Expert / 22 June, 2021 / Neil Wilkie
Are you thinking about taking a family holiday with your ex partner? There are lots of pros and cons to consider booking. We ask relationship expert and psychotherapist Neil Wilkie for some advice.
The ideal separation is when there are significant differences that cannot be resolved. You part amicably having both learnt lessons from your old relationship and are able to leave any disagreements or animosity in the past.
For the sake of the children and future generations, it is highly desirable that you both remain good friends and co-parent your children together flexibly and sensitively. Your children should be reassured that you both love them. They should learn that the breakup doesn’t need to mean a broken family and they can have two wonderful parents who just happen to live apart.
• You have amicably separated and are friends. You are good co-parents and want the children to have enjoyable times with both of you.
• You both regret your relationship having ended and see real possibilities for you getting back together. This is a way of both of you testing the water.
• You are both in good, new, relationships and both new partners want to be part of one big happy family.
• You want a cheap holiday, and they are paying.
– There are cheaper ways of having a week or more of arguments and unhappiness.
• You are fed up, lonely and want a break.
– Will you be a ray of sunshine for your kids or a raincloud?
• You haven’t had sex for a long time and are feeling very frustrated
– What will the kids see, hear and feel?
• You are jealous of their new partner and want to show that you are better than them.
– You might think you are better but your partner may not. What impact will this behaviour have on your kids?
• You have a new partner and want to show them off
– How will your kids feel about you showing off your shiny new toy?
• The children want their parents back together and are hoping the holiday will be the magic wand.
– If that’s not what you both want, they will be very disappointed.
• You want to use the holiday as an opportunity to get your own back on them.
– This could end up as another version of the Punch and Judy show!
• Your partner is in a new relationship and wants you there as a cheap babysitter while they and their partner do fun things together.
– How will you feel about that and what sparks will fly?
Their needs must be paramount. These are the 10 important feelings that children need their parents to stimulate:
– Loved – unconditionally, no matter what
– Secure – that we are there for them, to protect them when needed
– Supported – to be the best version of themselves
– Boundaries – to know what acceptable behaviour is and what is not
– Growth – to continually develop to be even better
– Trust – to be able to predict what we will do and feel safe
– Communication – to be listened to and able to express their feelings
– Connection – to feel an important part of a family
– Commitment – parents are there for them
– Fun – to be able to have fun together
If you can both achieve all of that on holiday together, great. If not, avoid.
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If they are there, know your partner and only do it if you feel confident it could work. If not, it could be disastrous.
If they are staying back at home, what fears will be brewing in their head and what will you be coming back to?
If you like their partner, they are going, and you get on with them it could work. If not, it is likely to create all sorts of problems
If they have a new partner but they will not be there, you could be creating all sorts of uncertainty and future conflict.
In particular, is sex in the agenda and will you have separate beds and separate rooms?
If you decide to embark on a family holiday with your ex, discuss and agree what your joint parenting standards will be to ensure you are speaking with one voice on topics such as bedtimes, food, drink, activities and electronic devices.
If so, this can be a way of testing the water. If this is what you both want, create real clarity on this before you go otherwise it could create a very uncomfortable situation.
How did the relationship end and was it your decision; their decision or a mutual decision? From what you know now, would anything have changed? Are you now both in a fundamentally different place where the relationship could work better? If you met your ex today as a complete stranger would you be attracted to them and want to start a relationship with them?
Before you book your family holiday with your ex, it is essential that you are both aligned on this, otherwise, resentments and disagreements will flourish.
If all of you come back from holiday happy and wanting to repeat the experience you have all succeeded. You will have achieved something which is very rare and deserves praise. If not, you have all suffered.
Consider all of this and then decide. Avoid Holiday Hell and seize Holiday Happiness.
Neil Wilkie is a relationship expert, psychotherapist and author of the Relationship Paradigm Series of Books. Find out more at Relationship Paradigm.
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