Romantic Reboot Isn’t Just for Fun
These three steps might be the answer, for real, to saving your strained, stressed marriage
Three out of four American couples have never taken a romantic vacation. Half of those couples claim they’re not vacationing because they have children. This is according to the authors of the book “The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples and What They Reveal About Creating a New Normal in Your Relationship.”
The authors, Chrisanna Northrup and sociologists Pepper Schwartz and James Witte, surveyed nearly 100,000 people about their relationships to learn what constitutes “normal” behavior among couples.
A well-planned, romantic vacation will enable a married couple to spend long periods of time together in a low-stress environment. The length of the vacation should be long enough to unwind from the stress of home and work. Speaking of work — leave it behind.
Couples should choose a vacation spot that interests both spouses. An ideal location will give both spouses opportunities to engage in activities they can enjoy together. The best activities are those that stimulate the mind and body. Research on couples who engage in exciting activities together shows higher levels of relationship satisfaction for those couples, compared to those who only participate in pleasant activities together.
Couples with children may feel guilty about leaving the kids behind and having fun without them. My wife felt that way while planning our recent romantic getaway to Hawaii. But both children and parents can benefit from a break from each other. Children are happier and healthier when their parents are happy. And married parents are happier when they have uninterrupted time for each other.
Today's technology makes it easier than ever for parents to stay in touch with their kids while they're away. My wife felt better about leaving our kids knowing we had scheduled daily check-ins with them using FaceTime on our iPhones. And our kids are old enough now that we left them home alone — so we were relieved to find them safe, healthy and happy at the end of each day.
I don't recommend leaving kids home alone during a couple's vacation, by the way, without an adult in the home. (Our daughter is 21 and our son 14.) When kids aren't old enough to be left home alone, couples may need to find creative solutions for child care while they're away.
On our first romantic getaway as parents, my wife and I left our kids with their grandparents. That's a simple solution when grandparents live nearby and can be trusted.
That solution may be harder to execute when grandparents live farther away or are unreliable or unwilling.
Some couples have their kids stay with other relatives or trusted family friends. This can be negotiated at little or no cost if the couple offers to return the favor. Another option is to send the kids to summer camp and plan a romantic vacation at the same time.
If your children's needs make it necessary to take them with you on your romantic vacation, search for hotels or resorts that offer babysitting or child care services. Using these services can allow you to have a little private time with your spouse away from the other demands of home — and assure that your child's needs are met. Wyndham Hotels and Resorts and Loews are examples of hospitality chains that offer these services at some locations. (go to page 2 to continue reading)