Separate Vacations for Spouses

Does the idea of your spouse taking a vacation with her girlfriends or his guy friends make you uneasy?

David H.

Dear David,

You initially asked this question on our Happy Warrior discussion board, and it received some conflicting—and passionate—responses. We asked you if we could bring it to the attention of all our readers through this column and we thank you for allowing us to do so.

We recognize that the following answer has been used disgracefully and disgustingly by some university officials recently, but we do think that “It depends on context.” It is extremely valuable for both women and men to have friendships (same sex) in addition to their primary one with their spouse. Husbands and wives cannot be everything to each other, not incidentally because they are of opposite sexes. Many times, those additional roles are played by family, but friends are important as well. (We discuss why we need friends even if we have close-knit and wonderful families in our book The Holistic You).

However, and this is a big however, people we mistakenly think of as friends can, instead, be destroyers of our happiness. The culture encourages this today both by degrading male tendencies, labeling them as toxic masculinity, and by encouraging activities such as ‘girlfriend getaways’ with a focus on belittling the husbands left behind and behaving in ways that are inappropriate for single, let alone married women.

It is true that both before and during marriage, there are several questions that should be discussed because they encourage spouses to know and understand one another better, thereby getting closer. Openly discussing these questions also prevents problems rather than waiting for them to arise, usually at times not conducive to leisurely and relaxed conversation. We are going to include this very question as a good one for couples to discuss in our Live Chat this week. There isn’t an automatic answer of ‘yes’ or ‘no.’ It is very important to share the thinking behind one’s answers and to be aware of the positive and negative potential of one’s friends. This is a larger issue than separate vacations. Does it matter if your spouse doesn’t like your friends? How much of your marriage should you share with a friend?

Marriage and other evolving circumstances can change friendships. What was fine ten years ago may no longer be fine; the friend of one’s single years might not helpfully occupy the same place once one is married.

Thanks for a thought-provoking question,

Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin

This Ask the Rabbi is dedicated in memory of Mazal Bachar, a teacher aged 62, who was murdered in her home at Kibbutz Be’eri on October 7, 2023. Mazal is survived by her mother, daughter, and sisters.

And with prayers for the safe return home of all the bodies of murdered hostages, and those hostages still alive and among them, with God’s help, Daniel Peretz. Below, you can see a video of his father describing how the family decided to go ahead with his brother’s wedding (who was himself wounded in active fighting) despite Daniel being missing. (Based on additional information, his status has been updated to being a hostage.)

Watch the YouTube video here.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this Ask the Rabbi & Susan post.
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