Greetings blog reading humans. This is the compelling beginning of Sandy’s first post from a guest writer. If the title didn’t give it away, I am the non-Disney loving husband that Sandy has often referred to in her posts. I’m writing to share some strategies I’ve learned that help me to enjoy trips to Disney as quality time with my wife, and not as dreaded hours I try to ruin with my bad attitude and infectious negativity.
My ideal vacation
First of all, let me explain the extent of the problem. My ideal vacation would probably include a secluded cabin (with a delicious restaurant within far walking distance – maybe about 2.5 miles away) with miles of hiking and running trails over a variety of terrain surrounding me. Ideally there would be very few people so no one would notice that I like to travel with as few clothes as possible, no gift stores full of consumer nonsense, and maybe a good thrift store nearby for anything I forgot to pack. I think it’s a little silly that Disney’s Tree of Life is made entirely of dead concrete and plastic. Also, as an English teacher and avid reader, I remember most of what I read or hear spoken, so when I read a book or see a show once, chances are I can quote it very accurately even weeks later. In short, most of what I love is the opposite of what a Disney vacation provides.
Oh no! How will you ever enjoy a lifetime of vacations with your lovely wife if you have a strong dislike for her favorite location in the world? I won’t lie, it was a little rocky at first, but I’ve realized that there are a few tricks that help make the trips go smoothly.
runDisney makes it fun for the both of us
1) Be Honest:
Too many people suffer in silence, and then explode. Whether the topic is a vacation destination, what color to paint a living room, or how to spend a tax return, there’s no way to make a relationship work if you don’t talk with honesty, and without judgment. Specific to Disney vacations, I’ve found it helps to share some very specific guidelines that help Sandy and I enjoy our time together.
It’s important to be specific, like:
•“Spending more than three hours in the park at one time makes me hate every one of the people you discuss in your How to Move Through the Crowds at Disney and Make it out Alive post.”
•“I love the meal we shared at the Liberty Tree Tavern.”
•“If we have someplace fun to watch the fireworks, I will be more comfortable and less bored.”
•“I’ll look forward to the vacation if we run a half or full marathon while we’re there.”
•“It’s important to me to stay at a hotel with a nice pool and hot tub.”
pools make me happy
It is not specific communication to make commentary like:
•“It was better last time.”
•“Where was that other place we stayed.”
•“How much did we pay for this?”
•“What else is there to do?”
Notice the specific communications allow her to actually know what I want in a trip, and if nothing else, they can start a meaningful dialogue about how to spend your time together. The not specific commentary is simply a general collection of negative statements that cannot drive trip planning, and really don’t start an honest, non-judgemental discussion. It is, of course, unrealistic to expect to always get exactly what you want.
I expect frequent delicious snacks
2) Have Realistic Expectations:
If your spouse loves Disney and you hate Disney, it is unfair of either of you to expect the other to come around completely to your side. Having an unrealistic expectation of complete compliance will always leave both parties feeling disappointed and misunderstood. Instead of hoping to become completely simpatico, use your honest, non-judgemental conversations to develop some realistic expectations of each other.
Did I mention I like to eat?
I don’t like rides where you sit in a fiberglass something and are towed through various dark rooms with themed shapes that dance while music plays. It would be unrealistic of my wife to expect me to start LOVING to ride It’s a Small World 50 time in a row. Instead, we have realistic expectations. I expect delicious and frequent meals and snacks, and vacations planned around running events, which is easy enough for us to plan. I also expect that I’ll be bored on some of the rides, but I’m ok with it because I know Sandy loves them, and I love when she has that look of innocent joy she gets on her face when she watches fireworks explode to music. It’s fair for Sandy to expect that I won’t ruin the rides for her with a sour disposition or negative commentary. When you have realistic expectations of what your spouse will love and hate, and realize that that both of you are on vacation, it’s much easier to love spending time with your spouse, even if you don’t love the location where you’re spending time.
I made reference to a Disney movie in my vows. Husband of the year award!
3) Stop Being Selfish:
If I had to guess, I’d bet that the marriage vows you shared didn’t include sentences like “I vow to never compromise and always get my way, I promise to sulk and pout when I don’t like a decision we make, I swear that as long as we live, I will never give an inch, and I will always expect you to yield miles.” In the scheme of life, does it hurt you that much to realize that maybe for the four days you’re at the parks, you can live entirely to make sure your spouse has the time of her life?
People who are dating make selfless choices all the time. You want to make sure to pick a movie she’ll love. You want to eat at her favorite restaurant. You share her favorite flavor of ice cream so she doesn’t feel guilty eating an entire serving alone on a third date. Why is it that when people get married, a lot of them stop being selfless?
Together we kick butt
It really helped me when I put into perspective that I love so much of our life together, it’s ok for me to do what I can to make sure she loves a few days in theme parks. Instead of focusing on how to make your Disney stay better, maybe you can have a lot of fun making sure her stay is better. Carry her bag for her. Pack her favorite munchies for long bus lines. Tell her how much you love seeing her enjoying herself. Ask her questions about the parks. Ask her about her favorite Disney memories. Buy her a commemorative pin. Be patient and attentive. I could go on, but then Sandy’s expectations of me would be unrealistic on our next Disney sojourn. In short, don’t think of your Disney vacation as a Disney vacation. Instead, think of it as a vacation with your soul mate. Who wouldn’t love to go on vacation with someone they love?
Before you let your hatred for the seven unattended, screaming children in the hot tub boil over into your marriage, take a deep breath, and follow this simple advice:
You can easily avoid arguments by speaking openly and honestly and not judging each other. Once you discuss what you’re looking for in your vacation, have some realistic expectations of each other. Most importantly, it doesn’t matter if you find theme parks to be boring if you approach your trip selflessly.