Can Your Marriage Survive A Vacation With The In-Laws?
Your husband or wife tells you that his or her parents have invited you to take a vacation together. How do you respond? No, maybe, yes? Traveling with your parents can be a challenge. Vacationing with your in-laws means you will be under their watchful eyes for the entire trip. Some people get along well with their in-laws, but others do not. Here are a few tips to make a family trip a pleasant experience.
- Pick your spouse’s brains about his or her parents.
Unless you see your in-laws often, you likely don’t know a lot about them. His or her mother may be very chatty. His of her father may have a habit of reading while on the toilet. Before you spend up-close and personal time with your in-laws, your spouse needs to brief you about their likes, dislikes, and habits so you are prepared.
- Get the low down on the vacation
Don’t wait until the last minute to find out where you are going, what to bring, who is making reservations etc. You don’t want to pack for a casual beach vacation and find out you are going to a five-star resort in the mountains. If your in-laws live close, invite them to dinner so you can discuss the vacation details and who is doing what. If they live out-of-town, do a video chat or a conference call.
- How do you handle expenses?
You shouldn’t make assumptions about who will pay for things on vacation. Just because his or her parents invited you on vacation does not mean that you should let them pay for everything. When one couple pays for everything, even if they are more well to do than you or vice-versa, if can create awkward situations. You don’t want your dad and your husband wrestling over the dinner bill. At the beginning of the trip, all of you should come to an agreement that either (1) you’ll chip in your portion of the trip and every meal or (2) you’ll contribute to the cost of the accommodations and each couple will take turns paying for meals.
- Offer to Help Plan Activities
Parents never stop being the decision makers and being protective of their children. You and your spouse might be adventure seekers while the in-laws may be sight seers. In addition, there is likely a large age difference between you and your in-laws so they might purchase tickets to the local rendition of “My Fair Lady while you would prefer to visit a jazz club. Offer to plan a few day and evening activities during the vacation so everyone can get enjoyment from the vacation.
- Schedule some time out
Traveling together does not mean you need to spend every waking hour together. Don’t be afraid to take some time to be alone with your spouse and go off and do what you want to do. When you are all together all the time, you need time to breathe. Chances are good that they will welcome the time apart as well.
- Take things in stride.
When you are traveling, things never go exactly as planned or expected. You made reservations at an exclusive seafood restaurant, but his mother hates fish. Kindly suggest that she try the fried shrimp. Your in-laws decided to have some “intimate time” together and you walked in on them. Gently apologize for the intrusion and quickly leave. Things can happen to create embarrassing moments. Just try to take it in stride and move on.
- Smooth over the arguments.
Sometimes travelling can wear on your nerves and create tension. Before you know it, your spouse and their parents are in an argument over whether to turn right or left at the stop sign to get to the restaurant. Everyone is out of their comfort zone and after a few days together, family drama can erupt. Your spouse does not want to be treated as a child while his dad always knows what’s best. Don’t get caught up in the squabble! Try to calm everyone down by deflecting “Oh my gosh, there’s a moose!” to smooth over the drama.
Traveling is stressful and adding you in-laws into the mix can make it more challenging. However, you need to remember that they are family and are an essential part of your spouse’s life just as your parents are to you. There will be awkward, embarrassing moments and some arguments. Special times and times of bonding will also be included. When you married your spouse, his family was also part of the deal. So, for your spouse’s sake, keep things lighthearted and enjoy the vacation.Learn more about our Couples Therapy Exercises