How did you and your mate spend the last weekend? Doing chores? Mowing the lawn? Rushing from the kids' soccer game to a fast-food restaurant to the next obligation? Or did you steal away for a little fun and romance? Smart couples realize that if you want a strong relationship, it's vital to schedule time together -- and weekends provide the perfect opportunity for romance. Stoke the flames with these weekend getaway strategies.
(Secret ingredient: Anticipation) Every three months, sit down with your mate and open your calendars. Identify at least one weekend per month that you'll reserve just for the two of you and schedule it -- no work, no cell phones, no intrusions. If you have kids, arrange for their care, perhaps by trading child care weekends with another couple. Schedule an entire quarter in one sitting.
Start a file of ideas for places to visit and things to do. Since a weekend doesn't allow much travel time, cruise the travel aisle of a bookstore or library and grab books about your area for ideas. Go online together (try the sites below) for more regional options.
Go on a Quest
(Secret ingredient: Discovery) Have a secret passion for caves, antiques, whales, good wine, rock and roll memorabilia? Go on a quest together. Psychology Today reports, "Couples who share exciting experiences report more relationship satisfaction, as well as more romance, than do couples with more mundane habits." Take a class to learn more about your obsession, and, if necessary, physically train for your quest in advance. Seeking and discovering together creates excitement, unity and a lot to talk about afterward.
(Secret ingredient: Laughter) Think beyond the obvious and try something fun and different. Cuddle in a sleeping bag for two under the night sky the second week of August and watch the Perseid meteor showers. Re-create the season you met, complete with food, fashions, music, and, if you have them, old love letters. Stay somewhere off-beat -- such as a weekend in a caboose, complete with hot tub and sumptuous breakfast, at the Featherbed Railroad Company (www.featherbedrailroad.com).
Stick to the Budget
(Secret ingredient: Sensory bliss)
If your budget limits travel or tickets, make your romantic getaway a stay-at-home vacation for the spirit and senses. Locate the best sunset in your area and watch the sun sink together as you savor wine and chocolates. Go to a private park, beach or mountaintop and absorb the beauty together with a specially created soundtrack of romantic songs (see below) for the occasion. Lounge on a luxurious blanket for a fireplace picnic and share a delectable treat or two. No fireplace? Turn out the lights and display a virtual "fire" or "aquarium" on your TV (www.fogware.com).
(Secret ingredient: Luxury) Celebrate special occasions -- not just your anniversary, but perhaps the first day of autumn, or to honor an achievement or to express gratitude for surviving a challenging time. For these weekends, go for broke with deluxe accommodations and indulgences. The fact that it's only for a weekend will help contain costs while providing memorable moments to cherish. Check out the romance packages at luxury hotels and resorts and splurge for upgraded rooms, champagne and strawberries, massages for two, front row tickets or a private gourmet dinner on your balcony.
But what about the weekends you can't get away? Do your chores. Volunteer. Go to the soccer game. Put the kids to bed. Then cuddle with your mate to relive the memories and dream about the next romantic getaway weekend.