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Why does my wife go cold on me when we’re on holiday?

Tagged as: Faded love, Marriage problems<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (16 April 2019) 12 Answers - (Newest, 19 April 2019)
A male United Kingdom age 30-35, anonymous writes:

I've just got home from a 2-week cruise around the Caribbean with my parents, my wife and my two kids. It was the holiday of a lifetime and we all had an amazing time. The only downside was that my wife seemed to just ignore me the whole holiday. I might as well have not existed to her. The exact same thing happened last year when we went away to France. I don't know what it is but something about being on holiday together makes her change.

Our relationship is good and it generally always has been. She's always been up for a cuddle or a kiss or just any form of affection but throughout this holiday she wasn't, and I've got no idea why. All I seemed to do was annoy her with my presence. She was short with me, snappy and didn't seem interested in even having a conversation with me. She was glued to her phone whenever we were alone together.

I kept asking her if she was OK or if there was a problem and she assured me everything was fine, but carried on giving me the cold shoulder. We didn't have sex once on the whole trip. I know two weeks without sex isn't exactly disastrous and understand I can't just expect it whenever I want and that there are times when she just won't be in the mood but to not even get a kiss or a cuddle or to hold hands was strange.

On one occasion on the ship as we watched the gorgeous sunset I went to just put my arm around her and she batted it away and walked off. I asked if I'd done something to upset her and again she said no and that she was fine. It was so confusing. What got me the most was bed times. At home whenever we got in bed we'd ALWAYS have a cuddle, even if it was only for a few minutes. We'd then kiss goodnight before going to sleep. It was almost like a ritual, including on sex nights.

Yet we didn't do this once. She would just get in bed without saying two words to me, turnover and go to sleep. Some nights I tried to initiate a cuddle by draping my arm over her but she'd never reciprocate. She'd shuffle and move about, almost in a subtle way to get me to move my arm without having to tell me to.

I don't want to say it put a downer on the whole holiday but it's hard to feel rejected by your own wife. When we went to France for 10 days last summer we did have sex on one occasion. But on the other days it was almost like a carbon copy of how she was on this trip. I just don't get it. She was never different with the kids, just me. She gets on so well with my parents and has never shied away from PDA in front of them before with me so I don’t think they’d be the problem.

We got home last night and when we got in our own bed I was expecting the same, but to my surprise she was now up for a cuddle and kiss. It was like she'd gone back to normal just like that. I felt like I'd got my wife back. And this morning as I headed off to work she gave me a kiss and told me she loved me. I’m glad she seems ok with me now but in a few months we’re going away for a week to Turkey together, just me and her and I don’t think I can face it if she’s the same again. It’s meant to be a romantic break to celebrate our anniversary but I just have visions of it being a miserable experience.

Has anyone else had a similar experience with their spouse? Do they change and go cold on you when you go on holiday for no apparent reason?

View related questions: anniversary, in the mood, on holiday

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (19 April 2019):

Maybe she wanted to enjoy the luxury holiday without kids and your parents in tow. Why don’t you suggest a trip for the two of you together, even if just a weekend break.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (19 April 2019):

What strikes me is not so much your wife's behaviour but the fact that you don't talk to her about it in any depth and / or feel that you can't, and also that I think she KNOWS this and is playing into a pattern. My feeling is that she is 'playing' you, knowing that you won't enquire too deeply.

Many signs point to the idea that she is either having an affair or really wants to. At home, she can busy herself and you are busy at work and she may well see you as simply the 'provider' and she thanks you for that with kisses etc. However, anything beyond that and she switches off because it's not what she wants - at least with you. It's not the first time she's gone into 'shut down' mode on holiday; she knows she can get away with blocking you out and you will just go back to normal at home and not question her too much..

This pattern tells me that you are not really operating on a very deep level with your wife. It almost sounds like an arranged marriage or 'dutiful' situation, in which she had no option but to marry you and does her duty as a wife, including being affectionate when necessary, but closes herself off from you otherwise.

You don't say what your sex life is like at home, but I don't think that really is the point - the lack of communication between you is the point. It's almost as if you are SCARED to ask her what is really going on and you become quite passive or boy like. Some men simply wouldn't tolerate it at all and demand to know what the hell was going on and / or stop taking her on holiday. It feels a bit like she's got you under her thumb, but, at the same time, like she maybe married you because she feared becoming independent and needed you because she was dependent on you.

Why are you so scared to really push this point with her? Why are you asking us instead of demanding she plays fair and gives you a real answer? What is it you think you might find? It's like neither of you want to rock the boat, for fear of tipping everything over.

Holidays at their best encourage a more 'fantasy' - if temporary - way of life. Your wife is absolutely refusing to enter into that fantasy with you. And you are too scared to really ask why or don't know how to. You haven't reached the deeper, more secret parts of her psyche, so your not going to be able to do the same through holiday sex, not until you really talk to her.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (18 April 2019):

OP, it would be in your best interests never, ever to bury your head in the sand. The last poster who suggested you ignore the possibility of your wife cheating is wrong. She may not be but what IF she is? You've got to be aware of ALL possibilities on the table. Do tell. Were you ogling? And what is the state of your marriage currently? What haven't you told us? There is something wrong with this picture....

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A female reader, ConfusedCarrie84 United Kingdom +, writes (18 April 2019):

This might help a bit. From my own experience.

I was with my ex partner for 15 year, we never travelled together in all that time because I travelled alot with work (professional dancer)

Now, when it came to getting around to going away together, everything fell on me to organise. At home I have a rountine that kept me sane so travelling with my partner became so stressful that it was difficult to enjoy the holiday.

I always looked forward to getting home because I could fall into my rountine again and my life could calm back down.

This is probably how your wife feels.

Talk to her and find out.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (18 April 2019):

Personally, the idea of going away with the in-laws would completely put me off all together. You say she gets on with them but two weeks on a cruise ship? Maybe she didn't feel able to tell you before the holiday that she didn't want to go away with them and thought you may let the idea slide and now she is resenting the fact that they are there.

My experience from cruise ships too are that the walls are super thin!! If you are close by to your parents/kids - I am pretty sure she doesn't want to share too much bedroom activity.

Something is clearly up with your lady - we do go quiet and say we are 'fine' when we are not and sadly it is because we expect you to know what you have done to put us in that mood! (I am generalising here I know but I am guilty of doing this myself)

Your point about it being fine at home and weird when on holiday, no matter where you go means I guess that there is something wrong with the going away part. I wonder if there is a common denominator across the holidays that may put her in a mood, like for instance, has she had a say in where to go? Has she been worried about the finances of it all? Perhaps she wanted to fly first class? It could be anything.

I guess really you will never know until you are just up front and honest about it. Before booking any holidays or anything, why not have a chat and say "Darling, I am thinking it might be nice to go away again, however I sense that the last few trips haven't made you happy and I would love to go on a trip that gets us both excited and romantic with each other" ... She may suggest a log cabin in Scotland or a penthouse in Dubai, who knows but if you don't ask her, you'll be forever guessing, getting it wrong and ultimately it will be a continuous downward spiral.

Good luck!! x

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 April 2019):

Some people are just not cut out for travel.Maybe your wife is one of those.For some people travel comes with so much stress that travel is not enjoyable.Just because she is on her phone does not mean she is cheating.She could be reading or playing games.

Shame on the people who posted that.And also shame on the people who said he is oggleing other women with his eyes he never said that at all.

My advice is this and it is so simple.Talk to her I mean really talk.Do not let this go.Maybe she would be more happy if you did not travel so much.Maybe she is afraid to have sex on vacation because all over the internet are people who place cameras in hotel rooms.

The thing is you do not know why travel affects her this way and until you have that talk you never will know.Ignore the people that say she is a cheat.I really think it is just the travel.Maybe instead of travel this anniversary you two should stay in bed eat chocolate covered strawberries and drink chapane.She might enjoy that more.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (17 April 2019):

Two things. 1. You were eyeing up other women or flirting too much. And 2. She's having an affair and is miserable on vacation without the other guy, which is why she's been avoiding you, glued to her phone and thrilled to be back home so she can soon have sex with the side guy.

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (17 April 2019):

Oh by the way! Maybe she would love a romantic-vacation with just her husband; without kids and his parents in-tow!

With kids along; she's in mom-mode. They're making a fuss, and she has to tend to there every need. There are family-vacations; and then there are vacations she gets to choose and decide where. She doesn't have to lift a finger; and she gets to decide what the day's activities will be. Maybe just lounge around and do absolutely nothing but eat and sleep!

She might even want to take a vacation alone, or with her girlfriends!

Dear sir, she doesn't really get to feel like she's on vacation when she has to tend to the children; even with your help. She may not have wanted your parents on the cruise; because she has to watch her P's & Q's around them too. She may not open-up, but you know when you ask a woman "what's wrong?" If after all this, she says "nothing!" You know it's something!

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A male reader, WiseOwlE United States + , writes (17 April 2019):

Let me take a few wild guesses!

You're on vacation, which means you will see beautiful women from all over the world. If you're on a cruise ship; there are lovely shapely females in bikinis. All you see is eye-candy all around you. She is watching your every move out of her peripheral-vision. If you have an eye for the pretty ladies; don't even think she won't catch the most subtle glimpse!

All her insecurities come to the surface on vacation; and she probably feels everyone thinks she looks like a mom and a wife. While all the other women look like stunning tanned models. With the exception of the elastic-faced rich old ladies in flowy outfits and big hats you always see on cruises. Most of the finer scenery are single young ladies, or wealthy women of leisure; who spend their days at spas, and have personal-trainers. She's tired from raising kids, running a household, probably has her own job, and you probably don't show any wear or tear. You may even look a little younger. You may even change how you walk and talk.

If you are a fit young gentleman; very proud of your physique, and strut around like a peacock. Even if you're not fit, but you tan well and feel proud of your body; it may make her feel less attractive. She had kids, maybe she's not as firm and bouncy as some of the younger ladies catching your eye. Maybe you suck-in your gut; or think you can hide your glances behind your sunglasses. She's your wife, and she sees and observes your every move.

Your punishment for naughty-boy behavior is no snuggles, kisses, or sex. You don't get to play touchy-feely; if you've been gawking at the pretty ladies the entire vacation. Then she thinks you're just horny after seeing all that eye-candy.

This is all speculation. You should ask her, and be direct. Of course, she's going to say you didn't do anything; or nothing is wrong. She doesn't want to giveaway the fact she's monitoring and scoping your behavior when you're away from home and around other women.

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A male reader, N91 United Kingdom + , writes (16 April 2019):

N91 agony auntOnly she knows. It seems very strange and it’s hard to even take a guess what it may be. Even more odd that she goes back to normal when you get home.

You need to talk to her, tell her exactly what you’ve told us here and see how you get on. Good luck.

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A male reader, Fatherly Advice United States + , writes (16 April 2019):

Fatherly Advice agony auntI'm chipping away at this mental puzzle.

France last year, caribbean this spring, Turkey in the fall. You really like your holidays. Perhaps they are stressful for her. Does she do the planning, packing, pet arrangements . . .etc.? Traveling with children is difficult. Strange diets, strange languages, upset tummies, boredom.

Glued to her phone and voiding touch are signs of a physical affair. Holidays make carrying on an affair impossible so that could cause her edginess. (this is stretching with her home behavior being different)

Some women report that the expectation of holidays, travel, and anniversaries, tend to give them performance anxiety.

Last idea: She is taking it all for granted. There will be another lavish adventure soon so why go all out for this one. You will always be there. You will always provide her with the next trip.

A bit of advice. Women like men that are interesting. interesting has a lot of meanings, but I've found that the most important of them is mystery. Not knowing where you are. Not knowing when you will be available. Not being involved with your day to day trivia. Since you like holidays, I'm going to advise you to start taking a few weekends for yourself. Hiking in Scotland. Fishing. Touring museums. Whatever you like. My bet is that you will not get more than three weekends before she is begging to accompany you wherever you go. And she will find you more fanciable.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (16 April 2019):

Honeypie agony auntI think you need to talk to her about this.

I would guess that you wife either WAS mad at you or felt "pressured" to act lovey-dovey and didn't feel that way.

However, It's IMPOSSIBLE to KNOW why she acted this way, just like YOU are not a mind-reader, neither are any of us.

I would being it up with her (when you are alone) and tell her you felt she WAS mad and passive aggressively ruined the vacation and you CAN NOT read her mind so she needs to VERBALIZE what is wrong.

No one should tiptoe around on eggshells around their partner, least of all on a vacation.

When you go on vacation, do you LEAVE her to mind the kids and entertain your parents? Or do you give her time to chill too? Do you arrange little "dates" just you and her while your parents watch the kids? (you can definitely do that on a cruise.)

If you look back (and be honest) WHAT do you think she was mad about? It's NOT being away on vacation (unless you really can't afford it and it makes her worry about finances) - it's about how the TWO of you interact with each other and the family.

Now, I'm NOT saying that this MUST be your fault and you MUST have done something wrong... because I wouldn't know. And you might not have paid too much attention to whatever is up, so DO talk to her.

Communication is key.

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