What Vacationing as a Family Taught Me about Marriage


Marriage, like a good vacation, requires a lot of work


This past week my family and I had some amazing adventures on the Carnival Dream – Carnival Cruise line. It was a super-fast week that we filled up with memories and adventures – and yes, a few sunburns as well. We visited Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel for our port stops, and we had three sea days as well. Here are some of the lessons that I discovered while on vacation

Getting ready to board the Carnival Dream on Vacation

Vacation and work are opposites in most mindsets. Both require a lot of pre-planning, and that is where most people drop the connection. However, on this vacation, Stephen and I had to do a lot of work to keep the vacation going smoothly. We had to communicate – a lot!


One of the ways that we did this was through (wait for it!) a whiteboard. This simple whiteboard with colorful markers helped us share with each other where one was. Yes, in the digital age, we could have texted or signed up for chat plan on board, but we wanted to save money, so simple notes on the whiteboard let us tell each other where we were going. On the last day, I awoke to a note from Stephen saying he was reading somewhere in the shade!

We all got way too much sun on this vacation, and there aren’t too many shady public locations on the ship, so I quickly found him on deck 11 reading and enjoying the quietness!

By communicating clearly, we diminished the number of arguments and frustrations because we both knew what was going on.

Focusing on Memories, not Adventures

On Saturday night, I told the family that YES they had to be at dinner that night. I didn’t book an extra special restaurant or pay for a better meal; I simply insisted that we spend the time together. We laughed and joked, enjoyed watching our children’s faces as they interacted with the wait staff, hilariously observed our second son taste a mango ginger soup (he didn’t like it at all, and was unprepared for the spiciness of it!) and shared a nice meal together.

I have found that it is in the simple times of life that make the strongest memories together.  While I will miss a week off of cooking and cleaning, I will definitely remember the memories of the time that we spent together.

vacation tweet

Alone Times are Ok

On Wednesday morning, we landed in Jamaica and set off for the Sunscape Resort. Ok, ya’ll this resort was so family friendly I could not believe it. Whenever I think of all-inclusive resorts, I typically think of just a couple’s resorts. And while these are important for vacations, having a family-friendly resort is important for people like me – with four children!

When we got there, we had a quick introduction and a mini-tour, in which they announced an included snorkeling tour. I was so excited!!!

I love to snorkel.

The next time you plan a vacation, remember to make it memorable and special - just like your marriage Click To Tweet

I’m just a newbie at snorkeling, but the few times that I have done it on my own have been so much fun. However, I’m not brave enough to go out very far on my own (not drowning is pretty high on my bucket list of life), but since this was a group excursion, I felt very comfortable in attempting my first group excursion.

The crew there were nice in helping me get the right size of mask and fins, offered life jackets for swimmers who needed it (I declined, since I know I can swim pretty good). And off we went. For thirty minutes, we bobbled and snorkeled through the Caribbean sea. Our guide dove down and got a female urchin for us to hold, and showed us various places that had the best colorful fish (and even the hidden flounder on the bottom of the sea!) I had such a great time doing this.

But remember? My husband and my four kids? None of them like to snorkel. Nope. Nada – and yes, I’ve tried to convince them. Maybe one day they will, but for now, they’ll have to practice in the shallows.

A family vacation means that sometimes you can do things that are not always together. My husband was so kind as to watch the kids and let me do something that meant a lot to me. He understood that while he couldn’t snorkel with me, he wanted me to have that adventure.

In marriage, being there to help each other out and allow the other person to have a special blessing (or perk!) is so crucial for a quality relationship. A marriage is a union of two people into one, but that doesn’t mean that that the individual personalities are gone.

The Vacation Dab

This little bit of ‘freedom’ and enjoyment alone, helped me to want to spend more time with the others.

Loving Another Person Sometimes Means Doing Things You Don’t Want

While I love snorkeling, going down waterslides is not one of my favorite tasks. There is just something about going down a tight, winding slide into a face (and nose-full) amount of water that is not appealing to me. Now, if I’m on an inner tube or raft, I tend to like waterslides more because the splashes are not so in-your-face.

My daughters love waterslides. A lot.

Read Also: Tips for Vacationing With Kids

They want to race down waterslides. Over and over again. Five stories tall? Even better in their opinion. My husband shares their opinion and also likes to do the toilet-bowl ones. These are the slides that have a steep slide/drop-off and place you into a round bowl where you speed around in a circle. Which means, you are getting dizzy AFTER being in a scary-tight (and dark) waterslide.

And so I did it. No, it was not my preferred activity for that afternoon, but it was something my family wanted to do together. And afterward, I am glad that I did it.  I did manage to remember to hold my nose and not get my sinuses rinsed out with pool water, and I successfully did the toilet-bowl slide without getting too dizzy. All in all, I call that a successful day!

Summing it all up:

A good family vacation, like a good marriage, requires planning to create special memories.  Being alone and doing activities that one person likes is ok for a short amount of time, but being together and doing waterslides (if that is what your family likes) is equally important.

So the next time you’re planning a vacation, step back and plan to make some great memories and adventures. It’s not the location of the vacation that will make memories, it is what you do on a moment-to-moment basis that will make the right difference.

Have you had an amazing vacation? Tell me about it and what made it so special!


6 thoughts on “What Vacationing as a Family Taught Me about Marriage”

  1. Vacations as you point out sometimes involve doing things you wouldn’t otherwise choose to do. In that way, they are much like life. I love the idea of focusing on making memories instead of having adventures. The word adventure has an unusual connotation in my family. It’s the word I used when we suffered inconveniences like, for example, a flat tire. That perspective teaches us to look at interruptions in a positive way. But the memories of vacation, we hope, are so much more! Great post!

    1. Thank you Nancy; I like your positive spin on adventures because that is a much better term than a “bad day”. Thanks so much for reading!

  2. I love the whiteboard idea Johanna. Also that last tip; when you love someone and a bond forms, that bond takes you some places the ego wishes you not to visit. AKA you do stuff you maybe did not want to do at first, but, you usually wind up enjoying. Fabulous post.

    1. Exactly! You nailed it! The ego often gets in the way of real fun, but pushing past that has amazing rewards! Thanks for reading Ryan! 🙂

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