Does getting away alone with your husband sound like an impossible dream now that you have children? It sounded like one to me for years, and anytime I would hear or read marital advisors discussing the importance of time with one’s spouse, I would mentally groan and stop listening! Despite knowing deep inside (but not wanting to admit) that it would be beneficial to us to take that advice, I would instead tell myself what a great relationship my husband and I already have, how going away wasn’t necessary for us, etc, etc.
Well, about two years ago, we finally got away for the first time, after 13 years of marriage. We went for one day and one night, and making the arrangements to find places for all the kids would have been enough for me to have backed out of the entire idea. But my husband felt it was important and really was committed to the idea, so he worked out all the details to make it possible.
Warning – going away as a couple can be habit forming! We had such an amazing time, and kept asking ourselves why we it took us so many years to be able to do it. It wasn’t where we went that was so nice, but just having time to talk in a real way, without constantly being interrupted or feeling like there were loads of things around the house waiting to be done, calling to us. At the end of that trip, we committed to each other that we would make the effort to go away once a year, and not make excuses about time, money, or anything else once we got home and life got hectic again.
The next time, we went away for two days and two nights – we had an even better time than the first time. About eight months ago, a month before our baby was born, realizing it would be a long time before just the two of us would be able to go away alone, we decided to go away again. This time it was for three days and three nights, and it was done with the very active support of a wonderful friend, who paid for the hotel room and took most of my kids for most of the time! I had been insisting that it was impossible for us to go away for that long – after all, since we homeschool the kids, and their closest friends go to school, I couldn’t expect their friends’ mothers to just have my child hanging around the entire day. Asking grandparents to watch all six kids for three days straight was also not a good solution. But where there is a will, there is a way, and I’m lucky to have a husband and a friend who had a strong enough will to find the way!
The time away is sooooo important in reconnecting in terms of feelings, thoughts, and goals. We like to just spend the time relaxing together. We bring books to read, take walks, talk – it might not sound exciting, but so deeply rewarding. We also take food with us, so we don’t need to spend time shopping or bust the budget by eating out (though if that works for you, great!). It’s not where you go, but who you go with that is really important. It’s also important not to schedule lots of time running around, which can partially defeat the purpose of going away together, by distracting you from deeper levels of communication that come with uninterrupted time to focus on one another.
Why am I writing about this now? Because we are leaving for our next three day retreat tomorrow night, after we have Thanksgiving dinner at my in laws! This is the first time that we have a specific destination – usually we choose a nice hotel not more than an hour or so away from home, so we don’t have to spend lots of our time driving. We will be going to Colonial Williamsburg, and though we will spend most of our time relaxing in the apartment, are planning to spend one day enjoying some of the local sites. I am very lucky that my mom has a timeshare there that she made available to us, and am so appreciative to her.
This is also the first time that we will have a baby with us, and having a separate room where he can nap will be very useful. That way, he can keep his regular sleeping schedule, and we don’t need to worry about tiptoeing around and waking him up. Don’t think that having a young (or older infant) is a reason not to take this suggestion. Have a plan and have realistic expectations, so that you don’t end up feeling frustrated that your baby needs you, even when you are on vacation!
I encourage every couple to take time to go away from home, even just a day, and use that time to connect with their spouse in a deeper way. Thanks to online sites like hotwire.com and travelzoo.com, you can find great deals and it doesn’t need to cost a lot. If cost is a concern, think about all the things you find money for because you need to. Isn’t nurturing the relationship with your spouse just as important as those things? It’s an unfortunate truth that the most deeply important things don’t press on you to be done; you need to exercise the proactivity to make them happen. And just think by using your time well, you will come home feeling more loving, happy, and centered! And what could be better than that?