Going on vacation with your partner's family can be a terrifying prospect, especially the first time. Even if you have a great relationship with them normally, being on vacation can be like putting a magnifying glass on everything — and that includes your relationship with your partner and their relationship with their family. Something that you may have let slide at a birthday party or holiday may be a lot harder to ignore .
Start by trying not to get too worked up beforehand. "Mindset is pretty much the key to *everything* in life," spiritual author and guide Heather Kristian Strang tells Bustle. "So the stories we tell ourselves about our partner, about the meaning of our partner's actions, about everything that occurs in our life has the power to make our life joyful and blissful or depressing and negative." And the same is true about how we view everyone in our life. So if you decide not to panic before hand and do your best to keep your nerves at bay, you'll be starting the vacation off on the right foot.
But that's not all there is to it. A lot will come down to how well you get along with the family beforehand, how close and comfortable you feel with one another. And ideally, your partner will be doing their best to ease any awkwardness. Here's how you can keep things ticking along smoothly:
Have A Game Plan
First step: brainstorm what the problems might be and how to deal with them. Maybe it's certain activities, maybe it's certain people. "Get proactive: Think ahead of time of how each family member 'gets' to you," Dr. LeslieBeth (LB) Wish, LCSW, tells Bustle. You and your partner should talk your fears out together, so you're better placed to tackle any issues as a unit when they arise.
Agree To Alone Time Beforehand
Along with that, make sure you schedule out little blocks (or big blocks) of time just for the two of you. It's a lot easier to mention that you guys are planning massages or a quick day trip just the two of you while you're still planning the vacation. If you wait until you're there — and the family may have scheduled every minute of your time — it's going to be more tricky to announce that you want to suddenly branch out on your own.
Keep A Positive Attitude
Remember how I said to assume it's going to be great beforehand? You have to keep the positive mental attitude up the entire time. "Why stress yourself out with unimportant things?" matchmaker and dating coach Karenna Alexander tells Bustle. "Try to let things roll off your back and have a good time! If you adopt this attitude you will actually be doing your partner a favor as well, as [they] will take cues from you, and if you are happy and unfazed by any family drama, [they] will likely not let it get to [them] either." Just like stress is contagious, a positive mental attitude should spread and help everyone cope.
Pick Your Battles
OK, so maybe you've planned everything out as much as you can, maybe you've kept a positive attitude — and maybe it's still stressful AF. If you're really struggling, it's going to make you see the worst in everything. So try to separate the actual problems from the small annoyances. "First and foremost, assume positive intent," founder of Maze of Love, Chris Armstrong, tells Bustle. "Your partner's parents may be annoying or loud or snoopy to you but don't assume that they are trying to be this way."
If you can separate the real problems, you'll be able to choose your battles and— respectfully and compassionately— disagree and stand up for yourself when necessary.
Know When To Tag Out
Ultimately, you're there as a partner, so if you're really feeling like you're so stressed it's affecting your relationship, you may need to politely remove yourself. "Remember your partner and how you feel about them at any moment that you want to respond negatively about their parents," Armstrong tells Bustle. "This is not about the parents, it's about your partner." You can always fake a headache or being tired to get some alone time and regroup.
Vacationing with your partner's family can be a wonderful bonding opportunity, but it can also feel like a stress marathon. Stay strong with your partner and try to keep your calm and you'll get through it just fine.