A post from relationship expert Jonathan Welford….
In my role as a relationship coach dovetailing goals and plans of two individuals sometimes does have challenges. Recently I encountered one couple who were at different stages in their lives.
The situation was that one of the guys in the couple (we’ll call him Bill) was established in his career and was up for a new promotion and completing further professional qualifications. The other, we’ll call him Leo, had ambitions to travel and had recently taken a redundancy pay out from his job and his new contract wasn’t to start until the back end of the year.
Leo wanted to explore Asia and have an adventure; Bill couldn’t take that amount of time off and he had no real interest in spending a long time in the heat and humidity.
So they were at a stalemate. Leo really wanted to go, they were planning on moving in together, however now Bill felt that Leo leaving his life for five to six months was an end to the relationship. And this is why they came to me.
Some couples can cope with separation and others suffer with the thought of being apart.
Leo and Bill had been together for nearly three years, they met while backpacking around Europe after both had finished their respective university degrees. They then established themselves into their respective careers at first in different cities but through hard work for the last two years they’d lived in the same neighborhood.
It was very clear that when they came to me they cared deeply for each other, coming to see a therapist was something they both wanted to do, neither wanted the relationship to end. So how did they come to a resolution?
In Leo and Bill’s situation they made it clear that they cared and loved each other and scheduled a contact rota where they’d regularly communicate and touch base with each other a couple of times a week and at the midway point and end Bill would fly out to holiday with Leo at the place he was planning on being at that date. In this situation a suitable resolution was gained. Positive outcome.
So what are the key tips for a relationship to stay together when one goes off traveling and the other stays home?
- Makes sure finances can cover the joint commitments, if you are living together, and want to take off, you can’t automatically expect your partner to pick up the rent and utility costs while you galavant off on your travel adventure.
- Keep in regular contact. This does not mean every morning, afternoon and evening, but at least a couple of times a week, to check in and share your plans. Most foreign countries have internet connections or at the very minimum a phone line. Regular postcards are a nice touch to show where you are and what you are doing.
- Ideally if the one left at home can fly out to visit and share the experience at various points or at least once, the relationship will be all the more stronger.
- Have a fixed time frame. Then there is at least an end date in sight, like a child counting down to Christmas. If your travel plans are open ended and you have no firm plans of returning back to your home ground then it’s wrong to expect your partner to hang around waiting on the off chance of your return.
- Likewise be open to the situation that either you, the traveller, or your partner may meet someone new. This can and sometimes does happen. Be open and honest about it. If it does happen, don’t just keep the partner on hold—just on the off chance. Things happen and you have to deal with the effects responsibly.
- Some couples consider opening up the relationship for the duration of the travels or completely putting things on hold.
The travel bug hits many at different times in peoples lives for many reasons, but the pull of adventures and exploring a different country and culture can be life changing and addictive. You can have a relationship and be a passionate traveller, just ensure you are aware of the pitfalls and challenges that require navigation before you even start booking flights and deciding what to pack.
If you have a story on how you dealt with travel affecting your relationship, please let me know and share your story firstname.lastname@example.org