I wanted to say I went to visit my husband’s parents and remembered 省亲, but after second thought and searched online and realized that it might only refer to visiting my parents instead of visiting my husband’s. Refer to 元春省亲 in 红楼梦. So, it seems that 省亲 might be the same as 回娘家?? If so, is there a similar word to say visiting my husband’s side? I know I can use 回婆家 or 探望公婆 But is there a two character word for this?
Does 省亲 only refer to visiting wife’s parents by the wife?
No, 省亲 refers to visiting parents or other older generation relatives
省 in 省亲 has the meaning of 'observe; inspect'
省亲 means "visit relatives (and see how they are doing, make sure they're OK.)" It can be the parents or other older generation relative. (you have to visit them to observe them)
探 in 探亲 has the meaning of 'inspect; visit'
探亲 also means "visit relatives (and see how they are doing) and it can be any relative.
省亲 is very similar to 探亲. The former is more literary and the latter is more colloquial.
To specifically state: "visiting wife’s parents by the wife" you have to write:
"我太太回娘家省亲(探望父母)了" (my wife returned to her maiden home to visit her parents)
娘家 can be replaced by 外家
If you just say "我太太回娘家了" (my wife has gone back to her maiden home) people might not know is she just went back for a visit or short stay or she's ran away from home and went back to live with her parents
It is perfectly fine to answer "上周你去哪儿了?" (where have you been last week) with a simple "去了探亲" (went to visit relatives) or "去了省亲" if the relatives were your parents, grand parents, uncle or aunt.