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Make Your Honeymoon Less About the Destination and More About Your Marriage

This author’s dream honeymoon didn’t happen, but what she got was much better.

“This isn’t a honeymoon,” my 6-year-old son grumbled. As we flipped through the photo album from those precious days after my husband and I tied the knot, his expressions panned from perplexed to downright disgruntled. I paused for a moment and then asked, “What do you think a honeymoon is?” He looked at me as if I were the world’s biggest idiot and replied, “A gorgeous yellow balloon.”

We have Babar the elephant to thank for that. You see, in The Travels of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff, Babar and his bride Celeste set off for their honeymoon in just such a balloon. It even looks like a honey-colored moon. Kids are so funny.

I would guess that most people have some kind of image in mind of what a honeymoon should be. For me, it was a France-colored image with a fleur-de-lis filter on it. My then-fiancé told me soon after we were engaged that he wanted to plan the whole trip so that it could be a surprise. The control freak in me (which is a substantial part) had some trouble with this, but I timidly agreed, although not without attempting to whisper in French with my eyes.

Believing that my nonverbal hint had sealed that deal, I was ecstatic when he told me he needed my passport a couple of months before the wedding. Finally we found ourselves with rings on our hands at the airport where the big reveal took place: “Quebec City! We’re staying in a castle!” I took this in, setting aside the intriguing castle bit, and thought . . . Canada?

To my surprise, it was a wonderful honeymoon. It was a lot like Europe in that it was replete with old-world charm and French-speaking people. But it was in our time zone, so we didn’t have to deal with jet lag. The food was amazing, the views were breathtaking, and we really were in a castle. Best of all, there was no competition between sightseeing and romance because I had no idea what there was to see and do in Quebec. Ignorance was bliss, and it gave me the freedom to focus on what was most important: my new marriage.

My husband chose this North American getaway with intention. He knew our limitations, and he knew me. He figured that if we went to Europe, we would blow too much of our budget just getting there and have a lower-quality experience. He knew that I would be looking over his shoulder to catch another glimpse of Notre Dame de Paris because I’d be thinking things like, “It could be my last chance! I’ll get to see him every day!”

Instead of losing ourselves in a dizzying dreamlike adventure, we had the time and space to get to know one another in a new way, and aside from the good-humored trial and error that comes from having sex for the first time, just being married was enough to wrap our minds around. Thoughts of growing old together, being a Mrs., the hope of raising children together, and the realization that this was just the beginning of a lifetime of adventure provided more breathtaking vistas than even Paris could boast.

And so, dear brides-to-be: Stop thinking so much about how you want your honeymoon to look, and focus on what it’s really for. The honeymoon is the perfect opportunity to recover from the stress of the wedding planning and to fill up each other’s love tank before returning to work and bills and whatnot. Those goals don’t require exoticism or extravagance. Don’t overplan each day, and don’t underscore the beach or the mountains or Monet at the expense of marital harmony; that way, if it rains the whole time or if the museum is closed for renovation, you’ll be no worse for wear.

Setting your heart on anything other than being with him could turn into disappointment, and that’ll only come between you. There will be other opportunities to travel together and experience more than just his delightful company, and those experiences will be all the better for having set a firm foundation of mutual understanding and trust at the very beginning of your marriage.

We may not have floated away on a honey-colored moon balloon, but my husband and I did have the perfect honeymoon. We explored a new place but focused on each other, first and foremost, and that made all the difference.