Will you and your beloved be traveling with extended family this summer?
It’s normal if you anticipate that among extended family, there are numerous—and varied—routines, diets, habits, and budgets. Truly, the family is a crucible wherein “families, which are far from considering themselves perfect, live in love, fulfill their calling and keep moving forward, even if they fall many times along the way.”
Many hours together in a limited space, perhaps more than you’ve all spent with one another in the past, can lead individual temperaments to bump against each other. And yet, family vacations are a gift of quality time. The experience can be rich with meaning, community, and relationship, when you choose to embrace the good with the challenging.
The occasion of knowing your beloved’s family members (or him knowing yours) more deeply is a school of love and opportunity for encounter.
Here, if you and your fiancé or spouse are vacationing with siblings, parents or other relatives, our tips for peaceful and fulfilling travels.
Find a daily ritual with your beloved.
Time spent in groups, rather than individual couples, naturally flows from the rhythm of most extended-family vacations. Resist any temptation to treat a family vacation more as a trip for the two of you--that is, more time spent on your own than with everyone present.
Instead, devote time and attention to your relationship by communicating with your fiancé or spouse about one or two rituals you can adopt for just yourselves in this different setting. You might consider going for a walk or run together each day, attending daily Mass, or, if you’re married, agreeing to go to bed at the same time each night.
Know yourself, while humbling yourself.
Depending on the degree to which you know one another’s families, and depending whether your individual temperament is more introverted or extroverted, time together might leave you energized, or it might leave you craving quiet.
Either reaction is equally valid. Consider ways to nurture personal needs while balancing and respecting the expectations of the group. Extroverts might pack board games and cards for spontaneous social time or suggest a movie or show for the group to share in, while introverts might carve out daily time to read, work out, or run an errand on their own.
Keep in mind, all the while, the value of being perceptive to others’ needs and not taking things personally: vacation isn’t about one particular person, but determining what best serves everyone. Parents of young children, for instance, might not be able to stay up late for marathon game nights, and those who prefer to recharge alone might opt out of certain activities. Allowing everyone freedom with their time is a gesture of goodwill that helps them be their best selves.
Joy is a fruit of service. Take initiative with chores; put sunscreen on your nieces and nephews and offer to babysit them or take them out so their parents can have time together; take short showers; engage in conversation with family members you haven’t yet spent extensive time with.
Be honest and flexible with money.
Choosing activities and restaurants can be challenging when those in your group have different spending habits and financial situations. If a proposed meal or trip would be prohibitive, it’s alright to honestly and charitably communicate this.
If, however, choices are more a matter of preference, it’s worth making an effort to go with the flow--seek to invest in experiences and memories. Consider treating someone else if you’re able to, and if they treat you, accept with sincerity and graciousness.
Let yourself be stretched and sharpened.
Struggling with space, boundaries, and personalities with family members is normal and okay. Human natures clash sometimes, like rocks banging against each other in the tide.
Consider, though, that by developing a disposition of service and thanksgiving, that image of rocks jostled together can be replaced by one of iron sharpening iron: an opportunity to live out the will to love, sacrifice, and give of yourself.
What have your family vacation experiences been like as an engaged couple or as newlyweds? Share the fruits of your travels with family in the comments and on Spoken Bride’s social media.