Etiquette Questions, Answered: Social Situations
Real Simple's Modern Manners columnist deciphers your ticklish social situations.
How Can I Improve My Vacation With My Extended Family?
Q. Every year, my in-laws make plans to spend a week at Walt Disney World with the expectation that my family of four will
take time off work and school to join them. Because my husband and I make more money than they do, we are expected to pay
for their expenses.
My husband never says no; he seems to enjoy treating them. And I don’t mind being generous. But my in-laws choose the most expensive restaurants and activities available, never say “thank you,” and try to control every last detail of the itinerary. How can we have a vacation with them that feels more equitable?
A. My first question: Does your family want to go to Disney World every year? If they’ve outgrown it, have a heart-to-heart with your husband. Say, “I know it means a lot to you to spend time with your parents, but let’s make sure our week of vacation reflects what we want to do as well.” Suggest that he propose a brainstorming session where you and your in-laws pick a new spot.
On the other hand, if everyone still enjoys this destination, you’ll have to think more strategically. To ensure that you’re not, say, subjected to yet another Winnie the Pooh character breakfast, research meal and activity options in advance and send your in-laws a list prior to the trip: “There are a couple of places that I want to be sure we go to,” you can say. “Why don’t you send me your top two or three priorities and we can take it from there?”
Regarding the issue of who pays for the trip, you may need to let that go. As an act of generosity to your husband and in-laws, try not to get into a power struggle about money. And look on the bright side: If they’re hands-on grandparents willing to do a little babysitting, a few date nights with your husband could be worth the cost.
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