We’ve all heard marriage is hard work, but Shel Harrington wants you to stop thinking of marriage like that. Harrington is a local divorce attorney, author and blogger who has seen many couples drift apart because they haven’t spent adequate time focused on each other.
“If it’s really hard work then we’re not in the right place,” she said. “We didn’t work at dating. We dated because we were interested in the person and cared about the person and wanted to impress the person. We need to take that attitude into marriage and keep dating in the marriage. Getting married doesn’t change that it’s a special, precious relationship that should be valued.”
She believes couples have a tendency to drift away from one another unless they have an anchor. A significant anchor in any relationship, she said, is spending meaningful time together.
“We’re running our kids all over the place these days,” she said. “More parents are working and they’re pulled in a lot of directions. You only have so much energy and if you’re not intentional about how you spend that energy you can lose focus and stop making your marriage the priority.”
Harrington has been married 38 years and been a divorce attorney 23 years, so she has seen it all when it comes to relationships. Although she believes there’s a reason for divorce and some people need to get divorced, she calls her self “the divorce attorney who doesn’t like divorce” because she believes people go into divorce too lightly.
“We know the divorce rate is high,” said Edmond Clinical Psychologist Dr. Lisa Marotta, “and I think one thing that makes a couple really vulnerable is if they haven’t invested in their relationship with each other while the kids are growing up.”
Marotta’s primary specialty is children and families. She believes that while it’s important for parents to pay attention to their children, not balancing that with attention paid to your spouse is a recipe for disaster.
“I encourage my parents to hire excellent babysitters,” Marotta said, “and find that balance so they have a good foundation for the parenting years.”
Every couple with children has two relationships, she said: their couple relationship and their parent relationship.
“When I see parents not balancing well their couple relationship with their parent relationship,” Marotta said, “I have concerns for them down the line when the kids are out of the house and it’s just them again.”
Parents neglect to spend adequate time with each other for a number of reasons. One reason is that their spread thin already and feel they should spend their spare time with their kids. But Harrington said parents should give themselves permission to spend time alone with each other as a way to help their kids.
“You are doing your kids a service by role modeling prioritizing your marriage,” Harrington said. “Where else do they learn that?”
So give yourself permission to escape with your spouse this month. In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we’re featuring some terrific destinations across Oklahoma for that perfect romantic getaway. But these suggestions aren’t just for the year’s most amorous holiday—they’re ideal anytime. Drop off your kids with the in-laws, pack your bags and whisk your better half away to one of these great properties they’re sure to love.
221 W. Main St., Tishomingo, OK 73460
The Ladysmith is all about style and fun. Owned by country music superstar Miranda Lambert, this eclectically-decorated bed and breakfast oozes shabby chic from the front door to the fringe on every throw pillow. Miranda had a hand in designing each of the eight guest rooms with her signature hint of rock and roll. The B&B is housed in a historic building that was built in 1901 on Main Street in Tishomingo, a small town about two hours southeast of Oklahoma City. It is also located right down the street from Miranda’s retail shop, The Pink Pistol.
In addition to overnight accommodations, enjoy The French Quarter, an onsite bar and lounge with a bit of New Orleans flair and a balcony overlooking charming downtown. Guests also can enjoy late nights watching television in the Losa Lounge and made-from-scratch breakfasts each morning at 2nd Please, the lavish dining room on the property.
When it’s time to be alone with your sweetheart, the beautiful guest rooms are each sanctuaries of their own. Each second-level room features en suite bathrooms, so book one of those for extra privacy.
P.O. Box 55, Watson, OK 74963
If seclusion is the name of the game, find your special place to get away from the stresses of everyday life at Rivers Edge Cottages. This group of a dozen cabins in southeastern Oklahoma all overlook Mountain Fork River in Watson, about four hours southeast of Oklahoma City. Six of the twelve cabins are aimed specifically toward couples who want a special trip out in the woods.
Each cabin has a fireplace in the living room where guests can lounge on the couch and enjoy each other’s company along with thecrackle of the warm fire. Bike and canoe rentals also come free with each stay. Both offer ideal ways to explore the gorgeous surroundings right outside your cabin’s front door. Charcoal grills, whirlpool tubs, full kitchens and breathtaking porches are just a few more of the amenities that make Rivers Edge Cottages an irresistible destination.
2179 Ponderosa Rd., Ardmore, OK 73401
Shiloh Morning Inn is one of southern Oklahoma’s premiere bed and breakfast destinations, offering both guest rooms in a large and spacious inn as well as four separate cottages for even more privacy. Aiming to be your own little piece of heaven on earth, Shiloh Morning Inn offers a gourmet breakfast every morning and dinner brought to the guest suites and cottages each evening. For an extra special trip, request a romance package that includes thoughtful extras like chocolate covered strawberries.
Located about an hour and a half south of Oklahoma City in Ardmore, this 73-acre property is close to Lake Murray State Park and the Chickasaw National Recreation Area. Guests can spend the day having fun hiking next to the lake or dipping their feet in fresh spring water before returning to a luxurious room complete with a whirlpool tub or private hot tub, king bed and fireplace.
489 Bowfin Ln., Broken Bow, OK 74728
Lago Vista Bed & Breakfast lives up to its name with a view of Broken Bow Lake from the quaint balcony off each of the four guest bedrooms. This four-story oasis sits about four hours southeast of Oklahoma City, tucked away in the highlands of the Ouachita National Forest and is located a very short distance from Beavers Bend State Park, one of Oklahoma’s most sought-after destinations. The Italian-chateau-themed rooms all have whirlpool tubs, luxury bath products, fireplaces and comfortable king size beds.
Right outside the front door of the bed and breakfast is a convenient walking trail that leads to the shores of the lake. Each stay includes a home cooked breakfast each morning, wine and beer, an in-ground pool and hot tub with an exquisite view of the forest and access to a movie room in the basement for ultimate relaxation. The B&B staff also can arrange for couple’s massages and other packages to create the ideal getaway.
1200 N. Walker Ave., Oklahoma City
If you can’t get away from town, Oklahoma City boasts plenty of upscale lodging destinations, as well. A top property for a romantic staycation is the Ambassador Hotel located in Midtown. The combination of 1920’s-era Art Deco architecture and modern amenities and features provide the perfect combination of old and new. You’ll never even have to leave the 54-room hotel, which features an on-site restaurant great for dinner rooftop bar perfect for a nightcap. If you desire to get away, Midtown presents plenty of shopping and dining within walking distance.