The Conversations My Husband and I Should've Had on Our Honeymoon
Eve Rodsky is the New York Times bestselling author of Fair Play and the newly-released chart-topper, Find Your Unicorn Space: Reclaim Your Creative Life in a Too-Busy World.
My husband and I never took a honeymoon, not really. We escaped from the post-wedding hangover for a long weekend in the Bahamas, mainly to postpone writing a stack of thank-you notes and sitting through one more brunch with extended family members inquiring, already, about when they could expect their first grandchild. I understand from talking to many couples that a get-away honeymoon in tropical paradise is the icing on the wedding cake, but after one day of sweating in the hot sun, I was ready to go home.
I'm just not the kick-back-with-a-margarita-type. I'm too Type-A. My jam is organizational management and creating airtight systems. As I stretched my legs out toward the endless blue ocean, I honestly thought that my new husband and I could better be spending our time back at work, climbing our respective career ladders, and strategizing with a mortgage broker on how to buy our first home.
Looking back, I realize that by cutting our honeymoon short, we missed out on what would soon become a rarified weekend of calm and connected, uninterrupted time where we could focus on each other and discuss two important aspects of domestic life that can make or break your 'happily ever after," and that consequently, would become the subject of two books I'd write three kids and nearly a decade later, and in a desperate attempt to save my own marriage. Here are conversations I would've had, in retrospect, during my honeymoon.
Conversation No. 1: Dividing Domestic Workloads
How do we intend to fairly share the often invisible, but by no means minimal, domestic workload between us so that it doesn't default to any one person?
I would soon become the she-fault provider of all our household needs while also juggling a career and becoming a new mother. If I would have known then that an intimate and relaxed, defenses-down setting is the best time to discuss how to clearly define expectations and delineate roles within the home, I would have turned to my new husband, and said, "Hey, I'd like us to celebrate our honeymoon by having a conversation about all it takes to run our home. And how we can intentionally create balance and efficiency so that we each have time to pursue the things we love to do as individuals?"
While the honeymoon may strike you as the worst time to have a conversation with your partner about who will be on dishes duty post-vacation, couples from all over the world have reported to me that 'date nights' are the best time to discuss new and better ways to collaborate in the home because you've intentionally created intimate 'us' time and within this warm and fuzzy bubble, there tends to be a heightened openness and a non-zero-sum willingness to work together that can quickly dissipate as soon as you return home to dishes in the sink and kids running underfoot. When you think about it, the honeymoon is the ultimate date night.
Conversation No. 2: The Pursuit of Happiness… Individually
How we can create balance and efficiency in the home so that we each have time to pursue the things we love to do as individuals?
The second piece of my honeymoon conversation rewind would emerge as a significant piece of my research into the intersection of identity, meaning and happiness. The happiest and longest-lasting couples were those where both partners had time to engage in active pursuits of self-expression outside their jobs and separate from the partnership and family roles that can quickly come to define us.
I call this 'Unicorn Space' and it doesn't refer to hedonic or personal pleasures like that margarita on the beach (although, by all means, enjoy it!), but about uninterrupted and focused time for creative pursuits that infuse your life with more meaning because they feel authentic to you. And isn't that what we all want in our partnerships—to share, and be honored for, the thing that makes us most come alive, whether that be hip-hop dancing, writing a book, or creating new hot sauces to share with your friends.
Isn't that 'thing' a big part of why your partner fell in love with you in the first place, and vice versa? Hold tight to this authentic piece of you. It will become essential to your happiness as a couple and to your own sense of self-identity and personal fulfillment. It's that important, but like the mythical equine that inspired the name, your Unicorn Space is vulnerable to extinction unless you intentionally create time for it, and especially in these busy, upside-down days of disruption where work and home life often fall under one roof.
Conversation No. 3: Maintaining Your Individuality in Marriage
As you embark on the early days of partnership or marriage, whether it's on your vacation honeymoon or over cheap take-out on a Tuesday night, invite your partner to the table. Openly discuss your respective "Unicorn Spaces" and lead with why it's important to you and healthy for the relationship, even if you don't know it yet. As examples:
- I want to feel a deeper connection to myself and to our life together.
- I want us to both feel connected to something beyond our work and our home.
- Having this outlet energizes me. I wake up happier which makes me a better partner.
Consider sharing some additional details, like how do you feel when you're doing it? How does your Unicorn Space insulate you from the hard and mundane aspects of daily life? How would you feel if you didn't have it?
Identifying and inhabiting your Unicorn Space while encouraging your partner to do the same has the potential to deepen and positively transform your relationship into one of mutual respect and trust. If you can start having these conversations now, you'll be well on your way to "happily ever after." Happily Ever After.