Two weeks ago I returned from ten amazing days in Costa Rica. It was my honeymoon. And while I was clearly accompanied by my husband, we also had two other adventurers along; our kids.
Perhaps most people don’t bring their kids with them on their honeymoon– but I believe I have proven time and time again that I am not most people.
My husband and I got married this past March in the forest on the Oregon coast. Our wedding day was the five year anniversary of our first date. As you might imagine, a lot of distance was covered from that first date to the wedding five years later.
Our first date took place on a Tuesday night during the week of Spring break when I, a single mom at the time, had the miraculous and rare freedom of a week without children. (They were spending the week with their dad who lived in California at the time.) I had recently been freed from a long distance triste and had an undeniable attraction to the handsome massage therapist I’d met a year earlier who’d just recently relocated to Portland. So I asked him out on a date. And he said yes.
My love for him was immediate and far-reaching. I (and my two children) terrified him. “Consistency over a period of time,” were the words he used to describe love over and over again in the early months and years of our acquaintance. So I dug my heels in, intent to show him just how consistent a human being I am. (VERY) He never tried to woo me (there was no need). However he did spend a lot of time trying to convince me of all the reasons why he was not the person I believed him to be. I continued being consistent and slowly he began to allow himself to be loved by me (and my kids). And eventually he stopped denying his own love for the three of us.
When we decided to get married after we’d been living together for two and a half years our 12 year old daughter’s response was “FINALLY!” Our 15 year old son treated it like it was no big deal (kind of like he treats everything else). I remember explaining to them years before that us not getting married had nothing to do with them and that he wasn’t going anywhere. That’s a hard thing to fully understand though. It’s something one can comprehend intellectually– but on a deeper level there’s always the feeling of waiting for the other shoe to drop.
Yes, I have seen myself spending the rest of my days with this man since that very first Tuesday evening. But walking into the woods on March 24th and standing in front of our nearest and dearest and acknowledging that ceremoniously changed EVERYTHING. The world looked entirely different the next day. My husband described it as having access to more power. We closed so many doors on that day in order to open one as wide as it could possibly go.
And obviously our kids felt that too. That was the difference my husband articulated the most when people asked him the question (to his continued annoyance): “What’s it like to be married?” He realized in his interactions with the kids– just how much unconscious fear of him leaving existed. Ceremony is powerful. Ritual allows credence.
Our marriage was an acknowledgement of the bond that exists between the two of us, yes. But larger than that it was an acknowledgement of the ties that bind all four of us. It was a ritual that solidified us a family unit. We walked out of the woods that day in March intangibly different from how we entered them. And our trip to Costa Rica was a continued acknowledgement of our solidity.
Adventures are an important thing to share– they are a different type of ceremony. They exist outside of our usual reality. They allow us a perspective we can’t find when we’re surrounded by our normal patterns and space. Costa Rica was the perfect place for our family to adventure. We found a new rhythm in the jungle that was a little looser and less refined than the one we’re accustomed to in Portland. We shared the experience of discovery of a world that was entirely new to all of us. We further solidified who we are as a unit.
My husband and I will have countless more adventures together– hopefully our kids will be along on some of them as well. But there was only one honeymoon– and it officially belongs to the four of us.