Skip to content

079 – Vacationing with your partner – smooth sailing or rough waters?

Vacations take a lot of planning, and for the most part, that work turns into fun and relaxation. But what happens when something goes wrong, and you and your partner stare at each other with accusations on the tips of your tongues?

In this episode, Adam J. Salgat shares a personal story about his recent trip to the “happiest place on earth,” Katie Trotter joins the conversation to break down what the couple was going through in the emotional situation.

Use this podcast as a reminder to stay calm this spring break when traveling, as there might be times when your emotions are high, and logic goes out the window.

AI-generated dictation of the podcast audio

Please note that this transcription was completed using AI software.  Occasionally, unanticipated grammatical, syntax, homophones, and other interpretive errors are inadvertently transcribed by the software. Please excuse any errors that have escaped final proofreading.


emotion, heightened emotion, park, people, disney, tickets, moment, situations, happening, relationships, barcode, logic, care, katie, stressed, partner, bubbles, line, adam, filled


Welcome to the Listen first podcast brought to you by the Chapman Foundation for caring communities. Our vision and mission is to strengthen relationships and build stronger communities through listening, leadership, care and service to create a truly human connection. Learn and partner with us as we imagine a society in which people care about each other. And listen first.


Hello, and welcome to the listen first podcast. My name is Adam Salgat. And with me today is Katie Trotter, our Senior Director of Content and implementation. Katie, thank you so much for joining me today. Thank you for having me, Adam. Our conversation today stems from a recent let’s just say, incident that took place in my life in the last week or so. And I feel like with spring break coming up for many people, it’s a good story to share, that will kind of give people the opportunity to think about what they’re stepping into when it comes to travel. And when it comes to travel with your wife, with your kids with your significant other, it’s definitely a stressful time. At the same time, it’s also a ton of fun. So hopefully today, we can, you know, give some reminders about how to get through stressful situations and allow you to enjoy more of the fun. My story stems from us going to Disney World last week. Katie, have you guys ever had the opportunity to visit the happiest place on earth? I have never been there before? Well, I’m sure you guys have been to, you know, theme parks or situations where you need tickets, and you’ve got all of you need this information. And you’re kind of, you know, expecting one person to have it ready when you’re approaching and all of that right. Oh, yeah. Especially when there are kids involved, that adds a whole nother layer. Yeah, absolutely. So to paint the picture a little bit. My wife and I have had, you know, everything set up on the Disney app, and we’re approaching Magic Kingdom. And you know, it’s not just us, there’s about I don’t know, 50,000 other people in line, trying to make their way into the park, everybody’s stressed about what rider you’re getting on first. And as soon as you get on, get logged into their system, you can set your, you can use your genie pass and get everything set up. And so there’s a lot of stress, just even approaching the checking system.


As we’re in line, I was under the assumption that if our names are in the Disney app, and it was showing what day we were there that we would find some type of QR code or barcode inside the Disney app. Unfortunately, that wasn’t showing up. My sister in law, who bought her ticket separate is telling my wife that she should have gotten an email. And I was the one who purchased the tickets online. So Becky’s turning around as there’s about 10 people ahead of us saying to me, where’s our email with our barcode? And I’m like, Well, I have I don’t know, I’m like, she’s like, well, what login account did you use, and I’m going, I use the login account that you gave me information for. And so this whole time, as we’re getting closer and closer, she’s digging through her emails trying to find this barcode. I’m in the Disney app. And then all of a sudden, I noticed that my name is not even underneath our account anymore. And that is kind of a separate story. But I’m not even showing. So there’s some issue there.


We can’t find the barcode, we get up to the line. And she’s saying to me, like right before they’re getting ready to scan in my sister in law. She’s going, Oh, my God, what if they’re not going to let us into Park? And I’m going, okay, they’re the gondolas in the park, like our Disney app says, We registered for this day, we clearly have tickets, our names are on there. But in the back of my head, I’m going, Oh, crap, where did my name go? And what if they don’t let us into the park?


I’m starting to get a little worried. So as you can tell, we’re both in a pretty emotional state. Because, you know, when we’ve got our little girls there, they’re hot already. And it’s nine in the morning.


And so everything is fine to building and we’re stepping up. And we come up to, you know, to where you’re, you know, you’re supposed to scan your barcode, and then they provide you your cards for the day. So you can scan into rides and everything. And we get up there and we’re like, we we have it here. We don’t know where our barcode is. We don’t have our email. There’s there’s already been and I kind of skipped over a few of it. There’s already been a few snaps back and forth between the two of us. Yeah, not major aggression or rude but rudeness. But a little bit of like, I told you, I use the account you sent. I don’t know what emails connected to it. I would say Disney in your Gmail account like I don’t know. We’re both pretty stressed. And we get up there and she again says me What do they know?


Let us enter the park. And again, I’m reiterating to her they got a lot of sin, we’ll figure it out. But again, in the back of my head, I am saying to myself, Oh, no,


they don’t let us like well happen. Like, we’ve got a whole day planned and all of this right. And we get up there eventually,


to the point where they need the barcode, we explain what’s happening, and they bring over a cast member, her name was Aaron. And she’s got a tablet, and she immediately just starts finding solutions to the problem. And she starts asking my wife, what email she used, you know, checking different things, checking her name, finding her name, eventually, she finds it all. And she gets it all plugged in after probably about 10 minutes though of standing there. So while she took the kids past a little bit with my in laws, I’m standing there talking to her, and I can feel myself start to calm down, because I know Aaron is on it. But I can also feel behind me, my wife, my wife, worry, like, I can just kind of tell that, you know, she’s trying to figure out what’s going on. And, and so eventually, it gets figured out, and it gets told you know, what’s happening, and what, what happened. And with my name not being under the account, that was something that I was trying to link to my sister in law’s account. And it all got a little wonky. But Aaron saved the day, essentially, inside of all of that happening in like this five minute window. Once everything was calmed down, I just got thinking about the logic and emotion bubbles. So that’s where I’m gonna bring you in Katie. Thank you, everyone for listening to that soliloquy. And my story about how stressful it was just even the idea of trying to get into the park. But when I was thinking about, you know, our podcast today, and bringing Katie in when it comes to committed relationships, that logic and emotion, talk about this a little bit and reflect on reflect on the story I just shared, if you would, please.


Yeah, absolutely. But Adam, I want you to promise me first that we get back to where you fill us in on whether or not it ended up still being the happiest place on earth, when we’re done.


I will fill you in on that at the end. Yeah.


Yeah, and this is actually a perfect example of how emotion and logic play out. And it’s interesting to me to think about the fact that there are, there’s so many different studies and research and technical terminology around the way that your brain work. I don’t think this is that kind of podcast. So I’m going to use some really common language as we talk about emotion and logic. But really, what we find in brain science is that as our emotions heightened, we don’t access the part of our brain that really lets us logic, and problem solve and be creative. So I’m just picturing as you were telling the story of you and your wife standing in line of one of your emotion bubbles getting a little bit bigger, maybe making one of those snap comments you mentioned, and then the other emotion bubble gets a little bit bigger, and then another comment, and then a little more emotion and a little more emotion. So you essentially have two people who love each other very much, not pulling from their logic part of their brains at all. Does that sound about right for what you had? Very well said very well, sad. Because, yes, I’m standing there going, there’s no way they’re not going to let us in. We’ve got our names here on the app with the date that we reserved all of this, but in my head, I’m thinking I will know their system, right? I’ve, we’ve the second time we’ve ever been to Disney, I will know what to expect when they say, you know, we’re gonna get up there. And I’m gonna say, Well, you need to have it in your email, you know, best of luck. I don’t know you don’t. And if you don’t have it, I think a turn this way. Now, they’re the happiest place on earth, I would think, obviously, they have better customer service than that. But that is definitely something that’s going through your head when you’re in that high heightened emotion, stressful situation, and add them on vacation adds an extra layer, because sometimes when just one person in the relationship is filled with emotion, you know, we’ve talked about in other podcasts, we, if we’re the ones who have a better balance of emotion and logic, in the moment, have this beautiful opportunity to listen to let them vent right to just acknowledge where they’re at, instead of trying to jump in and fix it right away or reassure them or anything like that. But when you have two people in this space, where there is a lot of heightened emotion, it adds a whole other layer of complexity because then one person or both people have to try to get that emotion bubble down on their own in order to have good productive conversation. So I’m really curious with you and your wife, if either of you have found ways that can kind of help you when you feel your emotions starting to get heightened, bring you back to focusing on what’s really important in the moment. I think in normal situations, we certainly have and I can touch on that. But again, to reiterate the picture of it all. If you’ve ever been entering any theme park, whether it’s Disney or something else, there’s 1000s of people behind you trying to get through the same gate. So I think at that time


A lot of those coping mechanisms or the ability to like relax and try to think about it, they, they start to fall off pretty quick because you’re stressed about being in the way of other people. When it does come to the two of us most of the time, I’m the one in our relationship that has the ability just because of our personalities to take that deep breath first. And in we’ve talked about it her and I have talked about directly how she’s more of aware of her emotion on her sleeve, answer your question quickly, and may not always process through it. She’s had, she would tell us directly if she were here right now that she’s had work situations where she years ago, where she has replied to emails or done certain things with that kind of emotion right away. And has learned directly from the responses that she’s gotten from supervisors, that she knows that she needs to take whatever time it might be, to breathe, before she replies that email. So when it comes to the two of us in that space, I would have the quicker ability to accept and figure something out or listen, where she’s going to react a little bit more emotionally, initially, right away. In the story I’ve shared about heading into Disney. I mean, like I said, almost everything for me is out the window, I’m logically going to let us in. But I’m also not really telling her at the same time. Oh, crud, what if they don’t want to say,


and then, and then there’s going to be a lot of blame going around. And a lot of like, you know, which we both know, is not healthy. But it happens. And we both know we would work through. But it does happen, you know, especially in those those are really, that’s not really the modeling that we want to do for our kids.


And it’s layers, right? Because it’s your own internal worry. It’s the external exchanges that are taking place. And you even mentioned, if the pre emptive worry about if this does go poorly, what are all of the potential fallout things that could happen? Right? So you have all of these different things happening for you, all of these things happening for your wife? And then the play between the two of them as you’re interacting outwardly? That’s a lot of dynamics going on in the same space? Yes, absolutely.


It’s almost like you can be replaying in your mind right now. And it’s awesome, right? That for you, you had this third party opportunity where somebody came up, and was able to let you vent to get that emotion back down to help you work through what you need to do. And then you can kind of be on your way going forward. I think one of the really important moments here is that in that moment, which inevitably happens in relationships, where both people are filled with emotion, is that no matter your intent, how you respond in that moment, is going to impact your partner.


Right, even if you go back afterwards, and repair, even if you go through all those steps, those words that we say the actions that we take, they’re out there, right at that point.


That is very true. And you’re right about being able to go back and repair and everything. But, you know, if we get a little too high heightened, and we start saying certain things that it’s a lot more difficult to go back and your parents a lot more difficult to reconnect with your partner after maybe saying something that in the end, you really, you don’t necessarily mean but because of your heightened emotion in the logic being compressed, you said, and it’s hard to take that. Yeah. So Adam, let’s, let’s talk about


ideal, and then the less ideal in these types of situations. So if you’re okay with playing with your example, a little bit more, in that moment, when your wife turns around and asked you about the email and you feel the internal worry, what are some ideal things that you could try to get yourself to think in that moment to bring you back into the logic space?


The ideal things for me to think that come to mind, are we I know that I confidently chose what Park and what day, and I bought the tickets, and I know what happened. So that being said,


I feel confident that even though we’re not finding the barcode, we’re gonna get in somehow.


But I also in thinking in the,


it is possible that I did something wrong, that when I bought the tickets, maybe I didn’t reserve and therefore that’s why a barcode was never produced. And now we’re gonna have some type of wild parks already full kind of statement or comment or something back to us about that. So, yes,


yeah, so in an ideal world, if you could make the space inside you might be able to try to think about, okay, logically, there might be a few things that I’ve done to really make sure we’re set for success. How about your awareness of your own emotion, like, ideally, in that situation? What could have happened there?


Ideally, I’m fully aware of my own emotion is just, I feel like staying calm and confident. Because I feel like that’s what


You know, my wife needed that what, that’s what Becky needed was just calm and confident that we’re gonna be, we’re gonna get through this line and we’ll get chucked in, we’ll be in the park. It may take a little extra, but it’ll be fine. I wasn’t totally what I was showing on the outside, though. Because yeah, because I feel slightly accused of, hey, you bought the tickets, you use our account, what where’s our barcode? You know, she wasn’t involved in that process. I took care of it on a day on a break at work and just took care of it. And so she wasn’t there. You know, she didn’t see that she didn’t she wasn’t part of it. So she was kind of like, it’d be like, if I got upset if there was something going on with a rental car, she had taken care of the rental car. And I would have been like, Well, what did you What did you do when you when you rented the rent? So I can understand how those two situations could be.


It could be reversed, depending on who kind of handles it. But I wasn’t necessarily showing that calm, full confidence of you know, we’ll get it figured out, it’s going to be alright, because I was very too. I didn’t feel very good about, you know, being asked exactly. What did I do? I’m like, Well, I bought the tickets. You know what I mean? Like, there’s not much more for me, Wayne in my mind. But I can understand how stressed she certainly was Plus, she had all three girls around her are girls a hover around her more than they hovered around me. So like, I’m sure one of them at the time was saying something about being hot, or wanting a snack or needing a drink any of the any of the things that six and under kids need just to you know, get through 15 minutes of walking through life.


Adam, just the way you walk through that is such a beautiful example of how you move from the initial reaction of defensiveness of like you weren’t there. I’m the one who took care of it. And by the end, you’re realizing, you know, actually, she’s probably super stressed, she’s handling the kids. And that is the empathy piece. That’s the empathy piece that we talk about so much is the ability in those situations when you are experiencing emotion when you’re having a reaction, to still make space to see from your partner’s perspective. And that is beautiful that you’re able to do that it doesn’t always happen in the moment. But it’s such a powerful skill. Well, thank you for that. And I know I probably paint a better picture of myself, because I know in the moment, it wasn’t coming as quick, I probably needed it to. I know in the moment, I was still a little bit like perturbed, let’s say, but at the same time understanding in the back of my head, but outward emotions, body language, we don’t talk about, like we talked about that, you know, our nonverbals, our emotion and all of that kind of stuff. And the nonverbals was probably not fully displaying that empathy. I might have been thinking it or feeling it in a way. But sometimes to get everything in sync is a lot more than we realize, especially when it’s a higher emotional situation.


Absolutely. And you’re you are correct those nonverbals send a really strong message. So even if your words are trying to stay calm or non judgmental, your tone, and your body posture and gestures that makes up a significant portion of your message. Adam, I know I mentioned briefly like the let’s talk about ideal and a little bit less ideal, right? Because ideally, in those situations, you have one person who’s emotion filled and the other person has a chance to let you vent by reflectively listening and connecting, sometimes a little bit less ideal is that you’re both filled with emotion at the same time. And one of you has the capacity to try to maybe pay attention to that right, like take the pause, or take the deep breath. Or try to find empathy to connect to try to self manage some of that emotion. But sometimes what happens is that both of us are so over the top filled with emotion, that we cannot access the part of our brain that would allow us to act the way that we want to.


And in these moments, I always think back to a professor that I had in college, we were newly into the Social Work program. And it was our first day of class. And he sat us all down and he said you’re here because you want to do good. And there will be times in your career where you cannot do good. And in those moments, do not do harm.


And I’ve never forgotten that phrase. So in the situation when I’m in an interaction with my husband, and both of us are filled with emotion. I often recall that, like I want to connect well, I want to communicate in a way that we’re going to be able to build connection and trust. And in this moment, I can’t. The choice that I have, as an individual in that relationship is to still not do harm. Being filled with emotion is not an excuse for the way that we treat our partners. Because we talked about how all of us have a natural way we want to react when we’re upset or frustrated or annoyed. But we all have to take that pause to make an intentional choice about how we want to show up in the relationship. That is such a good reminder. I can I can absolutely see how that applies to relationships on top of you know, work situations, which was the context he was kind of talking about. And I completely understand why you would have held on


do that, because it makes a ton of sense. It really does. Adam, I’d love to hear about now that you’re in the park, but to emotion bubbles make it through with their tickets about to enter into the happiest place on earth after a very unhappy experience. Long story short, 20 minutes before we even got to that check in and I’ve talked about, I tried to link my account with my sister in law’s, what actually happened was I put my name and my disability pass on her account. So we ended up visiting customer service one more time.


We did get into the park, we went to the restrooms, we got back to our first ride checked in, okay, at least seemingly, and then got on to the app to book our next ride. Notice there’s issues visited customer service, again, like I mentioned, that’s where a cast member named Dana comes in. And she takes care of everything from there. And after about the first hour and a half of getting everything squared, get getting everything squared away, the cast member fix everything, and then the apples working perfectly. It really truly was just about the happiest place on earth. So after all of the stress, and taking care of a few little hang ups, it worked out beautifully. We got to ride pretty much all the rides we wanted to throughout the day, the girls had a ton of fun, there really wasn’t another stressful situation, even when it rained a little later in the evening. It was it was wonderful. Outside of being extremely sore from walking, God knows how many miles and being on my feet for 13 hours. There’s really nothing to complain about. And I don’t even really truly complain about that stuff. That’s just, it was just part of the reality of you know, 10pm leaving the park, you’re pretty stiff, you’re very sore, and you’re ready to get in bed. So it was a wonderful time. Thanks for asking. And Adam, it’s interesting, as you were sharing that story about Dana, it kind of hit me that probably a majority of their job throughout the day is going around and helping people vent their emotion bubbles, to help make it the happiest place on earth, right? Which is great, because it’s also a way of showing that it’s the same in our relationships, right? How thankful you were for Dana, it’s kind of our opportunity to be that person for our partner, when we see them start to kind of fill up with that emotion to being able to give people some grace and space, when things aren’t going well for them in the moment or they’re filled with emotion can be a very, very great gift to extend. I’m going to throw key takeaways at both of us.


Perfect if you’ve got a key takeaway, either from my story or just the idea of communicating with your partner via times of high stress when you know, a motion is high and logic is compressed. anything along those lines, I’m going to ask you for what what is your key takeaway, the most helpful thing I think, is practicing how to acknowledge when you are starting to feel emotions, to take a pause and just acknowledge that you’re experiencing it. Because I think that pause goes a really long way before you say something you might have to repair for later. That’s very good reminder. And I think even if you end up staying in the heightened emotion state, at least you’ve now potentially acknowledged that right? And that could help you Yes, it could help you settle in a little sooner.


My key takeaway is, when traveling with your family, it’s very important to give each other as much grace as possible. Yes, there are going to be things that somebody handled, compared to you know, that one spouse handled and the other spouse did not and vice versa. And just give each other time to take care of it. And be aware as much as possible of what they might be going through. Because it’s very easy for you know, to sit back and and to judge and just say, well, didn’t you do this? Or what about that. And we got to keep in mind that everybody has the same goal in the end is to have fun, enjoy each other’s presence, and to have a great time and if you’re going to Disney enjoy the happiest place on earth.


I love it. Well Katie, thank you so much for being on today’s podcast with me. Thank you for listening to this personal story and hopefully our listeners can connect to it gives them an opportunity to think about what they might have coming with spring breaks coming up and just give them the opportunity to think about, you know, when we’re stressed how we’re going to handle it and what we can do to help each other. Thank you for having me, Adam and for being willing to share your story.