Once you and your partner are engaged, you’re on a path toward creating a new family together. Whether it’s just the two of you or you decide to add pets or kids to the mix is up to you, but it’s a new family all the same. It also means you’re joining one another’s families, for better or for worse. And while you love your partner, you might not always be able to say the same about his or her in-laws. It can all really come to a head during family visits, since a weekend in their home can be a lot of together time. Can you opt to stay in a hotel during visits, just to get a little bit of a break? We asked the experts to help you get out of this tough spot.
Your relationship with your in-laws is always going to be tricky. Even if you absolutely love them, you’re a new addition to their family, and you’ve got years of navigating and negotiating everything from holiday traditions to how you’ll raise your kids ahead of you. It can be a totally rewarding experience, but if you and your in-laws aren’t on such solid ground, it can also be incredibly trying.
Finding a way to give yourself a little space is a great way to help yourself deal. By staying at a hotel during family visits, you’ve got built-in alone time where you can rest up and recharge, breaking family interactions into more manageable chunks. It’s a great opportunity to try to make some plans in advance so you know what to expect. It also gives you and your partner a little bit of personal space where you can support one another if things get a little tough. The hard part? Breaking it to your in-laws.
Any time your partner has gone home in the past, he or she has most likely stayed at home, and there’s no reason for your in-laws to expect that to change if they still have room for the two of you. But if that’s not working for you, try to break it to your in-laws gently. If you and your partner are using vacation days for your trip, use that as your reasoning. Try something like “We’d love to turn this weekend into a little getaway and have a chance to see you, so we’re going to treat ourselves and stay at the hotel down the street.”
If you’ve gotten in the habit of staying with them, but are ready for a change, it can be hard to change direction. Do your best to be respectful. Try something like “We’re so excited to visit, but don’t want to impose on your space or hospitality. I think we’ll stay at the hotel, which is right down the street so we’ll still have lots of time together.” Avoid bringing up why you’re staying somewhere else—telling your mother-in-law that your last visit was stressful will only cause trouble. And remember, you’ll still have to stick to all of those social engagements and time together.
While the first visit or two might be tough, you and your in-laws may both come to appreciate the privacy and personal space you get from staying in a hotel. They’ll be able to host you at their leisure, without feeling like they need to be up at the crack of dawn to make coffee or start breakfast, and you’ll be able to enjoy your time together more, knowing you can more easily slip away at the end of the day. Even if they’re not prepared to admit it, that personal space will help all of you avoid those uncomfortable moments. Fewer happy, quality moments together will give you all the feeling of a positive and successful visit, as opposed to the distress you may have felt after a drawn out visit full of tension and stress.