Caring for the ‘Couple You’

By Kim Strobel

April 8, 2019

Why Parents Need to Nurture Their Relationship

This may surprise some of you, but sometimes the Happiness Coach has to coach herself. It happened recently, and it happened because I started having anxiety, guilt, and stress about a beach vacation. (Yes, a vacation … I promise this will make sense!)

Every year in May, my husband and I embark on a seven-day, all-inclusive beach vacation. And we LIVE. IT. UP!

Picture fruity cocktails in hand, dancing on stages, doing cartwheels in the sand. Sometimes I even work in a little happiness coaching with the people next to me on the beach (Just ask my friend, Amber, who I met this way a few years ago!)

This yearly trip allows my husband and me to refill our “love tanks” and fall completely back in love with each other. It’s like we remember how to just be together, no distractions—not as parents, but as Kim and Scott. We give our relationship attention the rest of the year, too … but this vacation is our extra-special time.

But this year … well, this year I started getting anxious about the trip. Because our son, Spencer, is a senior and there are only 22 weeks (yes, I counted) left before he heads off for college, and I’ll have lost my baby for good.

How could I give up a whole week for an adults-only trip when I have so little time left with him?!

I was driving myself crazy with worry, so I thought about what my lifelong therapist and life coach would say. I channeled my inner Charlie (that’s his name), and we had a little conversation.

Charlie: Kim, is Spencer going to be in school while you are on this trip?

Me: Yes.

Charlie: So he leaves early in the morning and doesn’t get home until around 3:30?

Me: Well, he has golf practice after school, so I don’t usually see him until 5:30.

Charlie: And when he gets home, what happens?

Me: He gives me a hug, and we have dinner. And then he disappears into his room for the rest of the evening like most 18-year-old boys do.

Charlie: Then you see him for about 30 minutes a day, is that right?

Me: About. And then I usually sneak into his room before bed for 5 minutes to bless him and kiss his forehead—until he kicks me out.

Charlie: So you shouldn’t go on this seven-day trip with your husband—a trip you say is one of the highlights of your relationship—so you don’t miss out on a week of 30-minute dinners and a quick goodnight kiss?

Wow … Inner Charlie is tough! And he’s also right.

My marriage is worth the trip. My husband and I have earned this time together. I teach the importance of self-care for individuals—well, RELATIONSHIPS deserve that same level of care!

This trip is important to Scott and me for the opportunity to reconnect and recommit. And it’s important for our kids to see that Mom and Dad value their relationship—and still know how to have a little fun without them! (I hope that someday, if Spencer gets married and has children, he and his wife honor their yearly trip.)

I’m sure my thoughts will turn to Spencer a time or two while we’re on this year’s trip. (And I’ll look forward to our regular Sunday night movie when I return.) But I’ll also take comfort knowing that when my boy heads off to college in August, I’ll still have a husband I love being with at home.

  • I love this, Kim! My husband and I just returned from a 7-day, adults only beach vacation in Jamaica (celebrated our 25th anniversary)!! It was a blast, but I did miss my kids (they couldn’t have come anyway–one’s in college and the other was on a high school trip in the UK). You’re right though, it is so important because the kids are going to grow and leave us one day, but this relationship is for the long haul!! <3

  • How beautiful this is, Kim! You and Inner Charlie are so right. As parents, we tend to forget about ourselves when it comes to our children–and if we didn’t so many judgments come through about what a good parent you aren’t!
    My personal experience was eye opening: my children’s lives had consumed ours and when our last child left for college, my husband and I were left looking at shell-shocked strangers (each other)! However, our children were understanding and very supportive and encouraged us to “get to know each other” again–without them. What a wonderful ride this has been and when I think about how quickly our children noticed the “new normal” and encouraged us to “do us”–it fills my heart with joy!

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