By Allison Cooper
Each year goes by very fast when you’re married. One rolls into the next and before you know it, you’re hitting those five- and ten-year milestones, wondering exactly how it’s been that long since you first said, “I do.”
If you’re anything like my husband and I — and many other couples in the world — it’s probably because those first years are a blur. They are the tough years, after all. Not every moment is wedded bliss and because of this, I’m so glad we ended up waiting to take a honeymoon — four years, to be exact.
My husband and I have now been married for almost nine years, but we got married young in our very early twenties. I was also seven months pregnant whenever we said our vows and I wanted to be able to travel somewhere magical and drink tropical cocktails after we celebrated our wedding, not hobble along a beach with swollen ankles. So we decided to wait.
Truth be told, we probably got married before either of us were ready, but an unplanned pregnancy will make you jump into things. So we jumped together and the first few years after we said our “I do’s” were ROUGH. We were still getting to know one another while also learning how to be parents. We also had a lot going on everyday since I was a full-time student and my husband on active duty in the military. Our marriage's growing pains were palpable.
We waded through different milestones in our relationship like learning to manage money after one of us accidentally overdrew the bank account or my husband wanting to be out with his friends all the time while he expected me to be home with our young son. But somehow, we talked through our issues and always remained a united front.
We lived in a world where so many military couples got married for the ‘fun of it’ or for the extra monthly funds that are given to soldiers to move off-base once they get married, and to this day, we remain the only married couple amongst the group of four married couples we were close friends with years ago.
Four years into our marriage and becoming parents, it became obvious we needed time away just for the two us, which wasn’t easy on a small income. But we always promised we would make our honeymoon happen. Then one day, my husband called me at work to tell me he was booking us a Bahamas cruise because I had been so consumed with motherhood and work, we both needed a break.
There were so many moving pieces to actually make our honeymoon happen: We had to get our son to Pittsburgh from New York City, where babysitting duties would be divided between my parents and sister, and then get back New York City to board the cruise ship.
Yet somehow everything came together and we set sail during a pivotal moment in our marriage. No, we weren’t newlyweds anymore but we were finally ready to celebrate having the marriage we had worked so hard to achieve.
And boy was it a honeymoon! We drank, we snorkeled and spent countless hours in the sweet sunshine. We made friends with everyone in the hot tub at night and spent way too much money on souvenirs. We laughed until we peed our pants (literally) and some nights we didn’t even make it out of our room for dinner. It was pure bliss and such a necessary break from our everyday life.
When we returned to reality, I wondered why people take honeymoons so early in the marriages. Marriage is equally amazing and hard — but it’s not that hard in the beginning; why the break for a honeymoon?
Essentially, a honeymoon is designed to celebrate your marriage, but saying “I do” is truly just the beginning; the real marriage is what comes after. It’s those years and years of hard work, the compromises, the joys and the lows. Getting through those years together is what’s worth celebrating.
Looking back, I know we needed our honeymoon right when it happened. We were able to honor the time we spent getting through all of marriage’s learning curves and give cheers to our hard work.
Anyone can plan a wedding and exchange vows and go on vacation while everything is peachy, but the honeymoon should be a reward for managing a marriage that actually works.
This article originally appeared on YourTango.
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