Second Wedding Etiquette - Honeymoon Advice
Honeymoon Tips- Leaving the Kids Home
Dear April Masini,
I'm marrying for the second time, and both my fiancee and I have children. Should we bring them on the honeymoon to start off our family with a nice vacation? And do you have any advice on how we could leave them at home without hurting their feelings?"
Honey or Family Moon?
April Masini's Advice :
Dear Over the Moon:
Congratulations and best wishes on your engagement! And welcome to the world of blended families where one or both spouses come to a marriage with children from previous relationships and marriages. Serial marriages (where people marry more than once, and sometimes more than twice) as well as blended families are now the norm rather than the exception. Divorce rates are sky rocketing, but so are dating opportunities including an explosion in internet dating, and men and women still seem to love each other enough to want to hook up, be in relationships, marry and blend families in record numbers.
Blending families can be an exciting and hopeful time when everyone is on their best behavior. In your enthusiasm to begin again and get - back on track - or to put the marriage that didn’t work out behind you, it’s easy to want to jump in to the new marriage as one big happy family, (sometimes without thinking) and when you're planning the wedding, you figure, why not take the kids on the honeymoon? Well, I'll tell you why!
Caution advises against such well-meaning attempts at taking care of everyone - often at the expense of yourself and your new spouse. Lots of times your previous marriage or relationship broke up because one or both parties weren't taking care of themselves. And if you're not taking care of yourself, you have no footing on which to take care of your spouse, let alone a whole family with children and step-children. One opportunity you have to put you and your new spouse first is the honeymoon.
Blended families have questions to answer right off the bat that couples without children don't have, like, do we have custody of the children on our wedding date? And - what do we do with the kids during the honeymoon? Women used to try and plan their honeymoons around their menstrual periods, so that they weren't menstruating on the week's vacation that includes sex and intimacy. Now, they also have to plan their custody schedules, too ... and his!
- Good parenting does not include a mandatory honeymoon with kids. Remember that many parents got divorced because they put the children first and their marriage second in the first go-round -- only with the promise of this new union, they’ve forgotten about that, or haven’t done their homework on why they got divorced and how to make this marriage stronger. Get rid of any guilt. You are not a bad parent if you do not bring your kids on the honeymoon. In fact, you are a good parent because you are creating a solid foundation for your new family. Children can't be equal partners in a family. The adults have to run the show, and if you don't believe that, consider the amount of anxiety children take on when they feel that they have responsibility for decisions in your marriage. The last thing you ever want to do is give a child responsibility for your relationship.
- The honeymoon is traditionally a time for the newly married couple to celebrate privately and enjoy a special bonding of sex, intimacy and romance that will start them on a long life together, and remind them that whatever comes, they are the backbone of their family and their union is the strength that will get the family through tough times. When children are along on the honeymoon, it is impossible for the couple to give each other the intimacy and sexual attention they might otherwise give each other. There will be plenty of time in the marriage for entire family vacations. The honeymoon should remain special -- and a two-person affair.
- Not all blended families become the Brady Bunch. In fact, even non-blended families have kids who fight. But bringing the children on the honeymoon makes you vulnerable to the family problems that could or may arise when the children feel displaced, or are making their transitions with step parents, step siblings and not getting as much attention from mom or dad as they did before the wedding. This dynamic is important to deal with, but not now. It will take away from your solidifying your new marriage with your celebratory honeymoon. You will have plenty of time to work on family dynamics at home after the honeymoon.
Best Bets For Leaving The Kids Home:
- Allow the other biological parent of the child or children to have some special time with the child while you’re on your honeymoon. That parent may be feeling displaced by the new family, and this is a particularly generous way to show that parent, and more importantly, the child, that even though you are marrying and bringing a step mother or step father into the family, the biological mother or father is still part of the child’s and the extended/blended family’s life. There is a tendency for kids to want to take care of the non-marrying parent, if one of them has not remarried first. This time with that parent can be healing and healthful.
- Grandparents! And lots of ’em. A week at the Grandparents house is a great way for the kids to give you and your new spouse privacy and have some nice time getting to know their grandparents. Aunts and uncles work, too.
- Camp. If you get married in the summer, you may want to schedule your honeymoon around you child’s regular overnight camp week, so that you can see your child off before you go on your honeymoon, knowing they’re off for a grand week, and so are you two. If your child has never gone to overnight camp before, this is NOT the time to start. The child may end up feeling ”shipped off” and ”in the way.” So use this option only if it’s appropriate.
For some great romantic date ideas that will allow you to enjoy some more time alone with your new spouse, check out my book Romantic Date Ideas.