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She Says: “A vacation means a nice hotel on the beach”

By Deacon Tom and JoAnne Fogle

She Says: “A vacation means a nice hotel on the beach”

Callie says: How can Joe think that hiking and camping constitute a vacation? That sounds like torture, especially when we can afford to do something nice. I don’t want separate vacations; I just want him to come along with me to the beach.

He Says: “I want to go hiking and camping on vacation”

Joe says: I really want to go hiking in Yellowstone for our vacation, but Callie is set on a four-star hotel near the ocean. I think the solution is separate vacations, but you’d think I had suggested calling a divorce attorney by the way Callie acted when I brought up the idea.

What do they do?

Joe and Callie should not see this vacation as a “make-or-break” point in their relationship; instead, it should be viewed as more of a “stop along the way” in their journey and not the “destination.” It is an opportunity to come closer together; it is not an unsolvable problem. Scripture reminds us that there is a right way and a wrong way to seek our desires: “You ask but do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” (James 4:3)

What married couple has not encountered Joe and Callie’s situation? Couples don’t always have the same idea of what constitutes a good vacation. What Joe and Callie have forgotten is that being married is not about making our spouse think, act and choose exactly as we would (how boring would that be), but to complement one another, which calls for consideration of each other’s views through an unselfish lens.

Although Joe and Callie are to be commended for recognizing their need for rest and time away from their usual work routine, this conflict appears to be taking the edge off their excitement.

They may find it more useful to forget about the “venue” and focus instead on their wishes and desires. In other words: What does each desire to achieve with a vacation? What does each hope to gain? What needs are being satisfied? For example, if the desire is to spend time together and rekindle their closeness, then a place where intimacy can be found would be called for. If the desire is to be somewhere warm, then location would trump venue. If the desire is to catch up on some reading, then, again, venue is not as important. The key for both of them is to try to articulate what they hope to gain from this particular vacation, knowing there are future vacations in store.

Therefore, it is the manner in which one deals with needs and desires that is important. The motivation for any action can be wrong, especially if one does not pray properly, but seeks only selfish enjoyment. If Joe and Callie would seek understanding from the Holy Spirit, they may discover their persistence in getting their own way is not helping them to grow as a couple, remembering that “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

Joe and Callie need to discuss this dilemma and share their feelings, not about what they individually hope to gain from the vacation, but about how they individually can help each other attain what he or she desires. The focus should be on the other, and not on self. Once Joe and Callie focus their listening with an open, loving heart in consideration of the other’s desires and feelings, they will be more responsive to, and intent on pleasing, the other. In that simple step of focusing on the needs of the other, they may find they have decided upon one of the best vacations ever, as they see joy and love in each other’s eyes.

Deacon Tom and JoAnne Fogle help prepare couples for marriage.