Before our trip started, my husband and I were a bit unsure of what to expect from Honeymoon Israel. In addition to the trip’s uncharted territory—we have never been on a group trip as a couple—we also saw ourselves as outliers in the group for two main reasons: first, we met in divinity school, so we think and talk about religion more than the average person, and second, my husband is an observant Catholic.

As the trip began and we started to get to know the other couples, we recognized the deep diversity represented in the group and we were immediately comfortable. Our differences might have been unique in their particularity, but “difference” in a more general sense was shared by most everyone on the trip. I was impressed by the speed with which we became comfortable sharing and talking with other couples. While I am gregarious and outgoing—it has been said I could converse with a brick wall—my husband is an introvert and can be slow to open up, preferring to talk with people one-on-one rather than in a large group or at a loud party. Yet even my husband was quickly put at ease by the organic ways in which he was able to connect with our tripmates. We delighted in being able to relate to other people over our story as a couple, our weddings, families and lives back in Boston. Despite our uncertainly about a group trip, the dynamics worked well: We had plenty of time to interact with other couples, but we also had ample time to be alone together as a couple, have fun and process the trip and our experiences.

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Since being back, we have already reconnected with some of the couples from the trip (yay!). In addition, we have had the chance to talk about and unpack more of what we thought, experienced and felt on the trip. Reflecting on and reminiscing about the trip has given us an easy way to have meaningful conversations on our own time, when it feels right for us. The shared experience in such a mutually significant place continues to cement our feeling of togetherness even when we discuss issues that might otherwise be difficult or tense.

Post-HMI, we can harken back to the trip as a shared foundation, a place where we both had deep experiences as individuals and as a couple, and this helps us stay connected when difficult issues arise. I hope we can continue to use the trip as a springboard to think about how we might incorporate Jewish values and traditions, as well as my husband’s Catholic values and traditions, into our home and our future family.

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