Sometimes, you just need to run away with the person you love for the weekend.
Last month, Andrew and I took a very belated anniversary trip to nearby Weston, Missouri, known for its antique stores, underground pub, and rolling countryside. I say "belated" because our 5th anniversary was in October - just four days after we had landed back in the United States. We were beyond jet lagged and could barely manage to stay awake while lounging around with our family. Even thinking about getting away together for dinner, if it required me getting out of my sweatpants, was just too much work.
But in the depths of winter one morning, Andrew and I looked at each other over the flying food from our baby's plate and his accompanying hollers and said, We need to get away. That same day, I booked a hotel for one night in April in Weston. Our baby was over a year old. I was still nursing him occasionally then, but if the weekend trip weaned him, it wouldn't kill either of us.
Weston is an adorable little town about 45 minutes away from us. During the winter, a nearby "fake snow" ski resort keeps people occupied. Summer, spring and fall see loads of festivals, winery tastings, concerts, and more.
My mom watched the baby for the weekend, and we drove away Saturday morning out of the city, through tilled fields with tinges of green popping up over the furrows, along roads that curved around hills and sidled along creeks. Andrew has been working on an engineering project in Weston, and he pointed out water towers and waste management sites I would never have noticed on my own. We stopped at the Farmer's House, a homemade goods shop run by a nonprofit that trains youth with special needs, building job skills and experience. We picked up some homemade raspberry-ginger jam and pumpkin pecan butter, tasty souvenirs.
After a quick lunch in a cafe (think country, not coffee), we headed out to the state park just 5 minutes away for an hour of hiking. I forget how refreshing it is to get out of the city and surround myself with scaly trees, rustling leaves, and softly chirping birds. A few hikers passed us on the trail here and there, but otherwise, we felt like the forest was our own.
On our way back into town, we drove up and down the streets, looking at the Civil War-era houses still standing, amazingly, and reading the plaques describing the families who had built them. Andrew and I both love to look at old buildings, and Weston provided plenty for us to enjoy. After a bit of shopping downtown, we headed to our room for a much-needed nap.
Weston is known for its bed and breakfast inns, and ours was no different - Victorian floral wallpaper, creaking wooden floors, sheer lace curtains, and a brass headboard. We checked in and crashed for the first nap in a year we didn't have to fear would be broken by a baby's cry - bliss.
Our evening was spent at O'Malley's, a local restaurant with an underground pub, built into caverns that also hold distilleries and brewing rooms. It's renowned for its dank staircases and three levels of rooms that hold different entertainers every weekend. The cigarette smoke, completely legal in Weston indoors (unlike KC!), proved a bit too much for us. But it was so unique to stand far beneath the ground, listening to acoustic music ringing off the stone walls.
Sunday morning held a brunch like I had never experienced back at our bed and breakfast - sliced fresh fruit, thick coffee, French toast stuffed and spilling over with mascarpone cheese and blueberries, crustless spinach quiche, and a banana split to finish it off. We didn't eat again for hours.
We desperately needed that weekend away. This winter was so hard - physically and emotionally. Declan and I were constantly sick, and our new jobs drained us of any extra energy we might have been able to use towards enriching our marriage. We had not done anything together for pure enjoyment in a long time.
But being away for just over 24 hours gave us fresh perspective on each other. We laughed, shared stories, told jokes, encouraged each other to keep hiking on the 30-minute trail that turned into an hour, pointed out sites we knew the other person would find interesting, and spent time celebrating our marriage without a tiny person wailing in the background.
I wish we had gotten away much sooner. But maybe going later made me appreciate it more.
If you're married, don't wait for the perfect time to get away with your spouse. We are deeply fortunate to have family willing and able to spend the weekend with our son, and the financial resources to afford it. I know that's not possible for everyone.
But if it is, stop making excuses and go. Get a hotel room. Travel to a different city - or just a different part of your city. Do something new and challenging and different with the person you love. These are the memories that will reinforce your relationship when your marriage feels dry and mundane. It's not that you'll remember what you ate or where you slept. But you'll remember that the person you're lying next to isn't just the breadwinner or the housekeeper or the babysitter or the gardener.
You'll remember why you fell in love and why you're still in love. Memories will remind you why it's all worth it.