I've decided that either A) it's hard to plan a surprise for your spouse (in general), or (B) I'm not very good at planning surprises, because it has taken me almost four and a half years to successfully plan a big surprise for Matt. Sure, I've planned some small little treats as surprises (like picking up a little pastry or piece of cake from a bakery for him on my way home from work or wrapping up a new DVD and giving it to him "just because"), but I had never really tried my hand at planning a "big surprise" (you know--like one that required planning and a lot of forethought and everything).
Well, now I can say I've done it (and successfully too, although I was sure that he was going to catch on because he kept coming in the room when my mom and I were whispering about it).
The idea for an overnight getaway was actually not motivated by the desire to surprise him for his birthday (which is tomorrow, and which was the superficial "reason" for the trip), but by my growing realization that we needed some time away with just the two of us. I remember very clearly thinking when we were first newlyweds that I didn't understand why married people often said that they needed to "plan for romance" or "work on the marriage." Because we both had so much time together with just the two of us and were so head-over-heels twitterpated, the only thing we seemingly needed to work on at the beginning of our marriage was reining things in a bit so we didn't make the people around us uncomfortable.
And, granted, even after the baby has come, I have felt no decrease in our affection or even too much of a shortage of one-on-one time (since the baby goes down for bed so early). However, I did begin to realize that our time together was not always top quality--often, we spend Raven's sleeping time catching up on chores, vegging out in front of the computer or t.v., or trying to squeeze in some exercise or doing other solo activities. I found that I missed proactively working on our marriage relationship--something that had been so easy to do before, but that now we actually had to be much more intentional about.
So the idea was hatched--I would see if my mom could take Raven for about 24 hours while we escaped to a nearby locale, and I would do my best not to spill the beans (a difficult feat since I'm used to telling Matt virtually everything).
Because I wanted the trip to be special, I made plans for us to visit a location that we'd never been to together--Park City--and do something that we'd never done before. Once the surprise was revealed to Matt, I gave him a list of options of fun activities like horseback riding, zip lining, pedal boating that would be new to us as a couple that he could choose from. (In case you're curious about how I revealed the surprise getaway---I left a note taped to the laptop that told him he was invited to a surprise overnight getaway and gave him a list of what clothing/items to pack. I generally wake up a lot earlier than Matt because of my job, so he didn't get the note until he woke up and checked his email--long after I'd left the house.)
And what activity did he choose?
All in all, I was reminded about why it's important to keep trying new things with your spouse, and I re-discovered that both of us are kind of adrenaline junkies (since we both went full throttle the entire way).
(This angle doesn't do it justice, but this is the canyon we zip lined over)
The rest of the trip was spent eating at a jewel of a local find (Sammy's Bistro), relaxing in the hot tub at the hotel, and hiking around a bit.
Note to self: Planning out the trip and entertainment/dining options beforehand using TripAdvisor = excellent idea! We were definitely not disappointed with what we chose to do (and everything we did was chosen after careful research and reading of many reviews on the site)
True fact: Before this trip, I had never ridden on a ski lift before in my life. Maybe that explains why I was kind of obsessed with them and kept taking so many pictures? I just thought they were so fun!
All in all, the trip served many purposes and reminded me of many important points:
1. It is so important to get away with just the two of us.
It was important that we went out on frequent dates before, but it's of even greater importance now that we're parents. At home, we're so often in the role of mom and dad that we sometimes don't work on our role of husband and wife. Outings with just us two help to counterbalance that a little.
2. It is so important to talk about and/or do something that has nothing to do with your kid(s).
So much of our daily life now consists of getting tasks done around the house and taking care of Raven, which means that the majority of our communication tends to revolve around our giant to-do list rather than on our thoughts, feelings, dreams, and so on. Sure, we do talk about those things some of the time at home, but they are often overshadowed by the tasks at hand. Getting away gives us a chance to refresh and rediscover and reevaluate who we are as individuals (and not just as parents).
3. Spontaneity and surprises breathe new life and excitement into a marriage.
It's important that our life not become SO routine that there are no surprises because that's the surest way to end up in a funk, and fast. After becoming parents, we definitely need to be much more intentional about being spontaneous and planning surprises, but it can still be done (and it's important that it be done).
4. I married an individual, not a husband or a dad.
What I mean by this is that sometimes, I forget that Matt is still a person outside of his roles as parent and spouse. It becomes so easy to just peg someone into their role box and forget that they are a unique individual with interests and aspirations that lie outside of those roles. I talked about this very thing in my post on trying out new things with your spouse.
5. Getting to experience new places and new activities is much more important to me than spending money on a possession.
The past year or two, I've discovered an important truth about myself--I would much rather receive an "experience" as a gift or treat than an item. Because I now know this, I'm trying to plan a lot more events and activities and trips around things like birthday and Christmas instead of using the money to buy presents, something that has increased my happiness and life satisfaction a hundredfold, it seems.
Until next time, Park City--