When your idea of vacation is different than your spouse’s

Before getting married, my idea of camping was sitting in a casual cafe overlooking a lake before returning to a rustic motel.  My husband James’ camping experience was quite different.  He remembers carrying his tent and food in his backpack and finding a different spot under the stars every night.  Yikes!

As you can imagine, our first camping trip as newlyweds had its share of tears, conflict and compromise. The young couples group at church was going on a camping trip.  While we drove towards the campsite, I was sullen, quiet and irritable.  It was painfully obvious that this camping trip was not my idea.  We had packed the tent (which James had put on our wedding registry) and but I had left my smile back at our cozy apartment.

James pulled the car over right before we entered the campground.  Turning off the engine, he looked at me sternly, “Are you going to act like this all weekend long?  Because if you are, we can just turn around and go home.”  He wisely understood that a weekend with miserable me was no vacation.

I mumbled through tears, “You mean I didn’t have to come?”

Choose to Have Fun

Thankfully I realized in that moment that I had better shape up and put on a happy face.  Although the weekend didn’t turn me into an avid camper, I did survive and make some very funny memories with James!

Since that time, my family has gone on many camping trips.  Our kids love camping so I am woefully outnumbered.  I have had to make the decision to have fun – like the time we were in Kings Canyon National Park in California.  I remember muttering under my breath about wanting to vacation in a clean hotel room as I trudged to the campsite bathroom in the middle of the night.

I was wrestling with one bad attitude.

Under the starry sky, I asked God to give me wisdom and to see beyond my inconvenience.  I realized once again as I did on that first camping trip many years before that if I rained on the camping parade, it would ruin the memory of the vacation for my husband, myself, and our three children.  Why would I want to do that?  James had already compromised by getting us a cabin instead of a tent.

The next day I ended up having a blast walking the Grant Grove trail of the giant sequoias, going under the Tunnel Tree, and climbing the 400 steps to the peak of Moro Rock with James and the kids.  This camping thing was actually turning out to be fun!

Voice Your Preferences

Your next vacation may be to a national monument, metropolitan city, or grandma’s house in the country.  There’s going to be some give and take here with your spouse.  You might love a quiet vacation in the middle of nowhere.  He might love a bustling city with museums, restaurants, and nightlife.

If you find that choosing the perfect vacation for both of you is causing more stress than reprieve, you might want to try one of these ideas:

Have both of you make a list of 10 places you would like to go.  Compare lists.  Anything close?

If you have extremely different ideas about vacation, think compromise.  One trip to the mountains in the wintertime.  Next trip to the warm sunny beach.  One day of the vacation take it easy and chill out.  The next day, have a packed schedule of seeing interesting places and people.

Prefer your spouse but don’t forget to voice your preferences.  You want to have the attitude of a servant towards your spouse.  You want to do things that will rejuvenate him or her.  At the same time, you want to be rejuvenated yourself so make sure you clarify what’s important to you during the vacation.

A few years ago, we were vacationing on the big island of Hawaii.  We had hiked in remote beautiful locations, but again, the theme of no bathroom or snacks other than trail mix.  By day three, I had to speak up.  So James happily took me to a coffee farm where I sat on a comfortable chair drinking a latte, only steps away from a bathroom and civilization.

Your idea of a perfect vacation may be very different than your spouse’s, but with a generous helping of communication and compromise (and maybe coffee), you can enjoy the various settings the world has to offer.  You might even take up camping.

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