Use this time to connect with your new spouse, not your Instagram followers.
Honeymooners Smiling on Boat Ride
Credit: Getty Images

Your honeymoon packing list may be getting longer every time you check it, but you should consider leaving one essential item at home: Your phone charger. "I'm a huge fan of just unplugging. It's so honoring to be able to say to your partner, you're the only person in the world who matters to me right now," says Laura Heck, a marriage and family therapist in Salt Lake City and a master trainer and therapist with The Gottman Institute. "Doing a social media detox is a way of pulling away from other people so you can focus on your partner." Turning off your phone, email, and social media notifications for a detox during your honeymoon can have long-term, wide-reaching benefits that may surprise you.

You'll strengthen your relationship.

Heck cites Dr. Gottman's foundational newlywed research study, in which he monitored the behavior of a group of just-married couples. Among other observations, he counted the number of times the couples "turned toward" one another by making bids for their partners' attention—either with verbal attempts ("Should we try that new restaurant for dinner?") or physical ones (like reaching out to hold hands)—and how the partners responded. At a follow-up six years later, the participants showed a wide disparity: Couples who stayed married had, as newlyweds, responded positively to those bids for attention 86 percent of the time, while couples who divorced had responded positively only 33 percent of the time.

"It's almost like a secret weapon," says Heck. "If you're a newlywed and you want to stay together, then you want to connect, and you have to be available to your partner. You have to recognize when they're making these small gestures to reach out to you—making these bids for connection." And since newlyweds are generally in what Heck calls "a rose-colored-glasses state of mind," partners today who aren't responding positively usually have a simple reason: "You're not intentionally turning against your partner," says Heck, "but you're missing the bids. And the reason we're missing bids is because we're digitally distracted."

You'll set a good example.

The temptation to share an Instagram story of your hiking adventures, a Facebook shot of cocktails by the pool, or a quick Tweet about your historical walking tour is a holdover from your daily life, where sharing every detail of your day is just part of your routine. But your honeymoon should be a time for the two of you to connect without the distraction of social media—which includes not emailing photos of your hike through the rainforest or texting your sister about the custom dress you ordered from a local tailor. If you're concerned about going entirely radio silent, give your followers a quick heads-up before you log off.

"I think it's lovely to say, I'm headed on my honeymoon and I'm going to hop off social media so I can be fully present," says Heck. "And I love seeing those types of posts because it's encouraging for me to be able to do the same thing. It's making it okay, and there are lots of people who will support your decision." If you planned to post honeymoon updates for friends and family who may have contributed toward your trip as a wedding gift, wait until you get home when you can share pictures and favorite memories in person. And if you find yourself unintentionally distracted by social media notifications when you pull out your phone to take pictures, Heck suggests an old-fashioned approach: Buy a camera.

You'll make better memories.

Your honeymoon isn't just a collection of incredible meals, beautiful sunsets, and once-in-a-lifetime excursions: It's the beginning of your marriage. "The purpose of your honeymoon is definitely not to get as many likes as you can and it's definitely not to keep a conversation going that you started the week before you left," says Heck. "It's to be with your partner and to start off on a really good foot." When you focus on connecting with each other—and being present in the dream location you've chosen for your trip—you're setting yourself up for memorable moments that will help form your family history. "Your honeymoon is the beginning of something really, really special," says Heck. "What is the story you're going to tell your kids 45 years from now? It's not going to be, 'I took the most amazing photographs and posted them on social media and got 110 likes.' It had better be that you went skinny dipping and you got caught and kicked out of the pool. In the end, what's the story you're going to tell?"


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