My wife and I spent a relaxing week on the beaches of Kauai recently celebrating our 33rd wedding anniversary—no kids allowed! Now, with ours all grown up, that is not particularly noteworthy, but it’s important at every stage of a marriage to take some alone-time for Mom and Dad, even when a couple has little ones. It’s a way to renew the marriage and keep it fresh and passionate.
We bought a time share on our 10th wedding anniversary at a time in our lives when it was a big stretch to do so, what with three young children. We did it as a way to make ourselves take a vacation together every year or two because we believed we needed that time away from the kids as a couple. We didn’t want to hit the empty nest stage of our lives and look across the breakfast table at our spouse and say, Who are you?
I have seen far too many couples enter that chapter in life and discover that they have drifted dangerously apart; they have been so focused on the kids and their jobs and the mortgage that they have lost touch with each other, a little bit at a time. This distance and lack of connection so easily can result in divorce.
Meanwhile, during our week in Kauai, I was struck by the number of young couples vacationing with their children, some even with babies and toddlers! I understand that many families today contain dads and moms who work a lot of hours, and they often feel guilty about the lack of time they have to spend with their children. Or they might just want more time together as a family. But I worry that there is little time left over for them as a couple.
I felt like going up to them and giving them permission to hang out for a week without the kids, to rekindle the old passions and fire they once experienced during the honeymoon phase of their relationship. I wished they could take long walks on the beach and catch up with each other (and not just by talking about the kids). Maybe even dedicate some time during which they refrain from talking about children or work, and instead really focus on each other. They could set intentions for how to keep their marriage alive and vibrant back at home. And they could fall in love all over again, reminding themselves why they got together in the first place.
I’ve even fantasized about a law that prohibits couples from bringing children to the islands. These are places for love and romance; if you want to take your kids on vacation, go to Disneyland or a water park. Please leave Hawaii for sweethearts.
[Tim Jordan, M.D. is a Behavioral Pediatrician who specializes in counseling girls ages 6 through college. For more information, go to drtimjordan.com.]