In a time when more and more couples are living together without marriage, the honeymoon would seem to be a throwback to an antiquated time when couples actually needed time away and alone to consummate their union after the wedding ceremony. Yet, even cohabiting couples today want a honeymoon –– a time of R&R or an exciting trip after the exhausting process of planning a wedding formalizing their relationship.
Whatever the specific circumstances, the honeymoon is often an afterthought in the wedding plans with a priority much lower than the color of the bridesmaid’s dresses and the design of the wedding cake. In his new book, my friend, Dr. Walt Larimore (along with his coauthor, Dr. Susan A. Crockett), presents a strong case for carefully planning the honeymoon so that it fulfills the couple’s dreams and prepares them for a harmonious and happy life together.
Larimore explained what motivated him to write the book, “Marriage and the honeymoon are the foundation for the first and most important of all divinely prescribed institutions: the family.” The book’s frank, practical and biblical honeymoon advice is relevant with essential information for virgin couples; it is especially vital for those who have already had sexual experiences (either together, in a previous relationship or unwillingly through abuse). The integration of the spiritual dimension of intimacy makes the book especially critical for a life-long relationship. In short, the book is packed full of meaningful, useful information for planning a honeymoon that will be the foundation of a life-long marriage.
Larimore and Crockett, who have 35 collective years of practicing medicine between them, point out that most couples have no idea how important the honeymoon is to the health of their marriage and how many times they as a couple will reminisce about that special time together. The honeymoon, they point out, is not just another vacation; it is “like a foot race, the start will dramatically determine the finish.”
The authors point out information that is verified in numerous studies and research –– sex is better in marriage and sex is better with religious or spiritual couples. According to the famous University of Chicago sex survey, married couples have sex far more frequently than single or cohabiting adults. Further, the same authoritative study reported that the more religious the couple, the more frequent and satisfying their sex life.
Larimore and Crockett also point out that the brain is the most important sex organ, so couples ought to use that brain in their choice of marriage partner. Some of their specific insights involve:
Premarital Inventory and Mentoring: There are excellent inventories available to assess a couple’s compatibility and to identify areas of potential conflict. Some inventories have a 74-84 percent accuracy rate in predicting divorce. If the inventories are administered 6 to 12 months before the marriage, the couple can deal with problem areas before they lead to a “horrible honeymoon, a miserable marriage or a devastating divorce.” Larimore and Crockett recommend that couples find a mentor couple like those offered through Marriage Savers, an organization headed by Mike and Harriet McManus. Over the past decade, nearly 300 couples have been mentored through Marriage Savers. Surprisingly, nearly 20 percent of the couples decided not to marry. Only seven couples among the rest of the 235 couples divorced –– about 3 percent.
Love and Respect: The primary challenge for a man is to learn how to let his wife know that he loves her. That is the husband’s number one job, yet it is not easy for a husband to find ways to make his wife feel secure in his love. For the wife, the challenge is to learn ways to show that she respects her husband and to make him feel secure in that respect and admiration. Larimore and Crockett understand that these tasks are often beyond human capability; that is why the spiritual dimension is so important. These tasks are “God-sized jobs.” They require God’s supernatural love.
Prior Sexual Partners: The authors recommend an in-depth medical examination for those with prior sexual experience. They argue that a potential spouse needs to know who they are committing to in marriage in terms of the risk of viral diseases. They are also strong advocates of “secondary virginity” –– vowing to cease sexual activity until marriage. If a fiancé is unwilling to make and keep such a commitment, it is a huge warning sign about that person’s ability to be faithful to you. In fact, such a person is virtually guaranteed to cheat after marriage. Larimore and Crockett also recommend that couples with prior sexual experience who promise and commit to sexual purity during marriage learn to forgive and forget –– a task that is impossible without the Biblical agape love.
Health and Honeymoon Kits: One of the more unique and important suggestions in the book is for the honeymooning couple to pack both a health and a honeymoon kit. In the health kit would be pain relievers, cold medicine, upset stomach tablets, band-aids, topical salves, and preventative medicine for specific situations such as seasickness patches or altitude sickness prescriptions. The honeymoon kit would have two sections: items for mood setting (for instance, candles and matches and bath soaps) and health items (practical items for female health care).
Larimore and Crocker’s book includes very helpful practical items in an appendix, including a packing list and a planning calendar. Perhaps most important, the authors include a week’s worth of spiritual devotions for the couple to share together during the first 7 days of their marriage.
During a time when family members are often widespread, the tradition of passing along wisdom from grandparents to parents to young adults is not easily accomplished. A book of practical advice for couples is long overdue. The $72 billion wedding industry pays scant attention to preparing a couple for a faithful, happy marriage. To that end, Larimore and Crocker have given engaged couples a rare and invaluable gift.