The New York Times featured a story by writer Edan Lepucki chronicling her miserable honeymoon. Edan basically spent a planned romantic weekend in the City of Lights, Paris, France, crying her eyes out. Her poor new husband was a pin cushion to her endless barbs, flagellations and doubts about their commitment to love one another for life. Thus she named her story Taking Marriage One Year At A Time.

The great frustration for couples is how to keep the newness and excitement in their marriage or cohabitation.  But according to UC Riverside Professor of Psychology Sonja Lyubomirsky, passion peaks in a marriage after two years and then diminishes. Her research found that after the two year summit, things are never the same.

For many couples like Edan and her boyfriend Patrick, getting  married is the next logical step once the cohabitation gets old. Then there is a new level of commitment that will revive the relationship. The couple now has a reason to brag to their friends and family that this relationship is "special". Now there is a shared purpose for the couple to prepare for the wedding day even if it is a year or two down the road.  Wedding reception sites must be scouted, invitation lists must be trimmed, reservations must be secured, florists, videographers and DJs must be interviewed. It's like planning for the ultimate party. The anticipation alone will bind a man and a woman together.

For a couple with little to keep them together besides sexual attraction, charm and approval seeking, the very notion of a wedding gives them something to talk about every night. But it can't last forever. Unfortunately the day arrives when the actual wedding takes place. Now you find yourself stuck going on a pretend romantic getaway. However, by living together for several years there really aren't going to be any new surprises. As Edan says, the real fresh  romance, exploration and  passion (that generations ago was reserved for the honeymoon)  was experienced years ago in Iowa struggling along in a cramped apartment. All the body paints have long since been used up by these modern couples that cohabitate before commitment.

We recall one such couple that had lived together two years  before marriage. After the wedding reception, the relatives  visiting from out of town gathered at a local watering hole, only to see the bride and groom walk in and stay until the wee hours of the night drinking pitchers of beer and shooting pool. We remember being shocked at the time, but his couple had it right. There was no need for them to jump into a waiting limo at the reception hall and head to the airport, fly 5 hours to some exotic tropical locale, sit in a darkened restaurant, stare into each others eyes and pretend they couldn't wait to touch each other. We suggest that modern couples drop the pretense of the honeymoon altogether. Accept that you already have a physical relationship and there is no need to spend a huge amount of money trying to recreate your initial intimacy. Then you won't waste a week like our writer Edan crying your eyes out because your honeymoon is a dud and doesn't live up to what you think you are supposed to feel.

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