4 Reasons to Travel w/ Your Spouse’s Family

4 Reasons to Travel with your Spouse's Family

When Mr. M and I started spending more time with each other at our family’s houses, we learned a LOT about our family structure. For instance, Mr. M’s family is chill. Even though there are four kids, they are all close in age; all but one are now adults. His youngest sibling was 10 when we started dating.

In contrast, all six of the kids in my family are all close in age, but there are SIX of us. My parents went on the 2 1/2 – 3 year plan, so we are all evenly spaced out. My youngest sibling was 5 when we started dating. His family is pretty low-key, my family is high octane. We spent a lot of time at his family’s house sitting around and talking; we spend a lot of time at my family’s house sitting around and talking and doing and there is always noise in some capacity. Most of the members of my family have busy personalities, and all of us kids speak loudly. You would think we have Italian roots, but nope. We’re Scotch-Irish.

About a year after we first started dating, I went on a family vacation with Mr. M’s family. We spent a week at the beach with no set schedule. We stayed up late playing Settlers of Catan, slept in until 11am or so, spent the afternoon on the beach, and took turns cooking in the evening. Our vacation mirrored the way the M family live their life.

Last weekend Mr. M and I flew to Las Vegas to see the Thunderbird Air Show with my entire immediate family + my pappaw. This was the first “family vacation” Mr. M had gone on with us. We had been invited by a colleague of my dad’s who had been a Thunderbird back in his day. The reunion show was breathtaking. Planes were zipping everywhere, performing amazing tricks. Having the Thunderbird Air Show on Veteran’s Day Weekend also put a lump in my throat; I am so thankful for the men and women and their families who sacrifice to fight for our country and our freedom.

Aside from the Thunderbird Air Show, we tried to pack as much of Vegas into the short weekend as we could. The weekend was very reminiscent of how my family operates – high octane. I love it. I am always wanting to go and do. I get it from my mama. We spent the weekend walking through hotels, eating good food, watching my brave sister jump off the Stratosphere, and getting very little sleep.

On the way home from our trip, I asked Mr. M, “What did you learn about yourself this weekend? What did you learn about my family this weekend?”

I think every couple should go on a vacation with each other’s family either while they are engaged or while they are at the foundation of their marriage. I love to compare and contrast how our family’s do things – not in a bad way, but because we are combining two different cultures and it makes for a lot of fun and intriguing conversation. Really, any marriage is the combining of two family cultures – even if you are both from the same area. Each family has their own way of doing things, and that is what your spouse is used to. So when you are able to observe and discuss how your respective families interact, you are able to grow closer to each other and each other’s family.

4 Reasons to Travel with your Spouse's Family

1 – You learn about each other’s family dynamics

When I went on vacation with Mr. M’s family, I saw the realities of working in ministry: even when you’re on vacation mode, your ministry isn’t. Papa M spent many a late night or early morning on the phone with his ministry coordinator’s in Zimbabwe. Knowing that one day Mr. M and I will be assisting in the coordinating of his family’s ministry stateside, I learned a lot of what it would take to coordinate even on vacation. It sparked a conversation between Mr. M and I surrounding his family’s ministry and the opportunities we will have when we are more involved one day.

When Mr. M went on vacation with my family, he got to see how my family coordinates pulling together the desires of 11 different people each wanting to experience a piece of Las Vegas. While some of us all wanted to do the same thing, there were a few of us who wanted to do different things at different times. The younger kids would want to do something that catered more to their age and style, and the older kids wanted to check out the different hotels. At times we would split up and at times we would come together. Experiencing vacation together with my family allowed Mr. M and I to laugh about how a family of eleven operates versus how a family of six operates. It also allowed us to compare and contrast cultural differences between Americans and Zimbabweans and how we approach family dynamics. This is what happens when a psychologist marries a sociologist.

2 – You see how your spouse responds in “vacation mode” 

Vacation mode with just your spouse is vacation mode with just your spouse. Vacation mode with your spouse and their family is a whole ‘nother animal. When Mr. M and I went on our honeymoon last year, we were the ones calling the shots. We only had to compromise with each other. When we went on vacation with each other’s families, we had to compromise with several other people.

When I went to the beach with Mr. M’s family a couple of years ago, I had to learn to slow down. I was so used to going going and going as how that is how my family’s vacations are usually structured.

When Mr. M went on vacation with my family this past weekend, he had to learn to go go go with the flow. Usually I am the one who likes to know the plan in the relationship, and Mr. M is the one who wants to go with the flow. But when you are coordinating a large group of people, sometimes you only get a partial piece of the puzzle – the piece that is most important to you. I was okay with knowing the most important details, Mr. M wanted more details. In general, this is quite opposite of how we interact at home.

4 Reasons to Travel with your Spouse's Family

3 – You spend quality time with each other’s family 

Gosh, you guys I love love love my family and I love love love Mr. M’s family. Going on vacation with Mr. M’s family was the first time I really felt like I was truly getting to know his family well. Although I had spend countless hours with them, I started to get closer with Mr. M’s family members when we went to the beach. This was also when I started to pick up more Shona words. Although I have it as a life goal to learn to speak Shona fluently, it’s hard to do so when it’s just Mr. M and me and we both speak English most of the time. The only opportunity I get to listen to Shona is when I spend extensive amounts of time with his family.

Having Mr. M spend time with my family – and especially spend quality time with my brothers – brings a lot of joy to my heart. My youngest brother has spent almost half his life with Mr. M being my boyfriend or my husband, so he truly sees him as a brother. Mr. M has even stepped into the older brother role with my sisters – he teases them and also asks them the hard questions concerning their relationships with their boyfriends.

4 – It sets up expectations for how YOU do vacation

Mr. M and I like to say that we get to take the best of both worlds and merge it into one. We get to take our favorite family traditions and implement those into our family. Last night we were laughing about how much I like to do activities and how much he is okay to just sit at home and talk. I said, “Listen, I grew up doing, and you grew up not doing, so we’re just going to have to do.” So on our vacations, we have to have a good mixture of down time but also an exciting excursion.

4 Reasons to Travel with your Spouse's Family

Have you gone on vacation with your spouse’s family? How do you and your spouse navigate the differences between your family?

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