The Elements Of Surprise


We are all so busy with life, it’s often hard to remember to tell, and more importantly to show, our husbands, wives, and lovers just how much they mean to us. It wasn’t always that way. Remember the beginning? It was easy then. Romantic dates, love notes scrolled in the steamed up bathroom mirror; generous courtesies performed without threat of breakup or bodily harm. Ah, those were the days.

Slowly, life, career and kids turned that nubile infatuation phase into something fuelled by respect, love, and a need for more sleep. I don’t mean this negatively. While I warmly recall those lustful days of yore, I also love being with someone who really knows me, and loves me exactly that way. Still, there’s no harm in injecting a little spice into the relationship now and again, and the element of surprise itself can be a strong aphrodisiac. I polled some friends – married and single, men and women – and asked them about surprises in their relationships, what stuck with them the most, and why. The results were surprisingly non-sexual. I expected stories of French maid costumes or handcuffs and leather chaps (I have some kinky friends), but in my unofficial poll what 95% of people cited were simple and considerate gestures like flowers for no reason, taking charge of dinner, or even vacuuming the house. Here are a few other notable mentions. Names have been changed to protect the innocent, and guilty.

‘C’ from Brussels said: “While out for dinner with a girlfriend, my boyfriend sent me a text message that said, ‘I miss you and love you and want you to have fun with your friend tonight’. It made me smile and actually made me want to be home with him instead. Perhaps this was his intention all along!”

‘F’ from Los Angeles said: “My husband drove my car to take our daughter to the bus stop. When I got into the car next, I realized he had not only filled the car with petrol, but had also changed my clock (daylight saving was quite some time ago). Both made me remember how kind he is, and why I married him in the first place.”

‘T’ from London said: “I had just (reluctantly) given my boyfriend the key to my apartment when I had to leave for a business trip. When I got home, he had assembled a ceiling fan I had purchased that came in about 30 different pieces, set up my TV, and had all my bath towels and dishes put away. I’m glad I gave him the key!”

One of the funniest surprise stories I have ever heard, and definitely not for the faint of heart, came from a good friend of mine ‘L’ in  Florida. She surprised her husband ‘S’… with their wedding! She said: “He thought we were attending a client open-house at a restored mansion. You should have seen his face when he saw his parents and a priest.” ‘S’ responds: “Man that was a big surprise. We’ve been married 17 years this September. I remember after it was over someone asked if I had had thoughts of running. I replied: “With her father coming down the stairs behind me and 150 people in front of me – where was I going to go?”

While most surprises are sweet, some can be sour. Another ‘L’ in Florida had this to say: “My husband won a cruise, a sales incentive from his office. He asked me to come along, but since we had school-aged children, I felt I should stay behind. A day later, friends all pitched in to help me with the kids. So I boarded a plane to surprise my husband at his first port of call. The surprise was on me when I discovered he had invited another woman in my absence. No wonder he didn’t protest when I offered to stay behind!”

And of course, sexy surprises are always saucy. ‘P’ of Brussels told me: “When I arrived home from work, my girlfriend had all the toppings for an ice cream sundae (cherries, whipping cream, hot chocolate sauce) set up on a tray with a note asking me to bring it to the bedroom. Needless to say, there was no ice cream and we had one hot and sticky night.”

I’ve been married 15 years and my husband and I still hold hands, say I love you multiple times a day, and call each other every day we are away from one another. Still, I can’t recall the last time we surprised one another. He reminded me that once when he was packing for a long business trip, I had tucked little love notes and sexy suggestions into his luggage, into his socks, and his shoes, so he’d find them over several days. I reminded him of the time I came home to find a hand-written clue on the door, which led to another clue, and another, all through the house, finally ending with a little silver heart necklace that I had spotted one day. Maybe the biggest surprise of all for me was to realize how pivotal these small gestures, sexy or simple, can be and how little time it actually takes to sneak them back into your love life.