Help me figure out how to get along.
April 28, 2011 4:52 PM Subscribe
Help me make the most of a beach vacation with my future in-laws.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (31 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
6 months ago, my fiance and I agreed to join most of his family on a week-long beach vacation this spring. The trip is rapidly approaching (2 weeks away!), and I find that I'm getting less and less excited about it.
There will be a total of 8 people going on the trip: we'll be joining my future father-in-law (Jim), Jim's mother Ruth, and my fiance's two younger sisters (Sarah and Alexis), plus Alexis's husband Brian and their 8-year-old son. We're renting a four-bedroom house on the water in a remote area with not much to see/do nearby. For Jim, Sarah, Alexis and Brian, renting a house in this area each May has become an annual tradition. My fiance hasn't joined them before, and this is the first year I've been invited.
Jim has a very strong personality and likes to have everything “just so”. I respect him a lot and I wouldn't say there's any hostility between us, but our relationship is a bit strained because we don't have a lot in common, and because I'm extremely shy/reserved. Still, we're very polite to each other.
From what Sarah and Alexis have been telling me over the past few weeks (in an attempt to get me stoked, because they're both super excited), it sounds like Jim is very much in charge of the whole family's schedule during the annual beach trip, and a lot of the stuff he finds enjoyable doesn't make for such a good vacation in my eyes. Some of these vacation traditions seem really rigid and un-fun to me: for instance, Jim wakes everyone up at 6AM to have a cigarette on the porch (I don't smoke), everyone eats breakfast and lunch at the same diner every day (I have celiac disease, which really limits my options when it comes to restaurants), and Jim has the family convene to watch reality television at a specific time each evening. Jim isn't used to having anyone suggest changes to the schedule, and I know from experience that he tends to get annoyed/offended if people try to opt out of things he's planned.
I suffer from OCD and social anxiety, and I spend a LOT of time obsessing over making a good impression on people, making sure I don't commit any social faux pas, and most importantly, making sure I don't do anything that “rocks the boat”. I'm working on these problems in therapy, but in the meantime I feel like I should focus on coming up with ways to cope and keep myself reasonably calm and entertained on the trip, rather than working on asserting myself.
Some things I've considered:
- bringing a book to read during reality TV marathons and the like (this would almost definitely seem rude, since no one in the family reads for fun, and they see it as a boring/elitist/snobby activity)
- becoming the unofficial vacation photographer
- volunteering to babysit/entertain Alexis's son
- cultivating a sudden, intense interest in fishing or kayaking.
I'd love to hear some other suggestions for how I can make the best of this situation and minimize any discomfort.