Aligning Vacation Expectations Together With Your Spouse

Are you planning on taking a vacation this year? If you are, we have a few tips for you. In our 46 plus years of marriage we’ve taken our share of vacations. And the best ones we’ve had seemed to come about because we put a lot of well thought out plans together beforehand. That includes lining up our separate vacation expectations.

We never thought about doing that earlier in our marriage. We just made plans, but never really talked about each of our vacation expectations. As a result, we went through some frustrating trips because we bickered about the mismatched “plans” we each thought the other should embrace. But they weren’t. As a result, we clashed.

Discuss Vacation Expectations

Here are several questions to ask each other as you work through your vacation expectations. They were put together by Karen Sherman, Ph.D. We believe they are good ones to consider and use:

1. Are you going to sleep in or start the day bright and early?

2. Do you plan to spend the time relaxing and laying around the pool with a good book or do some sight seeing?

3. How often are you going to check in as to how things are going at home?

4. Is there a budget on your meals?

5. Are there hopes about how much affection and/or sex will take place?

6. Will all work related issues be left at home or will there be some internet, phone calls or other business tasks while away?

7. Is it okay for each of you to do separate activities (i.e. one plays golf and the other stays back) or is it important you do all things together? (From the article, “Vacation Expectations” which you can read in it’s HERE.)

And then, here are a few others, written by Dr Paul, to ask each other before taking a vacation time together. Some of these include situations you can expect if you are taking your children on vacation with you:

Lining Up Realistic Vacation Expectations

•  Bring realistic expectations along with the sun block. Be prepared for some difficult times along with good ones. Expect some fights in the back seat [if you are driving and your children will be coming with you]!

•  Anticipate problems. Teenagers need some age-appropriate diversions—younger children need playground stops on long drives. Plan ahead!

•  Arrange to spend some time alone with your spouse. This takes a lot of planning!

•  Limit digital toys. This is a good time to limit Xbox, game boys, and cell phones. Encourage your children to develop the ability to amuse themselves. (From the article, Bring Realistic Expectations to Summer Vacation)

Now, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer. If you differ on your vacation expectations now is a great time to discuss them. You can then work on figuring out any adjustments that need to be made so you BOTH enjoy yourselves.

Meeting Everyone’s Vacation Expectations

Plus, if you have children involved, you need to figure out how to meet some of their vacation expectations. Just keep in mind that you are ALL going on this vacation. So make sure each one of you gets at least some of your expectations fulfilled. It isn’t all supposed to center on meeting one person’s needs. Your marriage is a partnership. Partner together in finding ways to you’re your spouses needs and yours.

I remember one vacation that I took as a teenager where my parents took us to a cabin on a lake. Each one of us wanted different things. My mom wanted us to go to sight-seeing places near the cabin. My dad (and us kids) wanted to spend more time at the lake. So a compromise was made. One day we stayed at the lake, the next day we went sight-seeing. It worked out well. Everyone was happy.

Steve and I eventually adopted the same approach. When taking a vacation we talked beforehand about our vacation expectations. We worked through them, and made our plans accordingly. Our trips were tailored to meet each of our needs.

Also, concerning vacation expectations:

“Don’t listen to your friends’ hype over their recent trips. People love to carry on about how over the top and incredible their vacations were. There is no need to compare your adventure to anyone else’s. Your vacation should be tailored to what suits you best. Whether it is R&R on a beach or exploring far away cities, there is no set standard or mold for the perfect get away.” (Monica Mandell, Ph.D. from the Huffington Post article, “Tips on How to Successfully Vacation With Your Spouse”)

If their suggestions are ones you want to embrace, then go for it. If not, do things that work for you, not your friends.

All in all, the goal is to enjoy yourselves on your vacation—BOTH of you. (This also includes children and others who are with you, if that’s applicable. Here’s a good article to read to help you in this mission:


We want to close with this last point that was made in a vacation article written by Debi Walter (which we recommend you read in it’s entirety):

Just in Case, Remember:

“All vacations have unexpected mishaps. If you know these things are going to happen, you can discipline yourself for a godly response. Case in point, this past week we arrived at our rental only to find it dirty, and not the picture of the beach condo we had seen in the pictures. It wasn’t acceptable to us. What did we do? We prayed first, then called and left a message for the owner of the condo.

“Lastly, we went about looking for some place else to stay nearby. It took two hours out of our day at a McDonald’s (they have free WiFi) in a not very nice part of town. But by God’s grace we didn’t react. We trusted God, followed His lead and ended up with a sincere apology from the owner, a complete refund, and a beautiful time-share condo directly facing the ocean for the same price.” (From The article, 5 Disciplines for a Successful Vacation)

We totally agree. Too often vacations are spoiled because of poor planning, and vacation expectations that we didn’t talk about beforehand. We hope this Insight will inspire you to put more effort into both. But if “unexpected mishaps” come up despite all of your preparation, brace yourself for the possibilities and pray first. See how God leads you to a better solution than just reacting. That advice rings true in all areas of married life. If only… If only we can remember that.

In the meantime, have a great vacation!

Cindy and Steve Wright


We talk about this issue and so much more in our book, 7 ESSENTIALS to Grow Your Marriage. We hope you will pick up a copy for yourself. Just click on the linked title or the “Now Available” picture below to do so:



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