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I don’t like surprises. There I said it. I think it relates to my “control” tendencies I have talked about in the past. When Kori and I were in high school, she had planned a surprise for my 16thbirthday(yes we have known each other that long!). This was before cell phones, text messaging and other stealth ways to keep things secret. One day I was over at Kori’s family’s house and there was an invitation for a party left out on the counter. Of course I read it! Surprise foiled. Knowing what was coming made me feel like I was in control and I could plan how I would react to the surprise.

Years later, like 24 years, my wife Kori, planned a surprise get away with me. She had arranged for her parents to watch the kids and had given them a minute by minute schedule of all the kids’ activities. I was very surprised and honestly, not in a good way! I must admit, I wish I could go back and relive that moment because I would have been much more appreciative of Kori and her effort than I was. I actually freaked out and almost had a panic attack. She didn’t know how to respond and it took me a long time to recover. We went on to have a great weekend and I was appreciative of her efforts to celebrate me and plan a weekend away.

Even though I don’t like surprises, my wife does and I pulled off a big surprise for her 40thbirthday. She had no idea and I could tell she appreciated the effort on my part. Since I was in control, it worked out well for me too. This week I was able to pull off another surprise and I find I really like to be on the giving end of surprises.

Kori has been working out of town now at a new job since October. She lives there during the week and comes home on most weekends. The drive is long and boring and at the end of a long week, it can be one of the last things she wants to do. Her week had been stressful but we had agreed to not do anything for Valentine’s Day, well at least she had agreed and I didn’t say much. I decided to surprise her by showing up and taking my Valentine to dinner.

I could tell instantly that I had made the right decision to make the road trip. I could see the stress of the week leave her body before my eyes. I must admit that sight sticks with me even days later. I was so happy to be able to do something nice for someone who constantly looks for ways to make our family feel loved and appreciated.

We had one of our best dinners together talking about our week, our kids, our relationship and life apart. We didn’t have anywhere to go or any time constraints we were just enjoying our time together. Usually we order dinner, eat and leave with little thought of our interaction. This was different as there was a new appreciation of our time together because it doesn’t happen every day. After our 2 hour dinner, we knew our time had to end and I had to get back on the road for my drive back home.

Surprises are a good thing. I have been on the giving end of them and I know how it makes the recipient feel and how it makes the giver feel. My control tendencies have no right to take away someone’s joy in giving. Going forward, I will go with the flow and will be appreciative when someone wants to do something nice for me. Hopefully I haven’t blown my chance to be surprised. In the meantime, I plan to make that drive more often, surprise or not, because time together is so important.

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