Every second person seems to have these magical, fairytale moments of marriage proposals, weddings, or baby announcements in Disney parks. You name it, they have done it; usually with a talented photographer in tow to capture all the sparkle of the moment well enough to ignite that little twinge of light-hearted jealousy in many of us.
What you don’t hear anyone talking about are those less-than magical Disney moments where not only do you not want to marry the person you are there with, it takes all the energy you have to stop yourself from throttling them in between FastPasses.
Today we are going to talk about something we all prefer to keep hush-hush: how to avoid relationship destruction and not end up killing each other before you get home, Disneyland ToonTown style.
These vacations are meant to be the happiest moments of our lives, but they are also loud, hot, stressful, emotional, and time-consuming; none of which create an environment conducive to calmly working out those niggling little arguments couples and families naturally have. We all have spats with the ones we love, and more often than not, the more ridiculous the topic, the more extravagant the arguing. When you add in a sprinkle of stress, a pinch of overstimulation, and a half a cup of disappointment-ladened attitude, it can create the perfect recipe to turn your little disagreement into a full-blown, battle stations at-the-ready relationship feud.
Have you ever seen that meme circulating social media that says: “Call me old-fashioned, but I believe marriage should be between a person who hates pickles and a person who will eat that pickle?” Well, that is the perfect analogy for my marriage. He likes pickles, and I don’t. I like pineapple on pizza; he doesn’t. I love continuously visiting Disney parks, and he takes a diplomatic pause, wanting to ask ‘why’ but instead saying, “that’s great, have fun.”
We often visit the parks without him because it is sort of our thing and we, my two children and I, know it is not his. But let me tell you, when he does come with us, he has worked very hard on faking that Disney spirit to a professional level. Well, I should say half faking. I know from experience that, even if you are not interested in something, there is a sense of joy that becomes undeniably infectious when watching the person you care for derive happiness from what they love doing.
But this same level of closeness can also bring the opposite series of emotions as well. We, as humans, have an uncanny ability to hurt the ones we love the most. Unrelated feelings and reactions creep in to alter how we treat the people we are closest to; the ones we can get away with treating that way simply because they still love us in return. We all do it. It is part of the give-and-take of any strong relationship, being able to trust each other with our most intense feelings. But there is a limit to where this stops being healthy and starts being the beginning of what could potentially break you in two.
When a Disney adventure can test even the strongest of relationships, how do you avoid letting the pressures and stressors of the parks break the last straw of your relationship camel? It can be confusing, and, admittedly doesn’t work for everyone, but here are three tips to keep your relationship intact during your stay:
Accept who your partner is, not what you want them to be.
As Disney lovers, we tend to be very sensitive about our passion. The particulars of our planning feel more like a sacred ritual rather than a vacation, and the absurdity of our loved one potentially getting in the way of that is enough to make us question life itself. You know how they say that opposites attract? Sometimes that applies to our Disney life as well. Just because you can find contentment in all things mouse doesn’t mean that your partner in life won’t look at you as though you are speaking an entirely different language when explaining it.
If you aren’t on the same Disney page, it is important to know you aren’t doomed, both the Disney lover and the Disney skeptic can bring something to the table when it comes to pushing through your differences and visiting the parks. The Disney enthusiast contributes that passion and excitement and brings the vacation to life, whereas the cynic might bring a fresh set of eyes, common-sense attitude, and an interest in the things you have not done in years.
Once you are there, just because it isn’t the way you always do things doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way that you can make new Disney traditions as a team. Give your disbeliever room to contribute, and you might see that they find their way to enjoying the experience.
If something isn’t working, nip it in the bud early and switch gears. Remove yourselves from the situation that is causing grief, and do something completely different. Take a break from the lines and get something to eat, or change activities altogether. You can also make a swift exit and get some air at the resort. Remember that an afternoon pool break doesn’t have to just be for kids. Seeing the argument coming in time to stop the escalation is next-level relationship stuff, but it may be what saves your day and your vacation.
Don’t Feed The Frustration
As soon as your once-loved one has pushed you to the point of no return, it can be hard not to poke the bear whenever you get the opportunity. You know, when those moments come along post-argument where you could make a comment, or do something that makes it very clear that you are absolutely not over whatever happened before? How can you resist? Maybe it’s eating the last egg roll that you usually would have left for the other. Or perhaps using both the towels in the bathroom to make sure your body and hair can dry at the same time. Maybe you are feeling particularly feisty and choose to leave the parks early and spend your time on the bus spitefully unlinking your partner’s MagicBand from your My Disney Experience app.
There is a sliding scale of evil when it comes to how vindictive we all are, and the problem is that all of these can be satisfying when you are in the moment, but you will almost always regret it. The temporary gratification we feel from having the power to push back can do wonders for our emotional state, but it can also force your relationship over the edge. The more you feed the frustration, the more it will come back to give you a magical kick in the butt when you’ve come down from your spiteful high. Remember, it is all fun and games until someone decides to pack up and go home.
Instead, go for a walk. Alone. Don’t try and fake being a cutesy couple while you are angry with each other, that is how you end up with a passive-aggressive war of silent fury. Have a day where you each do your own thing, and agree to meet back for lunch or dinner. Hopefully, the exposure to different experiences will leave you each with something to talk about instead of spending the day stewing over how unfair the other is being.
All relationships are different, but one thing I can tell you for sure is that a trip to Disney won’t save a troubled relationship. Much like adding a baby in the hopes of bringing you closer together, all you are adding is a high-pressure situation filled with potential stress and expectations.
Respect your relationship, even if that means appreciating the freedom to visit the parks alone while being wholeheartedly encouraged to have the best time by your less enthusiastic spouse like I am. Sometimes the best example of love is knowing when to stand back and send your loved one to their happy place unhindered.
Zoë Wood is a travel writer from Sydney, Australia. Since her first visit to Disneyland at the age of 6, she has spent her years frequently visiting Disney Parks and traveling around the world.
Join Zoë as she lets you in on all the tips, tricks, anecdotes, and embarrassments that arise from her family adventures.