Vacations are wonderful things. Time away from work and home can have a multitude of benefits for each one of us. Vacations reduce stress, they make us happier, and prevent us from getting burned out in our jobs.
According to clinical psychologist Francine Lederer: “The impact that taking a vacation has on one’s mental health is profound. Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out.”
No one is doubting the benefits of taking a vacation. So why do so few of us actually do use our vacation time?
Why You Aren’t Taking Vacations
Despite all of the psychological benefits of taking a break, the reality is that vacations are difficult to pull off amidst the busyness of life. We understand the importance of vacations in theory, but we don’t actually live that out.
According to research from Harris Interactive, U.S. employees only use 51% of their paid vacation time. One-third of respondents to the poll say they can’t afford to take their time off. You probably have your own excuses for why you don’t take vacations with your spouse, but here are the main reasons why married couples aren’t taking vacations.
We Can’t Afford to Go
Traveling is wonderful, but it can also be expensive. Money is the number one thing couples fight about, and it’s also the main reason why they don’t go on vacations together. It seems cheaper in the short term to stay home, but vacations are worth the investment in your relationship.
If money is tight, you can still get creative. Our friend Jen Wilder wrote blog post for us about why cheap vacations are the best vacations. She offers some great advice on how you can save money when you travel without sacrificing on fun.
The truth is, you can’t afford not to take some sort of vacation with your spouse. Even if that’s just a staycation at home with your neighbors watching the kids. These times together build a crucial foundation for your marriage.
We Can’t Go Without the Kids
Most married couples don’t think they’re allowed to take a vacation without their kids. There’s a negative stigma in our society for people who are willing to travel and leave their children at home. But there shouldn’t be because it’s actually much healthier for both of you.
Psychologists say that it’s actually good for your kids to have time without their parents. This helps them to not be dependant on your for safety and security. Taking a vacation without them can improve your kids’ independence and self-reliance.
Besides, when you take a great vacation with your spouse, you’re improving your marriage. And your kids are depending on you to show them an example of a healthy marriage.
We Always Fight on Vacations
It’s ironic that vacations can actually be a source of stress for many people. All of that planning and money being spent puts us on edge. Some couples see vacations as a potential for conflict, so they just avoid it altogether. But that shouldn’t be an excuse not to take a vacation together.
You may only be fighting on vacation because this is the first time you’ve had alone in a while. And some of the tension from other parts of your marriage is starting to spill over. Things that were simmering under the surface finally had a chance to boil over.
The fact that you can work through some of your challenges is actually a benefit of a vacation. It may not sound fun, but it is healthy for your relationship. As long as you enter the vacation with clear expectations and enough optimism, you’ll both have a good time.
We’re Too Busy
Vacations don’t just take money—they also take time. That’s the point after all. But what if you don’t have time to spare? Between work, maintaining the house, paying the bills, and raising the kids, how are you supposed to squeeze in time for a vacation?
However, when all we do is focus on working harder and doing more, we’re likely to burn out. Taking a vacation gives us time to recover and refocus on our responsibilities. Not to mention that the prospect of a future vacation keeps you motivated to work hard in the meantime.
Even if you’re super busy, vacations act as a reward to keep you going. If you’re lucky enough to have a job that provides you paid time off, be smart enough to take advantage of that blessing.
How to Have a Good Vacation Together
Regardless of all the excuses, the truth is that time away with your spouse isn’t extra, it’s essential. Vacations aren’t just a nice thing to get to do—they’re an important part of sustaining a healthy relationship with your spouse.
So how do you make it happen? You can start by focusing on three different aspects of the vacation: before, during, and after.
- Plan out your trip. And set clear expectations with your spouse.
- Find the right time to go and the right place to do to.
- Consider the location, the cost, and what you want to do.
- Take some time to dream with your spouse about where you want to go and do.
- Create a budget and start saving up. This keeps money from being an issue.
- Decide whether this will be an adventurous trip or a relaxing one.
- It may sound ironic, but plan space to be spontaneous during your trip.
- Prepare your workplace to be gone. Set up an out of office reply on your email.
- Take a vacation from your issues. Realize that it’s OK to not fight with your spouse.
- Unplug from work. 61% of Americans work while they’re on vacation, despite complaints from family members.
- Stay off social media and technology as much as possible. Be present with your spouse.
- Trust that everything is going OK at work and home. They’ll survive without you for a week.
- Bring vacation home with you. Remind yourself of your trip with a photo on your phone.
- Do something local that you did on vacation. Like biking or playing board games.
- Plan your next get away. It’s important for couples to have something to look forward to doing together in the near future.
Where are you and your spouse going on your next vacation?
Ted Lowe is an author, speaker, and the director of MarriedPeople—the marriage division at Orange. Ted is the author of two books—one for marriage ministry leaders (Married People: How Your Church Can Build Marriages That Last) and one for married couples (Your Best US: Marriage Is Easier Than You Think). He served for almost 10 years as the director of MarriedLife at North Point Community Church. He lives near Atlanta, Georgia, with his four favorite people: his wife, Nancie, and their three children.
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