He Says, She Says Islands Magazine 2004
A little honeymoon homework goes a long way
By Shari Mycek
She wants to honeymoon in Greece. He prefers Cape Cod. She wants to stay in a luxurious villa. He prefers to drift around the cape for a week, "hitting quaint inns."
No need to call the whole thing off, says Rene? Duane, founder and president of Unforgettable Honeymoons, an agency based in Portland, Oregon, specializing in romantic travel. In her nine years as a consultant, Rene? says, she's never seen any couple totally in sync with their honeymoon expectations. At least not at the beginning.
"I find that very few couples actually sit down and talk about their honeymoon desires and what they're looking for in a honeymoon destination,"she says. "Typically, one of them suggests a
destination because it "looks pretty' or they know a friend of a friend who went there. It's interesting ? they always assume the other wants exactly the same thing."
Beth Miller Augerinos agrees. A few years ago, the longtime wedding-honeymoon specialist and president of Perfect Honeymoons & Holidays Travel in Vienna, Virginia, asked the men in a bridal-show audience to stand up and tell the ideas they had for honeymoon destinations.
"I heard 'my parents' house at the beach,' 'driving and driving in the car until we feel like stopping at a neat town,' and 'going to a fishing resort in the Florida Keys,'" Beth says. "Then I asked their fianc?es to stand up, and not one agreed with the men's choices. The women wanted the Greek islands, Hawaii, and St. Lucia. I was shocked the couples had such varying opinions and
apparently had not discussed them with each other."
To begin the honeymoon dialogue, Rene? asks every couple to fill out identical questionnaires. She tells them to rate on a scale of 1-10 what's most important to them in their honeymoon. Similar to the results of Beth's impromptu bridal show survey, most partners are stunned at the other's
"They look at the answers and are absolutely amazed,"Rene? says. "The bride may have given an 8 to the importance of privacy, where he gave it a 5. He may have said 9 to socializing with other couples, while she, dead set against it, gave it a 1. Sometimes tension sparks when they realize their ideas are so different. But the questionnaire gets them thinking and talking about where they want to go, the amenities and activities they want, how much to spend."
The personal travel history of the bride and groom may play a big part in their differing dreams. If she has never been out of the country, she may see going to the Bahamas as the trip of a lifetime. He, if well traveled, may want to stop at nothing short of Bali or Papua New Guinea.
"The honeymoon is an investment in a lifetime of memories,"Rene? says. "It's something the couple will remember their entire lives, so it's appropriate to put more energy and more time into planning their honeymoon than any other trip."
Even couples in perfect sync on where to go find communication and compromise important.
Ariel Palmieri, an energetic 20-something public relations executive from Los Angeles, has traveled the world for business. For her honeymoon she wanted nothing more than to relax after her wedding on Maui last March. Her husband, Chris, however, wanted adventure.
"We were set on Hawaii from the beginning because we both love to snorkel,"Ariel says. "But where Chris was looking for more adventure, I was looking for more relaxation."
They talked about it and, in the end, struck a perfect compromise. "We snorkeled every day,"Ariel says, "which for me is relaxing. When I was too skittish to get certified for scuba, we took a chartered boat trip instead to two spots where you can snorkel or scuba."She snorkeled while Chris tried Snuba, a combination of snorkeling and diving that requires a 15-minute training class, which Chris took on the boat.
They also rented a Dodge Viper convertible for a day. Zipping around the island is something Ariel would never do on her own. "But driving ? or in my case, riding in ? a sports car really grew on me,"she says.
She even took surfing lessons. Again, that's something she normally wouldn't do, but she ended up loving it.
"Before our wedding,"she says, "a relative told us that our honeymoon should be spent doing things we normally don't do. I kept that in mind, and it turned out to be good advice."
Chris kept it in mind, too, while snorkeling every day with Ariel, watching the sunset every night, and observing mother whales teach their calves how to breach.
In terms of compromise, Chris even agreed not to wake up at 3:30 a.m. to go see the highly recommended sunrise on Haleakala Crater. Maybe next time.
The ability to compromise and see one another's viewpoint is a valuable skill not only for honeymoons but for a long and happy marriage, according to Tracy Cabot, a relationship expert, psychotherapist, and best-selling author who lives on Oahu, Hawaii.
"We all have different personalities,"says Tracy, who has a Ph.D. in psychology and whose five books include How to Make a Man Fall in Love with You. "Typically, one person in the relationship is more feeling and the other is more visual. The feeling person may want to go slower, stop and smell the flowers. The visual person may want to do, see, and experience everything. When couples understand this fundamental difference between them, they can make the relationship fun for both."
Ultimately, Tracy says, we all just want to feel loved. "We want to feel we're important to the other person, that what we want is important to them, too."
That includes romance.
If couples are in sync on any one thing, it is wanting their honeymoon to be hopelessly romantic. As it should be. But according to Rene?, Beth, and Tracy, defining each partner's idea of "romantic"calls for some serious couples work.
"Just as with their wedding, couples should talk about it ahead of time,"Tracy says. "What is their honeymoon fantasy? How about the dinner after they arrive? Does she want room service and he a privatedinner for two on the beach? What is their ideal room like? Does she see it filled with flowers and lit candles? Does he envision only sexy lingerie? It's important for couples to talk about their honeymoon fantasies and then see how close they can bring them."
Rene? gently reminds couples that just because they are going to a beautiful place doesn't mean they're automatically guaranteed romantic moments.
"She wants romantic moments, he does too,"she says. "But the reality is that they've been traveling, they're tired, one of them may feel out of sorts. They have to plan for romance: Order breakfast in bed. Arrange for a picnic together on a private island. Bring along mini candles to line the tub and take a bath together. Carry a blanket, candle, and bottle of champagne to the beach at night and watch the stars."
"A couple's honeymoon should be nothing less than fabulous,"Beth says. "It shouldn't be "fine.' It shouldn't be "nice.' It should be fabulous, something they will remember until the end of time. And it can be if couples plan their honeymoon together and are honest with each other about their expectations."
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