travel

'It's day 6 of our holiday and I'm sitting at the breakfast table trying not to cry.'

It’s day six of our much awaited Bali holiday and I’m sitting at a silent breakfast table with my family, taking in the beautiful views of our garden villas while trying not cry.

My husband seems completely engrossed in tour brochures, or news reports on his mobile, and every now and then my daughter, who is skulking because I’m forcing her to eat a plate of fruit instead of the chocolate croissants she’s had every other day, nudges me and gives me a disapproving stare as I get caught up listening to the happy conversations at the surrounding tables of the other couples, young and old, and wonder why our table is not like theirs.

Is it just me, or do holidays actually bring out the worst in relationships?

There was so much excitement and kinship in the lead up. We counted down the days together, sent hump day texts reminding each other that excitement was on the horizon! After all, what wasn’t there to love? No work deadlines or office blues, no daily bills in your letterbox to worry about, no social or family commitments to juggle between our busy work schedules, just sunshine, relaxation and pure joy…

… Right?

It should be easy, it’s what we work so hard for and spend our lunch breaks daydreaming about, and yet every time our meticulously-planned holiday comes around I’m left feeling lonely.

I think I have a relatively good marriage. 20 years we’ve been going at it, raising kids, juggling expectations, compromising where necessary, but there has still been plenty of laughter, passion, shared visions and dreams.

"There has still been plenty of laughter, passion, shared visions and dreams." (Image supplied)

However, I've noticed a recurring pattern over the last few years; my husband and I don't seem to connect when we're on holidays. Without the daily grind to deal with we don't seem to find a meeting place to share our joy.

I look back on all our old holiday snaps and Facebook posts - of pictures of us smiling on top of the Empire State Building, on a sun lounge in Bali, on the tube in London - but I can see through the facade and remember that what I was actually feeling at the time was a complete disconnect.

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In those moments when we've been surrounded by beauty, or the buzz of an exciting city, we seem to be two individuals who no longer enjoy the gift of holiday discovery.

Is this a mutual feeling on his part? I don't know. I've brought it up before, raised my concerns, almost nagged for attention, but nothing changes. It doesn't even matter whether we entered the holiday feeling solid in our partnership or a little bashed around by the stresses of life... it's always the same outcome.

Instead of laughter and happiness ringing out poolside, there is him with EarPods in, heading out for a solo walk to take photos, or his head in a book or newspaper. He doesn't share the same desire to grasp the opportunity to wind down together, fill up our fuel tank of togetherness so that we can live through the tough times with enough happy memories to make it all seem worthwhile.

LISTEN: Host of This Glorious Mess, Holly Wainwright, knows the struggle of a holiday nightmare all too well...

I'd like to know: Is it a male-female issue? Do women view holidays as a time to reconnect, fall in love a little deeper and re-affirm our commitment to the one we love, while men see them as a well-earned opportunity to finally abandon all obligations, and embrace the things that make them truly happy?

Am I wrong to feel unloved and insecure in that process, that instead of finally having a chance to sit down and talk, hold hands and maybe more, that my partner's greatest desire is to shut the rest of the world out and focus entirely on what makes him happy?

Or is there a greater issue at play?

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