Inside His Head: How can I ditch my in-laws for this year’s vacation?


Have you ever wondered, or said aloud: “What was he THINKING?!Well, so have we! That’s why we started this feature on Motherlode — to find out what men are thinking, delivered straight from the “horse’s” mouth.

Here’s this month’s dilemma:

Dear Inside His Head Husbands,

My husband and I usually go on vacation with our kids — and his parents, sister, etc. — every summer. I like his family, but our kids are getting older and I’d like for us to go on a vacation that’s just “us,” our immediate family. Any advice for making that happen this year without coming off as the bad guy with my husband — or my in–laws?

Thank you!

MICHAEL: I’ve been in that exact situation.  When we were younger and our kids were small we did a lot of trips together with my in laws. Eventually we just kind of started going on our own vacations.

It’s about choosing priorities. At some point your immediate family takes precedence over the extended family. It doesn’t make you the evil daughter-in-law just because you don’t want to make every trip a family reunion. It’s time for you to start making your own memories. Your in-laws have had their turns.

What I would recommend is taking longer vacations with just you and the husband and kids. Then take smaller weekend trips with extended family if that’s something you really want to do. 

That should be a reasonable compromise and make everyone’s scheduling and planning a bit less hectic. Good luck!

MAVERICK: Your idea of starting your own family traditions regarding vacations is valid. Now getting your husband to see that — while not hurting anyone’s feelings —  is going to be the trick.

sand-dollarsFirst, do some actual research and present a viable option for the vacation trip you’d like to see your family take.

Don’t tell your husband you don’t like the current situation and then task him with finding the perfect vacation locale that meets all your needs, desires and price point.

Also, don’t go for a dramatic change. If you traditionally ski, don’t shift to the beach in one go.

Then be ready for some slight push back. It’s likely his family has vacationed at the same spot for years. For him, standing on a certain beach or catching the scent of a favorite restaurant might signal he’s free for a week. Point out you’re in the process of making memories for your own family and how sometimes change can be good.

Finally, your in-laws are likely going to be upset at first, as this move likely breaks with tradition. A good compromise might be to rotate vacation locales – one year you go on your own, the next your go with the larger family unit. Maybe you’ll be surprised and the family will embrace your decision to vacation separately. Sometime too much togetherness can be, well, too much.

GRAY: When I was growing up my mother insisted I always eat every single bite on my plate at each meal. It was a pointless rule that had me sitting at the dinner table for many a useless hour and neither endeared me to her cooking nor put any meat on my scrawny bones.

brocI assume your husband feels the necessity to visit his family each year, but when it becomes a habit or, worse yet, a dreaded obligation it’s like having a staring contest with that mushy glob of overcooked broccoli.

Family should always be a priority and I can understand why spending time with one part can feel like neglecting the other. And children ought to see their aunts, uncles, grandparents and other relations, but it should also be fine for you to spend time making your own family memories without anyone else begrudging you.

You may ask your husband who’d be offended by skipping a year. From my perspective, I can’t imagine anyone reasonable holding it against you. It’s not like you’re ditching them so you can have a week on the couch channel surfing.

I also realize that there are unreasonable families who, like my mom, simply won’t be appeased by anything short of absolute compliance. They may pull the guilt card out by saying grandpa could die before your children see them again or that Aunt Sally will be heartbroken if she doesn’t see little Meg. My advice: go anyway.

Getting together with family should be an act of love, not dogmatic insistence. In this scenario you may have to be the bad guy, but in my opinion it’s for all the good reasons. Besides, variety is the spice of live and even broccoli goes down easier with a little zest.

If you have a question for our anonymous panel of husbands, email it to us at mamas{at}nwaMotherlode{dot}com. We’ll pass it along and find out together what’s going on Inside His Head.