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“Should I pressure my husband to come along on my family’s vacation?”

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  • #875698 Reply
    Dear WendyDear Wendy

    From a LW:

    “I live in a country on the other side of the world from my family and am married to someone who’s local to where I live now. I am very fortunate to be able to travel to see my family a few times a year, and my husband has also spent a fair amount of time with my family, considering the distance between us all. He usually sees them for a week or two once a year (though sometimes less).

    My sister, who I’m very close with, has a big birthday coming up and has planned a weeklong celebration in her home state. It goes without saying that I’ll be attending. Part of the week will be just our immediate family and then a small group of her friends will join us for the rest.

    My husband generally gets along with my family, but they’re very different. He is very introverted and doesn’t even like to be around his own family that much (he loves them, but is just more of a loner). He also gets uncomfortable when my family spends money on him, even though they’re happy to do it. Since my family doesn’t see us that often, one of their ways of showing affection is to treat us to meals and some gifts. Nothing terribly extragavant — but my mom will usually buy him a sweater or something. I honestly don’t know really understand why this makes him so uncomfortable, but it does.

    Anyway, my question (I swear is have one!) is in regard to whether I should pressure my husband to attend my sister’s birthday festivities. I obviously don’t want him to be uncomfortable, and I understand that a full week with my family is a lot. By the nature of our living closer to them, when we see his family it’s for a few hours or maximum for a weekend. But the reason we’d be traveling is for my sister’s birthday, and being together with her is the point of this trip.

    I also know he’d enjoy a lot of the planned activities (hiking, wine tasting, etc), and bottom line, it’s going to be a really great trip to a beautiful area we’ve never been to before, and I hate to have that experience without him.

    Last we talked about it he’s leaning toward not going and I would never force him, but I’m thinking about telling him that it’s really important to me that he come. My parents are thankfully in good health, but they’re getting older and I don’t know how much longer we’ll have for these kinds of trips. They really want to spend the time with both of us and like I said, I just generally want him to be there because he’s obviously super important to me. But I don’t want to be worrying all the time if he’s having fun, which I admit has happened on previous trips to visit my family.

    I realize this whole thing is a little silly (“whoa is me, my husband doesn’t want to come on a nice vacation that’s mostly paid for!”), but I’m feeling very torn and we need to let my sister know this week if he’s coming. I need to get out of my own head and would be grateful for any advice, especially from anyone who has a similar partner/family dynamic.”

    #875703 Reply

    Ask him to come and plan opportunities for him to escape and get the alone time he needs to recharge. This could be as simple as dropping him off at the local public library for a few hours or dropping him at a coffee shop while you and your sister go shopping.

    It could also be that the whole family goes out for the day and your husband gets to putter away at home, watching TV and doing nothing.

    I love my family but they know that I’m good for about 3 days and even that includes napping (which is really just code for – I’m going to a room by myself and not talk to you guys for a bit).

    #875708 Reply

    I think that you need to at least engage with the possibility that he doesn’t like your family and doesn’t want to fight you over it.

    #875711 Reply

    If he doesn’t want to go, let him off the hook gracefully. My husband comes from a family that lives around 10 hours away from us by car. I realize your situation is a bit different as you’re halfway around the world, but for us, it is still a challenge with kids, work, etc. I am like your husband. I am introverted, I like to be at home. We have little kids, and dragging them there is a pain in the butt. I have to take PTO, he owns his own business, so going for him isn’t as big of a challenge. I go with him “home” about half the time. It’s nice that we’re all there part of the time, and it’s also nice that he gets to spend some time alone with his parents. If I was forced to go every single time even though it was a challenge for me, I’d be resentful. I get it, you love him, you want him there. But if he wants to stay behind, just give him a pass. He’s gone gamely many times in the past.
    It sounds like plenty of your other family will be there that you don’t get to see that often, and you can spend that time enjoying their company to the max without worrying about whether or not your husband is having a bad time.

    #875713 Reply

    Have you just asked him point blank if he wants to come to your sister’s weeklong birthday celebration on the other side of the world?

    He said he was leaning towards not going.

    I’m guessing you know he really doesn’t want to go, so why not just spare him this time? Then you don’t have to worry about whether he’s enjoying himself or not (which is not really your problem to begin with.) It might be nice to go on a solo trip to see your sister.

    As an introvert, I’d be overjoyed to be left alone for a week. And the idea of traveling to the other side of the globe to be part of someone’s week long birthday celebration makes me feel exhausted just thinking about it.

    #875721 Reply

    Can he fly in for the last 3 days? Tell your family he has to work but can join for the last few days. A week is a long time. Maybe he can tolerate it for a weekend

    #875754 Reply

    You know he doesn’t want to go so why pressure him? What do you get out of forcing him to go?

    You’ve said you would worry about whether he was having a good time if he did go. Why put both of you in that situation. He would be miserable and you would worry about making him miserable.

    Just because someone else is paying most of the cost doesn’t mean it works for you as a couple.

    I wouldn’t ask him to go for a few days at the end because the length of the journey means some pretty serious jet lag so spending about as much time traveling as being there and at least the first day there suffering jet lag. It isn’t worth it.

    #875768 Reply

    If he wouldn’t enjoy it why would you even want him to go? You’d spend the whole time worried about if he’s having fun or whether or not he wants to leave or if he’s overwhelmed. I’d say go and enjoy the trip the way you want to without having to manage someone who is ambivalent at best about being there. He’d probably have a great time having the house to himself for a while.

    #875909 Reply

    Have a chat with him. You can suggest planning activities in such a way as to give him alone time, or make arrangements for him to come for a shorter time period. But acknowledge that you know he cares for your family, and you get that he just needs alone time and that it’s a lot of time to spend around people, for him. Acknowledge his feelings.

    If it feels important to you, explain why, but try to avoid the guilting or undue emotion. This is the man you love: you don’t want him to feel bad for asserting boundaries for what makes him comfortable.

    But you should also let him know that it’s OK if he doesn’t. And when you’re there you can catch up by skype or phone if you miss each other. It’s clear the split isn’t even, but then you sound slightly more extroverted than him, and a few hours wth his parents are a lot less intense than a week with yours.

    You can have that chat and see if there’s anything that will persuade him, but he may not enjoy it, and if you feel he won’t, it’d be kinder to both of you for him to skip it.

    #875910 Reply

    Not to suggest that YOU would necessarily guilt or force your dude into doing things or make him uncomfortable, but some partners are all about the emotional blackmail etc.

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