I think Julia and I make a pretty good team. We both pick up each other’s slack when we need it. We do a pretty good job of distributing work around the house too. So, whenever one of us is out of town for the night (or 4), it shakes things up a bit. It doesn’t happen very often, but every once in a while Julia will be out for a few days (church retreat, getaway with friends, etc). When that happens, I have a few rules that I always try to go by.
1. Don’t rely on her to plan your meals:
If she’s going somewhere, she has plenty of packing to do and plans to make of her own. The last thing she needs to worry about is what YOU’RE going to eat while she’s gone. Go grocery shopping yourself. Plan out your meals. If you’re not used to cooking, try out some easy recipes, or at least plan some things you can pick up. At any rate, don’t make your wife figure it out for you.
2. Don’t make her feel guilty for going away:
It doesn’t do anyone any good if you make her feel guilty for being gone. It doesn’t help you any and it only ruins her fun. Let her know that you’re glad she’s able to go away and that you’ll be fine. Let her know if you miss her, but don’t play it up so much that she feels like a jerk for going away for a couple nights.
3. If you have kids, plan something fun:
I’ll be honest, being a single parent even for a day or two is TOUGH! I have the utmost respect for those that do it full time. It is exhausting and I find it tough to give any of my time and energy to spending quality time with my son. So, I have to force myself to make sure it happens. No matter what, I always try to schedule some time for something fun for us to do (hiking, board games, dinner out, nerf gun wars, etc). Even if it’s just a short period of time, I can see that it makes a world of difference to him.
4. Have the house looking better when she gets back than when she left:
This is one of my favorites, and I take it as a personal challenge to see what I can get done. Whenever Julia is gone, I try to do as much as I can before she gets back. Vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, doing dishes, doing laundry, picking up stuff, random home projects, etc. I don’t always get to everything, but I do my best. Enlist your kids to help too! She might not even always notice everything, but the last thing I want is for her to come back tired from her trip and be instantly overwhelmed by a dirty house and pile of stuff for her to do.
This past weekend was Guys Weekend. Julia went out of town with some of her friends, so Eli and I were bach’ing it from Friday until Sunday. In some ways it was a lot of fun. We went out for donuts, went exploring in the woods, read books at Starbucks, and had tacos at most every meal (always a good decision)! We both had a good time. Even though we had fun and were able to distract ourselves pretty well, it was still a lonely time. We both missed Julia. She’s my best friend and I love being with her. She’s the life of the party, and time at home is not the same without her. Even though I knew I would miss her, I was so excited about her getting to get away. Not because I was looking forward to the fun I would have, but because I knew she needed it.
It is good for married couples to spend time together (obviously). Without it, there is no relationship. However, I feel it is necessary for a woman to also have both alone time and girls time. When a wife is able to get away with her friends for some time, it is recovery for her soul. She NEEDS time to just hang out with friends…no wife responsibilities…no mom duties…just having fun, talking, and whatever she wants to do. Also, she sometimes needs to get away on her own. Life can be so busy full of kids with endless needs, work responsibilities, chores at home that are never finished, and distractions from TV and computers. There is such benefit for a woman to have some time away from it all…even if it is just for a couple hours.
Every time Julia comes home from being away, she is filled with energy and love. She is a GREAT mom and wife on a daily basis, but I can see a noticeable difference in her love, attention, and patience after returning from being away. Seeing this always reminds me how important those opportunities are.
My challenge to you: Give your wife the freedom to get away. Maybe it’s for a few hours at a time. Maybe it’s on her own, or maybe it’s with some friends. Maybe it’s overnight somewhere, or maybe it’s for a few days. In the time she is away, pray for her to be filled with the spirit, and to be able to relax, and to have fun. When she gets back, I imagine you will find her refreshed and ready to invest back into your family.
I believe one of the most important requirements for developing a strong, loving family is to spend time together…doing things that are fun and making memories together. In the same way, I think this is one of the most important aspects of a marriage too. The problem I often see is that after a couple has kids it can be easy for these two areas to merge together. It is an incorrect assumption that quality family time equals quality marriage time.
I know many couples that are married with kids and haven’t been alone together overnight since their kids were born! I think this is such a shame. An important part of being a good parent is being able to love your spouse and model that behavior for your kids. And, an important part of loving your spouse is being connected with them and spending time together. If you never get away and spend time alone together, that connection will be tough to achieve.
After Eli was born, Julia and I made a commitment to get away by ourselves at least once every year, and I’m so glad we did! These getaways are usually the highlights of my year. I LOVE going out on dates with her on a regular basis, but the enjoyment we feel and the connection we make on a date doesn’t come close to what we get from going away for a few days.
Sometimes we’ve been able to take a cool vacation together like the Bahamas, Seattle, or even Italy! But often our trip away is somewhere nearby that we just go for a couple nights. Last year we went to Asheville for a few nights and one time we just got away to a hotel in Atlanta. The extent of our trip is usually determined by the amount of vacation money we have available, but even when times are tighter we make sure to go somewhere.
This weekend we went away for our 11th anniversary! We went up to WinShape Retreat at Berry College and it was awesome. It was so relaxing and we loved every minute of it. We spent a lot of time talking, enjoying great meals, reading, writing in our anniversary journal, and relaxing. It was just what we needed. When we got home, we were ready to pour our lives back into Eli, who had a blast from his weekend with Nana & Grandpa.
My challenge to you:
If you have kids, make sure you make it a priority to get away with just your wife from time to time. Dates are great, but they don’t compare to the intimacy and connection you get from getting away for a few days at a time. Make it a priority and I KNOW you will not regret it!