10 Things to Know to Plan the Perfect Honeymoon

by | Jun 11, 2019 | Uncategorized | 22 comments

We’re told our whole lives, “The honeymoon is the most glorious time of your life!”

And so we want to have the perfect honeymoon. It’s part of that whole perfect wedding package–you’ll go off into the sunset with your beloved, and you’ll make mad passionate love and stroll along the beach and gaze into each other’s eyes and everything will be perfect. All so perfect.

But what if it’s not?

In fact, most people report major honeymoon regrets. Not just that, but sex on the honeymoon really isn’t that stellar. When i did my surveys for The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, I found that about 20% of people had AWESOME sex on their wedding night. Around 20% of people didn’t even have sex, because they got their period or they were exhausted (or someone was too drunk. Big mistake). And then the other 60%? It was just kinda meh.

My own honeymoon left much to be desired! Our introduction to sex was rather disastrous, and it took quite a while to recover from some of that. Nevertheless, we chose the perfect trip that made a lot of those problems not quite so bad.

Keith and Sheila leaving for the honeymoon

Us leaving for our honeymoon!

This week Rebecca and I have launched our Honeymoon Course–an awesome package of videos, activities, discussion questions and more that can help you plan the perfect honeymoon for YOU, and also make sure that your married sex life starts off well. My mission is to move far more people into that top 20% tier, so I’m giving people that one big piece of advice to make honeymoon sex much better, plus a lot of practical tips on how to plan the right trip and start sex well.

Today I thought I’d give you 10 things to keep in mind if you want to plan the honeymoon that’s more likely to work for you! And thank you to everyone on Facebook who contributed some great ideas to this post (and many of those ideas made it into the course as well!)

10 Things to Know to Plan the Perfect Honeymoon--Especially if you'll be enjoying sex for the first time!

1. Name the aim of your honeymoon

What is the BIG THING you want from your honeymoon? Is it romance? Adventure? A time to destress? Relaxation? Or do you really want to see some major part of the world that you’ve always dreamed about?

Sometimes we think that the honeymoon has to be this big trip, and so we plan something huge–like going to Europe–when if we’re honest, what we really want is just to relax and spend time together getting adjusted to sex.

If sex is new, you likely don’t want to take on a hugely stressful honeymoon! But if you really want adventure and to be busy, then sitting at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico may not give that to you.

One of the best things we did before our honeymoon was talk through expectations beforehand. This helped us alleviate the pressure of performing on that first night together and instead enjoy the time we got to spend.B.W.

2. Don’t overemphasize the wedding night

We hear it our whole lives–“the wedding night is the most glorious night of your life.” But the wedding night comes after the wedding day, which is the longest day of your life. Many couples are just exhausted on their wedding night, and expecting it to be bliss often leads to disappointment. See the wedding night instead as the beginning of your life together. It doesn’t have to be The Best Night Ever. It’s more like the entrance into this new magical place you’ll be in forever!

That applies to hotels, too. I know people who spend $500 to get the honeymoon suite, but then they don’t arrive back until midnight, and they have to be up at 6:30 to go catch an airplane. It’s almost better to get the luxury suite a few days later, after you’re recovered from the wedding and more comfortable with each other.

Definitely include that having sex on the first night is not some sort of expectation. My counselor said so much trauma could be avoided if couples would remove that “we have to” expectation. It’s totally fine if it takes days or weeks as long as you’re communicating. 

Jessica Harris

Blogger, The Beggar's Daughter

3. Make allowances for adjusting to new things–even sex!

Being married is FUN. You’re finally with that person you’ve loved for so long. But even if the change is a great change, all change is still stressful. And for many people, sex is a huge learning curve. Even if you’re not a virgin on your wedding night, sex changes once you’re married. It means something more now.

So give yourself time on your honeymoon to make those adjustments. Don’t schedule yourself so much that you’re exhausted and you don’t have time just to sleep in, whisper under the covers, or enjoy each other. If you have to fly out to your honeymoon destination, consider leaving two days after the wedding, not the next day, to give yourself at least a day to unwind.

Do what feels good and don’t aim to push beyond that if the body isn’t ready for it yet. Progress naturally (over time). Keep snacks around for post workout!A.H.

4. Remember how tired you’ll be

Even if your wedding goes off without a hitch, it will still be tiring. The adrenaline alone, plus all the anticipation, is likely to make sleep more difficult in the weeks leading up to the wedding. When you’re planning your honeymoon, take that into account. If you have to return to a heavy work or school schedule soon after your honeymoon, then consider taking more of a low-key trip, where you don’t have to change time zones, and ideally you may not even have to get on a plane. You can always do a big trip in a year’s time. For now, do something special that will give you time to destress.

5. Spend your money on the stuff that really matters on your honeymoon

You have a limited budget for the honeymoon. Some of you will want to splurge as much as possible, but others will be tempted to save in as many ways as possible. My suggestion? Figure out what’s important to you, and then spend the money there. Instead of a big trip to Europe, for instance, which you try to do as cheaply as possible to afford it, it may be better to spend the same amount of money on a resort that’s all-inclusive closer to home, so that it’s more relaxing.

6. Plan how you’ll handle meals

If you’re going to go off to a cabin in the woods for a week of isolation, ask yourself: Do I want to cook my own meals for a week? For some of you the answer is a resounding yes! For others, that would make the honeymoon seem like drudgery. If you’re traveling in a way that doesn’t include meals (say you’re doing some bed & breakfasts in your local area, or you’re touring another city), then budget for meals ahead of time. Decide, “We’re going to spend $75 a day on food” or whatever it may be. If you don’t plan for this ahead of time, then every time the bill comes you may feel guilty for spending money. Give yourself permission!

7. Find ways to create memories on your honeymoon

You’re going to want to remember your honeymoon! Take lots of pictures. Start some new rituals. On their honeymoon, my daughter Rebecca and son-in-law Connor started going to cafes with puzzle books. Now, whenever they want to destress in daily life, they head to a cafe with a puzzle book in tow! Our Honeymoon Course has some great ideas on how you can create memories on your honeymoon, or start new traditions that will last a lifetime.

How can you start marriage–and sex–off well?

Honeymoons can be awkward. You’re tired, often stressed, and you’re not always sure what to expect with sex.

The Honeymoon Course can change all that! We’ll help you choose the perfect Custom-Made honeymoon–AND we’ll prep you for fun and intimate sex (including the ONE MINDSHIFT that you need to make honeymoon sex great!)

You’ve spent so long planning the wedding. Put a little bit of time into planning your first few days as husband and wife!

8. Aim for arousal, not just sex

As we’ve said before, the best way to have great sex on your honeymoon is not to aim for it. Instead of aiming for penetration, make the big goal to ensure that she especially feels aroused. Sometimes we rush so hard to “complete the deed” that we skip that whole arousal part, and then, for far too many women, sex never quite feels right. Sex is something you’ll be enjoying for the rest of your marriage; it’s okay if you start slow. And if you aim for both of you to feel aroused, the penetration part is far easier, too!

Relax. Enjoy each other. Take your time. It will take years to learn what the other one likes. Take that time to make the strongest connection possible with the one you are committing to. Be there with your spouse. – S.N.U.

9. Commit to starting fresh on your honeymoon

For many newlyweds, sex isn’t new. Or, sex is new for one but not for the other. Once you’re married, though, sex IS new, because now it’s about total commitment and intimacy. It is a fresh start. So commit to that fresh start! Don’t go into marriage thinking, “I know how to turn a woman on,” or “I know what a man wants.” You may know what made previous partners feel good, but if this is the first time with your spouse, then treat it like the first time altogether. Just get to know what your spouse likes, because people do not all like the same thing. Become an expert in your spouse. And commit beforehand to put the baggage of past partners, or sexual shame or guilt behind you. We have exercises in The Honeymoon Course to help you do just that.

10. Fill your honeymoon days with something other than sex

As much as you may like to, you’re not going to be able to have sex for 24 hours a day, for 7 days straight. You’ll need other things to do! When choosing where to go, then, plan some other activities, like hiking, swimming, or boating. Bring some books along. Even bring along some board games! And if you’re heading to that cabin in the woods, this is even more important. Have Scrabble tournaments at night, or download some Netflix shows before you go. Check out The Honeymoon Course for more ideas!

The wedding night is filled with nerves and excitement, it also has a lot of potential to be a disappointment – but it doesn’t have to be!

We spent our honeymoon at my family’s cabin – it was a great trip for two broke students! Our favorite day was a day drive out to Gettysburg to tour the US Civil War battlefield. I know that doesn’t sound romantic, but we got to spend the day together reminiscing on past trips, reviewing the history of the battlefield, and enjoying the memorials around the site. For us, it was perfect. Make time to do what you both love, whatever that is.

Joanna Sawatsky

Researcher , Bare Marriage

Our Honeymoon Course also has packing lists so that you don’t forget anything super important for your honeymoon, along with lots of activities you can do once you’re there.

And we’ll walk you through those 5 honeymoon types to find out which works best for you.

Check the course out! And feel free to buy this as a gift for someone you know, too. Just email me after purchase and I’ll get you a gift card you can give to them to sign them up.

The first few days as husband and wife do matter.

So schedule the things that are important. Spend money on the things that actually matter. And relax. A lot!

What went RIGHT on your honeymoon? What went WRONG? Let’s talk in the comments!

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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22 Comments

  1. Bethany

    We really should have done more of the “focus on arousal” thing, I think it would have helped a lot. And just enjoyed being together instead of being so goal oriented. Sex did not go great.

    We did have a really fun honeymoon trip though. We went to Sonoma, had a really cute comfy room with a big tub, rested, had good food (and wine), walked and biked, saw pretty things on a very relaxed time schedule, and just got to know each other in a new way. We did play a lot of board games, which was delightful.

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      That was really my aim with the course, Bethany–that couples could understand that the honeymoon is more about celebrating that you get to be together forever than it is making sure you do it as many times as you can. Because ironically, I think if you focus less on getting sex done and more on just having fun with each other, you actually end up having a lot of sex and it ends up being better for both of you.

      Reply
      • Jane Eyre

        We planned our wedding day so that we could retire to our honeymoon suite by a decent time, and left the next evening for a short flight to our destination.

        We chose a city that neither of us had been to, one time zone over, with good food, history, and fun things to do (caverns, wine tasting, zoos, etc.). It was the right amount of fun and relaxation.

        I am very glad that friends and the Internet had advice about not planning a huge trip, balancing time as newlyweds with fun, not making your wedding night start at 2 am, all that.

        The wedding night itself was awkward for him and excruciating for me. I am glad we had low expectations, because it felt like something to get over, not hat we were failing at intimacy.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          The right expectations are so crucial! And it sounds like you guys planned a great honeymoon, too. I’m all in favour of as little time change as possible!

          Reply
          • Wifey

            We didn’t have our actual honeymoon till we had been married a month and I highly recommend that! We had a chance to move in to our new place and get a bit adjusted to sharing a home and life before heading off on our honeymoon. Our honeymoon was great- we went canoeing on the lake, watched a lot of old Audrey Hepburn movies, played board games, did other things😉 and picked a couple of bigger outings spaced out over the week. Went to a ropes course/zip line, rode a river boat for an evening meal, stuff like that. It was super fun and the perfect mix of exploring and just enjoying being married! Plus we didn’t break the bank to to it.

  2. Grace

    I like that you say the first few days do matter. I have a lot of grief looking back at our honeymoon. We didn’t do anything extravagant but that was fine to me, however I realized how horribly my mother in law had shaped my husband’s thinking. It has taken us a few years to get back on the right path so to speak. My MIL believes sexuality is a necessary evil that should be surpressed. And no surprise that my poor husband had a lot of trouble letting go of those ideas and any guilt surrounding sex. We didn’t truly have sex until about 1.5 years after our honeymoon, he was finally able to let go of that controlled mindset from his mom. It took him even longer to acknowledge that his mom was wrong. His mom is a very controlling person and he was very easily manipulated by her. My heart was completely broken as a wife on my honeymoon, I had waited for sex and saw it completely differently. I ended up getting so sick and felt like I was going to die my fever got so high, I honestly felt hopeless and that’s why I think I got so sick. Those were tough times I still wince in pain over. But God! God has restored! Our marriage is so different now! I’m still “higher drive” than hubby. But that’s ok. I know more about his prior mindset and though I want to be so upset with his mom, it also gives me grace for him and all he was sort of brainwashed into believing. I wish other people could know my story and know the great damage they can do to their kids minds if they fill them with unbiblical ideology. I’m so grateful for where we are now, but can’t really look back to the past without pain. I’m SO glad you are doing this course! I’m going to recommend it!

    Reply
    • Rebecca Lindenbach

      Wow, Grace! I’m so sorry that you had to go through that, but what an amazing story of healing that comes from combating lies with truth!

      We actually have a whole exercise in the course that couples can work through so that they can get to the heart of how they see sex. So if you’re marrying someone who has been taught lies, you can catch it and start the work of learning what God really says about sex before the wedding. And then instead of being caught unawares, you can be joint partners in seeking truth together. Because you are so right–it’s important to know these things!

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Wow, Grace. Isn’t that awful? How amazing that you’ve been so patient with your hubby, too, and come to a great place of healing now.

      Reply
    • Hannah

      Grace,
      I’m so so sorry you had to experience that! My husband’s family created so much shame around sex for their children, and didn’t teach them ANYTHING about it. As a result curiosity sort killed the cat as one might say, and he ended with a porn addiction as a teen. We met when he had stopped but…between the sexual shame and ‘we don’t talk about this’ and him not knowing anything about sex at all really, besides photos and a couple videos….and lets be real, porn doesn’t exactly give you REALISTIC expectations. 🤦🏽‍♀️🥺 It was months before we were able to actually be together, and our honeymoon was a disaster. I had never felt more ashamed and spent much of the week crying. My husband sank into a shell and it was 5 days in before I could convince him to leave the cabin we were staying in and do something fun.
      It was terrible….I really wish we could re-do it. But for us, as it sounds like it was for you, the journey to a healthy sex life has been very long.
      We’re still working, and we have been to therapy and continue some (really healthy) christian counselling at our church to keep us accountable.
      But he’s a very gentle and loving sort of person, and that has made all the difference for me. If he had been harsh or cruel I don’t think we would have made it.
      I’m thankful for God’s grace guiding and helping us to keep going even when things looked so hopeless.

      So glad you wrote this course Sheila – will DEFINITELY share with any engaged couples in my life!!!

      And Grace, I pray that God continues to soften and grow your hearts and bless your marriage in every way, that you two can be really truly happy together in the future and things will continue to get better and better from here!! It’s so challenging to start out so badly, but something is: we’ve seen the worst of our partners and still stuck it out – so things will keep getting better and we’ve learnt lots about being teams!:) God bless you!!

      Reply
  3. Natalie

    Aww, all this talk of honeymoons is making we wish we could get married again and do it all over again. 🥰 #8 is SO crucial!!!! I think #8 is really what it all boils down to if you want good “sex” (meaning not just PIV) and connection throughout your marriage.

    A story from our wedding night to illustrate this: seconds before I was to walk down the aisle, my great great grandmother’s heirloom pearl necklace chain broke! We all started freaking out! My aunt jumped into action and tied the very fine delicate chain into a knot several times at the back of my neck. It worked and held for the whole rest of the night! When 10pm roller around and husband and I made our grand departure and went back to our resort, we really weren’t that tired yet and were ready to have some fun together. But I refused to have sex with a 100+ year old pearl necklace on that could snap and all the little pearls could go over the whole bedroom floor. So my husband (with his big, manly, not-so-nimble fingers) got the task of trying to undo the knot in the very fine chain before we got down to business. It took him 45 minutes of picking at the knot with his fingers and various objects he could think of! He had been looking forward to sex immediately upon arrival at the resort, and became quickly frustrated when the necklace “cock blocked” him for so long (his words in the moment, not mine lol). His mood kinda ruined our first night as husband and wife, and that sex became just about getting him off and giving him what he wanted/pacifying him. (which at the time I thought was fine and normal cuz I still thought my role sexually as wife was #1 to take care of my husband’s sexual needs whenever he had them). Looking back, if we both (but him especially) had been focused on creating mutual fun and pleasure and connection instead of focused on the actual insertion of a penis into a vagina, there would’ve been a lot less stress and tension. The nuisance of the necklace could’ve been turned into a coy game or made into some long, drawn out foreplay (but I had never even heard of the concept of foreplay at that time, so, ya know, I didn’t suggest or encourage anything like that). That night kinda set the tone for our whole sex life, and none of that changed till after our 4th anniversary! So as you can see, I am VERY glad you and your team made this course, Sheila! Hopefully it’ll enlighten many and help them avoid starting a sex rut from day 1 of their marriage like my hubby and I did.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, wow, what a story! And, yes, I’m not surprised that you just thought that was normal, because that’s what so many of us grow up thinking. I’m hoping that I can set couples up for a much better honeymoon than we had!

      Reply
  4. Melissa

    A huge AMEN to #8. We have been married for 22 years and have had a happy, healthy, active and mutually satisfying sex life for the whole 22 years. For us it really did start on our wedding night. My husband worked at a paper mill when we were dating and got married and he heard how the men talked about their wives/girlfriends and was horrified. Basically they just used them for their own sexual pleasure. On the flip side was the women he worked with who talked about always being left hanging and felt like they were nothing more than “sperm toilets”. How awful! My husband vowed not to be that kind of man. Now we were not the christian couple who waited til the wedding to kiss so sexual tension was building up in our brief ten month dating/engagement period so we knew arousal to a certain point, however, we were both virgins on our wedding night. Most 23 year old virgin men are going to go right for the intercourse on their wedding night but not my husband. After some kissing and general foreplay the first thing he did before intercourse was give me oral sex. I will add that this was completely initiated by him. No, I didn’t orgasm but it sure did get me aroused and relaxed which made intercourse incredible the first time. It has been incredible ever since. I know this might be too much information but my main point is that a truly selfless man will make his wife’s pleasure his number one priority in sex and in reality be setting himself up for a great sex life as well. My husband’s putting my arousal and pleasure ahead of his own on our first night together really set the stage for what sex would be like for the rest of our marriage.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s totally the message we’re giving men in the Honeymoon Course, Melissa! If you want to set yourself up for a great sex life in marriage, then make her arousal your #1 priority for sex on the wedding night. It really does work so much better!

      Reply
    • Natalie

      Wow! That’s beautiful, Melissa! You are blessed!

      Reply
  5. Becky

    For the most part, I enjoyed my honeymoon. We did an all inclusive resort, and splurged on a couple of excursions so we could relax and enjoy the island together. So I mostly have good memories of the trip itself. I really wish someone had told me that it was ok to focus on arousal instead of penetration, though, because honeymoon sex as a virgin was honestly traumatizing for me. My primary memory of our wedding night is crying alone in the bathroom at 2 AM because it was so excruciating that I couldn’t go through with it, and I felt like I’d failed my new husband. It took 3 more tries over the next week, and in retrospect, I think my husband would have been ok with taking more time but I felt like I HAD to push through the pain or I was a terrible wife. I’m still struggling to get past that 6 years later, and I do wonder if that’s why I’ve never managed to fully enjoy sex.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s EXACTLY what I felt, too, Becky. Like I was a failure. And it was me who made us push through as well. I think things could have turned out differently if we had given ourselves permission to slow down and not felt like we were failing.

      Reply
  6. Jo

    We did almost exactly as you advised, especially the shorter, cheaper trip immediately and the bigger trip a year later. It wasn’t what I’d call great sex, but it was great because it was us and it was fun, if that makes sense. It was worth the planning and communication–I don’t have any regrets, except that I wish we’d had longer than three days!

    Reply
  7. Anonymous for this

    My husband and I were both virgins when we got married, we also kissed for the first time at our wedding 😍
    We were engaged for 5 months before the wedding, and over those few months we had become more and more physically attracted to each other – so we were very glad we had only planned to have a short engagement haha! We had actually done a lot of holding hands, cuddling, etc – basically the only thing stopping us from going further was that we weren’t married yet 😂

    We had a morning wedding (11am) and an afternoon/early evening reception, which was mostly my idea because I didn’t want us to get back to our room at midnight and collapse rather than enjoying our first night together as husband and wife. We had 3 nights at a beach resort with a king bed and a spa… it was so nice! And while we didn’t actually “do it” properly the first night – my body wouldn’t “let him in” lol – my husband was (and still is) the most generous and accommodating lover. He was very reassuring that it didn’t matter if we didn’t manage to go all the way, we had all the time in the world after all! We did manage to consummate our marriage the next day though.
    We had planned to go out to dinner, spend time at the beach, etc – but we honestly ended up spending most of the time in bed, or in the spa, just getting to know each other – apart from a couple of times that we had to catch up with family who had travelled a long way for the wedding.
    The rest of our honeymoon was a gradual getting to know each other.
    Our experience could have been so different if my husband wasn’t such a kind person. Because he never made it about him at all. He was so patient and gentle with me. And after nearly 8 years, he is still the same (but better 🤣).

    Also, communication!! If you are too shy about communicating with each other about how things feel, then you are setting yourself up for heartache. While we certainly never intentionally decided to communicate about sex, we felt so comfortable and safe with each other that we automatically talked about what we liked, didn’t like, what happened if sex didn’t actually “work” that time, etc. And gradually got to know each other’s bodies and also our own bodies better.

    So, my tips: give yourself time after the wedding – either by planning an earlier wedding, or by staying closer to home for a few days before heading off on a trip. Or leave straight after the wedding and don’t have any expectations about intimacy until after you arrive at your destination. If it doesn’t happen on your wedding night, that’s ok.

    Communicate all the time about how you are both feeling, what is nice and what isn’t etc. Focus on getting to know each other in that intimate way, rather than on intercourse. Spend lots of time lying in bed naked together, just becoming comfortable with each other’s bodies and “exploring”. Let sex happen in a natural way, as a natural progression rather than thinking it has to happen a certain way. Both of you need to commit to learning everything possible about the other person. Don’t hold back, let your hair down and be authentic with your spouse. And be willing to try new things at least once or twice before deciding you don’t like it (within reason!). But also your spouse needs to give you space if you aren’t ready to try something. There’s been a couple of things that I wasn’t sure about that my husband wanted to try.

    You need to have conversations about whatever it is that you want to try, and be willing to take it off the table completely if your spouse doesn’t like it.

    Husbands, it’s like an “off” switch if you try to pressure your wife into doing something she’s not comfortable with. Seriously. She can go from 100 to 0 in an instant!! Talk about it first. Several times. And remember that she has no obligation to try she’s not comfortable with!

    We’ve been married 8 years and have 2 children, and it just gets better and better 😉

    Reply
  8. Nicole

    I can’t even fathom what my honeymoon could have been like, if we had been intentional about the honeymoon. We were both virgins, and I had an inkling I might struggle when I went for an exam to get BC. It took 3 dr’s visits to successfully have an examination. My very first visit had been pretty traumatizing. My reaction was so strong, I know everyone suspected I had been abused or something, but I didn’t have any ‘reason’ for my body to react that way.

    Of course on the wedding night I was exhausted but was really excited to finally have sex, we’d pretty much done everything but but that point. My body wouldn’t let him in and it felt like he was trying to penetrate a wall. I was devastated. He was almost 30 and hehad waited for so long.
    We flew out the next morning to Hawaii.

    When we got to our condo in HI, we discovered there wasn’t AC in the condo. Most Hawaiians just use fans and don’t have AC. Coming from OR this meant that I was too warm the entire week in HI, and didn’t get a decent nights sleep the entire time. I don’t glisten, I absolutely sweat, a lot.

    Inside, I was a wreck. We were in paradise, I couldn’t sleep, I was already exhausted going into the honeymoon and I didn’t know what was wrong with my body. My Doc called in a prescription for a numbing cream for ‘down there’, but that didn’t work. He handled things pretty well, we worked around my problem, but it really stripped the intensity & passion I had been hoping for.

    A year or so later I had my hymen surgically removed. That wasn’t the problem either. Of the doctors and counselors I saw no one knew what was wrong with me. I felt like the biggest freak and the only one on the planet dealing with this problem and no one seemed to know what to do about it.

    It was actually about 4.5 years before we were able to technically consummate the marriage. Oddly enough I had an annual exam scheduled on 9/11. I had learned how to ‘get through’ an exam.

    While I was on the table, instead of hearing easy listening music, I was hearing reports of people jumping from Tower 2 to escape the fire and the building collapse. That was my catalyst moment. I realized I needed to take control of what was happening and be proactive. One counselor had suggested getting something to practice with. I drove straight to the Love Shack and bought a ‘toy’. I can’t even describe how hard it was to attempt to practice on my own after ‘failing for 4 years’. It took 6 months and then we achieved intercourse.

    It was a couple more years before I even found a name for what I had dealt with. I stumbled on this term ‘Vaginismus’ and started reading these testimonies that mirrored my experience. I just started balling. I wrote letters to all the professionals I had seen.

    To just have a name for what I overcame was so empowering and didn’t feel so isolating anymore.

    I had hoped in all that time that when we achieved intercourse, the ‘real honeymoon’ would take place. I would like to say once that was fixed, it was happily ever after. But after 18 years together, we filed for divorce.

    I naively thought sex was the intimacy our marriage was missing, but learned the hard way what true intimacy is.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Nicole, what a story! I’m so sorry that you went through this. When I had vaginismus (not as badly as you, but still) I didn’t know the name for it, either. I didn’t even know it could happen! And I think being traumatized by the internal exam before marriage was likely a huge issue as well.

      I’m so sorry for all the trauma you went through, and I’m so sorry for the heartache of the divorce. I hope you’re in a better place now, and I hope that more people learn what vaginismus so they don’t have to go through all of this!

      Reply
  9. Joan

    People overthink things sometimes.
    We didn’t sit down and make a list of goals for our honeymoon, set expectations or anything like that. What a buzzkill that would have been, at least for us!
    All we thought was that we get to go on a fun trip. We get to be together 24/7, which we had never done before. And we FINALLY get to have sex! Every day if we want, which we did, and most days more than once a day. It was great for both of us. We just “fit”. We waited until the wedding night for sex. We were both very excited to get at it! You should see the smiles in our honeymoon pictures! It was a 7 day trip to an exotic location, and it was great! I wish everyone could have the experience that we did, and still do 3 decades later.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Joan–I hear what you’re saying. But when I’m talking about goals, I just mean one big thing. Like, if your goal is really to have fun exploring sex, then going on a backpacking trip to Italy is likely not the best thing, nor is flying somewhere with a huge time difference at the crack of dawn after the honeymoon.

      Similarly, you say you wanted to have “fun”, but often people’s definitions of fun are quite different. So just having a conversation about that can be so key to planning a trip that you both actually will enjoy! Also, while it’s great that you guys had great sex, the simple fact is that a lot of people do run into problems. So setting clearer expectations–things like “we just want to have fun exploring and being sexual, knowing this is the beginning of the journey, whatever that looks like” is way better than “we’re going to have sex 3 times on the wedding night and she is going to hit orgasm!” When we have these super high expectations, it can feel like a pass/fail thing, and then women especially can pressure themselves to go faster than they would otherwise, and miss out on that arousal piece.

      Does that make sense? I’m so glad things worked out great for you, but as you can see from the comments this week, that isn’t necessarily that common. So let’s just have those conversations (and they don’t have to be long) to make sure our expectations are in the right place before hand, and that we’ve chosen a trip where we are most likely to meet those expectations!

      Reply

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