I am thinking about taking a 7 day bicycle/camping trip. However my wife cannot go for many reasons ( mostly because she dislikes biking). We have never been apart this length of time.
What does ancient Jewish wisdom have to say about being apart, by choice?
I have read all of your books ( except the Thought Tools I am currently reading) and listened to all your CDs -some many times and watched your DVD’s. I must say this has help me very much in business and relationships. Thank you! I look forward to more.
First of all, we appreciate hearing that our resources are helping you. It truly encourages us.
Your question is a great one and we compliment you and your wife for thinking this through. While husbands and wives can certainly have different interests, using the limited vacation time most of us have to follow those interests separately has the potential of becoming problematic.
Ancient Jewish wisdom specifically speaks about reserving the first year of marriage for building the marital relationship and we would suggest hesitating if you are newly married. It also insists that at any time in the marriage a husband cannot change his field of work to one that requires more time away from home without his wife’s agreement. So, separation is treated seriously.
When you think about it, one’s parents, children and siblings stay one’s parents, children or siblings even if they go for long periods without seeing each other. A marriage is different. The relationship is one that can end, and being apart too much or for too long raises questions as to whether there really is a marriage. We understand you are asking about a relatively short trip, but we want to emphasize that your question is very valid.
Other than that first year, we would ask whether this is a one time event – maybe a 25th reunion of your Army buddies – or unique in some other way. Has this been a long time dream of yours or has this opportunity fallen in your lap and sounds interesting? Is your marriage very strong or could either of you suspect an undercurrent of wanting to get away for a while? One very important question is whether this is a coed trip or all male. All these factors need to be discussed.
Perhaps there is a way that you can combine bike riding with a vacation your wife would enjoy. Seven days is a long time. Could you instead head for a week somewhere that interests her and do a two day bike trip within that time frame while she enjoys other activities? If you do decide to do the bike ride, can she meet up with you along the way at some points?
We can’t tell you what to decide. We know happily married people who, whether for work, hobbies or other pursuits, regularly spend time apart. However, those relationships do need strong counter balances to ensure that they are thriving. It is also important that both spouses are on the same page.
We have a feeling that you will get some words of wisdom from Ask the Rabbi readers as well.
We’d love to hear what you and your wife decide to do,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin