Peter Fraenkel, PhD, is Director of the Ackerman Institute for the Family's Center for Work and Family; Associate Professor of Psychology, Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, The City College of The City University of New York; and former Vice President of the American Family Therapy Academy. He co-authored with Marcia Sheinberg The Relational Trauma of Incest: A Family-Based Approach to Treatment, and he has published widely and presented workshops internationally on the topic of prevention approaches to couple relationships and the impact of time, work and technology on families. Dr. Fraenkel is also in private practice.
VB: When couples come to you with their marriages in crisis, what do you recommend they do to get things back on track?
Dr. Fraenkel: It really depends on how far things have gone. Sometimes we need to delve right into regular therapy sessions and other times, I simply recommend they take more “Couple Time”. It’s very important for couples – at every stage of their relationship – to take time away from the everyday stresses and spend some fun, focused time together. It gives them a chance to remember why they fell in love in the first place.
VB: How can taking vacation help a couple get closer?
Dr. Fraenkel: Since the quality of leisure time with one’s partner is strongly related to marital satisfaction, I like couples to think about their “leisure portfolio”. Each portfolio should contain a variety of ways to spend time together. Whether it’s going to dinner every now and then, having a weekly date night or taking time to get away, it’s important to spend time recharging that relationship battery.
VB: Does it matter how long the getaway is?
Dr. Fraenkel: Any time will work. Vacation is a perfect time to learn the art of living in the present and to focus on the joy of being together. Even the planning can help to bring couples together with a shared purpose, providing an enjoyable goal to work toward together.
Vacation Strengthens Marriage