Whether it’s your first weekend getaway or that highly anticipated, much-romanticized honeymoon trip, travel puts serious pressure on your relationship. Even one high-stress trip can result in painful rifts that hurt you as a couple.

Your first trip will not only reveal your compatibility as a twosome, but ultimately how you might relate as a long-term or married couple. Lack of shared interests or willingness to explore each other’s interests can surface early – and paying attention to little conflicts that come up can help couples avoid bigger hassles down the road.

Trouble signs to watch

Here are some red flags that marriage and couples therapy experts suggest you pay attention to while you’re on that big getaway.

  • Does your partner want to do the same things you do? If not, can s/he introduce personal preferences into the mix in a respectful and cooperative way?
  • Does s/he roll with unexpected delays and problems or excessively complain when your plans go awry?
  • Does s/he treat hotel and restaurant staff with respect – or react with temper tantrums if things don’t go perfectly?
  • Does s/he spend more time saving money than having fun?

If you see these behaviors on vacation, chances are good they’ll show up when you’re back home too, experts note.

Travel allows you both to grow

Traveling can be fun because you get to spend a lot more time with your partner. This gives you the chance to try new things and learn how to be there for one another.

That’s what a good relationship is all about: Give and take, learning and adapting. Negotiating your differences respectfully. How well does your mate do this while you’re traveling? Noticing how easily s/he can go with the flow and enjoy novel activities is a good indicator of how well things are going – or, if you’re new to one another, how they may go in the future.

Horrible honeymoon? It may not mean what you think

Some couples that experience tension on their honeymoons come back wondering if their relationship is over. But it’s key to remember that this is just the beginning. People can change – and a not-so-happy honeymoon may simply be an indication of overwork and stress experienced around your wedding.

Give it time. When you’ve both had a chance to settle in, talk about your experiences and trade ideas about how to travel effectively in the future. If the conversation feels strained and you’re having trouble, consider marriage counseling. Even though you’ve just tied the knot, it’s not too soon to begin building a strong foundation and communication skills that will help you face future challenges.

Are you accustomed to traveling alone? Need a little private time while you’re on vacation, just to enjoy being quiet and still? Or do you need more action? Making your needs known will help to diffuse the tension and lay the groundwork for happier travels.

Traveling to find yourself

Couples who are experiencing major difficulties may even use travel to ease tensions and allow each individual to do some solo exploring. A wife may love hitting the hiking trails of Colorado alone while her husband heads to Asia for a bike trip. One dad might crave time with his kids, while his partner wants a child-free beach getaway. There’s no reason you can’t both get what you want if you’re willing to travel alone.

Time apart, especially in a favorite setting or long-desired destination can refresh you – or clarify the truth that your relationship is in trouble. If you’re happier apart than together, that’s definitely a warning sign. When you return, you can discuss the possibilities of entering couples therapy to explore what’s happening. It may simply mean that you’re content being apart for a few days or weeks each year. Or it may signal deeper issues that marriage or couples counseling can help to clarify.

Worried? Get help in the Phoenix area now

Worried about the effects of travel on your relationship? Reach out to Janae Munday, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the Phoenix area who has successfully counseled couples of all kinds. Call now for a convenient appointment time.