Our room had an ocean view. In fact, our balcony overlooked the rocky beach and the steel blue ocean. The sound of the waves crashing against the rocks lulled us to sleep. We were on vacation.
A real vacation. Not a family trip but a real vacation. Just the two of us. No kids.
It was only for one night (due to budgetary, business and scheduling concerns) but it made all the difference. There are many books on marriage, most of which offer valuable insights into the difference between men and women, important tips on improving communication and generally aid in our understanding of one another. These are crucial building blocks to any successful relationship.
And while I always say it's the small everyday actions that count, once in a while there's nothing like a vacation.
It doesn't have to be long. It doesn't have to be exotic. It doesn't have to be expensive or far from home (we ventured all of half an hour).
It just has to be a break. From routine. From habit. From daily cares and concerns. It's a chance to rediscover each other, to find once again the sense of fun and adventure in your partner; and to discuss the deeper issues that get lost amidst the diapers, garbage, dry cleaning and midnight feedings.
Sometimes when we haven't gotten away, we feel that we don't need it, that we're doing fine. Going away together doesn't imply need or problems. But once you leave, you'll be surprised at how it revives your spirits and your marriage. Like many things, "seeing is believing." It's only through the experience of truly private time that we appreciate how much more growth and pleasure there is available in our marriages and in each other.
Some couples worry about leaving their children. I confess to this anxiety. It took me years to finally walk out the door. But I have discovered it's almost completely unilateral. Healthy, confident children do just fine when their parents leave for a short time (they may even enjoy it!). After the first pang that no one even looked up when we left (!), I relaxed and let go (well, a little bit anyway).
And even if there is a little fussing, we have to remind ourselves that it ultimately for their benefit (this is a self-sacrificing act!) as well. Happy parents in strong relationships do a much better job, and are certainly more fun to be with. And teaching our children the importance of a good marriage, of the husband-wife relationship is an extremely valuable lesson.
Many of us have a list a mile long of why it won't work for us -- babysitters, money, work demands etc. But they don't say "when there's a will, there's a way" for nothing. Frequently friends, single or newly married, are happy to baby-sit (you can usually get them once before they realize what they've committed to!). Frequently other friends have vacation homes or cottages they are happy to share. Sometimes there are online deals. With commitment and creativity we can make it happen.
Time to focus on the two of you is essential to any marriage. It should be squeezed out daily and can be very powerful if you can get away from it all. It may cost some money but it's likely to be cheaper (and a lot more fun) than therapy.
You can build memories and recapture those moments when things can a little rough or you feel a little disconnected. In fact if I close my eyes, I can still see the pink Mediterranean stone and hear those ocean waves...