12 Spouses Confess: A Kid-Free Vacation Saved My Marriage!

12 Spouses Confess: A Kid-Free Vacation Saved My Marriage!

If this doesn’t make you want to ditch your kids and pack your bags, nothing will!

By Wendy Robinson

When my first child was 6 months old, my husband and I moved to a new state. Neither of us had family or close friends in the new state, so for several years we didn’t do too much that didn’t also include my son and, later, his sister. Still, I was shocked one day when I realized that it had been more than five years since my husband and I had spent more than five hours alone with each other.

I quickly negotiated an overnight visit for my kids at my best friend’s house, and my husband and I hit the road for a short road trip to our favorite big city. We slept in at the hotel, took long walks around funky neighborhoods, wandered through cool shops that don’t sell toys, had leisurely intimate time … it was amazing. It was also just the pick-me-up our marriage needed. We weren’t having trouble, but it was great to get the boost of remembering how much fun it is to just be with each other. It felt like dating, with none of the “is he going to call me?” angst.

According to Sarah Hart, a marriage and family therapist in St. Paul, Minnesota, ditching the kids for a couple-only vacation can “allow the adults to solidify the partnership that is the underpinning of effective parenting, especially when conversation is focused not on the kids, but on each adult.” Spouses attend to each other's dreams, fears, frustrations, and growth in a way that children don't (and shouldn't), she explains. “Doing this in bits and pieces after kids go to bed and everyone is exhausted isn't usually enough,” Hart notes.
“When the adult relationship is nurtured by quality kid free time, each parent has the opportunity to be seen for him or herself instead of as a parent.”

Here, 12 wives and husbands share why they agree that the grown-ups only vacation is a must-do for a happy marriage.

1. “We went to Peru for 12 days when our oldest was 1 year old. We were completely disconnected from technology except a few Internet cafes and spent a week of it in the jungle completely isolated. It was amazing. I felt like myself again, and we were totally able to relax. It was great.” -- Carrie

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2. “When my daughter was 15 months old, our best friends were getting married in Hawaii. My husband wanted to go for two weeks, I wanted to go for only a week, so we compromised on 10 days. Our daughter stayed with my parents, so I felt confident of her being away from me, but I thought of her CONSTANTLY. We video-chatted daily and I called every morning and evening (except once when I sprained my ankle on a hike and we couldn't get back to a cell-service area until very late -- I felt SO GUILTY!). Overall, it was WONDERFUL and if I had to do it all over again, I would have done the full two weeks. It was romantic and totally reconnected my husband and me. The only downside was that I was kind of forced into weaning my daughter. We were pretty much ready, but ideally I would have liked to have breastfed her till she was 2.” – Melissa

3. “We go on a kid-free vacation at least once every year. It is a necessity for us, not only because we love to get away from our kids, but also because we know that it is important for our marriage. Every summer for the past three years, our kids go to California to spend a week with my in-laws. This summer they are doing two weeks! For that first summer, my wife and I went to Maui, the second and third summer we went to Vegas (our favorite place). And this summer, we are just doing an extended weekend in New York, partly for a bar mitzvah and partly vacation. Also, it will be our 10-year wedding anniversary in September, so we are planning a week or so for that. Sans kiddos of course!” -- Kim

4. “We love it. It rejuvenates us. We actually went to a theme park without the kids (we had gone there with the kids earlier, don't worry!). There were times on this vacation (and others) where we literally just look at each other like, ‘What are we going to do with ALL THIS TIME?’ We golfed and ate meals at the correct temperature at a leisurely pace. And we made friends!” -- Jaclyn

5. “Our first big trip was to Napa when my daughter was 18 months. It was so luxurious to sleep without being interrupted, and then bum around and eat amazing food all day. Second big trip was to Belize where we stayed on a private island and slept in a platform tent a few feet from the beach and spent our days snorkeling in pristine coral reefs. Third was to Tulum where we got an oceanfront cabana and kayaked in mangroves. We also did a weeklong canoe trip in the boundary waters with friends. All were amazing in their own way, and we were blessed that my parents watched our daughter. Now that she is older, and we also have another little one, we are looking forward to doing more family-oriented trips.” -- Leslie

6. “We took our first big kid-free vacation to Mexico the winter before we got pregnant with our second son. It was an all-inclusive, adults-only place, and it was salvation. Having zero responsibilities or real decisions to make was so relaxing. My hubby still says that trip bought him a whole year of sanity.” -- Johanna


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7. “We have gone on one since having kids, spent 10 days in Kauai with friends for my 40th birthday. It was truly magical! It was wonderful to get away and enjoy time together. Kids stayed with my sister and mom, both competent kids-watchers for long term. My kids go to my mom’s for a week each summer and do fun things with her. We spend the time catching up on home projects without them around.” – Juli

8. “We’ve done Paris, Bruges, London, Rome, Dublin, San Diego, and Charleston, all for hubby's work, which we turned into vacation for us too. We love to travel, and yes, it's slowed down now that we have four kids, but I can't give it up entirely. It makes us happier as a couple.” -- Ryan

9. “We have gone on two weeklong trips without kids and honestly, it’s not stressful at all for me to be away from the kids. Lots of stress beforehand making sure we had everything packed for the kiddos and keeping them from getting sick. It was awesome, and I wish we could find a way to do it more often. Felt very recharged, more connected, and loved the chance to be slightly irresponsible and fun. The first trip was to Mexico and spent it on the beach and touring around, and the second was to Asheville and spent it going to shows, hiking, and relaxing at a luxe cabin.” -- Amber

10. “It was absolutely fabulous! We went to Asheville, North Carolina, and ate amazing food, [went] shopping, and hiking. … The best part is that it reminded my husband and me that we not only love each other, but that we LIKE each other and enjoy spending time together!” – Molly

11. “Destination weddings seem to be our excuse to take kid-free vacations, but we've also been doing staycations and the kids go to Grandma’s. It completely recharges our marriage. On our last staycation weekend we checked out a new restaurant each night, went biking and walking -- it’s great to have our home to ourselves for a few nights, and we are better partners and parents after.” -- Henry

12. “My husband and I agree that one long weekend together equals about a year of marriage counseling. We just need to be partners and not parents for a little while.” – Mandy

Okay, you’ve heard from the expert and the real couples, now get packing!

What would your dream kid-free vacation include?

Wendy Robinson is a writer, working mom and graduate student. Someday she'd like to sleep in again. She also blogs at www.athleticmonkey.com.

Image ©iStock.com/GlobalStock

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