Build Up Your Marriage as you Plan the Family Vacation
Most couples dread planning a summer vacation. There are so many options it is difficult to settle on just one. A vacation requires careful planning because there are so many details to manage to avoid potential conflict and overspending. While many spouses let one handle the vacation details, it is a much better idea to plan the vacation together.
Here are some ground rules for planning the vacation with your spouse.
- Don’t take over the decision making. You both should discuss what things you want from your vacation and any concerns you have about the vacation. You both want to be on the same page about where you are going, what you are going to do there, and how much you have to spend.
- Be prepared to compromise. Each of you has unique tastes and preferences, but you want to make sure that everyone will be happy with the vacation arrangements. Respect your spouse’s opinion and be willing to give a little to make it work.
- Don’t argue or fight over the small things. If you cannot agree on something about the vacation plan, agree to discuss that item at a later time and keep planning the vacation.
As you plan, remember that the more decisions you make ahead of vacation time, the fewer conflicts you will have to deal with on vacation.
- Take time to Dream.
Choosing a destination is the starting point for any vacation plan, because it determines everything else. Use your imagination as you discuss memories of places you went as a child, places you always wanted to go, or the type of vacation. Do you want to rent a house, a hotel room, a condo and plan your own activities? Perhaps you would like a cruise or vacation club where everything is included.
- Decide your vacation budget and stick to it. You and your spouse can decide how much you have available to spend for vacation. Have some fun researching and sharing what you find on the internet for transportation, places to stay, restaurants, can’t miss things to see and do. Sit down together and develop a budget and don’t forget to include “mad money” for must have kid toys etc.
- Identify possible argument hot buttons ahead of time and make a plan to avoid them.
- Don’t expect mom to cook every meal while on vacation. If you rent a house or condo, plan to shop for or bring food that you know everyone will eat and keep it simple. If you plan to stay in a hotel, chose one with breakfast included so everyone will have a variety to choose from. Scout out restaurants with a variety of food for everyone in your budget range in the area of your vacation destination. Decide where to eat each day or night before you get there.
- Keep in mind the ages of your children when planning vacation activities. You may really want to go water skiing, however, if your children are all under the age of 8, you may want to take a babysitter or grandparents along so they can watch the little ones while you go do some “grown up” activities. On the flip side, older children are easily bored, so plan to keep them busy with sightseeing or adventure activities.
- Space and Downtime. Whenever is crammed into a tiny hotel room together, tempers can flare. Get adjoining rooms or rent something with some extra space. It’s tempting to want to go-go-go while one vacation, everyone gets cranky when they miss a nap or don’t get enough sleep. Build time in the vacation schedule each day for downtime.
The simple act of planning a vacation with your spouse can bring you closer together and you can enjoy it as much as the vacation itself.Learn more about our Couples Therapy Exercises