Tools for Couples Happiness — 30 November 2003
Weekend getaways essential to couples

Couples’ time away is important for rejuvenating the relationship
One of the recommended habits for thriving couples is the overnight trip away. This “mini vacation” may be deferred by some couples to other obligations, yet it is essential for invigorating and replenishing the couple’s connection.

There are many couples who claim that their other loving habits are sufficient and the three to four weekends a year of overnights away are too difficult to schedule. They may also claim that the value of this rejuvenating period does not justify the hassle involved in preparation, baby-sitting arrangements, costs and travelling involved.

Though it is true that overnight escapes for couples do require some preparation and efforts, the gains far exceed the inconvenience. There are many benefits to the short vacations for couples, as well as their kids and family.

Couples who take these mini vacations marvel at the benefits they receive by being away together, even for a relatively short period of time.

Couples’ time away affords partners freedom from all their responsibilities and routines. They can escape the duties of the home, kids, bills, garden, friends and family. Being temporarily non-accountable is a relief.

Time away allows partners to trade their regular roles for others: they may substitute nurturing for being nurtured, serving others to being served, being in charge to being pampered. This form of acceptance of pleasures revitalizes the partners to return to their daily tasks with extra energy and enthusiasm.

Having couple time alone affords partners the resumption of the courtship and romance that ordinary life restricts. The partners can place their full attention on each other without any distractions. They are able to speak without interruptions and be heard. This privilege alone- helps the partners feel connected, loved and important to each other again.

Time away is a time to play. Partners may resume carefree activities such as strolling down the street licking their ice cream, laughing and acting silly as they fully enjoy each other’s company. They may regress to a childlike state of shared affection and play.

For some couples time away is an opportunity to review their lives, their goals and plans talk of feelings and aspirations. They can distance themselves from the day to day obligations and feel free to further advance their life dreams.

Time away dispenses with all time schedules. The partners may catch up on their sleep, rest, read, and deal with their needs without time constraints.

Being away provides a special opportunity for individual and couple pampering: getting a massage, sharing a bubble bath and making love without restraint.

The freedom to relax extends beyond resting the body. It is also a time to calm the emotions and reflect. Some couples may choose to take a special yoga weekend, a course of interest, tennis or gulf tournament, a lecture, a special hike, a concert, or explore other venues of interest.

All the joys and excitement of courtship may be resumed on a weekend away. Couples may reminisce about their relationship high points and recall fun experiences they have shared. They may take the time to speak about their mutual love and appreciation. It can be a very meaningful and reconnecting time for couples.

Some couples may choose to use their time away to resolve ongoing frustrations with good will and tenderness. They may explore better ways to relate to each other, raise their children, or deal with their families.

The nature of the activity, discussions and choices are very much up to each couple. At different times in their lives they may choose to have a different type of time away. Whatever their choices are, time away is a necessary break for couples and an essential period of rest and rejuvenation.

Those partners who avoid taking time to be together alone several times during the year, may find themselves very estranged from each other by the time their children are grown. Twenty years of deferring time away for loving, fun, carefree and joyous interactions is a poor choice that may have grave consequences.

Mates need to continue to enjoy each other, savor mutual experiences, listen to each other well, relax and play. Even fortunate partners who succeed in maintaining a more relaxed and happy life- must punctuate their years with short “honeymoons”.

The increased energy and vitality generated from couples’ time away help them resume their life with vigor and enthusiasm. Minor frustrations that normally accumulate in day to day life subtly erode our patience and impact our children, jobs and each other. Taking the time to refresh ourselves often quells these irritations and benefits everyone.

To keep yourself and your relationship vital and your family happy:

  • Recognize that couples’ time away is a necessary mini-vacation to enhance your couple connection and invigorate you to performing your daily life more effectively.
  • Avoid postponing your time away by rationalizing that it is a hardship for you and the family.
  •  Consider your couples’ time away as your obligation to your marriage and your family.
  • When you are clear of the value of your weekend break, it will be easier for you to impart it to those whose help you need to make it happen.
  • The inconvenience of arranging to get away is well worth the gains.
  • Your children may also get a healthier perspective of you, the partnership and your contributions to them after a short time away.
  •  Remember: you can only give what you have. Recharging your emotional warmth, love and connection is a benefit to all.

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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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