The Secret to a Satisfying Vacation with your Spouse

An annual summer trek to Florida is made all the more interesting when one’s trek does NOT involve children; adult or otherwise. Just two spouses. Together. Seven days.

Alone.

My husband and I met and married in the throes of empty-nesting; and most of our vacations have been accompanied by various assortments of adult kids and grandkids.

We hardly know what to do with one another when we are alone.

Wait. Let me re-phrase that.

Not true. We absolutely know what to do with each other when we are alone, we just did not know what to anticipate or how we would interact on VACATION when we are alone.

So when we set off for seven entire days at the beach, it was with a bit of trepidation on my part, but hopeful optimism that even though we were over 50 and relatively set in our ways, we might re-kindle a bit of romance bouncing in the surf.

My husband, the energizer bunny.

After several intense and meaningful discussions around our individual expectations for the trip, my husband, who nodded off several times during these scintillating conversations, nonetheless brimmed with eager energy when we boarded the plane.

We’d agreed that the first day would be spent on the beach, doing nothing but playing in the water and soaking up the rays. So far, so good.

Day Two, the tug-o-war began. My husband, the energizer bunny-man; and I, the please-let-me-lay-on-the-beach-with-a-book-woman, crafted a pretty good compromise, I thought; by agreeing on morning beach time, and after lunch, an activity or two.

Or three.

Or four, if the decisions is left to my husband.

So Day Two, after lunch, we head up the coast to Clearwater, not foreseeing the inevitable traffic or the older population’s driving habits (slow…and slower) . So we finally arrive in a haze of irritability, park with some difficulty due to the crowds; and visit a public beach, restaurant, and various painted dolphins standing on their tails. By the time we get back to our condo several hours later, I have just enough energy to walk out to the beach and watch the sunset.

My husband suggests several restaurants, jet ski rental, a dolphin watch cruise or a quick drive to Sarasota, an hour and a half away. I look at him like he is crazy. We have been married long enough for him to correctly interpret this as: “I just laid out on the beach half a day, drove with you to Clearwater, hung out on a public beach, ate lunch at a restaurant, walked around admiring bizarro-painted dolphins standing on their tails…and you want me to DO MORE STUFF??? SERIOUSLY?? Without even a hint of an argument, he says “Umm, okay, let’s just stay in tonight.”

I think this means our marriage is progressing nicely. There was a time when he would have no clue why I had that irritated look on my face, and a marathon discussion would ensue. At least we are becoming more efficient with our communication.

Day Three arrives, and I ask if we can stay in and lay on the beach all day; with a few breaks for lunch in the condo. He gives me his long-suffering look, which I correctly interpret as: “What are you TALKING about? We fly all the way to Tampa, rent a car, drive to the beach; are surrounded by tons of cool stuff to do, which I have listed in an organized and obvious manner, and you want to STAY ON THE BEACH? SERIOUSLY?” Continue reading

Marriage Survives Road Trip

My husband and I have been married just shy of two years and are still learning about each other. Over Labor Day, we had a crash course. In an insane burst of energy, we visited the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone and Jackson Hole.

Two entire days were devoted to simply getting there and back.

I feel every engaged couple should be trapped in a vehicle together on a road trip for 14 hours as a required premarital activity. I am convinced the divorce rate would decrease, as many of the couples would re-think their decision to marry. My husband endured hours of my enlightened commentary along these lines as he juggled driving, drinking coffee, eating snacks, taking pictures and picking out CDs to play.

We had several intense and meaningful discussions regarding our expectation of “the perfect vacation day.”

My husband’s perfect vacation day entails rising at 6 a.m., 15 minutes for shower and breakfast, racing to mountain and wildlife vistas, snapping 329 pictures, hiking around a lake, snarfing down a burger for lunch, racing back to the hotel to download pictures, head to next activity on list (possibly river rafting, hang gliding, bungee jumping or driving through Utah), snap another 329 pictures, at sunset ride a gondola up the mountain to a cold, windy outdoor restaurant at 9,000 feet, whip out camera for another 329 pictures and finally, racing to the nearest bar for dancing or karaoke.

My perfect vacation day entails rising around 8 a.m., and stepping into a steaming shower. When I appear from the powder room 45 minutes later, cutely made up and every hair in place, my perfect appearance elicits numerous romantic remarks from my husband as we head to that adorable little Starbucks at the base of the mountain.

We will each read sections of USA Today, discussing current events, sipping our lattes and gasping in shock over the most recent entertainment couple’s foibles.

We will stare longingly at the mountain vistas and murmur about future plans and the possibility of building a dream cabin in an area like this one. After that, we skip lunch and hand-in-hand, stroll to the nearest art exhibition to buy a treasured memento of our trip. We gaze into each other’s eyes like lovesick teenagers.

Mid-afternoon, I change into hiking boots anticipating a ski lift ride to an upper trailhead, where my husband will take a few photos and we will hike down the mountain. Afterward, we happen upon a perfect restaurant and exclaim in delight. My lipstick, eyeliner and hair are still perfectly in place. We enter the restaurant encapsulated by a rosy glow.

The second day in the Grand Tetons, our conversation went something like this:

Me: “No! I will NOT pose for another picture! Put that thing away!”

Him: “Just one more picture, honey! Look! It’s a buffalo!”

Me: “Would you pay attention to the road? Put down that camera!”

Him: “I AM paying attention to the road.” (Car veers wildly as husband snaps photo)

Me: “If I see another buffalo I am going to throw up.”

Him: “It’s only five and a half hours to Utah. I have never been to Utah. I have heard there are more buffalo there!” (Car screeches toward Utah)

On the way home, my husband decided we would take a different route so we could see yet another part of the country and take more pictures. We experienced intense and meaningful discussion by the time we hit the town of Spearfish because the new route took three hours longer to get home. My husband nodded in pleasant acceptance at my irritability, picked up my hand and kissed it.

I swear I felt a rosy glow right in the car.

 

Article first appeared in the “The Lighter Side,” Capital Journal, Pierre, SD, September, 2009.