Have you ever gone on a "Marriage Vacation" to re-energize your intimacy, friendship and connection? We highly recommend them, and if you have children we suggest that you really try to carve out a "No Kids Marriage Vacation."
When my husband, Patrick, first suggested that we leave our children and go to Hawaii for five nights without them I protested loudly, "If you think I am the kind of mother that would leave her children for that long, you do not know me very well." Yes, it is true. I was furious that my husband invited me to go to Hawaii with him. It sounds silly now, but at the time I was conflicted about leaving my children. Already I was a working mother and missed them while I was at the office. At the time, I really couldn't imagine leaving my two-and-a-half and four-year-old for almost a week. When I asked the opinions of my friends and fellow moms, guess what they said? "No way! Do not go. I would not leave my children either."
At the time I would use my "jury of peers" to help validate my decision. However, intuitively I knew that my husband had some good points. Even while we were dating, we both spoke about the importance of the "primacy of the marital relationship," especially after we had children. We really did believe that we needed to nurture our own marriage so we would not become like so many couples who become mostly "just parents" together. I felt like we already prioritized our marriage so much more than other couples we knew. We were committed to having weekly date nights. Our children had an early bedtime so we could have adult only time.
We had left our children for overnights, but leaving them for almost a week felt too long. After much discussion with Patrick and really contemplating the invitation, I began to consider that the vacation might help us reclaim our marriage more significantly after having children. I spoke to my mother and she strongly encouraged me to go on the trip, and offered to come and take care of our children.
I went beyond my own comfort level, and went to Hawaii with my husband. I decided that I would try it out, and if it really was as difficult as I imagined, we could always come home early or not go on future trips alone.
Our two boys had a great time with their grandmother. They seemed to survive without any traumatic effects while Patrick and I had an amazing time, and we committed to an annual "No Kids Marriage Vacation" from that point forward.
Here are five reasons why taking a marriage vacation is important:
1. Many of us have busy lives and a marriage vacation gives us much needed time together to re-prioritize our relationship.
2. Marriage vacations increase the fun and friendship in the relationship and are a time to protect from conflict and focus on enjoying each other's company. We sometimes try new things on vacation—flying trapeze, new hiking trails, musical theater or ziplining have been some of the new activities we've adventured.
3. Unfortunately many married couples often have tired sex at the end of the evening. Marriage vacations can rejuvenate your sex life. Motto while in Paris: "Cafe au lait. Sex every day."
4. Marriage vacations allow us to deepen our connection rather than deal with each other in day to day, superficial ways.
5. If you have children, marriage vacations give them an important message that your marriage matters and is treated with importance and respect in terms of time, money, commitment and focus.
A few years after our first marriage vacation we asked our children why Mommy and Daddy go on their Fall trips. Our youngest son said, "Because it is good for your marriage." Seriously.
We realize that we are especially fortunate because my mom can come take care of our children in our home. We encourage others to be creative. While speaking about marriage vacations recently with a friend who does not have that kind of childcare option, I volunteered to take her three children for a weekend. For those of you who already have children, you might see if you can be creative with the childcare possibilities. For those of you who are someday thinking of becoming parents, I hope I have planted a seed.
Dr. Michelle Gannon is a psychologist specializing in relationships and women's issues. She has been in private practice in San Francisco for 20 years helping individuals and couples. She now is also a founder of award winning Marriage Prep 101 Workshops for engaged, newlywed and seriously dating couples with her husband, Dr. Patrick Gannon, which now incorporate marriage vacations. Marriage Prep 101 has been featured in local and national media including CBS Early Show," Evening Magazine," Ronn Owens Radio, "Time," San Francisco Chronicle, and many others. She blogs at www.DrMichelleGannon.com and www.MarriagePrep101.com. Dr Gannon lives in San Rafael, California with her husband, two sons, dog and cat.