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Wednesday, September 1, 2010
I was listening recently to the Dennis Prager talk radio show. He spent a thirty minute segment exploring the question of whether kids should always be included in vacations or if it is sometimes appropriate for parents to get away without the kids.

I listened with some interest as several women callers lamented the fact that they rarely, if ever, got time alone with just their husbands. One woman, married for 20 years, had never been away from home with just her husband. Truthfully, I find that astounding and dismaying.

This is a topic I believe in very strongly. The discussion struck such a chord with me that I decided I needed to post about it immediately, even though I have other posts lined up and ready.

It is critically important that every husband and wife get away alone together every year, even if it is just for a weekend or a night at a local hotel. Do it more if time, finances and logistics will permit. While regular date nights are also important, there is just something different about leaving home together overnight. It allows you to get completely out of your domestic element, allows you to focus exclusively on each other for an extended period of time and allows you to regain or reconnect with your identity as a couple.

Do It For Your Kids

Although on the surface you may think this is a selfish and neglectful thing to do to your children, in fact quite the opposite is true. The best thing you can do for your kids is to assure the strength and longevity of your marriage. Sometimes that will require an investment of time that purposefully excludes them.

Do It While They Are Young

And don’t make an excuse that the kids are too young or procrastinate by saying you will wait until they are older. Make it a habit early in your marriage. Because of the demands of younger children on your time and energy, it may be even more important in the early years than later. My wife and I took a weekend getaway when our first daughter was only four months old and also took a trip to Germany when our second daughter was ten months old. Bot h of these were a huge emotional challenge for my wife on many levels, but we are so thankful that we did these anyway. It is always hard to go, but we have never regretted a single getaway. And we’ve had many in our 28+ years of marriage.

Do It Even Before Kids

A word to couples who don’t yet have children: overnight getaways are just as important for you now as they will be when the kids begin to arrive. Going away has the same benefits for your relationship now as it will during your child-rearing years. And establishing the habit of time away as a priority now makes it that much easier to keep it going then. Seriously, even if it feels a little silly to leave an empty house at home, just going away to a local hotel for dinner and an overnight stay can have a rejuvenating effect on your relationship. It’s true. Trust me.

Do It With the Right Mindset

One of the callers of the radio show mentioned that when they go away together they always just end up talking about the kids anyway. Big mistake! This is your chance to extract yourself from your parental responsibilities and sow into your marriage. Sure, your children are a big and important part of your life, but when you get away together you should be intentional about your focus on each other and your relationship. Enjoy each other’s company, remember who you are as a couple, dream together, talk about and celebrate your marriage, and pour affection all over each other. Have some great, uninhibited sex.

Do It For Someone Else

My wife and I so appreciate the fact that we have often had family members and friends who have kept our kids so we could get away that we now are mindful to take the opportunity to return the favor to other couples, especially young couples with kids. In fact, swapping kid-watching with friends is a great way to manage a getaway when you don’t have grandparents or other family members nearby to help out.

If you’ve had the benefit of friends or family watching your kids for you, pay it forward. According to the reader survey, many of my readers are in the latter stages of marriage and perhaps in a better place to help out younger couples by keeping their kids. If you make this kind of investment in other marriages, it will not return void. I promise.

What is your experience with husband-wife getaways sans kiddos? Do you do it? Has it been as good for your marriage as it has been for ours? Have you paid it forward?


Lori Lowe said...

I have to say this is a big challenge for those without grandparents who can help. (Our parents work full-time and care for an ailing spouse.) We took a weekend away for our 10-year anniversary, and it was challenging to get our two kids (then 3 and 5) covered for that time. We had a great time. Now that they are five years older and more self-sufficient, I feel comfortable trading overnights or weekends with close friends or relatives, but it's not easy to leave your babies or toddlers with teenage babysitters or non-family members. We take 1-2 nights away when we can, but we still don't know how we could manage a week away alone. However, I still believe we have a strong marriage despite this challenge and work to make best use of the time we do have, even if it's after the kids are in bed or out on a date.

This is a big change for us since before kids we traveled to many countries and had lots of adventures, for which we are grateful. We don't lament our inability to travel together right now, but we look forward to doing it again in the future, both as a family and as a couple.

Scott said...

Lori, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I do completely understand the logistical struggle to find care that you feel you can trust when kids are tiny. And I didn't wish to imply that it is easy. That's one of the reason I emplore every couple who is reading this that is in a relatively close relationship with a young couple to give them a break and watch their kids for them. It is well worth the sacrifice!

Kathleen Quiring | Project M said...

I agree that this is probably good advice -- because my parents never, ever did this. Not once while I lived at home. They thought they were doing us a favour -- they believed it was selfish and mean to go have fun without us. But I think it would have been good for their marriage. I wish they would have taken time for romance and intimacy, and to build their relationship. Because they failed to do these things, I failed to understand for most of my life that children were a product of their love rather than the main reason for their parents' existence.

Thanks for mentioning it. I'll have to keep it in mind for if/when we ever have kids.

Julie Shutt said...

My husband and I have been married for 7 years. We went away for our 1 and 2 anniversaries, but have not since. Our children are 2 and almost 4 and we have never had a night away from them. I feel incredibly guilty leaving them when we already have to leave them with grandparents while we go to work. We have no close friends who could watch them. To me it does sound like fun, but also incredibly selfish.

Julie Shutt said...

My husband and I have been married for 7 years. We went away for our 1 and 2 anniversaries, but have not since. Our children are 2 and almost 4 and we have never had a night away from them. I feel incredibly guilty leaving them when we already have to leave them with grandparents while we go to work. We have no close friends who could watch them. To me it does sound like fun, but also incredibly selfish.

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