Vacationing with your ex would probably raise a few eyebrows and have friends and family wondering exactly what was going on but for some people, there may be good reason to take that family vacation together.
My current guest, INRIS and his ex are both from the East, both still have family there and so there’s the real possibility of a family trip together. Here’s INRIS:
We tend to not vacation together, although there’s the discussion right now of whether we should do a big trip back East, because both of us are from back East. We both have family back East.
The last time there was an opportunity to go back East, in the end I took the kids alone, but I took the kids to spend time with her family as well as my family. In fact, that’s another one of those “in the best interest of the kids” moments.
I like her family just fine. They’re not my family but they are my kids’ family. I take my kids to see my niece and nephew and my sibling and my parents, but then I also bring the kids down to visit with their other cousins and their other uncles and grandparents, because how often do we get an opportunity to bring the kids back East and they get a chance to see everybody?
I felt very strongly that that had to happen and actually, I’m pretty glad I did, because then my ex’s mother died soon after that. I was really glad the kids had an opportunity to spend time with their grandmother. It’s something they may or may not remember, but they’ll have pictures. Certainly, the older one is more likely to remember than the younger.
Try wrapping your head around the parent who refuses to see the other family when it’s otherwise convenient to do so. Then, their children lose a grandparent and there’s no way you can make up for that. So, that’s one piece of that.
The other piece is, “Well, what would it look like if we both went together?”
In terms of figuring out hotel rooms and all of the rest of that, we’re trying to see if we can coordinate a visit with other families. Both Penny and I have siblings of our own who also have kids of their own and we’re trying to see if maybe we can all converge on the one spot. The kids can spend time with each other and we can either go see a theme park or museum or whatever—wherever we choose to go.
It hasn’t happened yet, but the thing is I remember saying to somebody how our relationship really hasn’t changed since our marriage and I wasn’t sure if that was a testament to how bad the marriage was or how good the divorce was. We get along.
Think of all the coordination you do when you coordinate your wedding and then you coordinate everything around bringing a child into a world. And you coordinate around the family trips. This has happened where, “What if the gymnastics meet is in Oregon and we live in Washington?” That’s not just a drive. That’s a drive and a hotel stay and all of the rest of that. We crash with friends when we go to Oregon. I would sleep in a different room from her and some of the kids would sleep in the room that she’s in and some of the kids would sleep in the room that I’m in and it’s fine. It’s always fine.
If we would all coordinate a trip to Orlando or Boston or something like that, yeah, it’s an undertaking and it’s only slightly more of an undertaking when you take into account that we are not romantically involved with each other. It’s occasionally occurred to me, if I get into a blended family situation, it could be at that point that these sorts of vacations would become unmanageable. But as it is, we’re in the planning stages. We haven’t actually figured it out, but there’s no real reason it shouldn’t be doable.
Even when we were married, traveling by plane, we definitely have different philosophies. Somehow traveling by plane with her is a little less pleasant than when I’m traveling on my own. Somehow it just seems to come with the rest of the family baggage. It’s like “Well, alright.” Try traveling with multiple kids through the major airports of this country from one coast to the other and keep track of them when they’re all young enough to be running and wanting to see everything.
On my most recent trip back east, I got everybody bright orange T-shirts so that I could see them from a mile away. They thought it was fun. They didn’t object that it was corny or hokey. I also had a big bright orange T-shirt. So, we ended up laid up at Logan Airport for hours and kids get fidgety when they’re waiting for hours for something that shouldn’t have taken hours. They’re running around and all that. Somehow we kept the chaos from interfering too much with other people.
When one of them says, “I want to go over there and look at that thing.” I’m like, “OK, you can do that, but you have to stay where you can see me.” It would be easier for me to keep an eye on them because of the T-shirt.
Adding another parent to that mix is not that big of a deal.
The Divorce Coach Says
There are two important aspects of this segment. The first is contemplating a family vacation together after divorce. What I think makes this feasible in INRIS’s case is:
- he and his ex have a collaborative relationship
- they are both from the same area and the purpose of the trip is to visit family
- they’ll have separate sleeping arrangements
- they’ll have opportunity for time apart
Personally, it would never have occurred to me to make this sort of family vacation together. Quite possibly that’s because my ex and I are not from the same area. We do have friends in common back East where we lived for most of our married life but no family so the question of visiting together has never arisen.
When INRIS and I were talking about this, I said I was impressed that he and his ex would consider a long-distance plane trip together. As cordial as my relationship is with my ex, that’s not something I would want to consider. Quite aside from presumably sitting in close proximity for a long time there’s all the ancillary stuff … how will we get to the airport, where will we stay, what activities will we do together, what will we do about meals and so on. Having to think all that through doesn’t make it seem much like a vacation.
My son will be off to college in August and it’s an eight hour drive away. I already have tension around who’s going to take him and I’ve been putting off that conversation with my ex. I think it’s all because I don’t want to spend eight hours in a car with my ex. I would love to take my son and get him settled but I think my ex would like to do that also. I can’t see us doing that together so I think I might suggest his dad take him and then I’ll go visit a few weeks later.
The other important aspect to this segment is the way INRIS sees his in-law family. I love how he acknowledges that they are an important part of his children’s lives and his willingness, his commitment to facilitate those visits. I’m a big believer that in-law relationships don’t end with divorce – the divorce is between you and your ex and that in itself is not a reason to break off friendships with your ex’s family members.
This is the last segment in INRIS’s story and I would like to thank him for sharing his divorce journey. He’s living proof that post-divorce doesn’t have to be ugliness and bitterness. INRIS blogged about his divorce while it was in progress over at It Never Rains In Seattle … that’s how I first connected with him. It’s definitely worth visiting and looking through the archives.
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