Jul 28, 2010
My Wife Wants a Vacation

Sholom Bayis Blog with Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch. Question #4: My wife really wants to go on vacation but our budget is sort of limited. Do you think it's a necessity?

Question #4: We sent our kids to overnight camp (and paid the full amount) and we stayed in the city. My wife really wants to go on vacation but our budget is sort of limited. Do you think it's a necessity?

Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch's reply:

As far as I am concerned, vacations are a necessity, not a luxury. But where I see so many people take a wrong turn is when they spend money for a luxury vacation that they canít afford. Especially in Crown Heights where many families have a hard time making ends meet, people need to have a realistic plan on how they will spend money on a vacation they canít afford.

While I think one of the best things you can do for yourself, your family, and yes, the quality of your work, is to take a break every now and then to recharge the batteries, it makes absolutely no sense to book a vacation that will blow your bank account. You end up spending one week enjoying yourself, and the other 51 weeks of the year stressing over the huge new load of debt you racked up by putting the plane tickets, hotel, and restaurant bills on a credit card you have no way of paying off any time in the foreseeable future.

Or even worse, you think itís totally okay to pile up the credit card balance for your vacation, because you think you deserve to indulge yourself given how hard you work!

Thatís the story I got the other day from a friend of mine. He told me he had just paid for a vacation for him and his wife and their 3 children that cost him $3,500. Now this is someone who is probably lucky to make $15 or so an hour! He then assured me heís got it all under control; he just put it on his low-rate credit card, like all his other vacations. Turns out he thinks 16 percent is low, and seemed unconcerned about the $35,000 balance heíd rung up so far. Worse, he privately admitted to me that the number one stress in his marriage was their financial situation.

As a good friend (and marital therapist) I remained calm and simply asked him if he could do it all over again, would he try and take less expensive vacations. I was expecting a moment of revelation when she would see the danger of what she was doing. Instead, hereís what I got:

ďDaniel, we work so hard during the year trying to pay our mortgage, food bills and tuition and we deserve to treat ourselves to a great vacation. I donít care what it costs.Ē I asked him if he ever worried about the hole he was digging and he told me, ďOnly when I think about it. So I just donít go there or I would get too stressed out.Ē

That approach concerns me. As a marriage therapist I understand that everyone deserves a vacation but hereís what you also really need: a secure life where you arenít buried in credit card or home equity debt, and the confidence that you are on course to fulfill the basic obligations of raising a family in New York.

If your vacation spending is compromising any of your financial Yishuv HaDas I am sorry to say that the damage inflicted by the rising debt is greater than the Menuchas Hanefesh you will receive from a 10 day trip to Florida.

The bottom line is that if you will need to pay interest to finance the vacationómeaning if you canít pay off the whole credit card charge when it comes inóthe hard truth is that you canít afford the vacation.

Instead, try looking at your glass as being half full and take advantage of living within close proximity to some of the most fantastic tourist sites around. For example, if you live in New York there are so many great one-day trips you can take with your family. Here are some possible suggestions:

New York Aquarium / Boardwalk / Astroland on Coney Island
New York Botanic Gardens and/or Bronx Zoo in the Bronx
Boston visit using Amtrak trains and explore the JFK Library
Brooklyn Botanic Gardens
Hudson River Valley to view the fall foliage.
Hyde Park to visit the FDR Presidential Library & family estate.
Hyde Park to visit the Vanderbilt estate.
Long Island by train
Niagara Falls visit is possible in a 12 hour day by utilizing a Jetblue flight & Grayline Coach Tour
Panorama at Queens Museum of Art and the "Unisphere" in Queens
Philadelphia is easy to reach by train
Washington DC can be visited using Amtrak trains.
West Point Military Academy
New Jersey Shore

Although I canít promise you the same thrills as you would get on an exotic trip (or at Disney Land), I guarantee that you will have a great time getting out of Brooklyn (or at least out of Crown Heights). And when Yom Tov comes around (in just 5 weeks!) your family will have more money to pay for the items you know will stretch your already thin budget beyond recognition.


Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch is a trained marriage and family therapist who maintains a practice in Crown Heights specializing in couples therapy and families with teenagers at risk. Visit JewishMarriageSupport.com or call 646-428-4723.

Sholom Bayis is an advice and anonymous counseling blog on COLlive.com for married Chassidic couples. Questions can be sent to rabbischonbuch@yahoo.com or as a comment below. They will be answered appropriately and anonymously.

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Opinions and Comments
Crown Heights Bubbie
My husband and I could not afford a vacation and stayed in Crown Heights for the summers. We took many of the day trips that Rabbi Schonbuch suggested. I even purchased a book that listed the places one could go to in and around the Brooklyn area that didn't cost too much. The idea was that my husband and I were together. The Botanical Gardens in the Bronx was wonderful and even on one of our anniversaries we spend the afternoon at the brooklyn Botanical Gardens.
Never put yourself in debt for a vacation. A short time away can do wonders to relieve the stress.
(7/29/2010 3:31:38 PM)
1000 % agree!! We went on a really enjoyable vacation a short drive away.. it was perfect- we did not overspend, and still have money in the account. We're all happy. No need to overdue it folks!
(7/29/2010 3:35:21 PM)
we count!
i dont know us women are the akares habayis we take care of the house and kids,luandry,cooking somme of us have jobs we deserve a vacation once in a while a real vacation i think a husband should treat his wife to a vacation once in a while even if your budget is limited the husbabnds should appreciate what we do and think our wives work hard and deserve a vacation thats all
(7/29/2010 4:18:17 PM)
hey, you are in CH here! You are MEANT to spend more then what you have! How come you don't understand that impressing everyone else is the MOST important thing in the world?
(7/29/2010 4:27:14 PM)
listen baruch hashem my husband and i can afford a vacation like a trip to isreal or a kosher cruise for a couple of months
but think of the other woman who cant they slave away morning to night and the best exuse their husbands can thinkk of is we cant afford it its just not fair
(7/29/2010 4:35:03 PM)
esther in LA
you i had to laugh how everything is relative.i'm so sick of disneyland ,you'd have to pay me to go their.
(7/29/2010 4:37:59 PM)
don't spend what you don't have!!!!!!!!!!
It's not only summer vacation it's everything in life!!!
(7/29/2010 4:45:13 PM)
to number 5
Learn how to type with all that extra money you have coming in. it will give you more credibilty when you slam the job husbands are doing in CH.
(7/29/2010 4:47:06 PM)
One word
(7/29/2010 4:47:30 PM)
there are many nice places too for free like brighton beach promanade prospect/centeal park a cruise on the staten island ferry....
(7/29/2010 4:50:24 PM)
expand horizons
Sometimes it isn't all about the end, but the means in getting there. Think about taking a road trip. Yes, I understand that with a couple of kids in the car it may not be the most ideal of situations. However, when looking to save money, a 6 hour drive to say Portland, Maine in the summer, is a wonderful way of getting phenominal bang for your buck! Many things to do in places which are not so far away.
(7/29/2010 4:52:43 PM)
vacation is important
vacation is very important for everyone its good to get a way for a day even if u live in ch and cant afford it u could maybe go to upstate new york and that will do it just to get away helps alot
(7/29/2010 5:20:42 PM)
its so stupid
i mean seriously like really thius world is meant for spending big buck like spend it all take a trip around the world or something
(7/29/2010 5:42:01 PM)
If youi want to give your wife the BEST vacation
and increase your shalom bayis (and gain a lot of brownie points), send your wife ALONE to a hotel room for 2 days, without a phone. Send with her her favorite reading materials, lots of chocolate and good food and let her recharge.

Trust me, this will work!
(7/29/2010 6:15:15 PM)
to #3
you obviously missed the point of the whole article
(7/29/2010 6:56:00 PM)
# 14 - Are you my sister?
Love that suggestion!
(7/29/2010 7:06:03 PM)
going to florida or california is great, but if you dont have the money, you can enjoy yourself just as much in new england.

yes new england is not florida with a strip of beaches, but btwn CT, MA, RI, NH there is so much to do. cape cod has beautiful beaches, jetskiing, glassblowing. newport, RI the famous cliff walks, beautiful! just look and you will find...

#14. your idea rocks! you couldnt have laid it out any better, perhaps send her with a friend as well :)
(7/29/2010 7:11:38 PM)
i say yes!
you need quality time for yourself and your wife
don't underestimate it
(7/29/2010 7:14:49 PM)
la costa
although i dont practice it, in a book about shalom bayis,( by the same author as gaden of emunah) he writes that you can have a notebook of a wish list for when you have money or a notebook of debts keeping track of who you owe money to. to me that was an eye opener.
(7/29/2010 7:19:03 PM)
(7/29/2010 7:35:21 PM)
Trust Me!
Getting away from hectic daily life for 2-3 days to local, cheaper, not so much thrill places will do more than the expensive far off for a week places. Nature will always ride over the disney style and you will actually come back more refreshed - and after all - are you doing it to say you went 'somewhere' or because the 2 of you need a recharge and bonding??
(7/29/2010 7:39:58 PM)
To Author, 3 & 9
I like your article a lot better than the previous ones.

In truth a local vacation is much more relaxing. I would also agree with #9, you can get hotel rewards just with using your cc for your regular purchases during the year. (but you should pay your cc bill in full)

To Mrs 3, you have to deal with what you got not with what everyone else has and does

(7/29/2010 8:20:26 PM)
Male equivalent
OK #14 - what would be the counter-vacation for the husband?
(7/29/2010 9:40:08 PM)
If your parents live in another state, visit them for your vacation
I have a very large house and a backyard, and I am always thrilled when my kids and grandkids come to visit for their vacations. I love to cook, there are lots of activities, and having my family visit is a vacation for me too.
(7/29/2010 10:16:00 PM)
Thanks dansdeals.com!!!!!
I am a yungerman with 1 child and a VERY low combined income. Reb Daniel Ellef from dansdeals posted a deal to go to the Bahamas for real cheap. At the end it cost us less than $1,000 all inclusive for us 3 including all spending money, airfare, 2 hotel rooms for a 4 day weekend. That also included being bumped in florida (we got to spend 8 hours in Miami Beach) and getting 2 $300 vouchers to American Airlines for that. Beat that! Thanks Dan!

And yes, our Mashpia wasn't so happy about the ruchnius aspect so we're working on rectifying that through a very meaningful elul of avodas hateshuvah..
(7/29/2010 11:02:46 PM)
ROAD TRIP!!! go to Cape Cod, stay in an inn or motel. Bring a sandwich maker or george forman grill with you and some food. you wont spend too much and you'll still get outta town for a day or two to rejuvenate.
(7/29/2010 11:18:34 PM)
Send your wife on a vacation!!
Why take the whole family along with you, firstly it is not called a vacation she still has to worry about the kids, what they eat, laundry, cleaning, showers, bed time, waking up, making sure they daven, making shabbos, food shopping, the list goes on and on, as a wife and a mother, i will tell you what is a vacation. Let her go away on a trip with a friend for a few days, let her spend the money on her self, let her have no worries about dinners, laundry, kids household chores etc... and the husband can take a few vacation days to look after the kids and house. and that my friend is giving your wife a vacation. and lets face it men, even though we know you work hard, you go to work early come home late and you are tired, it is no way near as hard as what us mums do.
(7/30/2010 2:03:41 AM)
A little break
Have in mind us mums and wives can also do with a little break from our husbands too, its only for a few days, and this does not mean we stopped loving you and care about you and we are trying to run away, it means we just need a little break, and believe me if you do that she will come back as a BETTER and more LOVING wife and mum.
(7/30/2010 2:06:23 AM)
don't split families
The idea of husbands and wives vacationing separately is not healthy for a marriage and may cause other problems CV. Make do with less, stop looking at the goyisha world for inspiration, the grass is never greener!
(7/30/2010 6:54:15 AM)
to 27
With your attitude, your husband is liable to give you a lifetime of vacation coordinated by divorce court.
(7/30/2010 8:31:54 AM)
27 is right on!
And 30, what a lashon hara that is! Stop wishing ill on others...that's obviously what you're doing.
(7/30/2010 10:25:57 AM)
spoiled americans
there are simple easy ways to relax and get away- no need for "exotic" adventures so u can impress ur friends (like ch loves doing) and yes im a woman- im just not born in crown heights.
(7/30/2010 11:34:12 AM)
to number 3
it sounds like you are in your marriage solely for yourself- you should be using the terms we not I !!!
(7/30/2010 2:08:26 PM)
go to thailand!!!
(7/30/2010 4:16:00 PM)
to # 17
I LIve in fort myers florida my parents r on shlichus there
(7/30/2010 6:14:29 PM)
to 35 from 17
not sure what you trying to say,

if you are asking what is there to do near fort myers in comparision as cape cod to ch...there is miami, key west, coral gables...the list goes on. you can go to viscaya in miami...its really beautiful there.
all you have to do is google "attractions/things to do/activities" in whichever place you're going.
other than that, your in florida, if you dont like the strip of beaches on your coast, go to the other coast ie the mentioned above cities, miami...
(8/1/2010 2:50:06 AM)
(8/1/2010 6:19:32 AM)
Whats cheaper vacation, or Marriage therapist/divorce r"l?!
Yes money is always an issue for the good and sometimes sadly not for the good. However imho after years of getting older and a tad wiser I say go on vacation. It doesn't have to be millions of dollars but something that all of you would enjoy. Hatzlacha
(8/1/2010 12:19:31 PM)
i dont get it
if he sent all his kids to summer camp (expensive enough), why isn't it a vacation in and of itself just to be home by yourselves, with no kids around to drive you nuts?
(8/24/2010 9:58:27 PM)
to #4
i hpe u are being sarcastic!!
one is suposed to di things for urself , not to show/tell the world.
ur husband can show u apreciation even on cheaper trips, the wife need to have the maturiry of knowing ur financial limits and enjoy. what makes a good trip is the company and the atmosphere. u can be in the most amazing place but not in a good conection to the husband, the whole trip is worth nothing.
(3/20/2011 11:45:58 PM)
Some of these comments are really sick. Women work harder than men? They deserve a vacation more than men?

I am sick of the man bashing mentality that the feminist era has spawned and apparently affected Crown Heights women.

There is no question that people work hard and people need a break. Some families the men work harder, some families the women work harder and some families they both work hard, and other families they are both lazy!

I agree. If you dont have the cash then dont spend it.

You think you deserve a vacation? Do you deserve to be poor and in debt at age 70?
(6/2/2011 7:46:26 PM)
29 has head on straight!
(12/16/2011 12:09:35 AM)
Domestic Help: A Forgotten Jewish Priority?
It is OK for credit cards to serve a Jewish home, but some uses of credit cards are better than others!

Consider the two following scenarios:

Charging your credit card for a one-time $3500 vacation and charging your credit card for regular cleaning help, such as 6 hours per week, for 52 weeks?

The first scenario, unlike the second, does not optimize the use of credit. In that sense, I think that the first scenario reflects a relative waste of money, compared to the second scenario. The second scenario may actually turn out to reflect a desirable, very appropriate investment!
How so?

First, know that I am making the following assumption:
If a woman has a low income, she -and her husband- will be less likely to include domestic help into the household budget. Week after week, such a woman is bound to accumulate fatigue to the point of exhaustion until she realizes that she must slow down. Remember that she has probably observed some of her neighbors' privileged lifestyles. So, that woman will settle for an occasional vacation, but that vacation has to be "real" if she is not to be cheated. And here she is, already breaking free, fantasizing about suitcases, plane tickets, hotel rooms, restaurants, and future stories to share with herself and others! Her husband and apparently other women may find her rather extravagant on this issue.

On the basis of this assumption, I think that frequent breaks are more suitable than one "real" or extravagant break. Regardless of income, Jewish families need domestic help. It is not a luxury. Using a credit card to prevent exhaustion is a matter of kindness. It is desirable while the opposite is undesirable. (Incidentally, using a credit card that way would also "give a break" to the rest of the family... )

Of course, women may still need to take an occasional vacation, but if women are less exhausted and more in control, that need should be more manageable, less extravagant.

Finally, I believe that the "format" of that occasional vacation is a matter of mere preference and can vary from time to time.

C. L.
(1/19/2012 5:48:39 AM)
Camping is the best value
If you want the kids to have a really memorable time, guy a $60 family size tent from Walmart and a few basic camping supplies (such as a propane stove) and go for a few nights in a campsite in upstate NY, LI or NJ. The tent and stove will last you many years. The campsite will only charge around $30 a night. Make a campfire and enjoy. Way better and more kosher than anything Mickey Mouse could provide.
(2/15/2012 1:48:43 PM)
Camping, P.S.
For comfortable sleeping, forget the blow up mattresses and go for camping cots for the adults, also cheap from WalMart. The kids will be fine on just a pad.
(2/15/2012 1:53:15 PM)
Take a few days you and your hubby to explore Manhattan, bring your own food for breakfast, make sure there's a fridge and explore all the fun Kosher places Manhattan has to offer, there are plenty! Go to museums, etc. it feels like a vacation, trust me!!!
(2/18/2013 8:11:50 AM)
I sent my wife on a Shabbaton
There was a womens Shabbos in a motel an hour away. She went for Shabbos and came home happy. It didn't cost much and it was worth every penny. You don't have to spend a lot, just be thoughtful and appreciate each other. Kol tiv
(7/2/2014 5:52:29 AM)
go camping
We went camping for a few days in a PA KOA. I splurged on a bungalow that had a fridge. We stopped in a bunch of museums in Harrisburg and Gettysburg. Barbecued fish and veggies that we got in Costco in Harrisburg. The whole thing cost a few hundred $s and we are left with lots pics and memories. My kids definitely valued it more than a fancy vacation, more than Disney. My boys and I did the cooking, so my wife was on vacation as well.
(11/13/2014 1:16:25 PM)
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