10/10/2013 07:51 am ET Updated Dec 10, 2013

Road Trips -- The Secret To A Good Marriage

Living in Seattle can be weather challenging at times, so being the good planner that I am I booked a trip for my wife, some friends and me for a week in sunny Europe. A week before the trip my wife asked me if I really wanted to go and went on to ask if I would consider canceling. "Canceling, are you kidding," was my immediate reaction. "Well not cancel the vacation but you and I can do a staycation," she suggested. I nearly burst into laughter as I had heard this term used many times during our Great Recession.

She reminded me we had been going 90 mph with various work and philanthropic endeavors. "What if we cancelled the trip and we didn't book anything so we could have some quality time," she offered. Oh no, is this where the honey-do list comes out, I thought. "We could go to some college football games, see that race car movie you want to see, workout together and take some day trips," she said. Did my wife just suggest going to football games and a car racing movie? Ok, I was listening.

After three days of doing what most would consider guy stuff, my wife suggested we take a road trip to central Washington to go picking. Picking is code word for going to old dusty places and looking for junk which she calls 'collectibles.' Ok, if it makes her happy.

We loaded up the car and headed over the mountains. Within an hour of leaving our house our phone signal was gone. Then something happened, for the next three hours we talked about life. We asked each other deep questions, we listened, and we asked more questions. It seemed as though this was our first date. Without the noise of the world, phone calls, emails, texts, even music, it forced us to be present with each other. I learned things about my wife that in the 13 years of being with her I didn't know. The time was profound for us as a couple.

This reminded me of when I was 17 and our teacher brought a couple who had been married 65 years into our Family and Marriage class. They were asked to talk to us about their secret of staying together. The woman talked nonstop about their success. She went on and on for 45 minutes without taking a breath. The man sat there not saying a word, his head looking down to the floor. Finally, our teacher asked him the secret to staying married so long. Slowly the elderly man raised his head and looked at our class. "Listen," he said, and never uttered another word.

Our parents had more luck staying married than we do. Today you have a 50 percent chance of staying married the first time, 60 percent chance of being divorced the second time around, and 73 percent chance of divorcing on your third marriage. The average length of marriage is around 8 years.

Could it be that our parents' activities were more like pinochle games or potlucks where you talked for hours with your spouse?

Try a staycation. It's great medicine for your marriage.

Visit Dwayne J. Clark online at

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