FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Planning a Honeymoon Filled With Intention

with Dr. Walt Larimore | October 9, 2007
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Some have said the average bride spends 2,400 hours planning the wedding. Comparatively, very few couples spend much time at all planning their honeymoon. Today on the broadcast, Dr. Walt Larimore, author of the book "The Honeymoon of Your Dreams," talks with Dennis Rainey about why couples should carefully plan and prepare for their honeymoon.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Some have said the average bride spends 2,400 hours planning the wedding. Comparatively, very few couples spend much time at all planning their honeymoon. Today on the broadcast, Dr. Walt Larimore, author of the book "The Honeymoon of Your Dreams," talks with Dennis Rainey about why couples should carefully plan and prepare for their honeymoon.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Some have said the average bride spends 2,400 hours planning the wedding.

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Planning a Honeymoon Filled With Intention

With Dr. Walt Larimore
October 09, 2007
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 It's become almost a cliché – primarily because it's mostly true.  We think a whole lot more about the wedding than we do about the marriage that's going to follow the wedding.  Here is Dr. Walt Larimore.

Walt: Just start talking about it.  Again, 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.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Tuesday, October 9th.  Our host is the president of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  We want to help you do a little honeymoon planning today so that your honeymoon can be the inaugural event for a great marriage.

 And welcome to FamilyLife Today, thanks for joining us.  You know, I have known couples who have really gone all out for the honeymoon – spent a lot of money, gone to some fabulous places, really done it up. 

Dennis: Yup.

Bob: I've known couples who have done it the economy route.  They heard about a friend who had a cabin, they went off to the friend's cabin, it didn't cost a whole lot of money.

Dennis: Yeah, we did that.

Bob: You know, it has seemed to me that the predictor of honeymoon success, whatever that looks like, is not based on how elaborate or how thrifty.  You can have a great honeymoon with sparse accommodations, you can have a lousy honeymoon spending a lot of money trying to do it, can't you?

Dennis: No doubt about it.  The issue is – are you prepared for it and have you really been intentional about your honeymoon?  And we have Dr. Walt Larimore with us again on FamilyLife Today to help us kind of recalibrate our expectations and to know how best to put together a honeymoon.  Walt, welcome back.

Walt: It's good to be with you.

Dennis: Walt has co-authored a book called "The Honeymoon of Your Dreams."  He is a physician, wrote it with another doctor, Susan Crockett, and I just wish this book had been available when Barbara and I were starting.  Although, Bob, I was very intentional about our honeymoon.  Walt mentioned earlier that the average woman spends 2,400 hours on the wedding. 

 Well, I didn't spend 2,400 hours on the honeymoon, but I spent – I'll bet I spent 100.  I really thought through where we were going to go, how we were going to do it, because we toured the Rockies, and for a number of years – in fact, it would be interesting – we've now been married since 1972 – it would be interesting to ask her, because for a number of years she said out of all the places we've ever been, all the trips we've ever taken, her favorite was our honeymoon.

 Even though I took her to camp out at 8,000 feet in September …

Bob: … in a snowstorm.

Dennis: In a snowstorm, and yet she still enjoyed it.

Bob: Well, you remember when we interviewed Sarah Groves, the singer/songwriter, and her husband, Troy, she tried to be intentional about at least one aspect of their honeymoon, but it didn't seem to play out.  In fact, I think we've got this cued up so our listeners can hear how this intentionality – well, it kind of backfired, didn't it?

Dennis: It did.  In fact, this is an illustration of what Walt talks about in his book of differing expectations.

Sarah: I had a girlfriend who got married just like a couple of months before I did, so she was my only template, you know?  And she had gone out and bought these – for – basically, a seven-day honeymoon, you know.  She had seven little outfits, you know, and so I had done the same thing.  I was just going to be as cute as I could be, you know?

 So we were on our honeymoon, you know, and he would start to be romantic, and I'd say, "Wait right here," you know, I'd take off for an hour getting ready for this romantic moment.  I'd just kill the mood, you know?

 So while I'm in there getting ready, he ordered a sandwich …

Troy: I turned on the basketball game.

Sarah: And turned on the basketball game, so when I walked out, again, now my expectation is extremely high.  I'm expecting him to throw the sandwich across the room, like, who would want to eat at a moment like this?  You just look ravishing, you know, and at least turn off the game, you know, and he looks up, "Hey, how are you doing," and he takes another bite of his sandwich.  Well, that didn't take much, you know, and I just blew.

Dennis: He didn't even mute the sound?

Sarah: Well, you know, he didn't get much – he didn't get a chance to.  I mean, the second I walked out, you know, I just started, you know …

Dennis: Troy, Troy.

Troy: It was day 4, it was the fourth outfit, if you know what I mean, and …


Bob: And it had taken an hour – it had taken an hour to get the outfit on.

Sarah: I know, and he was hungry.

[musical transition]

Dennis: You blew an opportunity.  You know, we're laughing here, Walt, but this is no laughing matter in the midst of the honeymoon.  There are a lot of couples who miss one another around expectations.  Can you summarize a woman's expectation around the honeymoon in one word?  Can you do that?

Walt: No.

Dennis: I can – relationship.  I think that's kind of what she's dreaming about is this romantic relationship that is this dreamy, great connecting of the hearts.

Bob: It's an unencumbered, carefree connecting that's like you've never experienced before.  You know, back when you were dating you had those moments, but now that you're married, now that – well, it's the Beach Boys.  Wouldn't it be nice to say goodnight and stay together?  It's that – we're going to be together forever.

Dennis: Carry me away to the castle.

Walt: And those expectations are physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, and some are appropriate, reasonable, righteous, good expectations, and some are not. 

 When I talk to couples about expectations, I use the word "cement."  It's an acrostic for counseling is the C; the E is premarital evaluation, Dennis, like you mentioned in our last time together; the M is a mentor couple.  We recommend that that start well before marriage, having a mentor couple; the second E of the cement acrostic is premarital education, just like the course we have at FamilyLife; the N is numbers, that's being prepared financially – budget, financial expectations; and then the T is talking to the Father.  It's beginning to prepare spiritually.

 And utilizing that CEMENT acrostic in preparing for the honeymoon, also prepares for marriage.  It allows you to talk about, deal with.  Sometimes the silliest expectations – my son, Scott, and his then-fiancee, Jennifer, went through a premarital evaluation, and it was one that set up red flags and yellow flags and green flags.  The green flags being areas that were pretty safe, likely not to have conflict, and the red flags being you better talk about it because this is going to come up likely in the honeymoon if not early in the marriage.

 And there was a silly one, one of the questions in their evaluation was where are you going to spend Christmas?  And he said, "With Mom and Dad."  And Jennifer said, "With Mom and Dad."

Bob: But a different Mom and Dad in her case.

Walt: Way different Mom and Dad, and both of them said, you know, we laugh about it now, because it was so easy to deal with then, but if we'd waited until a month before Christmas after we were married, or two months before Christmas, it could have been a powderkeg.  We dealt with it before.  We dealt with those expectations.

Dennis: We talked about the word that summarized the expectation of a woman on her honeymoon.  I think we all know what the word is for the male species here.  What advice would you have for a young man starting out his marriage in the sexual dimension of the honeymoon?

Walt: Well, first, Dennis, let's go before marriage.  It may shock our listeners to know that according to some surveys, 85 percent of our evangelical Christian kids are sexually active at marriage – 85 percent.

Bob: Wow.

Dennis: Let me make a comment there, because Bob knows this – as we have our Weekend to Remember Marriage Conferences, Walt, you've been a number of times, you know we will have a breakout session for the engaged couples on a couple of occasions during the weekend, and we'll have a room that will have anywhere from 50 to as many as 300 engaged individuals who have come to the conference to get ready for their marriage.

 And one of the things we've had to change over the 31 years we've been doing these conferences is addressing the number of evangelical young people who have not waiting until marriage.  They are already living together – not just having sex, but they've already moved in.  And so we actually call them in that session to move out, to separate again and let the honeymoon be what it was supposed to be.  Let God do a new thing in their souls.

 And, you know, this is a little bit of a soapbox, I know, for you, Bob, and me as well as we've spoken at these events, because these young people don't realize what they're missing.  They are partaking of something that was intended for marriage later on.

Bob: Well, and they don't realize the seeds they're sowing, the destructive seeds.  Now, can God do a work?  Yes.  But let's not presume upon His grace to do that work and instead let's say we need to honor is intent.

 If a couple is coming to their honeymoon, and they're already sexually experienced, how does the honeymoon experience wind up being different for them, Walt?

Walt: We spend a whole chapter talking about that, because it's such a critical issue.  We address the couple where the male and the female are virgins.  As we mentioned, it's a minority, but we pat that group on the back.  That's a growing minority, but we deal with that.

 Then we deal with the couple where one is a virgin and one has been sexually active before.  That must be dealt with, and we recommend that it actually be dealt with within Christian counseling.  If you do not deal with that puppy dog before marriage, it's going to show up in the honeymoon or later.

 Every time – I just talked to a couple who – they've been married 10 years, and she was actually interviewing me about this book and was very skeptical that this type of book was needed.  She just had – that was her attitude.

 As we began to talk about the book, she really softened to see the need for it, and then she was thunderstruck, and she was quiet just a second, and then her eyes teared up, and she said, "I remember when we flew to our honeymoon.  We decided to go to Mexico.  I'd never been out of the country before.  I had never been sexually active.  We're flying down, and I'm really scared.  I'm scared about leaving the country, I'm scared about this first night together, and," she said "my new husband put his arm around me, he sensed that something was the matter.  He said, 'What's the matter?' and I told him, and he said, 'Don't worry about it.  That's how Michelle felt when we flew to Mexico.'"

 Well, imagine the rest of that honeymoon, and the rest of that week, and it was clear to me that this was still a root of bitterness that was planted in her.  She's gone back.  They've now entered into some counseling to talk about this, and they're planning, for their 10th anniversary, a second honeymoon, and they're using this book as the guide for how to redo what they didn't do correctly then.

 And then, lastly, the couple you just mentioned, Dennis, we talk about the couple that are both sexually active, and we tell them – and sexually active with each other, whether they're co-habitating or not – that is an incredibly dangerous situation for them.  It's dangerous emotionally, it's dangerous relationally and, in fact, the research shows that a couple that chooses not to enter secondary virginity, to not make a covenant to separate until marriage and continues to live together and continues to be sexually active, actually has a higher divorce rate than any other sub-group.

 By separating, especially for the guys that are listening to this – by separating, you are saying to her, "You are so important and so critical to me, that I want you to know that whenever I go on a business trip or I'm out of town or we're separated in the future, you can trust me."

 And, Dennis, we have them sign a contract, a covenant, to separate.  We decide what is the line going to be intimately?  For some of them, it's not even to hold hands, for some it's not to kiss, it's individual by couple, but if they break that covenant what they agree to is to call us – either to call Barb or I, as their mentoring couple, and we deal with it then.

 We give them accountability, we give them support, we give them a reason, and I'm sad to say that in some churches they don't even get that support.

Dennis: Oh, yeah.

Bob: As I've spoken to engaged couples at the Weekend to Remember the thing that I've said to them is, "If you are being intimate with one another now, prior to marriage, one thing you both know about the other person is you are marrying someone who is willing to be intimate with a person with whom they're not married.  You know that because you're doing it today."

 Now what makes you think that following the wedding that thought is going to go away, and you will think, "Now this person will be faithful."

Walt: Yeah, we tell the ladies, if he tells you he cannot wait or will not wait, you need to run, not walk, you need to run.  It's an incredibly dangerous situation.

Dennis: I couldn't agree with you more, Walt.  You know, Philippians, chapter 2, Bob, it's your favorite verse – "Not merely looking out for your own interest but for the interest of another," and that's what marriage is all about.

Bob: Yeah, "do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit.  With humility of mind, regard the other person as more important than yourself."  You take that passage and apply it in this area, you apply it in the physical relationship for a couple prior to marriage, where you say "Your interests are more important than mine" and, ultimately, the interests of God are what we're both committed to.

Dennis: You know, in all these things we're talking about here, especially around the sexual dimension, it all has to do with our expectations.  Men have a set of expectations, women have a set of expectations, we're different.  When it comes to the honeymoon, if I could just kind of put my arm around a couple who are getting ready to start their marriage together, I just kind of reach out to both of them, and I say, "Let me just tell both of you," with a smile on my face, "expect some surprises on your honeymoon." 

 Just get ready, have a sense of humor, but walk by faith as you begin your marriage together because, you know what?  That's what God calls us to do in all of life, and why should your honeymoon be any different?  So expect some surprises, and when they occur, this is the test, this is the surprise that he was talking about on the radio.  We're going to respond in faith.

 Walt, you know a very famous person who has had a great impact on a lot of people's lives who started a honeymoon, what, 60 years ago?  Maybe closer to 70 now and has a great story of responding in faith.

Walt: I heard him give it publicly.  He told of getting married.  They were very, very poor.  They decided to honeymoon at a resort on a lake, I believe, that was kind of one of these all-inclusive things even back then, but they sent their money off for that, and then they bought a bus ticket to the resort, one way to the resort and then for a week later, one way home. 

 So after the ceremony, they changed clothes, got their bags, went to the bus station, were driven to the bus station and went out to this resort.  The bus dropped them off, a little country road in the middle of nowhere.  They walked about a quarter mile up to the resort, and when they got there, it was out of business.  It was closed.

 This was in the evening, there's no cell phones 60 years ago, there were no pay phones, there was no nothing.  The man, realizing this was a surprise, it's not what we expected, but God was not surprised.  They prayed briefly, and they walked back down the driveway, looked up one way, there was nothing as far as the eye could see.

 And looked the other way, and down – a ways down the road was a small filling station with one pump – and old country store.  They walked down to it, and the lady that owned it was a widow.  She was closing up, and they told her of their predicament, and she said, "Well, I've got a room upstairs, if you'd like to stay there you can, and then we'll work on the rest of it starting tomorrow."

 And that's where they spent their honeymoon.  As they went to bed that night, this man prayed with his wife – because she's devastated, crying, upset.  This is not a surprise to God.  He is in charge.  And they had their honeymoon night there.  The next morning the lady came in early, made some coffee, some oatmeal, they were having breakfast and talking, and it turns out this man was a worship leader, and she said, "Well, you know, we have a problem.  At our church we're having a revival, and our worship leader, the music leader, is ill, and would you be interested, until we can sort this out, helping out with the revival?

 A thought occurred in his mind – is this what the Lord's up to?  Is this what He's up to?  So he went to that church, met with the revivalist, ended up being hired for that week, actually got paid for that week, and the end of the story, to make a long story short is that was Cliff Barrows on his honeymoon, and that was the first time he met Billy Graham.  And thus was born a relationship out of what many couples may have seen as a disaster that showed God's footprints all over the fact that His design for the honeymoon is a foundation stone for a lifelong marriage that glorifies Him.

 That's what honeymoons are all about.

Dennis: It is, and it's what marriage is all about, and I just add to what you just said – Jesus Christ came to be the Lord and the Master of every marriage, and what a great illustration of what a honeymoon should be and how God used that to redirect Cliff Barrows' career and his path for the rest of his life, but also what a great illustration for young couples.  This is what marriage was intended to be – the merger of two imperfect people with God Almighty, building a marriage in the midst of storms, in the midst of mountain peaks, valleys, you're going to build on all sorts of terrain and weather.  But God calls you to make Him your master and your Savior.

 And I just want to thank you, Walt, for your ministry of writing and for this book.  You know, Bob was commenting to me earlier, we've been doing radio now for 15 years.  We've never done one on the honeymoon.

Bob: We really haven't talked about intentionality, and that's what I think is so helpful about your book.  It helps a couple think through not just where is a nice place to go and what would be a nice vacation but how can we make the honeymoon the inauguration event for our marriage?  How can we do something that helps us build a spiritual foundation, a relational foundation, the romantic, intimate foundation of our marriage – all of that – in one event.

 The book that you've written is called "The Honeymoon of Your Dreams," and it's available in our FamilyLife Resource Center.  You can do to our website at to request a copy of the book.  In fact, when you get to the home page, you'll see a red button that says, "Go," and if you click that button, it will take you to the area of the site where there is information about Walt's book, about a book that you and Barbara wrote a number of years ago on couples starting their marriage right, in fact, that's the title of that book, "Starting Your Marriage Right," and we also have information about the brand-new release of the book, "Moments With You."

 This is a daily devotional guide for couples.  We're excited, because we've been waiting for this book to come off the press for the last few months, and we're excited that it is here – 365 devotions for couples to do together.  It's designed to get you talking, designed to give you an opportunity to pray together each day, and to help you focus together on a subject related to your marriage, your family, your relationship with God.  It's designed to help you look at the Scriptures and at life and to do it together.

 So we want to encourage you to get a copy of the brand-new book, "Moments With You."  It's available now in Christian bookstores, or you can order a copy from us here at FamilyLife Today.  Go to our website,, click that red button that says "Go," and you'll be able to order a copy of the book online, or you can call us if you'd prefer – 1-800-FLTODAY, 1-800-358-6329, that's 1-800-F-as-in-family, L-as-in-life, and then the word TODAY.  Contact us, and we can make arrangements to have any of the resources we've talked about here sent out to you.

 You know, from time to time here on FamilyLife Today, we mention the fact that we are listener-supported, and we encourage listeners to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today through a donation either on our website or by calling 1-800-FLTODAY. 

 I want to make sure our listeners understand that when we mention that, we don't want you to do anything that would take away from giving to your local church.  We believe that stewardship begins there, and your financial support for ministry ought to happen first at your local church.  So we hope that when you hear us mention a donation to FamilyLife Today, you are never tempted to say, "Well, I'll just dip into what I sometimes give to church and give it to FamilyLife Today this month."

 We wouldn't want that to be the case at all.  Beyond what you are able to do for your local church, some of you may be able to help support our ministry as well.  We are listener-supported, and those donations are what keep us on the air on this station and on other stations all across the country.

 And this month we want to send you a thank you gift, if you are able to help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.  It's a two-CD series from Dennis and Barbara Rainey, where Dennis talks to husbands about stepping up to be the man that God wants you to be, and Barbara talks to wives about what a wife can do to do help her husband be the man that God wants him to be.

 Those two CDs are our way of saying thank you when you do help support the ministry of FamilyLife Today, and you can do that online at  If you're donating online, and you'd like to receive the CDs, when you come to the keycode box on the donation form, type in the word "steps," or call 1-800-FLTODAY.  You can make a donation over the phone and just mention that you'd like the two CDs from Dennis and Barbara.  We're happy to send them out to you, and, again, we appreciate your support of this ministry.

 Now, tomorrow, we want to invite you back as we talk about what's happening online.  We want to talk about the Internet and about Facebook and MySpace and social networking and filters and safety and everything parents need to know so that the Internet can be an ally around your house rather than an enemy.  I hope you can join 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 next time 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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