Marriage advice. I don't like people dishing it out. No relationship is like the other, so how could advice be applicable to everyone? But I'm going to break my own rule and say something more couples need to hear: you and your partner should go away every year without your kids. It may sound like an obvious suggestion, but you'd be surprised how many couples have never been away from their kids . . . like, ever. Constantly being together isn't healthy for anyone, including your kids. Here are my top five reasons traveling with only your partner is often the difference between a mundane marriage and an "I want what that couple has" marriage.
The difference between a partner and a friend is this. And if there's one area of marriage that tends to suffer the most after kids, it's sex. Whether it's because of postpartum body changes, mind-numbing exhaustion, hormone changes resulting in less drive, or babies and toddlers in your bed, sex becomes, well, a little less sexy. But you know what can really help solve this? A hotel room, a tropical climate backdrop, and the notion that the only thing on the agenda for the next few days is drinking wine, eating decadent food, talking without interruption, and having nobody else to tend to (read: no vomit to clean). It's amazing how easy it is to slip back into the mindset of, "Oh my God, I'm actually attracted to my partner," because the daily grind can easily blur that.
2. Conversations that don't focus on your kids.
You occasionally sneak in snippets of your days to each other in between bedtime routines and couch pow-wows while watching Netflix, but you've really only scratched the surface (if you were listening that intently to begin with). Going out for date nights is a good start, but, in my opinion, it takes a few days away to properly remember that you two are people outside of kids. When my husband and I go away, we talk about the kids constantly for the first 36 hours, and then all of a sudden, we forget. And it's glorious. The health of the family is only as strong as the parental unit, no matter what that looks like, and when my husband and I aren't having meaningful conversations that don't involve our kids, I find that our overall family health suffers.
3. Exploring new things.
Remember when you first met and everything was exciting? And everything they said was funny, witty, and clever? Tack on a few years of marriage, general life stress, and a bunch of kids, and that excitement dissipates. When you travel to a new place with only your partner, suddenly everything (even mundane activities) becomes just a touch more exciting. And yes, it's fun to travel as a family and explore, which you should do often, but it's really fun to explore with only your partner. You might even remember why you married them in the first place or, at the very least, laugh (even if only occasionally) at their jokes again.
4. Your kids are better for it.
I realize that to even have the opportunity to get away for a week or a few days with only your partner requires a certain village of love surrounding you. But I'm willing to bet your parents, siblings, close friends, nanny, in-laws, etc. have a vested interest in the health of your marriage. People who love you want to help, and I don't know many grandparents who aren't clamoring for more undivided grandchild time. My mom says she now understands the reason for having kids is "to get to the grandkids" (thanks, Mom). But in all seriousness, you leaving your kids for a few days and having them live their best life with other people who love and care for them is a great experience for them as well.
5. Travel is good for the soul.
When we stay in our own bubbles, it's easy to forget there's a whole world out there full of different people, different perspectives, and beautiful ideas worth seeing and knowing about. When you travel and can be fully present without a bunch of kids tugging on your leg, you allow yourself the capacity to invite new experiences into your life, which you then take back home.
So, there you have it. The only marriage advice I will ever dish out. Every time my husband and I get away together without our kids, we come back appreciative, grateful, reenergized, and excited to reenter our blissful chaos with our kids. We make a point to get away for at least four days every year, just us. We don't have a perfect marriage, but I dare say we have a really great one. And I definitely think it's because we prioritize and value our time just as much as family time.