I’m a bit of a statistics nerd, and though I don’t usually remember actual percentages, certain things tend to stick with me when I read them. Early on, I discovered that the stats were stacked against my marriage, especially since it is my husband’s second. As the years went on, we only added to the likelihood that we would split by adopting three kids with significant special needs. This spring, my real-life hero and I will celebrate our 25th anniversary, and as we draw ever closer to the empty-nester phase of our relationship, we’re better than ever. If I attribute that to any one thing, I think the most important factor for me (besides keeping Jesus at the center of our relationship) is our commitment to spending time together as often as we can.
In the early days of our relationship, similarly to a CCR relationship, all we wanted to do was hang out together, and if we weren’t together, we’d call each other or write letters to each other. Now, it’s harder to do with kids, a grandkid, dogs, chickens, jobs, and life all vying for our attention. Carving out that special time to go grab a coffee or spend a weekend away can require careful planning, but the impact on our relationship has been huge.
One of the statistics I remember reading was one of the times a couple is most likely to divorce. I was shocked to see that a large percentage happened at twenty years. I didn’t understand it until I saw that drift happen in our marriage. When you get into a daily grind, it’s easy to miss those opportunities to connect with each other. Once we made the conscious decision to make time together a priority, we remembered how much we like hanging out.
If you haven’t prioritized spending time together, sit down with your spouse or significant other and list things you enjoy doing together. Doug and I are both introverts, so our activities are usually fairly solitary, even if we are out in public…a movie night at home, coffee at our local Biggby, or checking out the lighthouses along the shore of Lake Michigan. We also love traveling together, although I’m a bit more of an adventurer than Doug.
Since we still have four of our seven kids living at home, we obviously want to spend time taking family vacations with our kids, but we usually spend a couple of weekends a year away. Michigan is a great state for short getaways! We love spending time in the Upper Peninsula and usually go up at least once a year.
We also alternate taking a longer vacation with just the two of us every other year with our family vacations. Last year, we took our kids to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, for spring break. This year, we took a solo East Coast color tour. I’ve sprinkled photos from the trip throughout this post. My top three states that we visited were West Virginia, Vermont, and much to my surprise and delight, Rhode Island. I adore the mountains, and the colors in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, the Green Mountains of Vermont, and the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia were absolutely stunning! I also loved the tranquility of the waves on the beaches of Rhode Island.
I think the most fun we have on our vacations is when we visit areas off the beaten path. As we drove through the Allegheny Mountains, GPS took us on some roads that were only wide enough for two vehicles to pass through with drop-offs on at least one side. The scenery was gorgeous, and since my husband is hilarious, he had me in stitches with his commentary on the state of the road. It was definitely a trip to remember!
If you’re keeping track with me, this trip has left me with only nine states left to visit on my bucket list. We’ve already scheduled our trip with the kids to North Dakota to visit Theodore Roosevelt National Park next summer. I’ve rented a beautiful, secluded cabin outside the park, and we’re all super excited to go. That just leaves South Carolina, Kansas, Arkansas, Nevada, Oregon, California, Hawaii, and Alaska. We’re planning a cruise to Alaska for our 30th anniversary, so if you’ve vacationed in any of those other states, give me your best travel tips. We’d love to visit areas that are a bit more secluded as some of our kiddos have trouble with crowds and noise.
You can also give me your best tips for how you keep the romance alive in your relationships. Bonus points if they’re budget friendly!