Fresh off of Labor Day weekend, I just returned from a weekend away with my husband. We used to travel together much more often, but after adding our daughter to our family in the last year, time alone just the two of us is scarce. Many couples in our stage of life feel that travel is not realistic for them. It is a challenge to budget the money, arrange childcare, and manage the time away. Is a weekend away really worth it? How can you get away as a couple?
The benefits of getting away as a couple are clear: studies show even just planning and thinking about a trip increases one’s mood and a positive bond in marriage. Experiences like trying new foods or activities increases the fun, friendship, and connection in your marriage. Then after a trip, you have pictures and positive memories that will last for years. The benefits of time away are exponential to your marriage and your family. Research even suggests you’re more productive at work after a good vacation. When you return rested and refreshed, you’re able to be more present and focused at work and at home.
Here are some ideas to get away as a couple:
- Choose to give experiences rather than “things” as gifts. Some couples regularly spend hundreds of dollars on Christmas, birthday, anniversary, and Valentines gifts for each other…and never travel together alone. Instead, you might forgo giving expensive “stuff” that would be forgotten or replaced, and reserve that money for get-aways with your spouse.
- Collaborate with planning travel. The planning process is part of the fun, and allows you to anticipate your trip even more. My husband and I split it up: he books the travel (flights, rental car, etc.) and accommodations and I research and plan activities and restaurants. This builds your teamwork and communication, as you discuss options, compromise, and mutually agree on your plans.
- Find a childcare arrangement that works for your family. Childcare may be the biggest hindrance to traveling alone as a couple. If you have family who is willing and able to care for your children, this can be the best arrangement so your children are safe with family you trust. If you have a couple friend who also has kids, you might consider swapping childcare so they keep yours for a few days while you take a trip, then you return the favor later. Another idea is to appeal to your community at church. This is one area where the church can consider serving new parents, by taking their children for a weekend so the couple can spend some much-needed time alone.
You might think that the time and energy put into traveling is more trouble than its worth. But the benefits of traveling together as a couple cannot be over-stated. It takes some planning ahead, a lot of compromise, and some smart saving, but I fully believe traveling can be a part of anyone’s marriage. As a couples therapist, I recommend to my couples that they try to get away together at least a couple of times a year.
How have you seen travel benefit your marriage? For those with kids, how do you manage childcare to get away with your spouse?