Do you and your spouse have a vacation planned? Are you hoping to leave the trip feeling recharged and more connected to your spouse? Some couples notice that their day-to-day routines can leave them feeling drained and longing for more time together, particularly when children are part of the equation. Other couples plan time with a spouse on a vacation but notice that disconnection has set in and wonder what they could talk about to reignite their spark.
We rounded up two helpful considerations to give you the support and foundation for your vacation reconnection questions: building a love map and the T.E.A.M framework.
Build a love map
Building a love map is one of the best ways to get to know your partner’s inner world and strengthen marital friendship. Yet, finding time to update that love map can be difficult with life’s general stressors and busyness. Updating love maps and focusing on reconnection requires carving out dedicated time so you and your partner can share what’s happening in your inner worlds.
Your inner world includes the past, present, and future, which can sometimes feel challenging to unpack. You can set the stage to build a love map by asking your partner questions they can only answer as they share their inner world. It’s essential to hear from your partner about which parts are pertinent to your relationship in the present and consider updates to past events. Each partner gives insight into how to read their inner world and a legend if needed.
For example, you may ask your spouse, “What does vacation mean to you?” They may respond that growing up, vacation meant an escape from their typical routine and extra time spent with their family. In this case, your partner may crave alone time with you even if you are vacationing as a family. Your spouse has shared the meaning in the past and present moments.
When you ask questions about your partner’s inner world, you allow space for reconnection. Reconnection happens when you are present and giving your partner your full attention. This means you and your partner are without distractions from your phone, computer, children, or work. Your dedicated presence will set the tone to hear and take in your partner’s emotions and realities. When you build a love map, you hold the space for your partner to share their emotions and what is happening for them, even if that reality differs from yours.
To set you and your spouse up for success, consider the vacation questions conversation from the lens of the T.E.A.M. formula.
Try the T.E.A.M formula
If you’re ready to dedicate meaningful reconnection time, try the T.E.A.M. formula. T.E.A.M stands for touch, education, appreciation, and metrics.
- Touch: Incorporate touch into the conversation by holding hands, sitting next to one another on the couch, or starting your dialogue with a kiss.
- Education: You and your partner take turns sharing something you learned during the day. This could be a fact, something about work, or a truth.
- Appreciation: Compliment your partner. The compliment could be about an act of service, like taking out the trash, or a character trait, like intelligence or hospitality. The goal is to utilize new compliments instead of recycling the same ones.
- Metrics: Each partner shares something you are processing in your relationship — good or bad. The idea is to avoid escalated interactions and have a specific time to process any unresolved areas. It can be helpful to write down any important details are feelings you want to remember.
The T.E.A.M. breakdown can be helpful when you and your partner are at home or on vacation. Take the time to find a specific time you and your partner can dedicate to a conversation. Then, prepare yourself to hear what your partner has to say by being present in physical proximity and sharing in conversation. Next, extend your compliment and appreciation. And lastly, discuss the metrics portion, which can be about something that feels unprocessed, upcoming, or some of the vacation questions below to deepen your relationship.
10 vacation questions to reconnect with your partner
Here are a few questions to ask your partner when you are on vacation together and are working to deepen your connection.
- What meaning do vacations hold for you?
- What are you decompressing from on our vacation?
- Is there a dream for reconnection on this trip for you? Is it touch, conversation, time, or what would fill your love tank?
- Is there anything that has happened or is upcoming that is a stressor for you?
- What are you hoping for from our time together on this vacation?
- Are there any worries or concerns that you feel are inhibiting us from connecting more?
- Do you feel appreciated by me? Are there specific ways you would like to be appreciated?
- How can we be a better team?
- What would you like to take from this vacation into our day-to-day lives?
- Going forward, how can we prioritize checking in with one another?
You may be surprised at what comes from your time together or what you may learn about your partner. These questions can open the door to deeper conversations and help you reconnect and relearn some of your partner’s love maps. If you want to continue fostering conversations like these, try the Gottman Card deck app, specifically the building love maps or open-ended questions in future conversations.
Therapy can help you reconnect with your partner
Sometimes a reconnection conversation makes you realize that you and your partner are in a different place. If your conversation leaves you questioning, “How did we get here?” it may be time to consider scheduling a therapy appointment. Connect Couples Therapy has clinicians who can work with you and your partner to help you both feel heard, relearn your love maps, and work to rekindle your connection.