sharing new and exciting experiences together can improve relationship satisfaction.
On group holidays there are often plenty of opportunities to try something new – abseiling, water-skiing, climbing, sky-diving, fishing, dolphin-watching – be open to new activities and relish the chance to share them with your partner. These moments make a lasting impact long after you’ve unpacked.
6. Use the free childcare
If you don’t have easy access to childcare at home it can be difficult to schedule “date nights” as a couple. Baby-sitters can be expensive, the kids can play up, and sometimes it’s just too much hassle to organise a night out together; much easier to spend another night in with a bottle of wine and a film.
But on a group holiday you’ve got childcare on tap! Arrange to spend a couple of hours together just the two of you and offer to do the same for others who also have kids on the holiday. It’s a win win.
7. Open your eyes
Every relationship has its ups and downs, and yours is no different. But sharing time with other couples on a group holiday can open your eyes to how others live.
Social networks show us only the best bits of our friends’ lives through edited highlights, which can create the illusion of perfection in other people’s lives. Recent research into Facebook shows that scrolling through happy status updates, precious family moments and exciting adventures enjoyed by other couples leads us to compare our lives with others, and the results are never positive.
These social comparisons lead us to believe our friends have better lives, but a week together on a group holiday is going to peel back the ‘Facebook filter’ on any relationship. Perhaps yours isn’t so bad after all…
So next time he loads the dishwasher with the forks facing up, refuses to ask for directions, or leaves the cap off the tooth paste, bite your tongue and remember those adventures you shared together on your last group holiday.
And if that’s not enough to make you smile, maybe it’s time to start planning your next one.
What are your experiences of group holidays? Share them in the comments and if you enjoyed reading this article, please share on your social networks.