When we think of the word surprise, it’s not uncommon to associate it with negative events, such as a burning house, an unexpected hospital bill, a loss of a job, etc. The commonality of the phrase “no surprises” is evidence that people are afraid of unexpected variables that could offset their current plans. Sadly, this fear is probably warranted, because, living in a universe where entropy is a fundamental law of physics, things are bound to go wrong, and as a mechanism of self defense, we’ve learned to brace ourselves for the worst.
But if so much negative energy revolves around unpleasant surprises, think of the potential delight that could come from pleasant surprises. It’s one thing to schedule a weekly date night and to take a turn doing the dishes. It’s an entirely different thing to tape a love note to a mirror or wake up early to make your spouse breakfast in bed. No matter how small the act, the fact that you break a routine and make special time for your spouse proves not only that you care but that your spouse is a higher priority than anything else on your schedule. That, my friend, is the formula for a happy marriage.
On a more somber note, if you and your spouse aren’t surprising each other, there’s probably not much of a romantic flame between you. You may enjoy routine sex, but that’s not the same thing as a binding romantic tie that leads to hand-holding, spontaneous kissing, and giggling. When the brain can predict a pattern, dopamine levels (the magic you felt when you were newlyweds) decreases. However, when we break patterns by surprising each other, the brain detects that something novel is occurring, and as a reward, dopamine is released. Thus romantic surprises literally increase our feelings of excitement and intimacy. So stop reading this post and go buy your wife some flowers!