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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
If you’re as ancient as me you will remember Cliff Richard extolling the joys of a Summer holiday – “fun and laughter for a week or two” - well, for some couples the very idea of spending two long weeks together with their children can fill them with dread no matter how exotic the venue! When a relationship is struggling couples can become quite expert at avoiding each other and keeping communication to a bare minimum so when they are forced to spend a considerable length of time together in an unfamiliar environment where there is huge expectation to have a happy relaxed time, sadly the cracks can really start to appear.
For most of the year families live within established daily routines allowing them autonomy and space from each other, during the summer months they can be thrown together with no routine in place and this is particularly highlighted when they go on holiday together. Parents can feel under pressure to maintain a happy façade concealing any unhappiness they may be experiencing in their couple relationship for the sake of their children. Financial constraints may put further stress on their relationship, how can the children be kept entertained without putting their budget under more strain?
It can be a really difficult time for a lot of families and for those who are struggling, it is easy to imagine that every other family you see on the beach or around the pool or in the restaurant are really happy with no underlying tensions or other problems. In my experience this isn’t the case and there are plenty of couples out there lying on sunbeds, sipping a mojito wishing they were safely back home at work!
Even if you know it will disappoint the children, sometimes going away all together for one or two weeks when the adults are locked in some sort of unspoken turmoil, isn’t a very good idea. If it is all booked and you feel that you have to go, then maybe discuss with your partner how you are going to manage the time away, can you effectively cover up the cracks in your relationship enough so it won’t affect the children? How stressful could it be - enough to negate any positive effects a holiday might have?
It is to most parents’ credit that they want to protect their children from any acrimony within their couple relationship, they also want their children to enjoy a family summer holiday – it could be the last one they have with Mum and Dad together and it’s a difficult balancing act to ensure they achieve both of these goals. So my heart goes out to those parents who are struggling to create some sort of illusion for the sake of the children, maintaining that everything between them is OK whist mentally planning the right time to leave the relationship. Cliff’s idea of “…No more worries for me or you For a week or two…” doesn’t really seem to apply.
If you would like further advice, please contact me.