Dusk and I try to go on date nights. We really do. But we're not very good at it. I think we went on one date night the year after Sierra was born, and we came home after dinner (never even made it to the movie). I can't remember why we didn't make it to the movie, but I DO remember scaring the crap out of our babysitter, who came walking down the hallway after giving Sierra a bath to find us at the other end of the hallway (apparently, she hadn't heard us come in). We got a little better after that, but once Bodie was born, everything went out the window. I know we didn't go on any dates the first year of his life, and maybe did 2 or 3 the next year. The upside is, when you don't go on dates very often, it's easy to justify doing something expensive, like getting massages. :-) The downside is, it's hard to maintain the romance when you're getting away together so infrequently. We've really made an effort in the past 6 months or so to go on more date nights.
When we were in Palm Springs with Dusk's brother and sister-in-law and their kids this past May, my sister-in-law Missy asked me if we had ever gotten away for the weekend. I think I just stared at her like a deer in the headlights. I honestly don't think the idea had ever occurred to us, particularly with a kid like Bodie. But she got me thinking - and really got our wheels turning. This was around the same time we had started counseling and talking about taking more time for ourselves and communicating more anyway. Missy offered to fly out and watch the kids for us, bless her heart. Ultimately, we ended up using one of our regular sitters, but we were SO grateful for her offer - and that she pushed us to do something we wouldn't have otherwise thought to do!
So, we did a little trial run in July - we left the kids alone with the grandparents and Dusk took me to the spa for my birthday. It was heavenly, to put it mildly. And the kids did great. So, a few days later, Grandma Jan came and picked up the kids in Tahoe and took them back to Reno with her - we got a whole date evening and night away from the kids, and met them the next morning. Again, they did great. So, we knew it was time!
Last weekend, we took our first official vacation alone together in over 5 years - to Solvang wine country. It was amazing. We did a wine tasting tour...where we did wine tasting...
and more wine tasting...
and I think some more, but to be honest, I can't recall much at that point! Haha!
We strolled the tiny streets of Solvang, ate traditional Danish pancakes and pastries, took naps, and relaxed in the pool at our hotel...
Then, we did more wine tasting. :-)
And we saw a super fun play in the outdoor amphitheatre under the stars (oh so amazing - anyone near Solvang, if you can catch a showing of Legally Blonde before it ends its run, DO SO! So awesome!).
And then we ended our trip with a lunch stop at Cold Springs Tavern in the Cachuma Lake Canyon...
(local Central Coast peeps, if you haven't made your way there yet, GO - think cold beer, awesome tri-tip sandwiches and onion rings, a beautiful rustic canyon, live music, dining on picnic tables and benches outside...and motorcycles as far as the eye can see! Super quirky, SUPER fun! A perfect end to an awesome vacation)
We were gone from the kiddos less than 60 hours. And of course we missed them (and the homecoming was pretty stellar, I have to say - I couldn't even get both feet over the threshold of our front door before Bodie had tackled me to the floor with hugs and kisses, followed closely behind by Sierra bear hugging me). But it was amazing to just be us. To be able to complete a conversation, heck, a sentence, without being interrupted. To have the time to have leisurely discussions about things, to not have anything to do but be with each other, to go into stores with nothing but breakable things...you get the picture.
Marriage is hard work. Adding kids into the mix makes it even harder. But, the benefits are so worth it. So, to couples who find themselves in similar shoes to where Dusk and I found ourselves several months ago, I strongly encourage you to do what you need to to restore order to your marriage, to your family, to your lives. Seek counseling. Listen to one another. Understand how your love languages differ. Remind yourselves of that every day.
If you are believers, seek counseling from a trusted Pastor - make sure the counseling is coming from a Biblical perspective. Put in the time to spend on your marriage. Pray over your marriage. Pray with your partner.
I know that taking time away sounds impossible. But do it - I promise you, it is SO worth it, to reconnect with the one you married, who you promised to love in good times AND bad, in sickness AND in health. With a medically fragile child, you just hit the IN SICKNESS part a little sooner than you anticipated when you said those vows. I know it's not possible for all parents to get away, particularly if you still have a child in the hospital. Believe me, I get it. Bodie was in the hospital for almost 5 months straight (I realize that's less than a lot of kids, but it felt like an eternity); we never would have attempted to get away at that point in time. But hang in there. Things will settle down. And when they do, and you have time to reassess, think back to this post, and let me be a little nudge to go, to try and get away, just for a bit, and focus back on one another. It'll be worth it, I promise. :-)