My husband and I are so grateful that we were given the opportunity to go on a romantic getaway to Victoria. We spent two and a half days just the two of us, in Canada’s most romantic city! Prior to this romantic getaway, the last time we were away just the two of us (for more than one night) was in 2010. I can’t believe it’s been 7 years! 7 years have gone by just like that and in that 7 years, we’ve had maybe two overnight stays sans kids.
Having three children is our excuse for sacrificing time together alone. We always put our children before ourselves and it’s become such an automatic way of living. Weekends are spent taking the kids to their lessons and hanging out as a family. We spread out our extra time between social events with couples and social stuff on our own. We do however do mundane activities with each other like grocery shopping and we spend a lot of time together as a family so that should be sufficient enough until the kids are grown and out of the house, right?
The thing is, you see this all too often. The empty nesters who have built their lives around their children while neglecting their marriage are having to learn how to get to know the spouse they’ve spent the last 25 years or more with. Sadly, these couples realize their marriage was solely based on raising their children and they find it difficult to have to get to know one another all over again.
What our romantic getaway in Victoria made us realize
During our romantic getaway in Victoria, my husband and I went on some delicious eating adventures. You can read about the places we ate here. During our first dinner, I noticed we ate our meals unusually fast. We looked around at the other couples dining, chatting under the romantic dim candlelight, and there we were, with empty plates, and empty glasses staring at each other. We started laughing because we realized how FAST we consumed every last crumb on our plates without even saying a word to one another! Clearly, the food was good, but we came to the conclusion that the reason we ate so fast was because we were so used to eating in a panic! A hurried feeling because we only have so much time before one of our children has a meltdown. So we hurry up and devour our food like it’s our last meal. In addition, someone might ask us to take them to the washroom, or one of the kids is going to say something to the other to piss them off and we won’t be able to enjoy our meal because we’re refereeing a fight instead. In other words, we ate extremely fast at our first romantic dinner because for the past 14 years it’s the only way we know how!
And this is exactly what a marriage with kids on autopilot feels like! You’re just unconsciously going through the motions of your daily life and most of the time in a hurry. You forget to ask your spouse how their day was because you’re too busy making sure dinner is on the table. Sometimes you even forget to be affectionate. The kids come first, so they get the hugs and kisses. A marriage on autopilot consists of work, taking care of the kids, individual hobbies and interests, and spending time with family and friends.
And then in the blink of an eye, your kids are grown and you’re staring at this person who you’ve shared your life with, and you’re like, “Hi. I’m your wife/husband. Nice to meet you. Wow, you’ve really aged.”
For this reason, we told ourselves that the next night at dinner we would slow down while we ate, and enjoy one another’s company. We realized we were going to have to train ourselves to stop living on autopilot and learn how to “date” one another again.
Learning to date again
The rest of the trip didn’t feel so hurried. We held hands through our walking food tour with A Taste of Victoria Food Tours where we met a retired couple on their very own romantic getaway. On our visit to Abkahzi Gardens, we were playful and tried our best to capture some photos with one another with the timer on our camera. We even did a little shopping at a local shoe & accessory shop called Heart and Sole. My husband insisted on buying me something. It felt like when we started dating and we didn’t sacrifice buying ourselves things. During our romantic dinner at Ill Terrazzo on the second evening, we sat in the corner by a cozy fireplace. Our conversation flowed back and forth but something about it felt different. I couldn’t remember the last time I really looked at my husband I mean, really looked at him. I told him how handsome he was and he blushed. And then from the corner of my eye, I noticed the retired couple who was on the walking food tour with us earlier that day. Their wrinkled lips were moving back and forth as they smiled and talked and sipped their wine.
In that moment I thought to myself I hope my husband and I do that when we’re that age. Suddenly, it hit me. We don’t have to wait until we’re empty nesters to date each other. We’re doing it now!
I don’t want to wait another 7 years to go on a romantic getaway with my husband.
But to do this, we have to stop sacrificing our marriage and start putting it first! And although it’s easier said than done, I want to do it because life is so short. My children know my husband and I love one another but I want to show my children what it means to be in love. I want to model to my girls what a healthy relationship looks and feels like. I want my daughters to choose relationships where they feel seen, heard and valued and this will only happen by choosing our marriage first.
When our daughters were sad that we were leaving them for the weekend we explained to them that when people are married they need to make time for each other. And then I used a plant analogy. I said, our marriage is like a plant and if we don’t water it will die. I know, a bit of a shocker for the girls to hear, but it’s the reality of life. Relationships need nurturing for them to continue to grow otherwise they become stagnant, and eventually, the love fades.
Our romantic getaway to Victoria inspired us to put our relationship first and although it can feel so indulgent and selfish to even say, I truly think this will, in fact, benefit our children in the long run. I know it won’t be easy, we will probably go back to being married on autopilot but our romantic getaway in Victoria definitely gave us some perspective on where our marriage was headed if we didn’t start making it a priority.
In essence, when we look back during the empty nest years I want us to be able to reminisce about the things we did for our marriage while raising our children.
I like dating my husband! It’s not hard to enjoy when you’re in Canada’s most romantic city. Thank you, Tourism Victoria for the memories that will last a lifetime!