Recently, I went on a honeymoon with my husband. The honeymoon was three years late. It probably shouldn’t have even happened when it did. ((We have credit card debt to spare, but I took a check that came in the mail one day, for some freelance work I had done, and I turned around and spent it the next day. On an four-day, almost-all expenses paid TRIP TO PARIS. Hotel and flight and breakfast for under $500 per person. Absurd. An absurd deal!)
Anyway. After I held onto the secret of what I had done for three full days, I took my husband to a “French” bakery where we lived in Iowa, and bought two croissants. Then, smack in the middle of eating them, I asked the question that was going to lead to the reveal of what I had done.
Me: “Hey, Nic — do you like this croissant?”
Me: “I know, dude! Can you imagine how good a croissant is IN…FRANCE?…??? Wouldn’t you rather eat one IN…FRANCE…??”
Nic: “Nah. I mean, I’m good with the ones here.”
Me: “NIC. WE ARE GOING TO FRANCE.”
It took him a minute to digest what I’d said, and to work his way around it, and he wasn’t angry, but he didn’t look overjoyed, and then I explained that I had used actual money to pay for the trip and not a credit card and then he got less scared and softened a bit, and then he asked the price, and then I told him, and then — THIS MAN LOVES DEALS — his eyes brightened and his eyebrows raised and he was like, “Wait — really? That’s a great deal!” And then we took a walk and I could tell he was thinking and I thought he seemed miffed but then he stopped us in the middle of the sidewalk and took my hand and he said: “I am excited. I never ‘wanted’ to go there, but I am excited. I have done so many things I would have never done because of you. So thank you.”
And then I spun on my heel and my walking turned to skipping, and I felt like the best kind of person and the best kind of wife and like the kind of person that was going to get to go to France.
But then we got there.
And – though I knew it wasn’t his ‘dream vacay’, and I know that he is not the kind of person that exclaims every feeling he is feeling, he just kind of walked around took it in like it was any other city. Like it wasn’t maybe the most famous city in the entire world. Like it wasn’t special. And after four days of walking around and waiting for him to proclaim that Paris represented perfection and that we were also perfect, (as a couple), I climbed back onto a plane, completely brokenhearted. I don’t say that lightly. I was the most sustained kind of sad I had been since entering into a union with this person. And I need to figure out why. And not just why — but — if your honeymoon breaks your heart, what does it mean?
Wow! You are a piece of work! I’m going to recap this for you. You bought a trip to Europe for a “honeymoon” three years after your wedding without telling your husband — because Paris represents something TO YOU — and then, after he WENT WITH YOU AND EVEN WAS GRACIOUS OVER THE WHOLE BEHIND-HIS BACK PURCHASE — you weighed the way he behaved and came home broken hearted because it wasn’t the way you imagined or wanted??
Go back and read that paragraph again until your cheeks burn just a little bit and have a touch of color to them — and then, after that — then you’re ready to read my response.
Kelly, dear. You should be a little bit ashamed of yourself.
Marriage isn’t a union in which you hide massive purchases from someone else. It’s a union in which you talk openly about your dreams, and the whys and the whens behind them, and you figure out how you can realize them together.
It sounds to me like you might not be totally sure that you are married.
Now. I don’t want to be too harsh. You did use actual money (though you could have made a payment on your credit card debt with said money duh duh duh I hope I didn’t really have to spell that out for you) to buy the trip and you did tell him shortly thereafter and you did intend it to be a thing of beauty for the both of you.
But you still did it with complete control. You still did it with the intention of making only your dreams come true.
Listen. I know partnership is hard. Being in a committed partnership where you’re supposed to take another person into constant consideration is effing HARD. But it’s also beautiful. And it sounds like you like to try to focus on the beauty. Which is good, right? But also stupid. In short: you should have texted your husband when you saw that deal that day and asked him what he thought. Are you sure he would have said no? Yes? Well. Sorry. He’s allowed to say no. Are you scared that you’re not going to live your dreams because he doesn’t understand them and because they’re not the same as his? SO IS EVERYONE IN A COUPLE. But you have to walk through the fear and the vulnerability of all of that while holding their hand. What you did, sweetie, wasn’t that. You saw a sparkly, sparkly road and you ran towards it, and you sprinted ahead. And then you turned around, yelled, “HEY, BRO, I’M OVER HERE!” — AND EXPECTED HIM TO COME.
The fact that he came is the thing to celebrate. The fact that he forgave your purchase. That he turned to you on the sidewalk ten minutes after you told him he needed to get a passport for the first time at the age of 34 — that he turned to you and THANKED YOU FOR MAKING HIS LIFE BIGGER. That is the beauty. That is the dream. That is the thing.
Let it go. Let it go that he didn’t run around Paris screaming, “OMG; OMG!” Let it go that he didn’t hold your face in front of the Eiffel Tower and tell you that you were the love of his life. Let it go that he didn’t tell anyone when he got home that it was the coolest place he had ever been. Let it go that the sight he was most excited to see IN ALL OF PARIS was a GIGANTIC TABLE OF HARIBO GUMMIES in bulk, that you could mix and match. Let it go that you guys didn’t renew your vows in Notre Dame, that he only held your hand once in the four days, that he often refused to speak small phrases in the French the two of you had practiced. The man that didn’t do all these things is the same man that took a day off work and ran between the post office and bank four times to figure out his passport. He’s the same man that asked his family to babysit your son so you guys could go to a place he had never even been curious about. He’s the same man that has followed you to the places your dreams took you solely because he loves you.
You hit the jackpot, friend.
I hope you never forget it.