When we talk about productivity we hardly ever mention how our relationships affect it. Fortunately my mentor and friend Michael Hyatt wrote and talked about this, especially why we should speak well of our spouses and how to become their best friends. I applaud his posts and recommend you checked them out. As to me, I’m married to my best friend Ewelina close to 11 years now and we’ve got two beautiful daughters (and a third on the way!) but it doesn’t mean it’s all just roses and unicorns over here. We are a marriage like any other and life can get stressful and tough for us, too. That’s why in this post I’d like to share with you why doing a yearly “honeymoon” with your spouse is a great way to keep the marriage alive and happy.
A honeymoon is a trip for two only…
Let’s start with my definition of a “honeymoon”: a trip for two that lasts at least a weekend. Something between 2-14 days.
That’s it. No kids. Optionally another couple, but preferably just you and your spouse.
When we got married we didn’t go on a honeymoon right after our wedding celebration as we had to move to a different country quickly. We regretted this decision and 3 months later went on a short tip to the mountains and it felt great. Next year we went for a longer trip and the year after again. But this was easy. We didn’t have kids then.
In 2009 our first daughter was born so we didn’t go anywhere… but we didn’t forget about our yearly resolution… so we started to be more deliberate about it:
We realized we needed to spend time together - only two of us
In 2010 we went with another couple of friends (Tomek and Asia, hi!) on a longer weekend to London. I was invited for an interview to the BBC so we decided to take this opportunity and “get away” to just enjoy ourselves.
Initially it was hard to leave our daughter behind. Luckily my parents volunteered to stay with her and as we were out for just 3 days, it went quickly.
Being a first-time parent is hard this way. You tend to think of your child a lot and a thought of being without them is a little frightening. However, this short trip made us realize we needed to spend time alone. So next year we went ahead with longer trips.
Back to proper 10-day “honeymoons”
In 2011 we actually managed to squeeze in 2 “honeymoons”, one in April and one in October. Again, the latter one was taking advantage of a business commitment I had - a conference I was attending. So while I was at the conference my wife was sight-seeing and after that we spent another week traveling and enjoying the vacation time and each other’s company. It felt great and our child didn’t suffer any trauma. Again, my parents did a fantastic job taking care of our baby girl.
Second child, second charm!
In 2012, before my wife gave birth to our second daughter, we went for another “honeymoon”. We spent 10 days on a road trip around canyons and national parks. All this with my wife’s belly growing. It was great to have our “last trip” before our second baby arrived.
Next year as my wife was breast-feeding, we decided not to go anywhere. It’d be too complicated, the child would be too young and we just wanted to enjoy our bigger family of four.
The children got bigger - back to “honeymooning”!
In 2014 it was time to get back to our yearly ritual. We planned a longer trip in the Spring of 2014 and had lots of fun. Based on this success, we went on another “honeymoon” the year later and enjoyed it immensely again.
Now that my wife is pregnant with our third child, we’re planning to go on a trip this April with her “and the belly” to celebrate our relationship and us being parents of three in the very near future. As I’m writing these words I’m planning our trip. I’m sure it’d be great. I can’t wait to spend some quality time one-on-one with my wife, enjoy her company and a time dedicated to just to two of us, without the stress of our jobs, parenthood or anything else. Just being us. Best friends and lovers.
Why “honeymoon”? Why not family trips?
It’s not “either… or”. It’s both. We do trips with our kids and every year we keep trying to do more of them… but we also want to make sure we find time for just two of us. Again, it’s about ONE trip a year. Just one.
Time without kids. For the kids.
I don’t think we’re bad parents just because we want to have a few days a year just to ourselves. Just to be able to focus on our relationship and on being not just better parents, but a better couple.
One of our friends, who was preparing to go on a trip with her husband was asked by her teenage daughter:
“Why are you going alone with dad again? Why don’t you want to take us with you?”
“How many parents of your friends are divorced? Exactly, quite a few. Well, me and your dad don’t want to get a divorce. We want to stay together. That’s why we need this trip for us. To be able to be a better couple and better parents to you. We want to make sure we can stay together for you for many years to come.”
I love it how she put it with a perspective of a divorce. We see lots of friends having trouble leaving their children for a while. Even for the weekend. They just feel bad about it and feel tied to their children. And I think it’s not good for them. Children are important, but our relationship as a couple is what keeps the family going. That’s why I encourage you to go on a “honeymoon” :-) To recharge your “relationship batteries”.
What if I don’t have parents who can stay with my kids?
That’s a valid concern. I’m lucky that my parents are also the best grandparents ever and they volunteer to stay with our kids for a few days. Sometimes up to more than a week.
Many people don’t have that.
But many do, but they don’t take this opportunity.
And even if you don’t, think about it. Maybe just try one night? One weekend? Ask close friends or the nanny to stay with your kids? Try it.
What’s at stake? Your relationship is.
That’s what I love about Michael Hyatt. In his podcast and on his blog he’s very often asking this question: “What’s at stake?”
This is a strong question, but it’s worth asking. A regular “honeymoon” is not about being selfish or leaving the children out of your life. It’s about you and your partner. It’s about your relationship and your joint strength of being the best person and parent you can be. I believe that in the long term it’s the best thing you can do to your kids.
Yes, to become a better parent you need to sometimes leave your children for a short while to focus on your relationship with your spouse.
Question: When was the last time you went on a “honeymoon”? When is your next one planned?