If you are a free-spirited, wild, traveling, gypsy woman at heart (like myself)– and you enter into a blended family situation with an older man with an ex-wife and children– you know it comes with its challenges. No judgment if an “Amen sister!” escapes your lips.
I was clueless when I first got married last July. I thought that my 42-year-old husband and myself, a 28-year-old bride, would continue with our exciting trips together without a hitch. Within the first two years of our relationship, he and I had gone to California multiple times, Las Vegas (where we got engaged!), New York, Texas, and Florida. It wasn’t until right after our wedding and we were getting ready to leave for our week-long Honeymoon at the beautiful Secrets Akumal Bay Resort, that I realized things weren’t going to be quite that easy.
The first thing that came up was that my husband suggested bringing his daughters along on our honeymoon. I felt that our honeymoon should be an intimate, romantic experience between the two of us. He agreed after hearing my point of view, but it would also be an indicator of the compromises that would have to be made for all future trips. The second was that the girls, then 9 and 12, did not like the idea of being that far away from their dad for that long. They were fine being away from him for a week when it was their mom’s week to have them, but not when he was so far away, and not when they couldn’t see or talk to him whenever they wanted. It left my husband feeling stressed and guilty about leaving the kids even though he was excited about our trip. We did go on our trip and had an amazing, romantic time. He made sure to talk to the girls once a day to check in, and the world did not collapse around us because we decided to take this trip together as a couple.
Here is what I learned about doing your best as a stepmom and wife while not giving up on your traveling dreams:
Negotiate with your spouse to decide the number of couples’ trips vs. trips with the children.
While it is important to make time for reconnecting as a couple, your spouse will most likely want to include his children on more trips than you realized… After all, traveling with kids and planning family-friendly activities is worlds-away from tequila shots, romantic dinners, and curling up in bed together. Your spouse may want his kids to be introduced to unforgettable experiences and childhood memories they will cherish for a lifetime. It’s important as his partner to work with him to plan special trips as a family as well as make sure he is aware of the importance of prioritizing trips alone with just the two of you. His children will feel included and not feel put-aside for this new woman in their lives, and you will create fun memories and traditions within your new family!
Make sure you and your spouse agree on your yearly budget for all trips.
This ties into the above tip on balancing out couples trips and trips with the children. Unless you are filthy rich, if you and your spouse want to be able to take the trips you desire and not put yourself in the position of having to choose between a family trip or a trip with the two of you alone, you must budget! Work together to plan out desired trips for the year and plan a budget that will allow you to save up enough and/or be prepared for travel expenses. (My husband and I use this free google sheets template by Vertex42.com and make it our own: https://goo.gl/74nJQw.)
Be okay with and prepared for vacationing without your spouse.
Whether it is because your budget will not allow it, or because it’s your spouse’s turn with the kids, there may come a time where you are faced with the option of taking a vacation alone or missing out on the trip altogether. I say- go it alone! I was faced with this option when it came to a 10-day trip to Ireland. It was my husband’s week with the kids and we did not have the funds for both of us to make the trip. Ultimately, my husband and I agreed it would be good for me to go as I had never been to Europe. It proved to be a great decision, allowing me to experience unique tranquility, reflection, and attention to all the beautiful details that one sometimes misses in the chaos and clashing of needs and wants when traveling with others. My husband also travels alone sometimes, such as a yearly trip with his dad and brother to Las Vegas to play in a soccer tournament.
Be ready for interruptions in the form of phone calls from kids during your romantic getaways.
As a stepmother, you are entering into an already-made family. You and your husband will not have that time in your marriage that non-blended marriages have where it’s just the two of you for possibly years, and then you have kids together. You will not have that intimate time alone to know each other as people before parents. So, if you love the man you are with and want to enjoy getaways with each other without his kids, it would do well to accept and embrace the fact that even when away, he will need to check in with his children, or they may call him multiple times. You may need to set some boundaries with your spouse. Can’t have him answering the phone while you’re in the middle of some lovin’! Don’t worry, it will get easier and you and your family will start to adjust to what works the best for all of you, even if it’s not perfect.