In conversations with my wife, one of the things I discovered is that although she really loved getting away the responsibility of planning and preparing for a trip diminished her excitement and enjoyment of it especially in the days leading up to travel.
Well, this past year my wife worked very hard and followed a very disciplined diet and exercise regimen and she lost 25+ pounds. She felt strongly that this is what God wanted her to do and He brought her tremendous victory with her weight - an area she has struggled with since adolescence. The perseverance by which she stuck with her diet inspired me to try to do something special for her this year around Valentines Day. I decided to plan an extended shopping date to Dallas, Texas for her to replenish her wardrobe, but I wanted this to be a surprise.
So first things first, I began checking around with family to find child care for our children. With a little work I had child care covered in a few days. Fortunately, being family that was watching the kids, I didn't have to pay a babysitter.
With childcare covered, the next step was to find a nice place to stay. I wanted to treat my wife, but as most people do I needed to be frugal. What I have discovered, that helps tremendously with getting discounts on hotel rooms, are websites like priceline.com and hotwire.com. It takes a little work to find a good deal with these sites and patience. The way these sites work is you get discounted rates on hotels that aren't going to fill all of their rooms. The caveat is you do not know the exact hotel until you book. So if you go this route be sure to research the best areas to stay in and pick hotels that are in nice areas. You can also check with friends that may be familiar with your destination and get their opinion. I have had good experience booking hotels as long as they have an 80% positive customer review and no less than 3 stars. Using price line I reserved us a room in a 4 star hotel for around $57 per night (which is much less than even a cheap hotel would be at full price).
With lodging and childcare in place, it was now time to figure out a way to give my wife some money to spend. Since I had to live within our means and also keep it a surprise, I scavenged around and found several restaurant gift cards we had been given, I redeemed points earned on our credit card for a $50 visa gift card, and I found two $50 gift cards we had from smart phone rebates we hadn't used yet. So I added $150 cash from the bank to provide her with some unconditional spending money.
As time came closer, it was time to think about getting her out of the house to pack everything up. I arranged for my wife's sister to invite her to breakfast on the Saturday we were to leave, and I agreed to text her when I had all of the bags packed. If you do this, I suggest making a packing list in advance so you can get things in order quickly. Also, I would advise paying attention to your wife's morning routine. Take note of what cosmetic items she uses, make-up, hairbrushes, perfume, curling irons, etc.
Here is a sample packing list if you need some help in this area:
- Clothes appropriate for your destination - I would suggest overpacking to give her plenty of combinations to choose from
- Soap and shampoo
- Undergarments (Remember gents that ladies require more undergarments if she doesn't have 2 undergarments packed for every 1 undergarment you pack you are missing something)
- Nightgowns or sleepwear (although if you forget these items hopefully you and your wife can still enjoy yourselves...maybe even more...and this enjoyment is legal for married couples)
- Makeup and cosmetics
- Hair brushes and combs
- Her razor
- Vitamins and or medications either of you require
- Shoes (take note of what shoes your wife wears for different occasions)
- Music for the car or an iPod
- A camera to capture your memories together.
- If you aren't going to be dining out, you will also need to think about taking the appropriate food items.
I found that for me it worked best to walk through our morning and evening routines and collect all the necessary travel items and pack them up.
A few days before we left, I purchased an appropriate card and wrote a personal note in it and put the gift cards and spending money in it. On travel day, I put this card in the glove box when I packed all of our bags into the car.
Once I finished packing everything up, I sent the text message to my sister-in-law that everything was a go. When my wife came home, and I told her we were going on a trip she was overtaken with surprise. Please be aware that if you do this your wife may burst into tears, but I assure you in most cases they will be the best kind of happy tears. Once we were on the road, I had her open her card which she received with much surprise and more tears.
Be sure and don't overbook the agenda for your trip. Leave yourselves some flexibility to be spontaneous and have leisurely fun. We hit a couple of shopping malls had dinner out a couple of times, and our last day we just kind of did whatever seemed fun at a slow pace.
If you are worried about shopping, I'll let you know that shopping isn't my favorite past time, but I have come to enjoy it more with my wife. Maybe pick a few items for her to try out and let her know what you think she looks really good in. Most ladies will enjoy knowing what you think she looks attractive in. Be tasteful though and don't push her to try on things she isn't comfortable in. If you have made her feel special in all the preparations and have showed her you truly love her, don't be surprised if she becomes very open to you. I was quite surprised when my wife turned to me in the store and said she would try on anything I wanted her too just for me. Of course, now my surprise was surprising even me as my wife wanted to know what I thought she would look sexy in. And if you are getting worried because this post seems to have become a little racy, just remember as Christians we should have the corner on the market when it comes to enjoying the beauty of our wives and their bodies - this is good and right and nothing to be ashamed of. I will say that my wife's willingness to try on anything I wanted to see her in excited me, yet it did humble me and made me realize that she was offering me a great deal and it was my place to honor and cherish her by not taking advantage of her open heart or compromise her by pushing the limits to far. It is an amazing thing how letting the Holy Spirit express love through us comes back to us many times over when we have truly expressed His love to our spouse. All the effort was certainly worth it and the time to connect and learn new things about my wife is priceless.
I certainly don't want to sound more holy than anyone else, I stumble and I am not always as loving as I should be, but this I can say - I've never been let down by loving my wife the best I can. I hope that someone somewhere will feel inspired by the post and maybe help you plan that well deserved date or getaway for your wife.