The coastline near Carmel, CA 12/28/11
It must have been six, maybe seven years ago that I heard it. I believe I was at a friend's wedding shower when either the mothers of the bride and groom—or perhaps all of us—were asked to offer up our marital advice. The bride's mom told her that she and her husband should make it a point to take vacations alone together, especially after they had children. Whether it was once a month, once a quarter or once a year, she promised it would help the couple stay close.
Although it seemed like a somewhat obvious practice to employ, this idea stuck with me. And now that I'm nine months into matrimonial bliss, I can see why it's so necessary.
Pacific Grove, CA 12/29/11
Even when you don't have children, even when you don't have a job, it's easy to get disconnected from your partner. You begin to take him for granted, and amidst kisses, you find yourself mentally adding an item to your grocery list. As you sit side-by-side on the couch, you discover that you're both so engrossed in your laptops, you forget the other person is there. Clutter fills your head day and night, and although you have plenty of moments where you recognize and appreciate the person you married, you find yourself continually bombarded by thoughts, people and activities that distract you from him.
A river off Highway 1 near Big Sur, CA 12/30/11
One of the things I love most about travel, in general, is how it forces you to be in the moment. You're usually in somewhat unfamiliar surroundings, so you have to be more alert; pay more attention to sights, sounds and smells. You're taking everything in, all of the time.
Big Sur, CA 12/30/11
Travel with the object of your affection causes this alertness to spill over into your interaction with him (or her). You catch yourself smiling at him when he's not looking. You talk about the nuances of your wine and the flavor of your meal and your shared plans for the future, without the relentless mental tug of the dishes in the kitchen sink or the birthday card you need to send.
Getting away together forces you to be in the moment together.
Elephant seals near San Simeon, CA 12/30/11
I know I'm still a novice when it comes to this whole marriage thing, but the woman who I heard dole out the vacation advice has been married for at least three and a half decades. I think she knows her stuff. And I think I'm learning already how right she was with her recommendation.
The key to experienceing the wonderful side of wedlock may just be locked up in a hotel room somewhere along the Central Coast of California.
The sunset over Santa Rita Valley, CA 12/30/11
This post is dedicated to a friend who is celebrating something very special this weekend. I hope she reads this and knows who she is.