Between making 28 Valentines with your kid and the special treats you might also be sending along to school, maybe you didn’t have the bandwidth to consider a present for your spouse. (Not that you need to!) But, I was remembering this Quickie Getaway piece we posted last March, written by sex therapist Ian Kerner, and I thought I’d repost it for today, since it is good idea for a present, if you’re in the market for one. You don’t have to know where you’re going to go–just the promise of a night away together should do the trick. Seriously, even a hotel in your own town, for just one night, can work magic.
The Quickie Getaway
I can’t believe I almost forgot the condoms. After all the commotion that went into making this overnight escape happen—the rescheduling, the cajoling of the in-laws for babysitting, the bribing of our two sons—it would have been so like me to get myself all pampered, preened, and liquored up and then get my wife, Lisa, knocked up.
So on the way to pick up the car, I stop and buy a three-pack of Trojans. It’s just the right number: aspirational but within the realm of possibility for one night away. I plan to use all three. In fact, it’s now one of the rules of the trip, which I lay out to Lisa on the rainy two-hour drive from New York City to northwestern Connecticut: In addition to lots of sex and alcohol, there will be no use of BlackBerries or cell phones, nor will there be any discussion of kids, work, school, alternative parenting styles, ideas for home improvement, impending financial cataclysm, or any of the other topics that normally preoccupy us.
I can tell that Lisa is wondering what the hell we’ll talk about for the next 24 hours, and even though I’m thinking the same thing, I remain staunchly committed to the principle that we will unplug and unwind; we will tune out (the world), tune in (to each other), and, oh yes, turn on (again, each other). It’s been more than seven years since we’ve been away as a couple—and that was on our honeymoon. Between two kids and two careers, we’ve had a million little excuses at the ready: The kids weren’t ready yet; the in-laws were nervous about sitting for us; Lisa was still breast-feeding; my work as a sex therapist (I know, ironic, huh?) and author had me crammed with clients and deadlines. Not only haven’t we had a night to ourselves, we haven’t even had a bed to ourselves. (Our son Owen is scared of the dark, and the monsters are winning.)
Checking into the Mayflower Inn and Spa in Washington, Connecticut, immediately relegates our anxieties to oblivion. I can only describe the experience as collapsing onto a feather bed of tranquillity and being carried on a cloud of massaging fingertips from one state of bliss to the next. We lounge by a fireplace in the taproom, then, robed and slippered, head to our first, much-anticipated treatment: the “couples soak.”
We enter a private chamber with a tub. Not just any tub; the mother of all tubs. It shimmers and hums and effuses a fragrant, delicate steam. Stepping inside is like being dipped into a giant cup of herbal tea.
We steep. We soak. Then we pluck ourselves out, only to be kneaded and prodded by our masseurs. They go by the rather prosaic names of Gary and Becky, but they are in fact Michelangelos, beneath whose hands we are blocks of clay to be artfully teased into better form. Before dinner, we stop at our room.
A couple who haven’t spent a single night away from their kids in five years finally set aside the excuses and set off on a sexy grown-ups only getaway.
Condom #1 deployed. Seriously, how can you play footsie in the tub and get a couples massage and not have sex?
At dinner I eat and drink like a Viking. We return to our room, besotted and full-bellied. After two bourbons neat, a glass of wine, clams casino, the strip steak, and a selection of sorbets, I can barely move, let alone have sex. Thank God there’s a step stool by the towering four-poster bed. This Viking is past the point of pillaging and ready for an Ambien.
That is, until Lisa climbs into bed, looking hotter than ever. She’s wearing a slinky, sheer lingerie thingy—which I know I didn’t buy, since all my purchases eventually find their way to the trash, so it must have been acquired especially for tonight. But no, Lisa informs me, she wore it on our wedding night. My bad—but I was so drunk by the time we crossed the threshold that I have no memory of the sex or the lingerie that accompanied it. That lapse has always bugged me. Now I get another shot at the wedding night I sort of never had.
Condom #2 deployed.
We sleep, and we sleep in. And for the first time in a long time, we wake up without a child between us. We don’t feel guilty. It doesn’t feel strange. It feels right.
As we drive home, a steady stream of e-mails is coming in on the BlackBerry, voice mails are waiting, and the governor of New York is talking about budget deficits on the radio. I tell Lisa we should do this once a year; she says she was thinking more like next month. I smile and take her hand. For all my rules about what we couldn’t talk about, it is good to know we still have a lot to share.
Of course the boys shout out as we walk through the door, and of course I am happy to see them. Yes, there was some drama during the 24 hours we were gone—a scuffle at school, a battle against bedtime—but in the end, they survived, and we flourished. More than a fair trade.
There’s still one condom left. But two out of three’s not bad. In fact, it’s good. Very good.
The Lowdown: First time leaving the kids behind? Ease in with a one-night escape. Follow the five rules below and your focus will be on each other—not on what’s happening back at home.
Pick the Right Night: Try your first sleepaway on a weeknight. If you work, your kids aren’t as used to your being around all day as they likely are on weekends—so you’re really just missing one dinner and one breakfast. Plus, it’s easier to score a nice room for a decent price midweek.
Don’t Fly: When you drive, the feeling of the trip starts immediately. But don’t overdo it—go somewhere within three hours. That way you’ll know you could rush home if you had to. And take out the car seats, so you aren’t constantly reminded of your missing passengers.
Find a Kid-Free Spot: Don’t go to a property that allows children—it’s a total buzzkill, and you’ll just start feeling guilty that yours are under house arrest.
Create a Call Policy: You won’t call to check in, and neither will the kids. It has to be a real emergency for Grandma to pick up the phone. And no, that doesn’t include “Owen isn’t eating his broccoli.”
Bribes Are Fine: Leave the kids with a present that will take the sting out of (or even incentive) being left behind—maybe a DVD.
Ian Kerner is the founder of the website Good in Bed.
Photos: Matthew Hranek