Letters From Japan: “Why Must We Visit My Canadian Husband’s Home Every Year?”
Ask Hilary: Questions From Readers Answered
Savvy Tokyo's resident "Love in Japan" columnist, Hilary Keyes, answers anonymous questions from readers on everything from dating in Japan to women’s health issues. Got a question you’d like to ask Hilary? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject "Ask Hilary."
I am a Japanese woman. I married a Canadian guy.
When my husband and I went on our first date, there is something that he made very clear: If we ever get married, we have to visit his family in Canada every year. I agreed. We married 5 years ago and we have visited Canada every year. His family is very kind and I feel very comfortable with them. And I love Canada.
However, recently, I’ve been having different ideas. I want to visit other places in the world. I don’t want to spend our money and use our holidays in Canada every year. I would like to go once every 2 years. My husband still wants to go every year as his parents are getting old (87 and 77-years old). I told him to go alone, but he and his family think that that is strange. Additionally, my husband wants us to go to Canada together. Help! – Wanderlust
Aging parents and vacation time sharing — these are two huge issues that a lot of couples are faced with nowadays. It’s all the more difficult in an international situation where 10+ hour flights can eat up a lot of your travel time.
You agreed at the outset of your relationship that you were OK with going to Canada every year, and that was really kind of you — but you are also allowed to want to visit other places too. It might be frustrating, but you’ll need to carefully consider your options and sit down to have a serious talk with your husband if you want to make any progress in this matter.
There are a few different options you could discuss with him. These might inspire a different approach to your vacation time that will make you both happy.
First, can you break up your holidays? For example, can you both take time off in the summer and the winter? If so, you could bargain with your husband and say that if you go to Canada on one break, the other has to be a trip somewhere else. This might mean that your vacations are shorter, but it also means that you and your husband can enjoy time together on vacation too. It could even feel like a second honeymoon.
Another option might be to stop over in Canada to visit your in-laws while on the way to somewhere else. For example, let’s say, you want to visit Hawaii. You could spend 2-3 days in Canada first, then fly to Hawaii for the rest of your break and return to Japan from there. With this option, your husband gets to see his parents as he wishes, but your entire vacation isn’t spent with them.
A third option, and one that would require more planning in advance, is to book a joint vacation with his parents somewhere else — given, of course, that their health allows this. For example, a trip to somewhere that you, your husband, and his parents would like to visit. That way you can travel to new destinations, and spend time with his family too.
You mentioned that his parents are getting older, so it might also be a good idea to look into senior-friendly tours or cruises, that you can all take together. A cruise might be ideal — the ships are large and have plenty of activities for people of all ages to enjoy, plus they stop at many different ports, so you’ll get to travel to many destinations in relative comfort. I know you can take a lot of different cruises from Vancouver or Toronto, for example. This option provides both you and your husband with what you both want: he gets to spend time with his family, and you get to travel to new places.
I can completely understand how wanting to travel to different destinations might make you feel guilty, but I don’t think you need to feel that way. It’s human nature to want to try something new, and you’re not hurting anyone by feeling this way. Sit down with your husband and have an open, honest discussion with him about how vacation time should be spent, and I’m sure that you both will be able to come up with something that works for you. Best of luck!