Opportunities for marriage growth must be created. They don’t just happen! This means you’ll have fun sitting down with each other, calendars in hand, and choosing a time to get away. Perhaps it’s just a weekend that you can arrange. Whatever it is, don’t be discouraged if you must wait three months to go on your trip. You won’t believe how quickly that date will arrive! In fact, [my wife] Naomi and I have noticed how nice it is to anticipate a time away. Just putting it on the calendar is fun!
Many couples like to sit down with their calendars at the beginning of the year and schedule one getaway per quarter. (More and more counselors, even secular counselors and marriage experts, recommend that couples take one night a week for each other, one weekend a quarter, and one week a year. Can you imagine the context for growth this kind of schedule would create?) If you’re reading this in July, however, don’t wait until the new year to schedule time away. Find a date some weeks away and make it happen!
After scheduling your weekend, you’ll want to decide where to go and make necessary arrangements such as reservations and travel plans.
Another part of preparation is packing everything you’ll need for your time away. One fun way to do this is something Dave and Claudia Arp call the “Get Away Box.” This is a place where you can gather everything you’ll take on your trip. One of the great things about a Get Away Box is that it helps you anticipate your time away. Thinking ahead to your time together and setting aside special items create warmth and excitement far in advance of the event.
What goes in the Get Away Box? How about that novel you’ve wanted to read? What about a small gift for each other? Surprises are always nice; each of you purchase something special, wrap it, and put it in the box. Naomi and I also recommend including the following items: sparkling apple cider, champagne glasses, cheese, fancy crackers, delicious chocolate mints, and a votive candle and holder. These items will make a wonderfully romantic snack time on one of your nights away. Music is always nice, too, so don’t forget to tuck away a favorite CD along with a portable player.
The Get Away Box might also include any sports equipment you may need. Naomi and I sometimes bring our tennis rackets. Other couples include their golf clubs or jogging shoes.
Take along your calendars. Naomi and I usually bring ours, and we enjoy sitting quietly together and planning time within the next couple of months for each other and for our family.
Naomi and I have sometimes planned a time away but have forgotten a crucial item: child care! The moment you agree on a date for your weekend, make it your next step to arrange for the care of your children. Naomi and I use a variety of methods. Occasionally, Naomi’s parents have stayed with our kids at our house. At other times, we’ve parceled out our children to close friends. However you handle this challenge, don’t let your children prevent you from taking your time away. I have known couples who have told me that they haven’t been away from their children in fourteen years. Believe me, that’s too long!
…Let me make one suggestion about a difficult topic: Don’t let your financial condition get in the way of spending quality time with each other. Few couples have the financial resources to spend a dream weekend away at a fantasy hotel. Even simple accommodations can provide the perfect place and time for relational growth.
One couple I know has taken many getaways over twenty years. I recently talked with both spouses. They had just come back from a week together to Hawaii, and they told me this:
You know, the week was great together, but not the best we’ve ever had. The time we spent camping a few years ago actually was more productive for our relationship. What we’ve learned over the years is this: It’s not where you go, it’s what you take with you.
How profound! It’s not the location, it’s “what you take with you.” What any couple takes with them is the desire to grow closer together, an attitude that seeks to go deeper. So as you plan your time away, remember your goal: to create the context for growth, a time of relaxation where you can focus on each other. This can happen in any number of locations.
…You and your spouse may have very little money to work with, but you can still create a context for growth. Less expensive possibilities do exist! If money is an issue, you can brainstorm some creative alternatives. Assume it’s possible to plan a great weekend together on a low budget, then make it happen! Some couples might decide to drive to a nice location and stay in a motel that’s pleasant but not pricey. You can also decide to eat mostly inexpensive foods or bring your food with you. What?! Can couples do a getaway without romantic [expensive] restaurants? You bet! Romance will come more from how you attend to each other during your time away than from the amount of money you spend.
You might choose to go camping. Camping can be great because you’ll have few distractions and almost guaranteed quiet. As I mentioned earlier, at least one couple found camping to be one of their most intimate times away.
…Other couples might wish to plan just a day away instead of a whole weekend. You’d be surprised how restful even one full day and night away from routine can be.
…Your marital health is the result of accumulated positive experiences. The outing you’re now planning can be one of those great times of fun, relaxation, and directed conversation, but it cannot be everything. Make this getaway the best possible, but don’t allow too-high expectations to ruin a great time together.
…One of the easiest mistakes to make on a time away is to over-plan. Remember, this is marriage enrichment, not a business trip! When you plan your weekend, leave some time open to do whatever hits your fancy at the time. Make sure that you don’t make the time so intense that you sabotage your reason for going: to create a relaxed and peaceful environment in which to enjoy each other’s company and experience growth.
After you read this, find a time to sit down with your calendars and arrange a time away.
Have fun discussing the following questions:
1. In the next three months, when is a good time to take a weekend away? Can we agree that this will be our next weekend away together?
2. Keeping our budget in mind, what are the best alternatives for accommodations? Can we agree on one that would interest us both?
3. What kind of weekend do we want: active or quiet? What are our expectations?
This article comes from the book “A Weekend with the One You Love” by Art Hunt, published by Multnomah Books. Unfortunately, this book is no longer being printed so in order to obtain it you will need to find a used book outlet that has it in stock. We hope you can because it’s a very informative and enriching book.
— ALSO —
Here’s an article, written by Ann Swindell, which explains a little more, that you could find helpful to read:
Another idea for a weekend away could be that you put together a Spiritual Retreat for the two of you to enjoy together. There is a great article written by Brenda Jank, which we encourage you to read, and then consider trying:
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