Let me start in saying that I belong to the smug marrieds club, as Bridget Jones would say. While we have been married for 12 years, I will be the first to admit that it hasn't always been rainbows and butterflies. There have definitely been ups and downs in our relationship. But I love my husband very, very much. I thoroughly enjoy being by his side to laugh and talk. (Usually laughing and talking about other people, but hey, it works!)
Through it all, we have figured out what works for us. I'm not here to say that I have all the answers or you should be like me and do what I do. What I am saying is that to be happy in your relationship or marriage, you have to find what works for you.
Jake and I discovered a while ago, that every once in a while, we need to disconnect, hit the road and be alone. It has worked for us during times of good and not-so-good. The simple act of shutting out the entire world seems to bring us closer and provides the comfort of each other that we need from time to time.
We usually try to take a weekend getaway every six months or so. This weekend, we made plans to disconnect for two whole days. We set out with the intention that we would simply find a place with good food, shopping and lots of things to do and we would go there. Since we have done this so many times, we have really run out of places that are close to home. I really like Galena, IL but since I waited until the last minute to find a room, Galena was pretty booked up. So I found a place in Dubuque, IA that we could stay and engage in the disconnecting. As a friend asked, "What's in Dubuque, IA?" Jake responded, "No kids." I love that guy!
To be quite honest, it didn't really matter where we would have ended up, because the result would have been the same. These weekend trips have the same formula for success that goes like this:
1. As we drive to said destination, we first sit in silence for the first hour or so. We listen to music, laugh at funny road signs and enjoy the scenery. We enjoy the quiet ride with no yelling kids, 20 questions and fights in the backseat.
2. After the first hour or so, we start discussing what we plan to accomplish on the trip. Sometimes we have a particular idea in mind, maybe a local restaurant we want to try, a shopping area to hit or sightseeing location to explore. Sometimes, like this trip, we have no particular agenda in mind.
3. When we arrive at the said location, we usually check out the hotel lobby looking for brochures of local things to do. This time around, since we were in Dubuque, there weren't any brochures worth taking.
4. Then we go to our room and jump on the bed. And when I say this, it's not code for something else. We, literally, run and jump on the bed. And then we laugh at each other jumping on the bed.
5. We find local restaurants to eat at. We have a strict rule that we will not eat at a place that we have back at home. Sorry chain restaurants, not this time.
6. We eat too much food, talk during our uninterrupted dinner and people watch. People watching is our favorite. We laugh at people and make up our own conversations about what they are talking about and what is really going on.
7. We sleep in. We lay around in bed until we are damn well ready to get up and face the world. This is the best part. Sometimes, we get up, eat breakfast and then go back to bed.
8. We find fun places to explore. Sometimes it's shopping, historic places or home tours. We really LOVE the historic home tours. We're kind of nuts about it actually.
9. We laugh. A lot.
10. We don't stress about what the kids are doing, what's going on at work for the upcoming week, and what needs to be done at home. We revel in the moment and breathe in the freedom that the weekend brings.
While all these things work for us to rejuvenate and refresh our relationship, it certainly doesn't work for everyone. As people asked what my plans for the weekend were, I responded that we were going away and doing nothing, I got mixed reviews about our choice. One friend stated that she, in fact, had never left her baby with a grandparent for the night and wasn't sure how she could do that. Another friend said, "Wow, that would be great. I don't remember the last time me and my husband went away for a night without the kids."
So, of course, this got me thinking. (Mommy worry/guilt shows it's ugly face again!) Am I being selfish for wanting two uninterrupted days alone with my husband? Am I being heartless leaving my kids behind while Jake and I enjoy the freedom of a weekend without kids? After a lot of thought about the topic, my answer was no and no.
Indeed, leaving the kids behind is hard to do, but I believe what we do on our weekends apart makes us stronger as a family. Mainly, our marriage gains the strength and the spark it needs to carry on with everyday life. Without our love and connection as husband and wife, our family would soon wither and crumble.
I think that when husbands and wives can step back and be alone to enjoy one another's company, it gives us the refresher that we need. In our everyday lives of work, dinners, kids, and responsibility we loose touch of why we fell in love in the first place. My thought is that if you remove all those outside factors, you strip the relationship down to the basics. Two people that love each other and enjoy being together.
If you can manage it, I highly recommend the weekend getaway. It always leaves me feeling more appreciative for my husband and kids. I get a chance to remember why I fell in love with him in the first place and continue to love him more every day. And being away from the kids a couple of days, gives me the chance to miss them and appreciate all their quirks.
So if you haven't gotten the time to talk to your spouse, laugh at life and enjoy silence together, I highly recommend the weekend getaway. And if you do, try jumping on the bed when you get there. It really is fun and it kicks off the weekend in all the right ways!