on the honeymoon phase

August 31, 2010 at 9:31 pm (People I have known, Things I want to see changed, Things I'm thinking about) (, , , , , )

I hate the idea of the “honeymoon phase” in any relationship. It is one of the things that grates me most when people talk about marriage – especially people who have been married for many years. I especially hate it when people look at Brett and I – how much we like each other, love each other, laugh, touch, talk – and say, “ah, that’s cute, you’re still in the honeymoon phase…” and the dot dot dot they leave hanging at the end implies that it will all come crashing down and reality will set in and we will soon see what its really like. We will fall out of love and into “marriage”. I hate it.

That said. I wish people had talked a little more honestly about how hard marriage is and how much daily work it takes, in the months leading up to our wedding. They were very quick to tell us about sex, but not much beyond that.

I also hate it how people don’t speak honestly and truthfully about marriage and their marriages now. Especially people who have been married for years. I don’t like how there is no space for honesty, truth, for saying “it really is tough. so worth it but tough” or “we’re having a hard week and really need your guy’s support” or “B and I are struggling to find time to fit in all the people in our lives and we’re taking a hit” or the myriad other things that are never said, but should be.

B and I are doing marriage prep counselling with a couple in our church. As we were talking the guy used an analogy – he said, “Marriage is like a movie. You can tell us what it’s like and recommend it to us, but we have to go and watch the movie and experience it for ourselves.” Which is cool. And reminded me of another analogy.

Recently B and I went and watched a fun hip-hop/streetdance style play at the Barnyard Theatre. It was great fun and we really dug it, but there were one or two things that detracted from the greatness. So when we recommended the show to our friends we said, “It’s great, especially the purple crew dancing in the second act, but watch out for the narrator. We found him very annoying and mis-cast.” They went and watched the show and loved it, but thanked us for warning them about the narrator.

This is like marriage. We need people to highly recommend it, to rave about it, to build-it-up, to love it – but we also need those people to tell us “the narrator sucks, watch out”.

Pre-marriage counselling is great and highly recommended. But I think we would have benefitted a whole lot more from a monthly catch-up and re-cap with Mr Basson in the months following our wedding.  You see, the thing is, what happened with me is I got into this marriage thing and suddenly it was hard and tough and I thought I was doing something wrong, I wasn’t good enough, I was failing. At times I thought there must be something fundamentally wrong with our relationship. That’s lies. There isn’t. But if someone had been there and told us and shared their vulnerability and their falling and their learnings, it would have all made a lot more sense and been easier to get through.

So, marriage is wonderful, I love it, I love B and am always always glad and confident in the choice I have made. I highly recommend it. But let’s face it, sometimes “the narrator sucks”. Anyone for a little honesty?

28 Comments

  1. Berthine said,

    oh this is sooo very true! I mean true for me to a degree. I will be married on MArch 19,2011 but I am ALWAYS hearing how HARD marriage is, so much that you begin to question why two people would even come together to become one? However, we know that our relationship has been blessed by God and know that it will be hard, but worth the work. Thank you for sharing this post. I found it so encouraging!

    • amazed said,

      congrats on the engagement and the soon-to-be marriedness! YaY! I guess I am actually saying two completely opposite things in my post: on the one hand people put marriage down, refer to the honeymoon stage as if the after is hell, and talk about how hard it is (leading to that feeling of “so why marry?” which I totally got too) but on the other hand they don’t actually talk honestly about the hardness and the tough bits. I guess the feeling I got/get is that when they are talking about it being “hard” they are saying it in a negative/breaking-down way, whereas what we really need is the truth spoken in love, in a way that encourages/builds-up/reinforces/prepares. does that make sense? Stoked that it hit home though!

  2. brettfish said,

    darn lady, you beat me to my note, but very well written, and the narrator did suck [unless you’re reading this narrator guy in which case you were so so good, nice diction!] – just to clarify that we are giving marriage counselling to a couple about to get married altho like V suggested and what we have talked about quite a bit is that marriage counselling after you’re married instead of just leading up to the marriage would seem like a much needed thing cos it is hard a lot (amazing and incredible and brilliant a lot too but definitely a work in progress) and it would be so helpful to speak to someone once you have struggled a bit and argued and bashed heads (metaphorically altho we do have that literal problem sometimes when we both turn over in bed at the same time)

    in fact, in a moment of inspiration (i think), when talking to this couple about to get married the other day i had this idea of marriage God-parents – so when you have a child some people ask close friends to be God-parents for their child which is a commitment to stand alongside them and assist them in their parenting – think that is an amazing thing for marriages to have – so a couple or couples who have been married for longer than you who appear to be doing it largely right who you ask to help you and be a sounding board and spend time with and just get some extra help for your marriage.

    but yes on the creating a space for married people to be real and open and bruised and bloody which happens sometime – we don’t cos it’s not easy or nice or pride-enducing BUT saying nothing and not getting help is even more detrimental so who is going to stand up and say ‘here’s the space’

    good note lovely lady

  3. my wife beat me « Irresistibly Fish said,

    […] beautiful lady blog on the honeymoon phase Tags: blog, honeymoon, marriage, the beautiful val Comments RSS feed […]

  4. megan said,

    I dunno, I guess it’s because I’m a lot older, but I hear people who are real and hardworking and committed and doing all the stuff, talk realistically about how hard things are, and how worth it it is. It’s the same thing with having children. It’s real stuff.

  5. Catherine said,

    Hi Val (& Brett), that’s a good blog and definitely something that needs to be said.

    As a single, I would really like to hear married couples recommend and rave about marriage with the odd warning/hint/tip/advice. One gets tired of hearing married people whining about all the bad things without mentioning all the good things.

    And talking about problems with older/wiser/more experienced couples is brilliant. My brother’s first wife kept all such things to herself for so long because she felt she needed to keep it private. Eventually the volcano erupted and well, the rest is history as they say 😦

  6. eb said,

    This post is right on. We need more couples who are honest about real struggles so we don’t think we’re ‘unsuitable for this marriage’ when the first hurdle comes along. The taboo especially within the Church that says you’re a failure if your marriage isn’t perfect, comes down to pride. And I think that we as young couples can change that by being more open to our struggles (given the right circumstances of trust) than generations of the past.
    We’ve had that honeymoon comment so much too. Then when they hear you’ve been married about 3 years they say: “yeah, well, aww that’s still honeymoon. We’ve been married 6, 20 or 36 years.” The honeymoon stretches and stretches as people with rough marriages don’t quite think it should be right that love can endure hardship. This is projection and a lie. You keep on loving one another publicly. You’re doing awesome!

  7. brettfish said,

    hey catherine

    i completely hear you and marriage is an incredible thing – altho i do know it’s hard for singles to hear this too much as well (delicate thing this relationship speak) cos of the way the church more than society these days has made marriage the goal for everyone and so singles often end up feeling crap or like they’re half “until they find the one” – and so while tbV and myself try and model healthy happy (for the most part) thriving (completely) marriage we are trying to find a balance – but ja it is amazing but not without it’s hurdles and difficulties and a lot of effort and sacrifice and surrender on both sides but the key is that if both sides are committed to that then it comes a lot more easily

    whether single or married be absolutely content with your situation (altho if single it is okay to look and ask God and be hungry for marriage but not to the extent that you waste your singleness time) and live life to the full which is what Jesus claimed to have come here for – to show us how – and He wasn’t married so it must be possible for singles too – yay!

  8. misskellyjane said,

    This is awesome!

    Is it unrealistic for me to expect to get married and still “like” my husband, not just “love him and put up with all his crap”? Am I normal for wanting to be the one he is most attracted to, even after like 50 years of looking at my same old face all the time?

  9. Catherine said,

    Thanks for the message Brett.

    To MissKellyJane, my parents have been married 41 years (their anniversary was August 30) and my dad still thinks my mom is the most beautiful woman (followed by his 2 daughters, and possibly his daughters-in-law now) in his life.

    My dad has given me lots of advice along the way. One of them being to choose someone who has a face you like because you’re going to be looking at that face for the rest of your life! LOL, I’m guessing my dad feels he made a brilliant choice by that account 🙂

    My parents have a unique relationship and though they are really sweet together I sometimes wonder if I could have the same kind of thing. I think all relationships are made of the two people involved and can’t be compared directly.

    My parents may be married 41 years now but even they thought it was a good idea to be married OUT-of-community of property back in the day and they still think it’s a good idea. They have also ended up working together (though they should both be retired) so they spend A LOT of time together and clearly aren’t feeling tired of each other after all this time! SO KEEP HOPE ALIVE – LOVE ENDURES 🙂

    I could even tell you more if you like………..read on…
    One thing my dad once said that caught me off guard was: “If my wife wants to divorce me she can find reasons” In other words, you can always find reasons to NOT make it work, even if you’ve been married a long time! And if you’ve ever seen divorce stats you will know that people even get divorced after 60 years of marriage! Even though it’s a much smaller amount, it makes you think what are these people thinking?! So IN OTHER WORDS, there is no point at which a married couple can say we’ve past some imaginary success point – EVERY year is cause for celebration and every year needs it’s share of hard work.

    Also about 3 years ago, my parents were separated from each other for up to 6 months when my dad took a job in Joburg. It was incredible to see my mom behaving like a teenager in love. She couldn’t wait to call my dad in the evenings and between them they travelled to each other as much as they could. I had never seen them behave so lovey-dovey before! I didn’t realise that ‘old married people’ could have that until it happened in front of my eyes!!!!

    SO YES, KEEP HOPE ALIVE 🙂

    • misskellyjane said,

      Wow, Catherine, that is so encouraging to hear! It sounds like your parents have a really special and beautiful relationship 🙂 Thanks for sharing those stories with me, I feel so encouraged and full of hope!

      It just really saddens me that people, even Christians, have given into this idea that after a certain amount of time you go from liking each other and wanting to be in each other’s company to another stage of the relationship where you just sort of put up with each other but it isn’t fun anymore. I’m in a really special relationship at the moment and my boyfriend and I love to be together and have fun together. I’m so over hearing that after some time we’ll get over it. I don’t want to get over it, I always want to enjoy being with him 🙂

      so thanks Val for this awesome blog, and thanks Catherine for your stories 🙂 This is definitely something I’ll share with people!

  10. brettfish said,

    hey kellyjane

    if you choose the right dude then it is completely right to expect that – the one thing we need to realise though is that love is a choice more than it is a feeling and when it is at its greatest it is choice and feeling combined but when it is at its strongest i think is when the feeling is not there (me having bad day, wife upset with me for not doing something i was meant to, whatever) and yet the choice still continues which is realistic cos there are times when it is harder to love anyone i think and that is when you get to witness true love in action – love when the person in a sense doesn’t deserve it cos of their behaviour but instead of striking back i respond in love and so on…

    the face will fade but i imagine you find beauty in the person beyond the face which does last completely…

    • misskellyjane said,

      spot on! i think you and Val have some really awesome, interesting, and encouraging thoughts about marriage and relationships.

      have you thought about putting these thoughts and ideas into a book or something for people to read? i know a lot of people would benefit from that.

  11. Jerome said,

    I’ve been with my chick for 12 years now, and we have never been married. We are still the same as when we first hooked up. Marriage is just a man-made thing anyway – who needs it. Maybe one day we’ll do it just to put it on paper. One is already married in the eyes of God when you are loyal and committed to each other. Is a marriage which ends in divorce after 5 years worth more than a decade of being together faithfully without the formalities of marriage?

    But in all relationships one needs to work at it a bit. It is mediocrity and sameness that causes a relationship to dwindle. Keep things exciting and different and then you’ll never leave the honeymoon phase. If you do feel like you’re leaving it, then re-introduce going to new places, travelling, speaking about different topics, and other things to keep the relationship exciting and back to the honeymoon phase.

  12. Kim C. said,

    Hi everyone,
    I agree with Val – I find it irritating that people talk about the “honeymoon” phase. I also agree with Brett who states that love is more than a feeling- you decide on loving that person and make a committment.
    The problem with today’s society is selfishness and a short attention span. People are so caught up with what they are “entitled” to that they miss the joy of serving someone else in love. NOW that is difficult but good for the soul and SO rewarding.
    I am lucky…no…. blessed, to have the most amazing husband who models Christ in my life. He is not perfect (neither am I, haha), but suits me perfectly. I think our greatest growing times, though, are when the bad days come (and they are here even at the start of our journey). We know that neither of us are ever going to walk away (hence love being a lifetime decision) and that means we can “relax” and trust each other totally and just enjoy the journey – which is a marathon not a sprint anyway.
    To Jerome I want to say that I disagree. Marriage was God’s idea way before man ever thought it was a good idea. It was God who suggested that it was “not good for man to be alone”. He shaped woman from man’s rib (his side), so that man could have a lifetime companion and help-meet (i.e. someone to share life with who could help you walk your journey). Since God made us, He should know what is best for us (kind of like the owner’s manual to a car that tells us how the car performs best and is happiest). The problem with marriage and divorce is not with marriage but with man being sinful and selfish and messing up what God intended to be a beautiful thing. The problem with divorce and split ups is not with marriage but with man’s selfish, sinful nature. I am sorry and apologise if it hurts you for me to say something that is a hard truth but being married “in the eyes of God” is doing it properly, getting married legally and being willing to make that outward lifetime committment, not living together rather – the bible is quite straightforward in this matter. I am so happy that you would think of getting married…it is WAY more than just a bit of paper. It is God blending two souls into one…a beautiful, wonderful mystery that is one of His greatest gifts.

    On a personal note – Val, I am so glad that Brett found such a wonderful wife!! I am an old friend of his and dawn’s. It is so cool to see such a wonderful couple.

  13. Sam said,

    Hey Val and Brett 🙂

    I totally agree with that!! A lot of people always shut marriage down, never wanna talk about it… never the mind > being honest about it… As a young-ling (19) , i have this strong desire to get married young… I will however not make any decisions if i’m not sure of it, or if i’m not hundreds it Gods will… But i want to know more, i want to hear more… just there is no one as genuine enough to just be honest and open…

    I have a bf, and its my plan to marry him, hence why we dating… i know for sure it will not be anytime soon, as we have so much to learn together about each other and what God wants for us!

    I almost feel guilty being inlove, like a lot of people in my life do not approve of my idea of getting married! Like no, “you have to get your life in order before you even think about it”, “your too young”, “marriage is hard,”, “your future”… bla bla blaaaaahhhh… Like where are the people that are there to support our desires? And who’s to say that wat they went through is wat everyone will go through! But instead it just gets crushed and there’s no point in even thinking about it…

    I know marriage is hard, i’ve seen my parents give up… divorced! i’ve seen broken relationships with family, friends… and like i know i’m young and have to get my life in order… but who’s to say wat i have to do and don’t have to do… This desire wud’nt be in my heart if God didn’t put it there! And the word “marriage” makes a lot of people so scared… all these jokes about it irritates the living shoots outta me, marriage is the end of life and don’t get married you will be married to the devil…

    I think i speak for not only myself but for a lot of people, when i say we don’t have the real support we need when it comes to relationships, marriage and all those things… the enemy crushes our dreams and desires through the people we closest too…
    hence why… most relationships fail, teenage pregnancy produces, married to the wrong person and all that!
    The church, as well as the people around you… are so focused about wat we are doing wrong in relationships than wat we actually doing right! Where’s grace, where is wise counsel? where is accountability? … like ya! Just tired of ppl judging instead of having compassion and helping… i think one of the reasons we have such a rebellious youth is because the older generation is not stepping up to their responsibilities as older people… often they say u have to listen, we’re older > but no real truth is said, no honesty is given… just telling us wat not to do, no further explanation…
    Then again its not everyone, a lot of people are privileged to have parents to teach them what is right, and people in their lives who support them in every step they take… but for the rest of us…

    This can become a broader topic, but my point is, i wanna get married! 🙂 i’m excited, and i know it can be wonderful and it can be challenging and difficult too… After all, two is better than ONE.

    • amazed said,

      Hi sam,

      wow super cool comment…thanks for sharing some of your dreams and hopes and desires. I fully recommend marriage – to the right person at the right time! Brett and my heart is to totally be championing marriage but not in a naive/false way – we want to paint a real picture of how beautiful it is but also where it gets hard. I guess one of the things I was saying is that a lot of folk are very quick to say “It’s hard” without really saying what is hard about it or where they have struggled or what things can be put in place to make it easier or how to get through the hard times. And so then it becomes a destructive statement rather than a constructive/building up/encouraging/making better statement. know what i mean? So i haven’t been writing here for a while (caught up in thesis stuff) but am hoping to over the next few months. Keep an eye out. Oh, and if you have any specific questions or things you’re thinking about on this whole topic and as you and your boyfriend walk this road please feel absolutely free to throw them our way and we will try our best to build up in love, truth, honesty and integrity.

      d: )

  14. Sam said,

    Thanks for your reply! and i totally love IT, that u guys aim to “totally be championing marriage but not in a naive/false way – we want to paint a real picture of how beautiful it is but also where it gets hard.”

    So i have a question 🙂
    For those who wanna get married, and are intending to … wat advice and counsel can u give to us… now that u guys are married, wat can u suggest of the “should definitely do’s” before marriage and the “should definitely not’s” … im not looking for the usual “i must say this” replies… but the true genuine and Honest ones 🙂

    Really looking forward to your reply … as i am as hungry as a lion … hahaha 🙂
    Blessings 😛

  15. brettfish said,

    hey sam

    i guess my answer to that would be ‘don’t do any of the stuff we did wrong’ – ha ha, often much easier to see the light from the other side – but i think we definitely did a lot more right than wrong…

    two things which may seem glaringly obvious but in reality seem also not to be – number one “marriage is the most amazing thing to the right person” – and i don’t believe there is necessary ‘the one’ in terms of God deciding before you were born that you have to marry bob or whatever – i believe that whoever you choose (and whoever chooses you) becomes the one and you spend the rest of your life choosing that again every day and it’s incredible (and sometimes very hard, but worth it!!!) but i do believe there is definitely “not the one” – i believe it needs to be someone who shares your greatest passion in life (so as a Christ-follower it HAS to be another Christ-follower otherwise you are going to be heading in two different directions and that is never good) – you can have different interests and hobbies and so on but primary passion and vision and direction should be the same

    and make sure it’s the one – if you can dat a dude for 8 months and know that, thats rad but if it takes two years or five then TAKE THE TIME – i can imagine hardly anything worse than being married to the wrong person and so you really need to be absolutely sure – don’t let emotions or desperation or age or anything drive you faster than you need to be going in this area – make sure

    and secondly, don’t sleep together before you get married – val and i were able to give each other that gift when we got married and it was incredible having a new place to go to after all the dating stuff and growing intimacy that happens there – i would suggest that the more you can save for marriage the better cos then you get to explore with no boundaries and absolute surrender and acceptance of each other – if however you go a certain distance and for some reason it turns out to be not the one (as can happen from time to time no matter how convinced people are) then you can’t later give that to your husband – i don’t even think this needs to be a specifically Christ-following value, i would say for everyone, just don’t do it – set strong boundaries and keep to them.

  16. brettfish said,

    i would sum it up (as would the beautiful val) as when you’re single enjoy your singleness and when you’re dating enjoy your datingness and when your married enjoy that but dont try and live any of the other phases out of phase – so when you’re single dont live your whole life in the i-wish-i-was-married obsession some of us get stuck in but have fun being single and make the most of the stuff singleness allows (it is ok to ask God for someone and to be on the lookout but don’t be obsessed) and when you’re married thrive in that…

    are you asking the question sam as someone who has met the person they are going to marry and heading towards it or as a single person wondering what some of the do’s and don’ts might be?

    [about to leave for botswana so back in a week or so and can give further answers then]

    love huge… read 1 cor 13.4-7 and embrace that kind of love and get a mindset of serving the other person in love (if they are the right person they will be thinking and doing exactly the same thing to you)… love is a choice – when the feeling accompanies it it’s great but when it doesn’t then choose anyways…

  17. sam said,

    AWESOME… 🙂
    AND i am asking this as someone who has met the person they are going to marry, and heading towards it! 🙂 (if thats Gods will of course) 🙂

    so u see, i kinda predicted those replies… those are the most common answers i have heard!
    1. make sure its the right person (like u said at least not the wrong person, cuz there is definitely the “wrong one” , i have already met him lol)
    2. Make sure u have common grounds > goal… bla bla, if two dont agree to where they are going then wats the point… think that verse is in Amos.
    3. the sex one

    Haha,,, iv heard that so many times to be honest… i wanna dig deeper!
    So help me? plzzzzzzzz

    i wanna know stuff like, wat are the things we have to establish before we get to being married? wat are the things we need to work thru individually? together? > if those don’t happen… then its gonna be harder in marriage…

    val, i wanna know how i can be a good support for him NOW, wat are some of the girly things i need to work thru… and things i can do for him…
    And brett, like wat are some of the manly things u can suggest for guys!

    Haha or am i being too serious?? or looking deeper into things when i should just be enjoying dating … but at another angle these things have to be done, and spoken about… avoid the common things, dig deeeeper…
    Like if u guys had to picture yourselves going back in time, at that stage where u were engaged… like im sure there are some things looking back that u wud have liked to do… not regret,,, but some of the things that wud have been easier!
    🙂
    Just looking for helpful tips i guess … straight forward answers… not only for me but for others too! i could learn the hard way but why when u have ppl with wisdom and truth… wise counsel 😉

    (holding thumbs for a reply before the 8th> thats when i wont have internet for a while, so will only have to be thru my phone haha)

  18. sam said,

    And blessings 🙂 May God work in the botswana> AMEN

  19. sam said,

    Thanks Val 🙂 ill have a read tonight on these notes u posted for me!

    Yes i’m in SA 🙂 currently Hermanus/ Ct 🙂 i have u and Brett on FB too 🙂

    Thanks very much, i totally appreciate all ur advice and help, and after thought i think the whole couples thing is a good idea too… just to find them 🙂

  20. Jackie said,

    Hi guys!

    Really enjoy your blogs when I get a moment to read them… I’m just a quiet non-commenter (usually)

    I found myself on the different side of the spectrum when it came to my marriage. Everyone was telling us how hard it would be, and how the first year is hell, and how you fight on the honeymoon and how sex is painful and and and and…

    And then having come from a family where everyone (except my grandparents) have divorced (literally parents, aunts, blood parents, cousins… everyone) you start to wonder what the point was in the end – if this is all going to end in heartache.

    I think the church is desperate for GOOD pictures of marriage, people who are crazy about each other, who are happy and tell people that they are happy, who praise their spouse in public and a visible proud of them. Couples who give hope to our younger generation that marriage is a good God-given thing.

    I have found my marriage to be heaven. (almost 2 years in so by no means a veteran!) maybe because I was expecting the opposite of a fairytale I discovered a fairytale. When people laugh at us and to some extent look down on us saying … “aaaah sweet, the honeymoon phase… don’t worry you’ll grow out of it” my hubby and I look at each other and smile because 20, 50 years down the line… we’ll still have people saying that to us as we choose daily to be madly in love with each other.

    God is a giver of good gifts. Marriage is one of these. Yes there are difficult times, but we have found by choosing to love each other despite those… they are far less difficult when handled together.

    I’m not saying I have anything perfect or sorted out or whatever. I’ve just (to my delight and surprise) found marriage to be the best thing ever, and find the negative views that I’m surrounded by (not saying that yours was 🙂 terribly sad.

    May God bless you both in your marriage and work!
    J

  21. zantha beretta said,

    So true! Also married. 2,5 yrs now and found the same. Went for marriage councelling before, but really could have done with catch-up sessions afterwords. Marriage is hard, but i love it and love my husband And little daughter.

  22. Wednesday = Wed day: Episode 12 – The Search for Meds. [Married, Engaged, Dating, Single] | The Weekly Mash [ and Peace! ] said,

  23. Married People [and how to maybe do it even better] | Irresistibly Fish said,

    […] An excellent blog on the so-badly-called “Honeymoon Phase” of marriage for newly married… […]

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