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10 Tips To Protect Your Marriage On Vacation With In-Laws

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Most people think of vacations as a great way to get away from it all, relax and unwind. However, not all family vacations are idyllic trips to paradise. Many family vacations are trips to visit in-laws, extended family or big family reunions that can bring both happiness and stress for your marriage. Here are ten tips to protect your marriage as you vacation with in-laws or extended family.

  1. Adjust your mindset. Whether the extended family is yours or your spouses or both, keep in mind that you or your spouse grew up with them. Having extended family come with you on vacation is way to support and love your spouse.
  1. Choose a place with enough space for everyone. Crowding lots of people into a small home or condo is just invitation for trouble. Everyone needs their own space to do what they like to do and take a moment for themselves. If your home is not large enough to accommodate your extended family, suggest renting hotel rooms on the same floor, two condos, or hotels near your home.
  1. Involve in-laws or extended family in the planning. Planning a vacation for a large group of people is takes a lot of time and can be stressful. Let everyone else help with the planning. Divide up the responsibilities like planning meals, grocery lists, renting rooms or houses, transportation, a few group activities, etc. This way, everybody is part of the vacation plan, and no one should have to do it all themselves.
  2. Set a welcoming tone. Just as you are not used to being with in-laws and extended family 24/7, they are not used to it either. Make your extended family feel welcome and wanted. Kindness and laughter can go a long way to ease the awkwardness and stress.
  1. Prepare to set some boundaries. You know your family better than your extended family does. If they are early risers and you are not, plan how to let them know how to get the coffee going and grab some quick breakfast snacks so they don’t expect you to prepare a large family breakfast at 6 a.m. If the kids need a nap after lunch so they don’t get cranky, let extended family know that the hour after lunch is “quiet time”.
  1. Accept help. Many in-laws and extended family members will welcome the opportunity to pitch in and help prepare meals, straighten up the condo or home, and spend extra time with their grandchildren. Let them! Accepting help will give you and your spouse some time for yourselves.
  1. Share the costs. Few married couples can afford the costs of taking 6 to 10 people on vacation. Most extended family members will be glad to help with the financial costs by paying for meals out, groceries, lodging, activities. etc.
  1. Don’t overschedule Activities. Even though schedules and routines work well for your home life, scheduling every moment of everyone’s day on vacation isn’t a good idea. It’s stressful to follow someone else’s schedule with no time for yourself. Your idea of fun might not be what everyone else thinks is fun.
  1. Don’t overwhelm in-laws with kids. Kids often love time with grandparents, cousins etc. and want to spend 24/7 playing and doing. That can be exhausting for your in-laws. Speak up and suggest a time-out to give everyone time to regain their energy.
  1. Be Flexible and Enjoy the vacation. Whenever a group of relatives get together, there are bound to be instances where arguments or disagreements flare up. This person wants to go to this restaurant, someone does not want to join in an activity, etc. Do what you can to cool down the situation. Suggest a Plan B or some time apart.

Remember that it’s not about what you do or where, it is who you are vacationing with. It’s all about spend time together and making memories to talk about for years to come.

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