We love a great celebration as much as the next party planner—but, every now and then, it’s nice to focus on what marriage is really all about…post pretty place-cards and ethereal arches. Today, then, we’re so excited to offer up our top tips for using your honeymoon to prepare for marriage with your new spouse. Read on….and get ready to absolutely nail the newlywed game!

 

Create a 10-year plan.


Homework on your honeymoon? Sort of. We love the idea of taking one day on your honeymoon to chat your goals for the future. We recommend you each write down what your ideal day looks like ten years from now. From start to finish, what does that “perfect day” entail for you? Where are you living? What are you doing? Do you have children, pets, a 20-acre ranch, or a tiny beach house? After you’ve mapped out your ideal days separately, sit back down together as a couple—maybe even head out to the beach or go for a quiet lunch together—and chat over your plans. The point isn’t to scrutinize the other’s perfect day or get caught up on areas where you had major differences in your ideal days—instead, use it as an opportunity to learn about one another and, ultimately, plan for the future you both want. You can always do this when you're at home, sure, but creating your 10-year plan in an inspiring locale on your honeymoon helps to make the process more fun and memorable.

 

Develop a new tradition.


Having your own traditions is such an important part of going from a dating couple to an actual family of two. Take some time on your honeymoon—maybe at a romantic dinner one night or over a room-service breakfast—to brainstorm ideas for a new family tradition. Maybe it’s a friendsgiving you’ll throw every year, or a sunrise hike you’ll take on the first Saturday of every month. Maybe it’s returning to the same spot you’re currently honeymooning every summer. Use some downtime on your honeymoon to think through a fun tradition you’d like to start together, and then come up with a plan for implementing that tradition once you get back home.

 

Approach arguments differently.


Arguments? On your honeymoon? We’re realists here and, while a honeymoon will be mostly all rainbows and butterflies, there’s always the off-chance an argument might arise. (Crowded airports, lost luggage, crammed flights—they can make for a high-stress situation where we’re vulnerable to becoming easily frustrated with one another.) Before you leave, make an agreement that, if an argument does arise on your honeymoon, you’ll approach it differently than you do arguments in your everyday life. Maybe one of you tends to get frustrated more easily and walk away in the middle of a fight, maybe one of you clams up and doesn’t say anything, maybe you’re queen of the silent treatment (raises hand) and tend to go quiet when you’re upset. Whatever your normal habits are, make it a point to consciously break them on your honeymoon for the purpose of coming to an agreement in a different—and likely more healthy—way. If it works, talk through the changes you made afterward and make it a point to implement those same changes back home.

 

Buy a souvenir as a tool to start future conversation.

 

If you're terrible about talking about things that bother you, buy something fun on your honeymoon—a souvenir of sorts—and use that as your "talking piece" when you get back home. Whenever one person is upset with the other or has something serious they want to discuss, they can simply set the talking piece out in a common area signaling that it's time to chat. That way, the other will know—when they see the wooden turtle on the coffee table, for example—that their spouse has something to say. This helps alleviate the awkwardness that can come along with diving right into a sensitive topic with your spouse.

Photo courtesy Jeffrey Oltman and Hawaii wedding planner LVL Weddings & Events