Welcome to my first column for Psychology Today! I’m a licensed psychotherapist specializing in sex therapy. I’m also somewhat recently married–coming up on my three year wedding anniversary with my husband. I chose to focus this column on sex in the early years of a marriage, as I think this is a very important time for couples. It’s an opportunity to create a great foundation for your sex life, and develop the kind of intimacy that will help you weather the storms most marriages will inevitably face.
Today, I’m focusing on the honeymoon itself. I see a lot of couples for premarital therapy, and the honeymoon is always a popular topic of conversation. There’s obviously a lot of sexual expectation that gets placed on the honeymoon, so it’s important to minimize that pressure and focus on enjoying this opportunity to celebrate and connect.
Here are 7 ways to ensure you have a hot honeymoon:
1) Talk about your desires beforehand
Long before the wedding, take the time to sit down with your partner and discuss what you’d like your honeymoon to look like. What are the hopes you have for sex and intimacy during this trip? Make sure you’re on the same page about what you’re looking for.
2) Prioritize intimacy
Vacation is one of those rare times where you have the opportunity to decide exactly how you want to schedule your days. You may be tempted to do a lot of sightseeing and exploring on your honeymoon, but try to make time for relaxation. You’re going to be exhausted after your wedding, so schedule at least a couple of days to destress. You also want to make sure to leave plenty of space open for the two of you to have quality intimate time. Bonding after this huge milestone in your life is way more important than visiting another museum!
3) Do a little experimenting, but don’t go crazy
A honeymoon is a great time to try out some new things in the bedroom. Most people are so excited to be on this vacation that some of their inhibitions naturally fade away. As part of your pre-honeymoon discussions, choose one or two new things to try out, like enacting a fantasy or wearing more revealing lingerie. But don’t go overboard and change every aspect of your usual routine! You’re not trying to qualify for the sexual Olympics here.
4) Come prepared
Bring along the things from home that make sex feel intimate and fun for the two of you, like candles, an iPod dock, or your favorite lube. Another necessity is your usual method of birth control, unless you’re looking to get pregnant right away. You may also want to talk to your doctor about syncing your birth control to avoid having your period during your trip.
5) Maintain good sexual hygiene
Many women come down with “honeymoon cystitis”–urinary tract infections from too much sex. Your immune system is already going to be compromised by the stress of wedding planning and travel, so it’s important to take care of your body. Urinate after each sexual interaction, take cranberry extract, and drink plenty of water.
6) Pay attention to what works
I’ve counseled a number of couples who had fantastic honeymoons, but came home and slipped right into a sexual rut. You can’t spend every day vacationing somewhere romantic, but you can still have honeymoon sex at home. The key is to consciously recognize what you liked about sex on your honeymoon–did having more sleep lead to more sex? Did keeping the lights on feel exciting? Try to recreate as many of those variables as you can at home.
7) Don’t put too much pressure on the honeymoon
Honeymoons can feel overwhelming for a lot of couples because they want everything to be perfect. Many couples also view the honeymoon as an indicator of how healthy or unhealthy their sex life will be for the rest of their marriage. The reality is that many couples are too exhausted for sex the night of the wedding, and spend the beginnings of their honeymoons simply decompressing from all of the planning. Give yourself the space to relax, and don’t put pressure on yourselves to make the honeymoon one big sex marathon. Focus on doing things that sound pleasurable, like taking baths together, massaging each other, or having long make-out sessions.