Save Your Marriage with a Getaway?
& 4 Warning Signs of a Neglected Marriage
by Krystal Kuehn, MA, LPC, LLP, NCC
He who returns from a journey is not the same as he who left.
-- Chinese Proverb
When was the last time you took a vacation? A family vacation is one thing, but I am talking about a couples vacation—just you and your spouse. Are you about due yet? If you want to do more than just get away, read on. Vacations can help to refresh and revive relationships. It is like breathing fresh air into them, reenergizing them with greater intimacy and deeper love.
By definition, vacation is time devoted to rest and relaxation as from work or study. So if you are wondering if it is something you can afford, think of it this way. It is something you cannot afford to go without. Without devoted time for rest and relaxation, we get burned out on our jobs, and lose our effectiveness and interest. How about our marriages? They suffer also. Couples grow apart, experience less satisfaction, and are more irritable with each other.
So how can couples keep their relationships healthy and strong? By devoting quality time to them, that is, time away from all that keeps them busy and distracted. Studies show that couples who schedule periodic dates and spend more time together are more satisfied with their marriages than those who don’t. How often do you devote time to be alone together? Whether it’s a date or vacation, spending time together is an investment with great returns.
With no interference from work or home, periodic getaways with our spouses allow us to focus on each other, share memorable life experiences together, and simply have fun. Did you ever experience something enjoyable and wish your partner had been there to share it with you? Well, getaways provide opportunities to create cherished and lifelong memories. Vacations with your partner are about being together in body, soul, and spirit. They are times that bring great fulfillment and wholeness to the relationship. And they are times couples need for their relationships to thrive.
Before you go on vacation you don't want to have any grudges, resentment, or unforgiveness toward one another. It is healthy to release any negative baggage and work through unresolved issues before you go. Otherwise, there is a very good chance they will come up directly or indirectly in a bad attitude, sarcasm, or distancing. The focus ought to be on the strengths of the relationship. You can both make a commitment to overlook minor annoyances and notice the good not the bad. If you are unable to so, then I recommend counseling before you go on a vacation and maybe start with dating first.
Getaways don’t have to be expensive. The real goal is to enjoy being together, to value that time, and to grow and appreciate the beauty of life and gift of love. When planning your special times together, be sure to consider fun things you both like to do, something new you can experience, and romantic and playful ways to enjoy one another. Turn off the cell phones, forget about work, leave your cares behind, and devote quality time to the love of your life. Enjoy each other!
Save Your Marriage -4 Warning Signs of a Neglected Marriage:
1. Priorities out of order. If you devote most of your extra time and attention to anything above God and your spouse, your relationships will suffer. We see this with workaholics. Whether their work is their passion or an escape, it becomes their top priority at all costs. Their spouses and children feel the affects and it damages the most precious gift they are blessed with: family. Anything that comes first in a person’s life can get out of balance and become an idol. It can be an addiction such as pornography or drugs. It can be can an interest or hobby such as sports or entertainment. If a relationship is a top priority, more quality time and attention will be devoted to it. What are your top 5 priorities? Do your actions and devotions support your answer? Where does your spouse place on your list? Would he or she agree?
2. Divided attention. Too often we can be in someone’s company and find that they aren’t fully present. Physically they are, but their thoughts and occupations are elsewhere. They are answering text messages and cell calls. They are distracted by competing cries for their attention. Focus is lost and shifted to other things, and it leaves others feeling less important, alone, or in the way. Divided attention doesn’t have to become an ongoing problem with couples. Appropriate limits and boundaries can be set. Have you been guilty of allowing distractions to draw you away from your partner? If they have been excessive, what can you do limit them? Ask your partner how he or she feels about it and what would be an acceptable solution.
3. Lack of Quality Time. When couples don’t spend enough quality time together, they begin to get bored in the relationship. A lack of fun and sharing can lead them to think there is something wrong with their marriage. This leads to confusion about their feelings. Some wonder if they fell out of love, when in fact they haven’t been investing time with each other and fanning the flame to keep their passion and love for each other fully alive. Investing in a relationship takes time and work. Relationships that are neglected grow weak and routine. How satisfied are you with your marriage? How much quality time do you spend with your partner? What enjoyable things do you together for excitement?
4. Over-Stressed. With many responsibilities at work, home, and school in this face-paced society, it is no wonder that many are stressed. Without enough time for rest and relaxation, stress can lead to burnout and irritability as well as relationship and health problems. Reducing stress not only improves ones outlook and energy, it improves relationships. A calm and peaceful state of being brings out the best in us. We are more patient, kind, and content. Is stress weighing on your marriage? What, if anything, are you doing to manage stress?
So, how can getaways help in the 4 key areas we addressed above? First, we decide that time devoted to spend with our spouse is a top priority. Second, we leave all distracting devices and attention seekers behind. Third, we decide to enjoy and appreciate each other’s company by sharing and doing things we enjoy together. Fourth, we release stress and allow peace to fill us and restore us.