How to Respect Your Spouse While Vacationing with In-Laws

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. 🙂 

Family vacations can be very stressful and they can be even worse when you add the in-laws into the mix. Avoid the family drama by learning how to maintain respect for your spouse while out with your family and parents. Tips via Honey and Pine #marriage #travel #relationships #traveltips

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!

Family vacations can be very stressful and they can be even worse when you add the in-laws into the mix. Avoid the family drama by learning how to maintain respect for your spouse while out with your family and parents.

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. 😉 

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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? 

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  1. Well this post was totally necessary as we’re about to leave for a vacation half with my husband’s family and half with mine! The dynamics are always interesting b/c my family is very low-key and live and let live. Everyone sort of does their own thing…whatever they want to do. His mother plans a bunch of social events with her own friends (who are in their 70’s-80’s) that we’re expected to attend (often conflicting with the kids’ dinner and bedtimes)…an exhausting prospect for an introvert. My husband (after 7 years) is finally loosening up on making me attend all this stuff…previously it was “anything to avoid saying no to his mother.” This stuff can cause all kinds of tough issues in a marriage, so thank you for your pointers!

    • My family is the very low-key live and let live kind as well which I think is why he enjoys spending time with them. It makes things easier when you don’t feel pressured to go along with something you don’t want to do. You shouldn’t be expected to attend every social event your mother-in-law plans although I would try to attend at least 1 or 2 (depending upon how many they are). Your own family has to come first and if that means the kids eat and go to bed on time then so be it. Hopefully you two can reach an agreement for this trip. It needs to be enjoyable for everyone.

  2. I def agree with all of this! A lot of our vacations are taken with my boyfriends family, so it’s nice to be reminded that taking some “us time” or me wanting some “me” time is perfectly okay. I know a lot of times my boyfriends mom wants to go, go, go on vacations. Me on the other hand….I like to relax a little because it is a vacation. Lol. So we try to balance out our trips as well as we can to make everyone happy.

    • You are definitely allowed “me” time on your trip. Remember, it’s your vacation too and if that means you want an hour to go get a massage or to lounge by the pool you’re completely justified in insisting upon having that time. There’s nothing worse (IMO) than one person feeling that they are able to dictate the schedule of every other person.

  3. This post was great! My boyfriend and I are getting ready to go on vacation with his family and this post was a great reminder to be patient with each other, plan some us time and some me time while there.

    • Definitely plan “us time” while you’re there. If there’s anything I’ve learned about these big family trips it is that I enjoy being able to remember times with family and times with just my husband. It’s so nice to sneak away and have a little bit of time for just the two of you to enjoy your vacation. Make time for family but make time for you too.

    • Thanks Rachel! I feel like you’ve definitely got this traveling thing down but I’m happy to have sparked something for your family trip.

    • Omg Kristin…it was crazy! We tried to focus on our trip (we were there celebrating my niece’s 3rd birthday) but it was definitely shadowed by the events of the weekend. Fortunately, she’s too young to comprehend what was happening all around us.

  4. This post comes at just the right time for me! We’re spending all of July going back and forth between my husband’s parents and my parents, and I always feel like we BOTH have such a hard time creating and respecting boundaries during these types of trips. Plus we’ve got two kids observing and learning from us, so we need to be extra careful… Anyway yes, thanks for sharing this!!!

    • I try to remember that the family I’m building with my husband is just as important as the family I was born in to and there has to be a balance. At least once per day I try to make sure we have “our time” even if that time is only 15 minutes sneaking off to get slushies and grab a few selfies. Family vacations can be overwhelming if you don’t remember to grant space to both yourself and those you’re traveling with. Hope you have a great time with both yours and his!

  5. Love this post! Because we live abroad in my husband’s native country, almost all of our vacations are spent heading to the US to visit my family. I’m sure it’s overwhelming for him and I don’t always do the best job making sure that he enjoys his time, too. Thanks for these tips!

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