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A Great Week Away…

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I’m always telling people how important it is to get away with just their spouse. The benefits are huge and it is an investment well made in terms of time and money. Recently someone asked me when was the last time I got away with Tara?  The question stopped me dead in my tracks. While we’ve had a few one-night escapes to a downtown hotel, it had been eleven years since our last true get-away (and that was for our 25th wedding anniversary). I had no idea it had been that long, and I felt convicted to do something about it.

So, I checked my frequent flyer miles and the calendar and we escaped last week to New Orleans for four nights. We had a blast! It’s funny, because it had been forever since she and I had shared a bed in a hotel. We’ve been on family vacations, but I end up sleeping with my son and Tara with our daughter in separate beds. I love my son, but certainly prefer lying next to Tara than a sweaty teen boy!

I had been to New Orleans before on a business trip, but Tara had never been. I knew from what I saw there that she would love the city and I needed to take her there. We had the perfect balance of planned activities (think meal reservations…) and unstructured time which suited us perfectly. We soaked in the food, the music and the culture and experienced many things together for the first time. But equally enjoyable was the time by the hotel pool in the heat of the day. Just sitting in two chaise loungers with a cold drink and talking about life.

There’s something about being together, away from home that allows you to focus not just on the pressing issues of life, but rather on dreams and aspirations. Not just for ourselves, but for our kids as well. Rekindling passion and intimacy has a way of freeing the mind from constraints and opening it to possibilities.

Think back to your dating days, maybe even to your early marriage. Remember the time you spent dreaming of possibilities and the “what could be’s?” Over time the pressures of ongoing life naturally draw us back to the pressing realities of day to day life. It’s hard to have a one-on-one conversation around the kitchen table that doesn’t quickly devolve into items like budget, resolving schedule conflicts or issues with the kids.

Corporations realize this. They know that the best way to conduct true strategic planning or to generate new ideas is to go off-site to hold their meeting. There’s something about a fresh environment that opens up the mind to new possibilities and to break the natural patterns that our brains fall into when in familiar surroundings. Why don’t we realize the same holds true within a marriage?

Tara and I are good communicators. That’s true no matter where we are. Getting away for date night is good. We can have a great conversation over dinner. But the reality is, that is not sufficient time to really “shake off” the home environment or the pressing issues of the day. Getting away for a mini-vacation allows you to work through that and begin processing at the next level. That is magical.

Don’t think this has to be a two-week, mega-adventure. While those can be fantastic, they are also very limiting in terms of budget and time. But a single night away may not be enough time either. It’s funny. Our first two days away we did find ourselves talking about current issues and concerns (but note – in a far more free way than we would have at home), but the conversations of the next two days were where we began to dream. To me that time was invaluable.

This week I find myself in a more optimistic place with an extremely bright future. I’ve got things I want to work on that were dormant before. But most importantly, I feel closer to my wife of thirty-six years than ever before. That’s an investment worth making!

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