One in ten new couples split up during their first vacation together, with 5 percent breaking up before they even arrived at their destination. The most important reason? Discover previously hidden bad habits of a partner! We asked four midlife authors about their own first vacation as a couple – and how they survived. . .
IT WAS A LOT OF CLEAR SAIL. . .
Four authors spoke frankly about their first vacation as a couple, including Hunter Davies who went abroad with Margaret after being together for almost two years (shown together in the Netherlands in 1958)
My girlfriend Margaret and I had gone out for almost two years and still didn't sleep together.
These were the fifties, not the 1850s – a long time before sex was invented, according to poet Philip Larkin, who dated it to 1963, the year of The Beatles' first LP. I suppose if we considered it, we were ahead of the game, ahead of our time.
I was still a student in my last year at Durham University, 20 years old, and Margaret was 18 years old in her first year in Oxford. A very sophisticated, enlightened middle class girl at her university had given her the name of a Harley Street Expert, Dr. Helena Wright, who had made her fit for a diaphragm.
The pill was not yet invented. I was too scared to use a condom or even to be seen in a pharmacy that asked for it. Anyway, Margaret did not trust me that I could organize any form of birth control.
To celebrate and baptize the diaphragm, we had agreed to go on our first foreign vacation together: a sailing trip to Friesland in the Netherlands with five of my fellow students from Durham. We had to sign a form that said we could sail, which was quite a job, and then we went in our four small boats.
We managed to get out of the harbor and enter the Sneekermeer. We progressed fairly well when we approached a monster bin. I said to Margaret: "We will tack to the left to avoid it." She said: No, we will tack to the right. "As we claimed, the ship went straight into us.
It hit us in the middle, lifted our boat high and put both of us in the water, on either side of the ship.
Hunter (photo) and Margaret got married two years after their first vacation together. The couple had three children and remained married for 55 years
We were dragged out of the water and rejoined our friends, but because our boat was now destroyed, we had to squeeze ourselves together with one of our friends who was alone.
Our first night of long-awaited bliss was spent crammed into his little boat, which had no cabin, just a sunshade that you'd have left at night, with this single friend lying next to us.
We managed to do it after a fashion, but it wasn't exactly a perfect start to the joys of intimacy.
Yet we got married two years later, in 1960, the day after Margaret graduated from Oxford. We had three children and remained married for 55 years, until my wife died three years ago.
Margaret never spoke about that vacation without shuddering.
Happy Old Me by Hunter Davies (£ 16.99, Simon and Schuster).
We NEVER walked LAUGHING
Amanda Craig in the photo with Rob on their road trip through France, says they each had £ 200 for their two-week vacation
The person who said "for better or worse, but never before lunch" forgot to add "or Stansted Airport".
When my beloved and I met for the first time, we were too fond of anything but noticing each other. Our first vacation, a road trip through France, came as a steep learning curve, although not as steep as when the brakes on his old Deux Chevaux failed.
The Citroën 2CV not only looked like a fried egg on wheels, it moved downhill like one. & # 39; Stop it! Stop! ‟I shouted, pumping the pedal furiously. We avoided the tree, but ended up in the ditch unharmed, but at the point of our first row ever.
He is (of course) a brilliant driver: I had failed my test three times. But this didn't stop me from being a nightmare passenger.
My beloved was raised to run a platoon, ideally from the Royal Marines. I refuse, scoreless, to do unnecessary physical exercise, such as climbing & noon climbing mountains to see yet another old monument, but am perfectly happy to sit under a tree as it roams around.
During the course of this vacation we have all changed to look a bit more alike – Amanda Craig
He immerses himself in routes and maps, while I only have the vague idea of where we're going.
We never argued about money. While he was doing his PhD and I was writing my first novel, we each had £ 200 for our two-week vacation.
Our money went to gasoline and accommodation – but buying fresh bread and fruit in France is no problem. Almost everyone is a control freak about something; the question is whether your neuroses are compatible. I don't care about food, wine, sights or fashion when I have sleep, rest, shade and a good book (ideally a detective novel).
He can sleep on any bed, is digested by curiosity about culture, never watches the hot sun and likes a good book. I travel with a pillow; he insists on bringing extremely heavy works from Victorian literature.
He found suitcases on wheels unmanageable, while my goal in life is to slide with minimal effort.
During the course of this vacation we have all changed to look a bit more alike.
Amanda (photo) who has been with Rob for 30 years, says she learned punctually from him
I learned from him to be punctual after years of hoping for the best when catching a ferry, train or plane and always bringing a bar of chocolate and good walking shoes instead of the elegant footwear that I loved.
He taught me shamelessly to push single beds together, demand ice in water and (no matter how poor you feel) to tip everyone who helps you.
We stayed in terrible places that many couples would have broken. Rooms with astroturf on the ceiling. Rooms with blind walls. Rooms directly above the toilet downstairs – with a hole in our floor, so you could hear and smell everything.
The car was broken into (once) and broken (twice). At this point my beloved confessed that every time he was on vacation with a girlfriend, they would go camping.
& # 39; And? & # 39;
"It always ended in tears," he admitted.
But without air conditioning or even a cassette player on those long summer trips, we never got into conversation or laughter – which in my opinion is the basis for a happy marriage.
And 30 years later that is still the case.
The Lie Of The Land by Amanda Craig (£ 8.99, Abacus).
THE FIRST (AND LAST) AS TWO ONLY
Louise Doughty proposed a holiday in Tuscany with partner Jerome, says they were 30 years old when they had their first holiday
Viano is the kind of place that you think no longer exists: a medieval village in the north of Tuscany, perched on the top of a high mountain. Residents at the last count: 63. We arrived in the dark and drove up a steep hill via a detour. Where did we come to?
We might as well have thought of each other. He was 33 and I was 30. Our relationship was new; the future was not discussed.
We parked the car and walked in the dark along an old borgo village street to a small stone villa, one-up, one-down.
We found the hidden key. It was only in the morning when we went to the kitchen with large beams and opened the shutters to the terrace that we saw the breathtaking view: mountains varied for us in every shade from green to misty gray.
At sunset it would become a panorama of orange and purple. It was one of the nicest places I had been in my life.
The first vacation you take as a couple is usually the first time you live together, so there were a few sticky moments that week. He wanted to play rock music in a cassette player when I loved the silence.
I was happy with the local inn; he preferred to drive through Tuscany in search of the perfect restaurant.
But the most important thing we discovered was that we were relaxed in each other's company. On a beautifully quiet afternoon we were lying in the tall grass on a nearby hill while he sketched the village and I read a book.
Louise (photo) says that their trip to Viano in northern Tuscany was their first and vacation together, because she became pregnant a few months later
These are the ways in which a relationship is knitted – not through its dramatic moments, but through its quiet moments.
A few days after our stay I went walking through the village alone. It was mid-afternoon and most of the residents were on a siesta.
The only people I encountered were three women, all dressed in black, much shorter and rounder than me.
They stopped me and started talking in Italian. Through their gestures, I learned that they were wondering out loud why a woman my age had no children. Maybe it was because I was so strangely tall and thin.
Viano was the first and last vacation that my partner and I took together alone. A few months later I accidentally became pregnant and the conversation we had never had about our future became superfluous.
We moved together for six weeks before our daughter was born. Another beautiful girl followed five years later.
That first child has now graduated, and yet we have still not been alone on vacation together. When our girls were little, we only visited Viano for an hour and showed them the narrow stone streets.
I like to think that we will go together again someday. The old ladies in black have long since disappeared, but Viano will be so sleepy, a small dream of a place where the future feels unimaginable, but waiting to be revealed when morning breaks.
Platform Seven by Louise Doughty (£ 14.99, Faber & Faber) is from August 22.
We have passed the backpacking test
Sarfraz Manzoor pictured with Bridget during their Indian adventure, says they met while traveling from the Hay Literature Festival in June 2008
I returned to the Hay Literature Festival train in June 2008 when I was facing a beautiful woman.
We started talking and the next weekend Bridget and I had our first date.
During that date, she said she planned to travel to India for eight months in the fall. Within weeks I had fallen in love with Bridget and the idea of being detached from her that felt untenable for a long time. Bridget felt the same, so we reached a compromise: she would halve by how long she was in India and I would stay with her for the past seven weeks.
The day before she flew away, I gave her a small video camera and a package of videotapes (this was for Skype and FaceTime) and, while she was in India and I in London, Bridget and I filmed video cards to send to each other every week.
Finally it was time to fly to India to join her.
We only knew each other for a few months, but we would now be thousands of miles away from home in a country that could be a challenge at best.
During those seven weeks we traveled from Dehra Dun at the foot of the Himalayas to Rajasthan and Goa.
We rode elephants in Jaipur, took a train through Karnataka and recorded the rays of Palolem Beach in Goa.
We stayed in a bamboo hut with paper thin walls.
Sarfraz (photo) says the biggest argument in their vacation was the clash between his desire for safety and Bridget & # 39; s passion for adventure
There were not many rows. The biggest arguments we had were when Bridget & # 39; s desire for adventure and freedom clashed with my love for routine and safety. She would like to walk through empty alleys while I preferred the busy streets; she would like to explore cities at night, but I was in danger on every corner.
I was someone who was used to traveling comfortably and planning ahead, but Bridget opened my eyes to the tension of backpacking and spontaneity.
Bridget would fly home one night earlier than me. I remember saying goodbye to her in Delhi, where we stayed in a cheap hotel room with a bucket instead of a shower.
I missed her the moment she said goodbye.
If our Indian holiday was a test of our relationship, it was one that we endured. Bridget and I returned to Britain convinced of the correctness of our relationship – a confidence that unfortunately was necessary, given that my family was deeply unhappy, I fell in love with a woman who was neither Pakistani nor Muslim.
Bridget and I got married two years later and had two children.
We recently returned to India with Laila and Ezra and have visited the beach of Palolem again. It felt like a whole life since we were there.
That first vacation in India remains a magical time in our lives, when our love was young and the future an undiscovered country.
SARFRAZ MANZOOR & # 39; s memoir Greetings from Bury Park (£ 8.46, Vintage) is now out. Blinded By The Light, the film adaptation of his book, was released on 9 August.
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