Kristin Prentiss Ott, M.D.

Marriage: The Grass is Greener…

About a year and a half ago, Mickey and I got away for a few days to a luxury resort in the Dominican Republic. It should have been heaven, but I packed guilt and worry in my luggage and brought them with us.

So there I was in this beautiful country, with my handsome husband getting a massage and my mind was running like the needle on a sewing machine stitching together unsettling possibilities.

What if one of our kids gets hurt while we’re gone?

What if something happens to both of us?

We’re already gone a lot; are they going to resent us when we get back?

And so when we got home safely, I was so flooded with relief, I said:

“I don’t want to go that far – or leave them for that long again until they’re old enough to remember us.”

But if you’re in a long-term committed partnership, you know how important it is to nourish your relationship. Mickey and I have been married for 11 years. Long enough to have friends who are divorced. Long enough to know that good marriages, like lush lawns and beautiful gardens – require tending.

You may have heard the expression:

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This adage is a reminder that if you put time, energy and effort to your relationship, the grass won’t be greener on the other side.

But let’s face it, this and this…

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Not sexy.

So we started planning one night get-aways. This spring we had a staycation in Savannah and did this:

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(Look at that sexy man on a Segway!)

We went out for lunch and dinner, got a massage, spent one night in a hotel downtown, and went out for breakfast the next day. We were back home with our kids in just over 24-hours and it was ah-mazing! Guilt and worry free. We both came home feeling like we’d had a week of vacation.

We resolved to do more short get-aways. This past week we spent one night at The Ritz-Carlton on Amelia Island.

We swam:

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And slept:

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And had total food-gasms (#foodporn):

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It was one of the best vacations we’ve ever had.

And we were home to this:

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(note lush lawn and happy kiddos) in just under 26 hours.

People talk about ebb and flow in a relationships – the natural peaks and troughs of love – feasts and famine of affection. But I like to think of seasons.

After 11 years of marriage, we’ve weathered a few winters, but (praise God) Mickey and I have been basking in the lushness of summer for a while. I just hadn’t really been “stopping to smell the roses” (so to speak). During the 2-hour drive down to Amelia Island, I mostly scoured social media and read articles online.

On the way home?

We talked the whole time.

The Ritz-Carlton’s current advertising slogan is, “Let us stay with you.”

letusfinal

Yes, Ritz-Carlton, you will stay with me!

You will stay with me like the memory of a summer garden when there’s a foot of snow on the ground. 

Because if you’ve been been together long enough, you know what flows, will ebb (and then flow again) and what basks in summer glory will feel a winter chill (but surely bloom again). And in the winter of a relationship, sometimes what sustains you is not the promise of summer, but the memory of it.

So maybe you can’t afford a week at a resort –

or maybe you don’t have enough vacation days –

or maybe (like us) you don’t have family nearby to watch your kids –

or maybe (like me) you just feel too anxious and guilty leaving your kids for too long –

Try a one-night vacation. It will stay with you. Just as the grass is greener where you water it, your memory of a summer garden will be strongest if you take the time to soak it in.

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PS – Does anyone else weirdly associate Ritz-Carlton hotels with Harrison Ford painting pictures of Ritz cracker boxes in the movie Regarding Henry?

PPS – For a synopsis of a vacation that’s the opposite of those featured in this post, read: Our National Lampoon’s Family Vacation.

 

Photo credit: Garden photo – flikr ukgardenphotos

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Kristin Prentiss Ott, M.D.

Author of the viral post: 10 Things to Know Before Your Next Visit to the Emergency Department. Board certified emergency medicine physician, wife, mother, aspiring novelist.
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3 Comments

  1. Blair Anderson, RN

    Good message, Kristin! I’ve been married 20 years (what?!?) And can testify that a marriage is like a garden, needing constant attention, patience, and work. All well worth the struggles, aggravations, and hurts, because joy comes in the morning!

    1. Kristin Prentiss Ott, M.D. (Post author)

      Yes! Miss you, Blair!!

  2. Smitty

    Dear Marriage Horticulturalist, Hopefully, many couples will “read and heed” your sage advise. The most important point is that when the flowers in our garden wilt and start to fade and dry, do not yank-out the deep-rooted bulbs….a new season will arrive. Dr. Ott, you are a wise woman!

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