Not only is it important for your own personal mental well being to take time off work and get away during the summer months, but it is also important for the health and stability of your relationship. Sometimes, however, summer vacations can often feel more like work and less like play.

The kids are home for the summer and nagging with boredom, your house is in a state of constant upheaval, and the aftermath of last week’s camping trip sits in your basement in a pile of endless laundry. What gives? If you don’t deliberately make it a priority to connect emotionally with your partner by spending time together this summer, your relationship can easily get swept under the rug.

Here is a quick story from my private practice of how one couple made time to connect while on vacation:

Paul and Erica (names changed for anonymity) packed the Salsa Card Deck and Love Maps Card Deck into their luggage while on their recent vacation to Hawaii. Once the kids were settled into their seats on the flight, Paul and Erica flipped through the Love Maps Card Deck, answering the open ended questions and exploring each other’s dreams, goals, likes, and dislikes. Both were surprised by the amount of new information they learned about each other, even after years of marriage together. Erica in particular felt a powerful emotional connection stirring while in flight and was eager to move onto the Salsa Card Deck.

The couple made an agreement that while on their weeklong family vacation, they would select one card daily from the Salsa Card Deck and try a new suggestion for spicing up their intimacy to create lasting memories from their trip. Their romantic adventures, both inside and outside of the bedroom, created a new meaning for their family vacation – it was no longer “all about the kids.” While sitting on the plane heading back to the mainland, Paul and Erica giggled quietly as they held hands and shared a deeper emotional bond.

Thanks for reading! Have a great summer.

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In addition to her role as Director of Professional Development for The Gottman Institute, Laura is a licensed marriage and family therapist associate with a private practice in the Greater Seattle area specializing in pre-marital/pre-commitment counseling.