Why I Tell Couples… “Go Away!”
No, I’m not trying to show clients my door by telling them to get out but I am trying to tell them to get out of their own front doors and find adventure together. Let’s face it: our spouses can be wonderful, our kids and their hundreds of activities can be lively, our jobs can be fulfilling but sometimes the day to day routines can become tiresome. The commute can be a misery, the piles of laundry can stare at you and continue to grow ever larger, the planning of meals is a bore–how many ways can you dress up chicken? And don’t get me started on the malaise of January when Christmas decorations get put away, kids get snow days off or delays and we can look forward to…..more cold and crappy weather.
There is a company that taps into this boredom by promising married spouses a way to hook up with other married spouses. A promise for sexual excitement by temporarily stepping out of your marriage. What they don’t seem to address is what happens if your spouse finds this out and how does this improve the original situation of feeling bored with your marriage? And yet I hear all too often the consequences of people feeling unsatisfied in their relationship and stepping out in one way or another.
Do you know what I don’t hear a lot of?
Couples prioritizing their relationships and making sure that they continue to have fun together. What I hear even less of than that is what I consider to be a crucial ingredient in long-term relationship satisfaction: going away together. And by going away I do not mean taking a family vacation at a practical hotel with children who get up at 6am and then are having melt downs by 7pm because they are overtired and overstimulated and off their routine. I mean going away just the two of you for a weekend, an overnight or even an afternoon. The point is being somewhere different, having new experiences and seeing new things without your list of chores distracting you.
I know couple who recently told me about a wonderful day they spent together.
Their teenage daughter needed to be dropped off for an out of town track meet in Pennsylvania. They got to watch her events in the morning and then their daughter went off with her team for the rest of the weekend. Since they had a couple of hours drive back ahead of them they decided to stay and explore the town where the meet was being held. It turned out that the town had won some award for being one of America’s best small towns. They had lunch, went to shops, leisurely read the paper at the local coffee shop and attended a free jazz festival at a winery that was on their way back. They both described what a great break it had been, how stimulating it was to discover this new town and to have new adventures together. For not a lot of money, less than a session of couple’s therapy, this couple built their connection and created positive memories together. This will help refresh them for the days ahead of de-cluttering the house, reworking the family budget and whatever other nonsense they’ve resolved to undertake in the new year.
I have seen couples who have never been away together since they had children.
I know all the excuses: no time, no money, no one to watch the kids. And I know some of these present real challenges. But at a certain age kids have friends they could have a sleep over with or you have friends you could swap watching kids for a day. I know the family room needs a new coat of paint and the laundry needs to be folded but these day to day chores will always be there and they will wait. Dare to miss a child’s soccer game–they will survive. Worried there will be nothing to say? Don’t be. The act of being somewhere new, seeing new things, relaxing in the same space will be a good investment. It may help you see your partner as a companion and not just a fellow manager of the family.
Sometimes people get so focused on tomorrow.
They think there will be time for getaways when the kids go to college or they will take trips when they retire. Unfortunately one only needs to pick up the paper to be reminded that today is all we have and that time in the future with your partner will only be satisfying if it is tended to now.
We live in a wonderful area for adventures.
We have free museums, countless charming small towns, gorgeous wineries and historical sites. As crazy as Northern Virginia can be it’s only a short drive to the country or the mountains where you can feel that you’re in a very different environment. Pick a place or an event and go explore with your spouse. I can’t think of a better couple’s new year resolution.
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