I used to think that “falling out of love” was some kind of mysterious disease that destroyed half of all marriages without warning. Now, after more than five years of marriage, I can confidently call B.S. I’m no expert on the subject. But I don’t think anyone ever really loses their love or falls out of it. I think it just gets buried by all the nonsense and struggles we encounter in this world. What was once shiny and beautiful becomes unrecognizable. Which is why sometimes you HAVE TO hit pause in order to renew your love and refocus on what makes a happy marriage.
We all need to take time to remember what it feels like when your love isn’t buried by disappointment, responsibility and/or stress. And, I think, taking a trip is the perfect way to do this. It doesn’t have to be long or expensive. But it does need to be time for the two of you to be alone, away from the “real world” and with as minimal distractions as possible.
So, in honor of our fifth wedding anniversary, here’s a list of five trips that will give you the opportunity to focus on your love, laugh together and make some amazing memories to help get you through the rough patches:
This seems like a no-brainer, but it is surprising how many people skip this – usually due to lack of money or time. However, celebrating your love ALONE is so important – especially when you are just starting a life together.
Whether it is a few days, a few weeks or a whole year – plan to spend time celebrating your love and the huge commitment you made to each other. Even if you just turn off your phones and spend a weekend at home watching your favorite movies and making your favorite meals, plan something!
But I think the key is to truly be alone if you can be. Go radio silent for a little while. The world will still be there when you get back. You deserve to have some quality one-on-one time.
It rained or snowed almost the entire time during our two-week honeymoon to Colorado (where we later moved). But it was still THE BEST TIME for three big reasons.
- Our trip took us far away from our every-day responsibilities.
- We got to do whatever we wanted whenever we wanted because we were on our own schedule.
- Every second was spent being stupid in love.
If you never had a honeymoon, do it now! How psyched would your spouse be if you surprised them with a belated honeymoon?
2. Road Trip
Being trapped in a car with someone for hours may not seem like an amazing time. But if you do it right, a road trip can be a fantastic opportunity to laugh hysterically with your spouse and have some awesome adventures. Plus, it is usually a cost-effective and simple option. Just look at a map and pick an area 4-10 hours away that looks interesting. Then get to driving (and maybe rent an awesome convertible for good measure)!
A few keys (get it?) to a great road trip:
- Music: Don’t rely on the radio to create the perfect soundtrack for your grand escape. Put together a playlist or mix CD of your favorite tunes. Maybe a few nostalgic songs that will bring up loving memories of the past, or the song you danced to at your wedding. But definitely include some to sing along to. Get creative!
- Snacks: Hanger is real people. This is a trip to renew your love. So make sure you don’t end up killing each other over the last cheesy pouf. Bring plenty of food (and water… duh).
- Patience: Don’t start yelling at your spouse because they took a wrong turn or forgot to get gas and now you are stuck on the side of the road (ok, maybe just try to lightly scold for the second one). Any time you are tempted to be grumpy, take a breath and think of something fun to do. Stop anywhere and go exploring, play a game, make fun of the people driving by, have a sing-off… do anything else but get angry at each other! (Also, maybe get AAA if you are like my husband and space on the gas thing sometimes).
- Lots of Stops: Sometimes you only have a short window to get where you are going. But if time allows, make sure to stop for lunch, look at the quirky stores you pass by, hit up some roadside attractions, stop at every “You are now entering…” sign for a picture, etc. Decide to have fun, then be on the lookout for it! (And a little online research won’t hurt).
- Silly Pictures: Definitely get some nice, non-idiotic pictures for the holiday card too. But let’s be honest… the silly ones are the real keepers. Set the timer and jump in the air until you get the perfect shot, make ugly faces, take pictures of the passenger when they fall asleep… just commemorate the fun parts of your trip as often as possible. Bonus points for fun videos.
Some of our favorite memories were on road trips: Singing Linkin Park at the top of our lungs until we lost our voices. Having to stop at the oldest gas station I’ve ever seen because my husband forgot to get gas before we entered the middle of nowhere. Taking sarcastic pictures at the Petrified Forest because for whatever reason we thought there would be real trees (spoiler: it’s more like a rock garden). Going down a one-way dirt road through the woods because it looked like a short cut. Stopping to pick apples and having them fall on my head. And so much more!
If you have the right mindset going into it, you will be surprised how much laughter and renewed love can come from a few days on the road together.
3. Spontaneous Getaway
Whenever my husband and I start to feel less-than in love, we’ve learned that it is critical to take time to get as far away from “real life” as possible. We live in our own little bubble for a while until that spark has had time to gain its strength back. Marriage is like any other valued possession, if you don’t take care of it there will come a time that it loses its value.
From a night in a hotel an hour outside of town to booking a last minute flight for the upcoming weekend… a little spontaneous adventure can go a long way. It almost feels like you are planning some secret heist together. Stealing some time and not giving a damn what anyone thinks.
It always cracks me up when people say things like “oh, that must be nice” or “you go on lots of trips, huh?” I will NEVER feel bad for valuing my marriage and making time for it. And neither should anyone else, no matter how screwed up other people’s priorities are [end rant].
If the stresses of life are weighing down on you and your marriage, don’t wait too long to hit that pause button. Even a staycation can do wonders for your relationship and sanity.
4. Getting “Away from it All”
We spent two weeks living in a camper van in Iceland. And it was the best thing we have ever done (yet). Although the beauty of Iceland definitely helped, the main reason it was so amazing was because it was just the two of us on an epic adventure somewhere totally new and far far away from our responsibilities. Every moment was ours. We didn’t have to share our relationship with anyone or anything else. It is amazing how bright your love will shine with no distractions to dirty it.
While Iceland is fantastic, getting away from it all doesn’t need to be a far away land or a long vacation. Just ditch the distractions for as long as you can and get out into nature.
This is why I LOVE hiking. After a few hours in nature you seem to forget that another world even exists. And you can focus on what matters.
This is something available for free! With a little research you can find tons of nearby places to wander around. Just imagine what one hike a month could do for your marriage. The amazing chats you could have. All the hand holding you could do. Give it a try!
5. Vow Renewal Trip
We say these all-important vows to each other on our wedding day. Then we store them in the back of our heads somewhere and rarely think of them again.
I’m not a very romantic person in the traditional sense. I would rather my husband bring me home french fries than flowers. We laugh hysterically any time we try to slow dance. And the one time we tried to kiss in the rain a cop stopped to ask if everything was okay.
However, every year on our anniversary we pull out our vows and recite them to each other once again. It started as a last-stitch effort to bring a little more sentimentality to our first anniversary. But when we were reading them and all those emotions from our wedding day came flooding back in, we knew it had to be a yearly tradition.
Along with this mushy tradition, we try to plan a mini-trip to celebrate as well. For our recent five-year anniversary we revisited Rocky Mountain National Park where we spent the majority of our honeymoon.
We usually run around trying to see as much as possible on trips. But this time we sat by waterfalls and lakes and stared lovingly at each other. We had long chats about how far we have come in the last five years. And, at the end of the day, when we recited those vows and the tears filled our eyes, my heart was so full I could barely breathe.