This year has been a doozy so far! The year of 2020 will be known for introducing a new topic
of conversation that may have otherwise seemed quite odd. That topic would be,
You may overhear this question as you dine in the parking lot of your local restaurant, “So, what
vacations were cancelled for you this year?’ The answers range from places like Paris to New
York and Scotland to the Rocky Moutains. The facial expressions used by those telling stories
of their well-planned, but cancelled vacations look as sorrowful as if a
favorite puppy was lost in the process.
However, some people just shrug and say, “Oh, we hadn’t planned anything for this year.”
Gulp. That should be shocking.
Couples who go from day to day on auto-pilot, without any changes and little to
look forward to can fall into a dangerous monotony. Breaking out of that
stagnant way of life is essential to our well-being, especially for empty nesters. We’re past the
years where dance recitals, weekend tournaments or field trips would hold our calendar
hostage, so we have more freedom with our time and money to choose what we will prioritize.
Priorities. It really doesn’t matter what age or stage your marriage is currently in, creating
priorities in your marriage is always the next best step.
This doesn’t just apply to vacations, this applies to your every day life together. Many
couples just go through the motions and avoid the conversation regarding your dreams,
your goals, how to spend extra money, what home tasks
should be completed and simply fail to communicate any direction for their future.
Even though our personalities are light years apart, my husband and I both love to adventure
together. We really notice if we’ve gone too long without a camping trip. We feel anxious, quick
to anger and ready to jump out of our skins if we haven’t seen a pine tree or lake for a few
months. So for us, getting away is imperitive to our mental and relational health. We’ve
designed our time away to generally be pretty cost effective considering camp sites are fairly
inexpensive, we bring our own groceries and cart the dogs along so there aren’t any overnight
babysitting costs. Because of this, we’ve developed a framework for planning…
We like to call our framework the “1, 2, 3, 4 Method”
1. When it feels like the walls are closing in on us, we take out our calendars. We like to have a
backyard meetup once per week where we chat about our schedule over wine and whiskey.
We feel like this cuts the anxiety of a chaotic week, laying the foundation for a
few peaceful days ahead.
2. Next, dating at least twice per month is also a good habit to keep on the calendar.
Restaurants are open again, parks are available for wine and cheese picnics and don’t forget
the ever-popular day trips to the water’s edge or even to the zoo. Take turns between the
two of you, planning one date while your spouse plans the next.
Communicate your favorites and encourage one another when great times are had.
Remember, praise what you want to see repeated!
3. Also, try to get away on an overnight at least three times per year. I know this may be cost
prohibitive, but remember those points you have on your credit card? As crazy as it seems, all
that Amazon spending during quarantine may have won you a free night in a hotel somewhere!
And don’t knock the Airbnb rentals, you could find yourself in new surroundings,
adventuring while getting lost in some new city together.
4. Lastly, learn about a new culture, invite your tastebuds to seek the flavors of another country,
fill your suitcase with clothes that you wouldn’t normally wear in your climate and experience a
week long, all-out vacation once every four years. Yes, I know that sounds silly to some of you,
almost like that's too far apart, but we are always sensitive to those who need
to save up vacation days from work and save up vacation funds in their bank account.
We believe if you set a goal, write it down, including how
much you will need to save each month to reach that goal, it can become a reality! Not to
mention the fact that it will be a memory making trip for you as a couple
and for your whole family if you include them.
When the framework is there, everyone has something to look forward to. When the
restlessness of the world tries to settle into our bones, we have something on the horizon to
stand firm as our goal together. When the uneasiness of relational conflict threatens to drive us
into apathy, the spark of the excitement coming our way can renew our spirits.
We are with you and for you. Now, get out those calendars!
Grace and Peace, Linda
The Ups and Downs of Life...