After walking from the altar to my car, eager to embark upon our honeymoon vacation up in the Appalachian Mountains, I put my foot down on the gas pedal and immediately felt a loud crunch. I dropped my head into my hands realizing we had just gotten into a car accident.
I got out of the car to assess the damage. The car’s front bumper and along with it my blissful mood, was completely crushed.
I thought… Is my honeymoon already over?
I’ll backup for a moment and set the stage. The time is April 2020 at the height of our nation’s fear, confusion, and disorder. The place? On the edge of a beautiful small island underneath a jasmine covered archway with a sailboat rocking back and forth in the background. The temperature was absolutely perfect. The time was 9AM and the morning sun was about a quarter of the way into the sky and its rays were shining between the branches and leaves on the trees with Spanish moss swaying gently due to a slight breeze.
We weren’t planning on eloping, but didn’t want to postpone our wedding until the world opened back. Thankfully we didn’t wait because as of the time this writing, almost one year later, the picture doesn’t look much different. Our country is just as confused and fearful now as it was one year ago.
My wife drove herself to our wedding. When she drove up the gravel circle I faced away and looked out to the water. I wanted her to have a chance to get a bit closer before I turned around. I didn’t know it at the time, but she parked our car between two green posts which long before our wedding day we appropriately called green monsters.
Our wedding was picture perfect and even though none of our family or friends were physically present, we could still feel them with us. They didn’t miss our wedding because they were in the reflection of the sun off the water, the gentle breeze, and in the singing of the cardinals.
After the ceremony it was time to leave for our honeymoon vacation and that is when we crashed the car.
If you know anything about me you won’t be surprised to learn that crashing the car upset me greatly. I don’t like making mistakes, especially ones that are going to cost a lot of money. I was angry, frustrated, and embarrassed on a day I should’ve been grateful, joyful, and proud. I didn’t like what I was feeling, but I didn’t know how to get back into the blissful mood I was in only a few moments earlier.
Will I really let a small car accident end my honeymoon?
I spent one hour in frustration before I pulled myself aside and thought, “Do you really want to let a trivial car accident ruin your wedding day and honeymoon vacation?”
I reflected on the incident. No one was hurt, my car was still drivable, and at most I would need to make a few repairs and buy a new bumper.
It was then I made the decision to not let the accident control my day for one more second.
When did your honeymoon end?
Was it as soon as you walked in the door from your honeymoon vacation and back into your real life at home, your office, and the chores and errands of a typical household? The average honeymoon vacation in the US is between 7 and 9 days. This is not nearly long enough!
When we were first married I said that I wanted our honeymoon to last at least as long as our engagement, which was six months. As per usual I was resisting what is considered ordinary and was caught up on the phrasing of a honeymoon ending. I didn’t spend the first 30 years of my life waiting to marry my wife only for our honeymoon to last 7 to 9 days.
Now that we are approaching one year of marriage, and I’ve become a marriage expert (ha!), I have decided that six months isn’t nearly long enough either. I am working under a new plan, and it may sound silly. I am not going to never end my honeymoon and no one can make me. I am going to continually put in effort and keep the romantic spark alive. Check with me in a few years and I’ll tell you how it is going.
Why does your honeymoon need to end?
I’ve worked hard to remove the phrase, “When we were on our honeymoon” from my vernacular.. I can’t accept that a honeymoon has to end. I want my marriage to be like a Nicholas Sparks novel. And if you’ve read his books, and I have because I am a big fan, you will know that I am not being unrealistically optimistic. His books are full of a lot of rough and stormy days. I know that my marriage will have its ups moments as well as its down moments. I’m not clueless.
But your state of mind is everything. I have a good friend that is a romantic and renews her wedding vows every single year on her anniversary. She is always on her honeymoon. Sounds nice, right?
Don’t let your honeymoon end. Keep the romantic spark alive. Date your wife, surprise her, and keep her on her toes. Don’t get lazy, complacent, and think that just because you put a ring on her finger everything will always work out. There isn’t one bucket in your life that will stay successful if you don’t put effort in daily. Never stop loving your wife.
How do you keep the romance from your honeymoon alive?
Gentleman, as a newlywed I am in a unique position to share the grand romantic gestures that are often bountiful in the first weeks of dating and the first years of marriage. But before I share all the secrets I’ve learned from reading Nicholas Sparks’s entire collection and Gary Chapman’s, The Five Love Languages you should know that first you need to be right before the Lord and with yourself.
How is your prayer life?
What about your Bible reading habit? Are you going to church?
Can you effectively keep your relationship strong with your spouse if you aren’t spending time with the Lord each day?
In my posts Holy Hour for Beginners and Holy Hour for Amateurs I share ten tactics to grow daily in your walk with God, including: Reading from the book of proverbs, gratitude journaling, Our Daily Bread devotionals, breath work, listening to worship music, fasting, the Guided with Abide app, morning movement, and prayer.
Pick one of these tactics and commit to it for the next 30-days.
If a plant isn’t growing, it’s dying. And it is the same in your Spiritual walk and in your marriage. You need to continually work on yourself and your relationship with God to be a good spouse.
“The inside-out approach says that private victories precede public victories, that making and keeping promises to ourselves precedes making and keeping promises to others. It says it is futile to put personality ahead of character, to try to improve relationships with others before improving ourselves. Inside-out is a process— a continuing process of renewal based on the natural laws that govern human growth and progress. It’s an upward spiral of growth that leads to progressively higher forms of responsible independence and effective interdependence.”The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Stephen R. Covey
Have your date nights become takeout dinner from outback and a new release Netflix film on your big screen at home? Men, we need to raise our game.
Think back to when you first began dating your wife. When you took her to baseball games, the zoo, and planned a surprise picnic next to the river. When you were nervous you may be taking her someplace she won’t like because you took chances and tried something new and a bit uncomfortable.
Are you smiling remembering some of your best dates?
Look at your calendar and pick a day within the next month and plan a special night. Tell your wife not to make any plans for that day because you are going to be planning a surprise date night. Now channel your creative and romantic side and plan something special!
If you can’t think of anything unique to do then recreate a date from the beginning of your relationship. That is guaranteed to bring back a lot of happy memories and romance.
“Lastly, I must mention the discipline of time and romance. Years ago, in the Midwest, a farmer and his wife were lying in bed during a storm when the funnel of a tornado suddenly lifted the roof right off the house and sucked their bed away with them still in it. The wife began to cry, and the farmer called to her that it was no time to cry. She called back that she was so happy, she could not help it — it was the first time they had been out together in twenty years! In 1986 Psychology Today did a survey of 300 couples, asking them what keeps them together. One of the major “staying” factors was time spent together. Make sure you maintain this priority. Your calendar reveals what is important to you, so write her calendar into yours. Schedule weekly times together that do not just “happen. ” Be creative. Date! Surprise her. Be extravagant.”Disciplines of a Godly Man, by R. Kent Hughes
Tell your wife you love her everyday
Don’t do what I did. I dated my wife for almost five years before I first told her out loud that I loved her. I said it in my head hundreds of times, but for some reason I never had the courage to say it out loud.
I’m making up for this now by telling her I love her every single day. If you grew up in a household like I did, where love and affection wasn’t freely shared this may be difficult for you. But it is time to be the leader of your household and change your family tree. You and your wife can build each other up expressing your love freely and you can be a good example for your children.
“If you are one of those guys who says, “I don’t have to do that, Father, because they already know,” let me give you a hint: you will never in your life regret that you told your wife and kids you love them— never. You won’t be lying on your deathbed one day saying, “I can’t believe that I daily told my loved ones that I loved them. What is the matter with me?” Make the decision to never let your wife or kids go to bed or walk out the door without telling them first that you love them— life is just too short! It will change your family. It will change the world.”Be A Man!, by Father Larry Richards
And Father Larry has advice for those of you that grew up in households like mine. “Some of you ought to write a letter to your parents [saying I love you] as well. Don’t tell me, “Well father, they never told me they loved me.” Get over it. You be the first to start it.”
Send thoughtful text messages
How many times per day do you think of your spouse? Do you think of her for a moment when stuck in traffic at a red light? Or while sitting down to enjoy your lunch? Or how about when a special song comes onto your radio?
Anytime during the day that you get reminded of your wife send her a little text message telling her you are thinking of her and that you miss her.
Sending this text message is such a simple thing to do and it takes only five seconds, but will brighten up her day and make her smile.
Another idea is to write on a sticky note saying something like, “Have a great day! I love you. Signed, your beloved husband” and hide it in her purse. Who knows how long it will be until it’s discovered, but when she finds it she will be very happy.
Every once in a while I grab my wife’s phone when she is distracted and add an alarm for the next day. The next day her alarm will start going off with a message saying something silly. This will catch her off guard and bring a smile to her face.
Put work behind you for the day and turn your phone on silent
Do you ever completely check out from work? Unless you are an on call firefighter nothing is going to burn down if you occasionally disconnect from your work.
As soon as my wife pulls in the driveway from work I have my laptop closed, my phone on silent, and I am standing waiting at the door or at the top of the stairs ready to joyfully greet her when she enters our home.
I try to not check my email or phone again until after dinner and our post meal walk. There isn’t anything so urgent that I can’t go off the grid for two hours every day. My wife has been gone for close to ten hours, so when she gets home I want to get as much quality time with her as possible.
If this sounds impossible then I challenge you to set some boundaries. Don’t take any meetings during this time, make yourself unavailable, and keep your schedule clear.
Stay faithful to your wife
I’ve talked before about how important it is to create a plan to avoid temptations and common sins and want to reiterate the importance of maintaining trust with your spouse.
Do you follow women you shouldn’t on your Instagram account? Does your mindless scrolling turn into lingering when you notice a beautiful woman on you feed?
A good tactic to determine if you are doing something you shouldn’t is to put yourself in your spouse’s shoes. How would you feel if you looked over you wife’s shoulder and noticed her doing the same thing? If your answer is not good then it is time to install some hedges around your life.
R. Kent Hughes writes in his book, Disciplines of a Godly Man, “Men, put disciplined hedges around your life — especially if you work with women. Refrain from verbal intimacy with women other than your spouse. Do not bare your heart to another woman, or pour forth your troubles to her. Intimacy is a great need in most people’s lives — and talking about personal matters, especially one’s problems, can fill another’s need for intimacy, awakening a desire for more. Many affairs begin in just this way. On the practical level, do not touch. Do not treat women with the casual affection you extend to the females in your family. How many tragedies have begun with brotherly or fatherly touches and then sympathetic shoulders. You may even have to run the risk of being wrongly considered “distant” or “cold” by some women. Whenever you dine or travel with a woman, make it a threesome. This may be awkward, but it will afford an opportunity to explain your rationale, which, more often than not, will incur respect rather than reproach. Many women business associates will even feel more comfortable dealing with you. Never flirt — even in jest. Flirtation is intrinsically flattering. You may think you are being cute, but it often arouses unrequited desires”
I don’t think anyone wakes up in the morning and thinks, “Today is going to be the day I will choose to be unfaithful to my spouse.”
Unfaithfulness is caused during moments of weakness with members of the opposite sex that we’ve been letting our guard down around for weeks, months, or years. It’s not something you plan to do, it just happens.
Once you lose your spouse’s trust do you really think you deserve to have it back? There is a saying, “I forgive you, but that doesn’t mean I will ever forget.” Be unfaithful and you may get your spouse’s forgiveness, but you will never get her heart again. Being unfaithful is unforgettable.
Pray for your wife every day
Do you pray for your wife each day? What specifically do you pray for? You need to pray more deeply than, “Bless my wife in all that she does.”
Start by building a prayer list on the notes app on your phone. Write down the specific needs of your wife. Does she need wisdom for a stressful project at work? Is she in need of guidance for her relationship with her brother? Has she been waking up in the middle of the night, not having as large of an appetite, or is she struggling to stick to a workout routine?
You must pray for your wife’s needs daily. When you have a list you can reference each day you won’t just be mumbling idle prayers. You will become specific and able to express gratitude and thankfulness to God when your prayers are answered. It is your duty as a Christian husband to pray for your wife’s needs every day.
Are your wheels spinning with the myriad of opportunities for you to please God and your spouse? Great! Pull out your calendar and schedule a date night, grab your Bible and start reading, and commit to growing in your relationship with God and your spouse every single day.
Take 30 seconds and send a text message saying, “I love you,” to your wife right now. I’ll wait.
I wasn’t planning on sharing these final two secret tactics with you. They are so effective I selfishly wanted to keep them for myself. But, I guess I should help you out.
I learned these from my friend and author of the book Redefining Anxiety, John Delony, and can attest to their effectiveness. If everything else I’ve shared with you fails, replace the trash can liner when you take out the trash and wash the dishes. Trust me. If that doesn’t work, you may need more help than I can offer.
Remembering the car accident on our wedding day makes my wife and I laugh. It has become a fond memory and a picture of the dented bumper made it into our wedding photo album. In 50 years we will still be bickering over whose fault the accident was. And even though I was driving the car, I will still be right. It’s her fault. Why would she park between two posts like that and why didn’t she tell me?
What do you think? Whose fault was it? Let me know in the comments below and also, please share your best romance nourishing tips.