Last March, Traci and I enjoyed 8 days away from the chilly end of a northern Michigan winter by basking in the soul-reviving heat of an Arizona spring. We traded snow pack for desert sand, and daytime high temps in the 30s and 40s, for nighttime lows that touched the 50s. We took in a full week of Spring Training baseball, visited with friends, ate out, and packed in as much together time as possible. It was a glorious week of marriage refreshment.
In fact, reflecting on that week of marriage refreshment, here are seven reasons you need to get away with your spouse for at least seven days, every year (minimum!):
1. Your marriage NEEDS it. It's not that your marriage is necessarily in trouble, it's that a strong marriage is built on the relationship of two people who are intimately connected to God, and passionately to each other; connections that are built with extended time and shared experiences (quantity and quality). The sad reality is that a lot of marriages end once the kids move out, or couples have to helicopter their grandchildren in order to maintain connection with their kids because they have no relationship with each other! Your marriage needs experiences and time together, because God willing, you will soon set your children free to follow the Lord and your empty nest will only be filled with your marriage.
2. One week is enough time to disconnect and reconnect. It seems to take most people 2-3 days to truly disconnect from life, to unwind from the craziness and to feel like they are "away." We are big believers in multiple weekend get-a-ways for couples, but a week long stay, at least once per year, is essential for couples to make a real break from life, and a real connection with each other. The hard work of getting everything ready for a full week departure is, well, hard, but after seven days away together, it will be richly rewarded.
3. Your kids NEED it. I know, no one knows how to take care of your kids better than you do, and that's really how it should be. But your kids need to learn to live life in other contexts and under the authority of others who care for them. It is good and healthy for your children to experience days apart from you. As a youth pastor for 20 years, we've had so many parents say, "Little Johnny can't do a week at camp because it would be too many days away from me. He's scared." Reality is little Johnny LOVED his week away, and mom's worries were more about mom than Johnny. Your kids will enjoy their week away and even if they don't, it will make them more excited for you to return. That's a win win!
4. Your sex life needs the time. Yes, a week away with your spouse should include a healthy dose of sexual interaction. Maybe you enjoy sex every day you're away, maybe you just set aside a few special and memorable moments, or maybe you spontaneously create some mind-blowing memories! Whatever you do, make sure your week includes the intimate connection that only sex can bring a marriage and make sure you create space in your schedule for it to happen. Don't assume sex will just take place because you are away, create space and time and talk openly about expectation. Sex should be part of the reason you take a full week to enjoy each other on vacation.
5. Your other commitments need to know they can live without you, too. I think one of the healthiest things about being away, is that my other roles can carry on without me. I tell my team that I'm away, and unless it's somewhat imperative, I really don't want to hear from them. Yes, I take a call or two and check my email a couple of times, but for the most part, I want them to figure it out WITHOUT me, and I'm willing to take on a few extra hours after vacation to get caught up. Let your spouse know that they are the priority, and make work secondary while you are away.
6. Your communication skills needs the time away. Lets face it, we all get distracted in life with so many inputs vying for our attention. When you'e away with your spouse, you get focused time at meals, during walks on the beach, during drives to that scenic outlook, or while you're sitting in the hotel room together. Yes, to talk, uninterrupted and undisturbed. Your communication skills get refinement during these extended stays together and it will carry over into your married life when you return.
7. Your dreams need to be revisited. Vacations are a great time to revisit your goals and dreams, to talk about the exciting future you want to have or the items on your bucket lists. You should take the opportunity to connect again with each other's dreams and figure out new ways to achieve them. Vacations are great time to jump start your goals!
Traci and I have been taking a week-a-way, every year, for 20 years. It's never been easy or convenient. Before children it was simpler, though not always easy. After kids, the challenges mounted significantly. It would literally take weeks of prep to make sure schedules were laid out, diapers were supplied and pack-and-plays were dropped off at the right houses.
As our children got older, complex car-pooling arrangements had to be made, and sometimes all three kids would be at three different houses making the challenge even harder. But the payoff for our week away has ALWAYS been worth it. Not once in 20 years have either of us thought, "wow, what a bummer of a week!"
Instead, every time the week ends we recognize how thankful we are that we did the work to make the week happen, and refreshed and reconnected, we are eager to see our kids and get back into the swing of life. So trust us, your marriage needs a week long vacation, and it will be worth it to make it happen!
Go ahead and take the plunge, your marriage is better on the water!