Should Spouses Vacation Separately?

Dear Robin:

I’ve been married four years (together 6) and it’s the second marriage for us both (I’m 54, he’s 53).  

My husband Jerry and I usually take two vacations together every year but suddenly he thinks we should vacation separately.

I found this out when I asked him where we should go for our next vacation and he said he was thinking of a golf trip with some college friends and maybe we should have “friend” vacations once a year instead of doing both together.  

Neither of us have much vacation time so adding another week-long trip isn’t an option.

We had a fight and I’m upset.  I don’t think this is normal.  What do you think?


(Readers: I am still working on my advice reply to the covenant marriage question posed yesterday in “Covenant Marriage – She Wants One, He’s Not So Sure.”  Please enjoy this oldie in the meantime!)

Dear Kelsey:

You are correct.  This is not normal.

Not for your marriage, anyway.

Some couples like time away from each other and take separate vacations. Some don’t.  

This is a new and sudden development in your marriage and while I wouldn’t jump to conclusions just yet (do we smell a mistress, Readers?) this proposal by your husband is worth exploring.

We exchanged several emails and spoke on the phone over the past couple of weeks on this subject and two things stood out to me:

1. Your description of your past vacations; and

2. Some recent changes in the marriage.

Changes in Vacations

Jerry is a very active and athletic guy and you prefer to sit by the pool with a book.  That’s fine, except one little detail you told me nonchalantly as if it hardly mattered:

Up until last year you pretended to like his vacation style and participated begrudgingly while feigning enjoyment.

You engaged in mountain biking, parasailing, golfing, hiking, snorkeling, sailing, and various and sundry other activities with a smile on your face and an angry little grimace in your heart, building up a healthy resentment towards Jerry while forgetting your starring role in the charade.

After some marital counseling you finally “used your words” and explained his type of vacationing wasn’t really your type.

Since then, you and Jerry have had two vacations and both were a bust.  He went off on his own while you stayed at the hotel and the evenings were strained. That’s not surprising, since you both lead very busy lives and these vacations are supposed to be a time for you to unwind together and reconnect.

Changes in the Marriage

As noted above, you and your husband are in marriage counseling.  

Jerry initiated the counseling when, according to him, you underwent a significant personality transplant and morphed from the active, happy, outgoing woman he fell in love with into a sad and lumpy grump with an occasional raging temper.  

Previously a social butterfly and always up for a good time, you stopped extending and accepting invitations from friends and family.  Your two grown children have spoken with Jerry about these changes and for that, you became angry and stopped speaking to them for several weeks.

Despite financial challenges brought on by Jerry’s fluctuating income, you developed a new internet spending habit that rivals Imelda Marcos in her prime. When he asked you to stop you went to the post office and started having your packages delivered there instead of your home.  

Jerry figured this out while paying credit card bills (did you not see that one coming?) and was rightfully pretty pissed.

As for sex?  That’s not happening.  You shut down the park many months ago and hung a sign on the fence reading “closed until further notice.” After a long time trying to romance you, Jerry gave up.

Changes in Your Body

Kelsey, please don’t figure out where I live and come over here to kick my ass because I think I know what’s happening and you aren’t going to like my perspective.  I’ve seen this before – many times before – both in letters and in life.

Honey, I think you’re going through The Change.


Um, no.  Sorry, Gandhi.

Not that Change.  This is the Change we neither want to see nor be, at least not while it’s happening.  

I am certainly no physician but I do proudly possess and am familiar with lady bits. Our conversations lead me to believe you are either dipping your toe or fully wading into Peri-Menopause River or Menopause Lake.  It doesn’t really matter which, because a toe dip in the river always ends up with a swim in the lake.

Your job is to get yourself across Menopause Lake without drowning and without dragging your spouse, friends, and family to the bottom.

It’s not going to be easy.  

Even the Mayo Clinic categorizes menopause as a “disease or condition” on their website.  Speaking of their website (and of the fact I’m not a doctor) please click below for more information on this fun part of life that can last for years!

Menopause: When You Want to Kill Everyone and You’re Always Hot.


If the changes in your personality are due to menopause there may be medical options for you to alleviate some of your symptoms.  You need to speak with your doctor, be brutally honest and thorough, and explore some alternatives to make this time less filled with fuckery.

Of course, I know nothing about this subject.  I am still YOUNG and FERTILE and READY TO HAVE ANOTHER BABY!!!!


Other Possibilities

You may also be experiencing some other condition, either physical or mental, that is causing these changes in your lifestyle and personality. Luckily for me, the advice to see your doctor remains the same.  I love it when we have a one-size-fits-all solution, don’t you?

It’s also possible you pulled a bait-and-switch on Jerry and pretended to be someone you aren’t in order to secure the relationship.  You may feel that a few years in it’s safe to reveal who you really are because hey, you’re married now!

Did you forget he can still divorce you?  He will list “False Advertising” instead of “Irreconcilable Differences” in the Divorce Petition and file it with both the family court and the Federal Trade Commission.

What About Vacation?

Sorry Kelsey, but I am siding with Jerry on this one.  

He needs at least one of his two vacations to be devoted to activities he enjoys with other people.  It’s not fair to ask him to sit by the pool doing nothing with you or having lonely adventures on his own.

If you are upset about this, find some compromise!  Sit down with your husband and figure out a few things you both love to do.  I can’t believe you actually want to sit idle all day, and it isn’t good for you.

Also, have you considered vacationing with friends?  

Perhaps you know couples like you – one half prefers to be very active and the other does not.  Vacationing together might be a lovely way for both you and Jerry to get what you want and still have away time unencumbered by simmering resentments at the end of the day.

Once you identify some activities you can both get excited about, plan a few long weekends together over the next several months and get your vacation mojo back.

Marriage Counseling, etc. – Advice by Bullet Points

  • Keep up the counseling.  Even if menopause is to blame for these issues, a talented therapist can give you both coping tools.  No, Jerry, not duct tape, a hammer, and a shovel.
  • Re-open the park or be prepared that Jerry will find another.  He has tried all sorts of things to get you in the mood but you still rebuff him.  Either give your husband the affection he deserves or be prepared for him to find someone else.  For god’s sakes, woman, you’ve only been married 4 years. Step up your game before you find yourself sitting on the bench.
  • Get more exercise.  It can’t hurt and it can certainly help.
  • Throw a party and put yourself back in the game of life.  You need your friends around you during this time and they need you too!  Us old ladies need to stick together.

That’s it.  Let me know how it goes.

Readers: what do you think?  Sound off and leave a comment!