Marriage, Kids, and Keeping the Flame Alive Through Travel

Recently, my husband and I returned home from our first solo vacation since having our son 14 months ago. We spent 10 days exploring Iceland; our itinerary included glacier hiking, long, romantic dinners without screaming and scurrying to replace food that had been eaten too quickly or thrown on the floor, and mornings of sleeping in until whenever we wanted. Suffice it to say, it was heavenly.

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Before we found out we were expecting, we were world travelers. In our 7.5 years together, we’ve been to 29 states and 11 countries. We have an extensive bucket list that we actively work to check things off of, and we’ve always valued having adventures together. We consider ourselves forever travel partners.

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Fast forward to when I gave birth and the chaos that is the first few months of parenthood. I could barely brush my teeth in the mornings, let alone think about traveling the world. It was all I could do to formulate a complete thought; sleep was sporadic, and day dreaming was left for those who didn’t have a newborn.

Four months into the parenting game, I joined a group of moms who met weekly at a counseling center nearby. We were all in similar life situations, and it was a relief to have an activity that was appropriate and welcomed to bring such a small baby to.  Although we were all brought together through motherhood, our weekly discussions took a step away from that and centered around who we are as women, as people. The group brought me through my haze and helped me re-discover my love for exploration. It made me feel like me again.

At that point, I knew my husband and I needed to move our relationship back to the front burner and talk about ways to keep the flame alive. I’ll never forget that night; we put our son to bed, poured ourselves some wine, and stayed up talking for hours about all the dreams we had been too tired or too scared to think about for the past five months. It made us feel like us again.

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Sticking to that goal of making one another a priority was is hard, and we’ve failed many times. We’ve had to re-evaluate (sometimes on a day-by-day basis) and re-plan events and activities, but in the end, I know we both think continuing to be us, despite the fact that we’re now parents, is more important now that than it’s ever been.

In reflecting on what’s worked best, we’ve come up with a list of a few helpful tips.

  1. Plan that trip, that date night, or that activity you’ve been wanting to do, and PAY FOR IT NOW. For date nights, we purchase gift cards ahead of time, and for trips, we pre-pay everything that can be pre-paid. Sometimes when the actual event rolls around, you don’t have the funds like you thought you would or you think your money can be better spent elsewhere, and you decide not to do it.
  2. Take the time to talk daily. Trust me when I say it’s hard; some days all you feel like doing is curling up with a glass of wine and watching Netflix by yourself. I get it. I have those feelings, too. But it’s a lot harder to get angry or frustrated with someone who you connect with daily. Each night, for 20 minutes after the baby goes to bed, we dialogue. We spend 10 minutes writing a love letter to one another about whatever topic we want, and then we spend 10 minutes talking about it. It makes me WANT to push aside my hermit-like tendencies and CONNECT to the person I love more than anyone in this world.
  3. Make love making a priority. It’s important. Your love life matters. And regardless of if your body is back to its pre-baby form or not, your husband loves you. Let yourself be loved.
  4. Just go. Yes, your baby is only going to be this small once, but after the five days or 10 days that you’re gone, they’re still going to be small, and you’re going to be able to enjoy their smallness a whole lot more.

You deserve a sizzling hot marriage. For us, keeping the flame alive means daily connection and continuing to travel the world together. Our goal is to take at least one family trip and one couples-only trip each year. We’re fortunate to have flexible jobs, wonderful parents, and monetary funds to make those goals a reality. But that being said, I can’t think of a better way to spend my time, money, and energy than investing in my marriage. Here’s to the next adventure!

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