Yes, we were one of the many couples who got married on the ridiculously popular date of 07/07/07. I know, I know, but let me explain. You see my mom really enjoys numbers, such as her car turning to 80,000 miles or 1:24 on 1/2/04. So one day (about 10 years ago) she is on a walk, and for whatever reason she is thinking about cool dates… realizing that there will be some fun date possibilities now that we are in the early 2000’s. She starts going through them… 05/05/05… no, that’s Cinco de Maya, 06/06/06… Devil, no, 07/07/07…. ooh, that’s good. My mom decides that it would be a fabulous date for a wedding, and as I was in my early 20’s, I was the person she selected to use said date. I didn’t have a boyfriend, nor was I really thinking marriage at this point, but she comes in from her walk and proudly announces my future wedding date. My friend Michelle says, what are the chances that it’s on a Saturday? We look it up, and 07/07/07 is a Saturday. At that moment I knew my fate was set, which was kind of depressing in a way because that meant it was going to be a while before I met “Mr. Right.” Life went on though, and what do you know… come October 4, 2006, I find myself in a great relationship, and my wonderful boyfriend proposes. When should we get married? Well, I had an idea….
Seven years and two kids later, here we are. As our anniversary approached this year we discussed what we wanted to do. Given that Austin is still pretty young (and thus far had never been left overnight with someone other than his parents), and balancing two kids is a lot of work for my parents (the usual babysitters when we go away), we decided that a weekend away was about the most we could get away with. I’m a big believer in spending one on one time with your spouse. We do a lot of activities as a family… almost everything really. However, having a few date nights throughout the year, and an annual vacation without kids really helps us stay connected as a couple. Everyone does it differently, but for us, taking the time to focus on and enjoy who we are as a couple has be invaluable to our marriage. Back when it was just the two of us, I declared that weekend getaways were just not long enough for me to relax sufficiently… week long trips were the way to go. Enter life. Let me tell you, although a week away would be ridiculously amazing, we have found that a weekend away can be extremely relaxing nowadays. So the plan was we’d spend 4th of July as a family and attend a community event with my parents. Then the next day we would take off for our little getaway to La Jolla, leaving the boys (and our dog) with my parents. We would stay in La Jolla Saturday and Sunday, drive back to my parents’ house on Monday (our anniversary), and return to work and reality on Tuesday.
So thus it went, and wow… it was fabulous! We loved going out to eat at all these amazing little hole in the wall restaurants we found. We become foodies on vacation because we rarely go out to eat anymore now that we have kids… it’s just not fun to try to deal with kids in a restaurant. And oh my goodness, we slept in… together!!! These days one of us might get to sleep in a little bit, but the other one is up watching the kids, so laying there in bed together as long as we wanted… amazing! My parents noted that while we were away they did not sleep in. 🙂 The first day we walked through the cute little downtown, having ice cream, and shopping a little. The second day we went on a kayak cave excursion. The brochure talked about kayaking through the 7 caves. As it turns out, you can actually only kayak into one of them, and they rushed us in and out as quickly as they could because there were a lot of other groups trying to get in as well. Although I wished we could have spent a little more time in there, it was really amazing inside… it opened up, and the light was pouring into it from above. It was also fun just to be outside in our two seated kayak, cruising along the beach together and learning a few fun factoids from our guides. Of course the last day came all too fast, but we enjoyed a nice breakfast downtown before slowly cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway back to my parents’ house.
As much fun as all of that was, the real story is what was happening behind the scenes. You see, these trips are important because they allow us to focus on our marriage. Daily life is crazy, and whereas we still enjoy one on one time, it is in the midst of the demands of kids, jobs, our house, etc. On vacation we can really take a moment to relax and reflect. Our last vacation was when I was pregnant with Austin (who is now 16 months old), so as you can imagine, our relationship has endured its share of bumps and bruises in that time… we were very much in need of a vacation!
When my husband and I got married, we were largely on the same page, although we may have appeared to be very different people. It seemed we just fit and complemented each other well. I’m probably a bit naive, but I was surprised to find that 7 years into marriage circumstances had changed, and there were some important issues that we had very different opinions about. It was rather alarming to discover this, and frankly we weren’t sure how to deal with it. Occasionally we would have an encouraging and respectful discussion about our differences, but most commonly we would end up really upset if we tried to talk it through. When you feel like there are important parts of yourself that you cannot share with your spouse, it is easy to not feel connected to each other anymore, and that feeling can spiral out of control.
Fortunately, before things got out of control, our anniversary trip came along. Our drive down to La Jolla was pleasant enough, but I can’t say we were feeling particularly connected. To make things worse, I had come down with a cold the day before my birthday and was still pretty sick. When we got into town, we enjoyed a nice lunch together, and just talking and sharing a meal together seemed to start the healing process. Later, as we walked around town, we were enjoying ourselves, but we still were not quite connected. We briefly attempted to discuss some of our concerns, and then mid conversation we got distracted by having fun! Seriously! It surprised me too. Throughout the weekend we would address issues as they came up, but mostly we were just enjoying each other. And that to me is the gift of a vacation. When you don’t have the stress and craziness of daily life weighing upon you, then you have the time and energy to focus on caring for your relationship. Having fun together is so important! It’s like, oh yeah, I forgot how much I like you! For us, it’s the magic behind a healthy marriage.
We’re back to reality now, but we’re working hard to maintain the connectedness from our vacation. Our differences are still there, but they matter a lot less to us. With our spark for each other reignited, we’re finding that the love we share is much stronger than the opinions that we don’t share. Also, our renewed connectedness allows us to approach everything more gently and lovingly, and thus peaceful solutions are found much more quickly. The point I really want to make here is that relationships don’t have to be perfect to be happy. Marriage is tough sometimes, but that’s ok. It can be easy in those difficult moments to second guess your relationship or to just watch the issues pile up until the void between you and your spouse is so wide it seems you can’t cross it anymore. Vacations may or may not be the secret elixir for you, but I would like to say that if you wake up one day and find that you and your spouse are not on the same page, and you feel like you may never be again, do not despair. You might have forgotten exactly what it was that brought you together, but it’s still there— find it! I know how hard it can be, but don’t give up! It’s so worth it!