Dear Amy: My partner and I recently traveled abroad with her family. We are all adults. We spent six days with her mother, father, brother and sister-in-law.
We both knew that there would be the usual frustrations associated with spending time in close quarters. We stayed in vacation rental homes, where each couple had their own room.
During our time abroad, it became apparent to both of us that her family's dynamics stifled our experience. Her mother and brother bickered for much of the time. In addition, her brother, who was very far removed from his comfort zone, complained endlessly.
My partner's mother would constantly worry if we wanted to do anything on our own, and feared for our safety.
In an effort to respect her wishes, we stayed as a group, but trying to get everyone to do the same thing was like herding bored house cats.
We aren't super-assertive, but the rest of the group was extremely passive.
My partner and I both decided that we do not wish to have any future experiences like this one. The problem is that her family seems intent on planning more vacations together, including one in six months.
We don't want to be rude or hurtful to her family members, nor do we intend to lie about our reasons for opting out of future family travel.
How do we (two independent, excited travelers) vacation with an anxious family?
Amy says: After outlining the many (valid) reasons why you don't want to travel with this group, you then ask how to travel with this group. Are you sure you want to? You are both adults. You have free will. Until you learn to deliver a respectful, "We're going to travel on our own this year," you will be thoroughly dominated.
But if you really do want to travel with them, you should develop an itinerary for yourselves each day and invite them to join you, or not.
A family member's worry about your safety should not dictate your own choices. You are an adult, and so is your mother. After reassurances from you, she will have to handle her own emotions.
It's natural, not rude
Dear Amy: I have yet another question to add to your list of: "Why would you ask that?"
I am a teacher. I just turned 65. The annoying question I get is: "Are you still working?"
My answers generally are: "Yes, I am still working. Yes, I am still very capable and focused on my job. Yes, I can still roll with the changes and embrace the new technology. Yes, I still enjoy what I do. Yes, my students (and colleagues) still bring me joy."
But I get really tired of answering this question, and so do my contemporaries. Any suggestions? I'd love a new answer to this question.
Amy says: Call me clueless, but to me, the question "Are you still working?" seems a natural conversation starter for people in your age cohort.
Many people in their mid-60s are retired, or thinking of retirement.
This "Are you still working" question is another version of, "... and what's new with you?"
The version of this that might bother me (if I were you) would be: "WHY are you still working?"
Because I can't quite see the offense, I can't suggest a snappy comeback. So I suggest you answer, "Yes, I am. What about you?" as a way to both answer the question and also toss it back to the person who asked it.
Send questions to Amy Dickinson at askamy@ amydickinson.com. Twitter: @askingamy Facebook: @ADickinsonDaily.