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Just Another Vacation or the Start of a Beautiful Marriage?

with Dr. Walt Larimore | October 8, 2007

On today's broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks to America's best-known family physician, Dr. Walt Larimore, about preparing for your honeymoon. Dr. Larimore, author of the book "The Honeymoon of Your Dreams," talks about the different expectations men and women have for their honeymoon and how men and women should take special care to plan their special week.

On today's broadcast, Dennis Rainey talks to America's best-known family physician, Dr. Walt Larimore, about preparing for your honeymoon. Dr. Larimore, author of the book "The Honeymoon of Your Dreams," talks about the different expectations men and women have for their honeymoon and how men and women should take special care to plan their special week.

Just Another Vacation or the Start of a Beautiful Marriage?

With Dr. Walt Larimore
|
October 08, 2007
| Download Transcript PDF

 Sometimes special moments just happen.  Most of the time special moments take some planning, whether it's at a wedding or whether it's on a honeymoon.  Here is Dr. Walt Larimore.

Walt: When Scott, my son, and his wife, Jennifer, got married about two years ago, they lit the Unity Candle.  A lot of ceremonies do that, and then there was a solo.  Well, instead of turning to face the soloist, Scott turned to Jennifer, and he used that three or four minutes to talk to her, to encourage her, to tell her how excited he was about the rest of their life together. 

 There wasn't a dry eye in the house.  It was a precious moment that he had thought about, he had prayed about, he had planned, to begin their honeymoon.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, October 8th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  A lot of people put a lot of planning into the wedding ceremony, but how many folks spend much time at all planning for the relational and spiritual dimension of their honeymoon?  Stay with us.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  You know, I've been surprised over the years, because we've talked to a lot of couples about their honeymoons and what happened.

Dennis: We have, that's right.

Bob: And everybody's got a story, don't they?

Dennis: Yeah, we have our own.  You have yours.  Barbara and I camped out and got snowed on, and I convinced her that the way to stay warm was to zip those bags together, and …

Bob: That worked fine.

Dennis: It did.  She stayed warm.

Bob: I tried to rent a car to go from Jacksonville, Florida, to Orlando, Florida, and found you have to have a major credit card to rent a car, and Penney's was not acceptable, which was the only major credit card I had at age 23 back in 1979.  And so we took the bus from Jacksonville to Orlando.

Dennis: A real high point.

Bob: The Greyhound.  But differences begin to emerge.  I mean, you start to learn that there are some differences between the two of you that I guess you knew they were there when you were dating.

Dennis: Well, that's what attracts us in the first place.

Bob: Right.

Dennis: But on the honeymoon it can sometimes not be such a funny story, as we are about to hear in just a moment.

 I want to introduce our guest, who, for many is not going to be a stranger – Dr. Walt Larimore joins us on FamilyLife Today.  Walt, welcome back.

Walt: Good to be here.

Dennis: I suppose you, as a physician, with all the training you had would – you wouldn't have any story of your own.  You've written a book called "The Honeymoon of your Dreams."  Now, did you have a honeymoon from heaven or a honeymoon from another location?

Walt: You know, Barb and I actually had a fabulous honeymoon.  It was the beginning of what has become a lifelong marriage, but it was because I had a grandfather who sat down with me throughout our engagement and shared with me the wisdom of the family, the wisdom from his church.  I'll give you an example.

 As I was planning our honeymoon, Granddad said, "I don't think you should go on a honeymoon."  And I said, "Well, Granddad, that's kind of what you do."  He said, "No, son, it's not that you shouldn't go on a honeymoon, but I just recommend that your first few days stay at home."

 And it took me a minute to understand what he was saying, but what he explained to me was that a woman's first apartment, her first home, her first house, is a very important thing for her.  It's her nest, it's her comfort zone, it's her.  She decorates it her way.

 And after your wedding, especially if you have a big wedding, you're just plain exhausted.  You're just wore out, tuckered out …

Dennis: No doubt about it.

Walt: … and his suggestion was spend your first two or three or four days there.  Don't tell anyone – don't tell your wedding party, don't tell your best man, and so since we were going to live in the same town in which we were married, Baton Rouge, we spent our first three nights in our apartment. 

 It was one of the wisest, most wonderful suggestions, and it actually goes along with an old Jewish tradition from way back.  Michael Medved talks about the Seven Blessings, which are spending your first few nights in a married community, in your home community with people, and so we got off on a good step.

 And this book actually began 35 years ago with that advice, and just through the decades I've added the advice of others, the wisdom of others that I've shared with patients throughout my practice life.

Dennis: You know, I have to interrupt you because when you mentioned go home, I thought you were talking about where your parents, where you grew up for your honeymoon, and I'm going, "Gramps, that dog isn't going to hunt."  I'm just telling you, I'm not going back home.

Bob: Do you remember when we interviewed Frank and Betsy Hernandez …

Dennis: I do.

Bob: The songwriters.  I'm guessing that as they look back on their honeymoon they wish they'd had …

Dennis: A grandpa.

Bob: Gramp's advice.  Because where they wound up – in fact, I think we've got the clip of it – where they wound up on their honeymoon …

Dennis: It wasn't a honeymoon from heaven.

Bob: No.  Listen to them describe this.

Frank: When we were married we were in the ministry at the time, and we were very, very poor missionaries, and one of the other fellows there had – his parents offered to let us use their – what do they call it – their suite in their home.

 So we got married.  We went to Vancouver, got picked up at the airport, we're looking so forward to the suite, and discovered it was a basement apartment.

Betsy: With twin beds.

Frank: With twin beds.  We got there, there were twin beds in the home.

Dennis: This was for your honeymoon?

Frank: This was for our honeymoon.

Betsy: For our honeymoon, yes.  It was, like, all the garage sale furniture you could, you know, buy.  It was – no windows, they had the little half windows up at the top, and …

Bob: It's what you'd always dreamed of, wasn't it, Betsy?

Betsy: The man who owned the home was such a sweet …

Frank: He was a very sweet man.

Betsy: Oh, they were so nice, and we – after we finished visiting with he and his wife …

Frank: … and they wanted to visit forever, and finally his wife says, "George, George, let them go.  George, this is their honeymoon."  So after talking, talking, talking, we finally went downstairs.  So Betsy is sitting on one bed, and I'm sitting on the other, and we're looking each other, and suddenly we hear … "Feelings, oh whoa whoa feelings."  Their son was serenading us.

Betsy: Serenading us on the organ.

Frank: On the organ.

[laughter]

Dennis: Walt, you, in your book, you say we start a honeymoon with different expectations.  I mean, for a man, his expectations are off the charts in one direction, and for a woman, well, hers are a bit different.

Walt: Oh, there's no question about it, and, Dennis, I've come to the belief that anger and disappointment almost always starts with unmet expectations or clashing expectations, whether it's in marriage or dating or business relationships, and we did have a clash like that on our honeymoon.  One of the things that I wanted to do, our first day together as a married couple, was begin demonstrating being the leader of the family spiritually.

 And so I grew up in a tradition where communion was a very important part of worship.  And so I decided that we would have a communion time together, a prayer time together. 

 Barb came from a tradition where that was much less important, and what I didn't know was that she had had a negative experience around a communion event in a worship service.  I didn't know that.  And so my attempt to be the spiritual leader by imposing my expectation on her led to a very negative experience for us. 

 In fact, it remained a buried negative experience for about 10 years in our marriage, and one of the things I talk about in the book, especially for the guy, the week or two before your honeymoon, to have that expectation talk – to have a date where you go out to a private place, and even listed in the chapter are questions to talk about.  "What are your expectations, honey, for our first night?  For our first week?"  And what are some of my expectations?  Let's go ahead and talk about those expectations so that we can deal with any differences, any conflict, any hopes that we have, so that this week can become, instead of a negative experience that it turns out for so many, to be a foundation, a launching pad for a lifelong marriage.

Dennis: I counseled a couple, and we were taking them through our Preparing for Marriage Homebuilders Bible study.  It's really a great six-session process of moving through an inventory, both you and your fiancée, it talks about expectations, Walt, like you're talking about, and so when I was counseling this couple who were going through this material, I got both the man's book and the young lady's book, and I opened that inventory, which talks about expectations, and one of the areas where we talk about expectations is the very thing you're talking about – expectations of the honeymoon.

 And one of the areas we talk about in that section is sexual expectations.  Well, in the young lady's workbook, she's writing down how many times she'll think they'll have sex in the first week, and I'll not mention the number, but it was a modest number that you'd perhaps from a young lady, and I looked at the guy's, and I think he had written down five or six times a day.

 And I look up at them, and I just smile – that's how they start their honeymoon if they don't talk about it in some kind of workbook form where they can get this out on the table.  It's a recipe for disappointment.

Walt: It is.  And if you think about all of the things that you can do to ensure your marriage, one that's crystal clear to me both from the research that's been done and counseling thousands of patients through the years who have headed into marriage, is to think of that honeymoon as a holy time, the foundation, the cornerstone for a marriage, and there is so much, especially that the guy can do to prepare for that week.

 The average woman spends – now, this shocked me – but spends about 2,400 hours preparing for her wedding.  Now, that's a year's worth of labor.  It's a huge amount of time, and yet the average couple will spend only very few hours planning either for the honeymoon or for the marriage.

 And so one of the messages in this book is, "Guys, you need to be a man.  You need to plan for, prepare for, this very special holy week."

Bob: And I think most of us guys, when we're thinking about planning or preparation, we're thinking logistical.  We're thinking, "Okay, I've got the hotel set up, I've got the ride from the airport set up."

Dennis: Where we're going to have dinner.

Bob: We're thinking about the details.  I don't know that I was at all intentional about our honeymoon except around one objective that I had, you know?  And that was sexual.  Other than that, I thought we'll go, and we'll have some fun, we'll be in a nice location, but I really didn't have much in terms of a spiritual objective, I didn't have much in terms of inaugurating a marriage relationship.  It was not even on my radar screen.

Walt: And it's a critical part of the planning that I think has been lost in our culture, it's been lost as generations separate, move apart, that talk that my granddad had with me, most men never have.  In fact, we spend a chapter where Dr. Sue Crockett, the OB-GYN, who is the co-author for the book, talks just to the bride.  It's for the bride's eyes only.  It's that old grandmother/mother/aunt/pastors wife talk about the honeymoon – what to expect, what to look forward to, what you can do to make that the launching pad for your marriage.

 And then I have a chapter for men.  It's for the groom's eye only.  Of all of the things that you can do to prepare – not just for the logistics of that week but for this magical, mysterious, sexual event that will begin that week.  And what you can do, as a guy, to mesh with, to match, to dovetail, this incredibly complex and wonderful creature who will become your wife – how can you begin that process in the marriage bed?  Critical, critical.

Dennis: And, Walt, I wish I'd had this piece of advice you give in this chapter, and I just want to read this because, Bob, think of how this would have taken the pressure off of you as a young man starting out your marriage if you'd had Walt share this with you.

 He said, "I advise the men I counsel to consider using the wedding ceremony and the reception as a time to flirt with your new wife.  Remember that your wedding is not an event in which you are responsible to make every attendee feel comfortable, welcome, or special.  This is your and your bride's day not theirs."

 Now, I just have to tell you, I think most young couples getting started today, they fall right into this.  They think they've got to please everybody, the parents, the out-of-town guests, they've got to make sure they see everybody, and in the process they're missing a prime opportunity to begin to make those strategic investments.  Like flirting – I just wish I'd had that piece of advice, it's great advice.

Walt: Yes, I'm so glad that my granddad gave that to me, and we began that process, Barb and I, in our wedding.  And I was so glad to see that hit the fourth generation when Scott, my son, and his now-wife, Jennifer, got married about two years ago.  They lit the Unity Candle.  A lot of ceremonies do that, and then there was a solo.  Well, instead of turning to face the soloist, and enjoy the solo that way, Scott turned to Jennifer, and he used that three or four minutes to talk to her, to flirt with her, to encourage her, to tell her how excited he was about the rest of their life together. 

 There wasn't a dry eye in the house.  It was a precious moment that he had thought about, he had prayed about, he had planned, to begin their honeymoon even during the ceremony, and I was proud of him.

Bob: You mentioned that the tradition of honeymoons goes back to Jewish culture.  That's influenced how we look at it, and it is interesting – the honeymoon was a community celebration that went on for a week, wasn't it?

Walt: It really was.  Michael Medved, the conservative talk show host and movie reviewer, orthodox Jewish man, shared with me when I met him once about the tradition of Seven Blessings, and it's an old Jewish tradition where you didn't go away on your honeymoon immediately, you stayed within the faith community for a number of days.

 In fact, each night you spent in the master bedroom of a different couple, and you would have dinner with that married couple.  They were couples who had been married for a long time, had been married happily, but you were welcomed into the community of married couples.  You weren't married and then sent away to be alone. 

 You were welcomed into this fraternity, this sorority, this community, of married couples who gave you the message both practically and verbally – "We care for you, and we will care for you.  You are now one of us as a married couple, and we will honor you as such.  You will sleep in our master bedroom, you will eat at our table," and so that would happen for two, three, four, even up to seven days before the honeymoon.                And it, once again, allowed a young couple to rest up, to prepare for the time away.

Bob: Now, if I came to you today and said, "Option A is you go off to Florida, or you go off to the Pacific Northwest," or wherever you want to go for your seven days, and when you come back, we'll kind of have that initiation into the community, or do you start off the way you describe, with a half a dozen days in a different place with a different couple each night, and then you go off on your trip.  Which would you pick?

Walt: We've mentored couples, young couples, that are nearly weds for two and a half decades.  We don't make that decision for them.  What we like to do is just talk about the options and begin them talking about and praying about the options of how they can take this special time and, under the Lord's leadership, decide what would be best for us with our gifts and our talents and our interests.

 We had a young couple that got married last year that we were mentoring – they chose to have that time when they came back.  Another couple, Patrick and Sally, chose, "No, we're going to take the first couple of days and stay home."

 So it varies from couple to couple.  My thing is just start talking about it – begin that premarital education, that premarital evaluation, that premarital prayer time.  It's not just a party that leads to a marriage, it's not just a vacation that leads to a marriage, this is the honeymoon, a holy time, to begin to lay down the cornerstone for a marriage.  And I think there's so much that guys and gals can do right in this area.

Dennis: You know, the thing that I like about this model you're talking about of starting it out with some older couples spending dinner with them and staying in their homes is you're establishing what looks to me like a mentoring relationship from the very start.

 I could imagine what would happen if a young couple stayed at our home like that.  Barbara and I would share our story and let them into our lives a little bit, take a peek, and get to know them as well.  And, undoubtedly, if you spend some time with three or four of those couples, one of those couples is going click.  One of them is going to be kindred spirit.

 And, personally, Bob, kind of back to your question – you asked if I had a "druther" for my children as they started their marriage, in fact, we recommended it, would be that they establish one of those mentoring relationships as their marriage starts, because the first two years of a marriage, I view as the training grounds for the habits, the structures, the way you argue, the way you resolve or don't resolve your disagreements, your unmet expectations, the way you hammer out your roles, how you handle money, and how you relate to each other. 

 It's the proving grounds, it's where it all moves from, and it's why, personally, all of our children were required to go to one of our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences, which is also a premarriage conference that takes place during the same event, and they had to go before they were married, because you have to have the same set of blueprints.  You need to know how you're going to handle money and conflict and roles, and that conference gives these young couples those blueprints together.

Bob: And your point is that, again, a couple needs to be intentional not just about the ceremony but about the marriage that is going to follow the ceremony.

Dennis: Absolutely.

Bob: That's going to last a whole lot longer than the ceremony will last, but, again, I don't know that I ever thought of the honeymoon as more than a vacation, as you described it – a vacation to start off your marriage.  And I think, Walt, what you've done in your book is help raise our sights on this issue.  You've helped couples start to think about the honeymoon as an inaugural event for a lifetime together, and be more intentional and have some planning built into that.

 We've got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  It's called "The Honeymoon of your Dreams."  You can go to our website at FamilyLife.com, and if you click the red button that you see that says "Go" in the middle of the home page, that will take you to the area of the site where there is more information about Walt's book.  There is also information about a book that you and Barbara wrote a few years ago called "Starting Your Marriage Right," that's a great book for couples.

 There's information about the Weekend to Remember conference where couples can sign up for one of those conferences, and a lot of those going on throughout the fall and cities all across the country, and they're – oh, you know what?  You know what else is on our website?  We have information about the brand-new book from you and your wife called "Moments With You."

 This is the daily devotional that is a follow-up to the "Moments Together for Couples" book you wrote a number of years ago – 365 devotions for couples to do together.  It's called "Moment With You," and it is now available in the FamilyLife Resource Center.

 Go to our website, FamilyLife.com, click the red button that you see in the middle of the home page that says "Go," and that will take you right to the area of the site where there is information about Walt's book, about "Starting Your Marriage Right," about the FamilyLife Weekend to Remember and about the brand-new book, "Moments With You," and I want to encourage our listeners to get a copy of that book as well.

 You can also request copies of these resources by phone.  Call 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329.  The number, again, is 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY, and we'll be happy to make arrangements to get any or all of these resources sent out to you.

 And when you do get in touch with us, someone may ask you if you'd like to make a donation to FamilyLife Today.  That's because we are listener-supported, and it's those donations that keep FamilyLife Today on the air on this station and on other stations all across the country.  And if you are able to help with a donation this month, we have a thank you gift we'd like to send you.

 It's a two-CD set that features Dennis and Barbara Rainey.  Dennis talks to us guys about what we can do as men to mature toward manhood and beyond, to become mentors and patriarchs and pass along a legacy of masculinity to the next generation.

 And then Barbara talks to wives about what a wife can do to help her husband be the man that God wants him to be.  And, again, these CDs are our way of saying thanks this month for your financial support of the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  You can make a donation online at FamilyLife.com, and if you do that, you will come to a place on the donation form where you'll see a keycode box.

 Just type the word "steps" in that box, and we'll know to send you these CDs, or call 1-800-FLTODAY, make your donation over the phone, and just mention that you'd like the CDs from Dennis and Barbara Rainey.  Again, they are our gift to you this month to say thank you for your financial support of this ministry.  We appreciate your partnership with us.

 Now, tomorrow we're going to talk more about being intentional about a honeymoon.  In fact, we'll hear a great story from Troy and Sarah Groves about their honeymoon and what went wrong.  I hope you can be with us for that.

 I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We'll see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

 FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas, a ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ. 

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