Dr. Gottman’s 5 Tips for Summer Travel

Dr. John Gottman emphasizes the importance of vacations as a ritual of connection.


Dr. John Gottman emphasizes the importance of vacations as a ritual of connection.

Dr. John Gottman emphasizes the importance of vacations as a ritual of connection.

In The Relationship Cure, Dr. John Gottman emphasizes the importance of vacations as a ritual of connection. Taking a honeymoon after you get married is, as he explains, society’s way of saying, “Take some time alone together in a romantic spot and get this relationship off to a good start!”

If you had a chance to read Dr. Julie Gottman’s guest post on Tuesday, you know that your honeymoon doesn’t have to be a once in a lifetime experience. In fact, John and Julie go on an annual anniversary trip to Salt Spring Island, and recommend that you do something similar. Continue to honor your relationship by repeating a honeymoon ritual throughout your lives!

Here are Dr. Gottman’s 5 tips from for creating your own summer vacation rituals:

1. Reconnect: “Find a destination that’s both romantic and pleasurable. Leave the kids, pets, and other relatives at home. And don’t bring the work cell phone.” Take some uninterrupted time together and reconnect, away from the distractions and stressors of your everyday lives.

2. Relax together: Parents may benefit from planning weekend getaways without the kids a few times a year, and all couples should plan “dates” at least twice a month – “even if it’s just go to a pub or coffee shop for an hour or two.”

3. Plan: The emphasis here is on the word “plan.” If you’ve ever been on an adventure (to lands near or far!) with a partner, you know just how easily traveling gives way to quarreling. On the road, there doesn’t ever seem to be a shortage of sources of conflict. After all, who wants their freedom to do each and every little thing they want limited on vacation?

4. Accept Influence: If squabbling isn’t on your ideal itinerary, and you would rather your outing be a joyous affirmation of your shared love than a lament of your differing wakeboard rental preferences, it may be wise to take some preventative measures ahead of time. Remember the importance of accepting influence in pursuing mutually satisfying compromises – topics of disagreement can range from the ice cream flavors you’re sharing to whether or not you’ll be visiting your in-laws, so it may be wise to acknowledge divergent preferences and brainstorm ideas with your partner in advance.

5. Yield To Win: In Drs. John and Julie Gottman’s collaborative The Art & Science of Love weekend workshop, husband and wife role-play the winning strategy known as the “The Akido Principle,” or Yield To Win. To quote directly from the workshop’s manual, “one does not win an argument by countering everything [their] partner says. If you are a brick wall, things will only escalate. In fact, what you have to do to win is to get your partner to start saying yes, and the only way to do that is to yield to those parts of your partner’s point of view and argument that seem reasonable to you.” In doing this, you achieve something powerful. The two of you turn towards each other, become a team, and work together to solve your shared problem!

In your travels on vacation, this exploratory, improvisational philosophy can take you far. Isn’t saying yes and turning towards new opportunities what adventure is all about?

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Ellie Lisitsa is a staff writer at The Gottman Institute and a regular contributor to The Gottman Relationship Blog. Ellie is pursuing her B.A. in Psychology with an emphasis on Cognitive Dissonance at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.