At the end of January I surprised my husband with a two-night getaway for his 30th birthday. No kids, no work, just us. We were able to explore a new city without worrying about nap times, eat at some nicer restaurants, talk to one another without interruption and sleep. Did I mention sleep?
Both Adam and I like the unexpected, and both of us recognize the importance of the element of surprise in our marriage. While the trip was certainly one of those more grand and adventurous surprises, we also know that surprises don’t have to be large for them to matter. In fact a few days after the trip I was scurrying around the house in preparation for guests when I found a letter tucked on my side of the bed. Not having the time to open it then, I eagerly anticipated opening it later that night and savoring the sweet words from my husband.
So, if it’s not the size of the surprise that matters, what is it about surprises that make them a necessary ingredient in our marriage?
We all know that surprises can be thrilling and emotionally satisfying, but I’d argue that behind every surprise lie more meaningful qualities that make the unexpected moments so valuable in marriage. I believe that the real forces behind the element of surprise in marriage are the virtues of thoughtfulness and service and that’s what helps us grow in intimacy and the desire to love. The truth is, there’s always something I don’t know about Adam, but every time he does something unexpected, he reveals a little more of himself to me. As he and I reveal more of ourselves to each other, our marriage deepens and we become more unified.
I used to think that joining together in marriage was a one-time thing that happened on our wedding day: the priest witnessed the vows, pronounced us man and wife and voila! Two become one. But I’ve come to learn that this unification, this becoming one heart and one mind, is a process that never ends. Even when we’re (God-willing) 80, we’ll still be learning about each other, growing in intimacy, and deepening our marriage.
In fact, not long before we left on Adam’s 30’th Birthday getaway, I was having some alone time at a coffee shop when an elderly couple came in. After they got their drinks and sat down, the wife pulled out a novel and began to read aloud to her husband. It was beautiful to watch. There was a peace and contentment about them that I’m assuming came after many, many years together. Yet, even after all this time they were still deepening in intimacy as they sat sharing a book together, pausing to discuss it from time to time. As I tried sneaking glances at them, I couldn’t help but hope that someday Adam and I would be doing the exact same thing.
I don’t know how often Adam and I will be able to get away for surprise trips in the future, but until next time we’ll happily settle for the small, unexpected things. Perhaps it will be turning Adam’s planner a few weeks ahead and writing an “I love you” on the page for him to eventually find. Or me coming home from errands to find a clean house. And I know how much just a package of bacon brought back from a regular grocery trip can make! No matter how small, these surprises are opportunities to go a little deeper, to express our love in new ways, and to grow in intimacy—and this means we’ll have excitement for decades to come.