Family Matters: A much needed vacation

Everyone needs a break now and then. Here are some pointers on how to make your time away as stress-free as possible.

Beach sunset  (photo credit: Wikicommons)
Beach sunset
(photo credit: Wikicommons)
Ben writes with the following question: “My wife and I always have the same argument this time of year. We have two young children who are going on school holidays soon and my annual leave is coming up as well. We want to take a week off and go on a holiday, but my wife prefers taking the children with us while I think that it’s best to send them to their grandparents and go on a romantic vacation by ourselves. My wife normally wins these arguments, but I have to say that I’m not looking forward to those family holidays any longer. I find it’s not relaxing and all about the children. I sometimes count the hours until I’m back at work. How can I make my wife listen to me for once so that maybe this year I’ll feel like I really went out on vacation?”
Many of us find ourselves disagreeing with our partner about the nature of our shared vacation. Whether it has to do with location, type of vacation (i.e. extreme, relaxed, cultural) or even the length of it. We each have a picture of our ideal vacation painted in our heads. Unfortunately, our partner does not always share that same picture.
So what can we do in order to make our “time off” more enjoyable for all included?
What’s your plan? We might have a full picture of our desired vacation, but we have to make sure our partner gets a good description of it. If you know more or less what you want to do and where you want to go, do some research over the Internet. Then ask your partner to sit down with you for a few minutes while you show her pictures, prices and different itineraries for a possible vacation. This way you can have a more constructive discussion about your wishes and hers as well.Divide and conquer. If your partner insists on time off with the kids, try to examine some variations to that option. One idea is to have a shortened vacation with the kids and go on another short romantic getaway adjacent to that vacation or at some other time during the year. Another idea is to integrate some alone time into the family vacation. Get a babysitter during the evenings and go see a nice show with your partner. If the kids are old enough, find a resort that can occupy them while you and your partner relax together by the pool.Get to the bottom of it. Your partner clearly has an issue with leaving the kids behind, but what is the reason for that? One option is that she doesn’t trust anyone else with taking care of them while you’re gone and so she would insist on taking them wherever you go.
Another option is that she doesn’t want to burden the grandparents for so many days or is too embarrassed to ask them.
A third option might be that she sees great importance in the family spending more time together, especially with the busy schedules you both have. Whatever the reason is, if you sit with your partner and determine why she insists on bringing the kids along, it may be easier for you both to come up with solutions that will make you both happy.
If your partner doesn’t trust anyone else with caring for the children, offer to have a very short romantic get-away, even for just the one night. This may help her build trust in the ability of others to care for the children.
If she doesn’t want to burden the grandparents, offer to have an open discussion with the grandparents and ask for their take on the matter. The grandparents might actually be more than excited to spend a few days with their loved grandchildren and that might ease your partner’s mind.
If your partner wants the kids to join so that you’ll all have some family quality time together, you might be able to persuade her to shorten the length of such vacation. You may also try to explain how important it is for you to have some time alone with her as well. This time off will allow you both to strengthen your relationship and gather energy to help you function better as a family during the year.
Decision time
Whatever you decide to do, it’s important to acknowledge your needs as well as those of your partner. If you’re going to mope throughout the shared vacation, no one is going to enjoy it. If you express your needs and help your partner express hers, there is a much better chance you can find some sort of middle ground and have a lovely memorable vacation.
Shimrit Nothman has a Masters degree in Conflict Resolution and believes that like charity, conflict resolution begins at home. If you have any questions for Shimrit, please use the comments section below or email her at column is brought to you as general information only and should not be a replacement for professional advice.