When I was growing up almost every family vacation we ever took was to West Virginia to visit my Dad’s family. My Mom’s family lived in the same town that we did in south Florida so vacations were always spent connecting with my Dad’s side of the family. I loved it but doing that meant that we didn’t visit a lot of other places in the country. I always promised myself that when I grew up I wouldn’t spend every single vacation vacationing with in-laws. Somehow, that’s still exactly what’s happened.
In the 5 years that we’ve been married almost every vacation that we’ve taken has been to visit my parents in either West Virginia or Florida. I’m fortunate that Brandon loves my family and enjoys spending time with them. It makes vacationing with in-laws so much easier for him. Still, I try to make sure that even on vacation with my family that I prioritize and respect my husband.
It’s so easy, if you’re not careful, to fall back in to inside family jokes and sharing old stories. It’s fine to do that but it can really make your spouse feel left out. While we spent our weekend at the Magic Kingdom I tried to make sure I didn’t put Brandon through that. I’d say I was pretty successful because he said this was the best family vacation he’s ever taken. 🙂
Respecting your spouse while vacationing with the in-laws
Not controlling the itinerary
My parents and sister had already made plans for Saturday dinner (the day we arrived), all day Sunday (Magic Kingdom), and Monday morning (hotel pool) but it doesn’t feel fair to expect that every moment of our trip is controlled by my family. As such, the time before and after Saturday’s dinner, Sunday after the Magic Kingdom, and Monday morning belonged to my husband. While he chose to spend all of that time with my family, if he hadn’t that would have been fine too.
Respecting his “me” time
The point of going on vacation is to rest, relax, and recharge, right? It’s crazy hard to do that when you’re spending every moment fighting crowds, waiting in lines, sweating damn near to death (it’s hot in Florida my friends), and with in-laws. Family is great but sometimes you just need a few moments to yourself. At Magic Kingdom there were times Brandon would sneak off to vape (yep…#vapelife) and there were times at the hotel that he’d go off to the pool by himself for an hour or sneak a quick 20-minute nap in the room. I didn’t mind the extra one-on-one moments with my family and he got a little bit of time to himself.
Plan alone time
Sure, he got his “me” time but I made sure that we got our own alone time too. Sometimes it was as simple as separating from the family at Magic Kingdom for 20 minutes to get raspberry lemonade slushies and take a few pictures. Other times it was having breakfast in our room instead of meeting the family at the hotel restaurant. During our next trip I’m planning on a couple’s massage because that would have been really nice!
Creating a division of labor
We traveled with our dogs which, on this trip, was actually awesome because the Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is very dog-friendly! I took on the responsibility of walking the dogs each morning so that my husband didn’t have to deal with them first thing as a little “thank you” for the family vacation. He took them in the afternoon and we took them together every evening because it was safer than me being out in the dark alone after 10pm. Plus, a walk on the gorgeous hotel grounds under the stars was pretty romantic even with those unruly hounds of ours. 😉
Not bickering or arguing in front of family
Being honest, it’s tough to be on your best behavior for 4 days outside in the Florida heat during the middle of summer while surrounded by thousands of other people. Add to that the tragedies that struck Orlando (the shooting of Christina Grimmie, the PULSE massacre, and the alligator attack of that 2-year old boy) while we were there on vacation and it was even harder to keep a positive spirit. There were definitely times I got on my husband’s nerves or that he said something that irritated me but we both took great care to not bicker or argue in front of my family. It’s important to be united and all of the little annoyances can be dealt with in the privacy of your own space later on.
Not forcing your spouse to do something
What do you do when your family wants to wait in line for 70 minutes to ride Dumbo but your husband is hot, exhausted, and not-at-all interested in Dumbo? Fortunately, I didn’t face that situation but if I had it would have been as simple as waiting with my husband in a cool air-conditioned location while my family rode Dumbo. Alternatively, it would have been fine for me to wait with my family to ride Dumbo while my husband waiting alone in a cool air-conditioned location. Under no circumstances would it have been acceptable to try to force my husband to wait and ride.
Do you make a habit of vacationing with in-laws? How do you balance your marriage and your family vacation?