Marriage. Ask ten people to define that term and you’ll most likely get ten different answers.  That’s because we have all experienced marriage in very different ways.  I’ll even go so far as to say that how we experienced marriage as a child (via our parents) has more influence in our lives than even a present-day marriage.  Whether it be negative or positive, the marriage relationship is the most influential relationship in our lives.

In addition, I’m convinced that failed marriages DO NOT predestine future generations of failed marriages. As we all know, there’s a choice to make lemonade from the lemons in life and that choice certainly holds true about how you approach marriage. One such choice that has served me and my wife well is the value of getting away – just the two of us.  In the pre-kid days, this happened all the time.  We would sometimes just get in the car and go for “a drive” where we’d pick a direction and explore – at times riding around for hours. These days, it looks like date-nights sprinkled throughout the months.

Recently, we felt like a few hours a night every month wasn’t enough time to ensure that the primary relationship in our family is running at maximum efficiency.  That led to a very intentional set of plans to get away for several days – just the two of us without kids. Please note – we LOVE our kids. We think they are the cat’s meow and couldn’t feel more blessed by those gracious gifts from our Heavenly Father. Having said that, there is a very real need that we’ve neglected too long to relax; to stand down from Red Alert; to focus on each other without interruption.

My wife set the whole thing up – she got two sets of sitters to agree on dates; I didn’t screw up the vacation request at work.  She packed the kid’s stuff with military precision; I loaded it into the car. She found it hard to say “goodbye” on day one; I found it hard to wait for her to say “goodbye.”

Then it hit us both and a collective sigh of relief escaped as we literally felt our brains and bodies start to unwind. The weight of parenthood had temporarily been transferred to very capable hands and we were free to act like we were newlyweds – and act we did.  Our first stop – brunch at iHop and then four days and three nights of relaxed nothingness.

At the end of our time away, I started to realize something – this wasn’t a luxury only to be enjoyed once every few years like a trip to Disney World, but rather a necessary, a critical part of our marriage that must occur much more often. We are renewed, fulfilled and the spring in our step has returned and I’m convinced that our children need this just as much as we do.

Children need parents that are able to give 110% every single minute – shaping character is hard work and requires a ton of effort that draws from a finite power source. Taking the time to recharge is just what the doctor ordered and we have given ourselves permission to write a prescription that never expires.

When was the last time you took your spouse away for a few days?  If it’s been more than six months, you’re due and it’s time. Do each other and your children a favor and plan it this week – whatever the cost, you will not regret it. While you’re away – be sure to relax…after all, it’s just your marriage at stake.