Knowing how high a priority C.J. Mahaney places on surprising his wife Carolyn, Southern Seminary’s interviewer asked him this question in an interview published in the new issue of the Seminary’s magazine, Towers (April 11, 2011; page 16).
Before answering the question with specific examples, C.J. set the context:
Let me say that I have a wife whom I don’t deserve. No one has influenced me more than she has. There’s no one I respect more than her. There’s no one I love more than her. I am devoted to building as many romantic memories with her and spending as much time with her as possible. And I want Carolyn to live aware that I am always planning or working on a new surprise as an expression of my love for her.
Then he talked specifics:
The most recent surprise was a trip to sunny and warm Florida in the midst of a very cold winter at home.
Normally trips will be planned well in advance to coordinate schedules. By planning in advance you can build anticipation and in some ways something planned in the future has a way of serving your soul in the present. But the trip to Florida didn’t receive a great deal of planning and this spontaneous trip was great fun. And the largest snowstorm of the year hit the D.C. area while we were in Florida so that made it even sweeter.
Before that, in December, I surprised her with an overnight trip to the W Hotel in downtown D.C. At any given time, there are actual multiple surprises in the planning stage ranging from the small expressions to more significant ones. Surprises don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful. Something as simple as bringing home her favorite candy at the end of the day is another way to say, “I love you.”
Why all the surprises? If you met her, you’d understand why. I have been the object of her affection and support for 36 years now. I want to do all that I can to communicate my gratefulness. I don’t deserve my wife.
As C.J. writes elsewhere, meaningful surprises are normally the result of thoughtful and diligent study and planning by the husband. But many husbands are thickheaded and don’t study their wives or plan surprises very well. So where can we start?
To find specific help and suggestions on how to study your wife and her particular interests (with the goal of eventually surprising her), C.J. has written a few resources that may prove helpful for husbands. First, see his free ebook Biblical Productivitywhere he further explains how his role as husband motivates him to study, serve, and surprise Carolyn. And also consider reading “Learning, Leading, and Loving,” chapter three in his book Sex, Romance, and the Glory of God: What Every Christian Husband Needs to Know (Crossway, 2004). “As a romancer of my wife, I know that my essential role is that of a student and a planner,” he writes (32). Behind the meaningful surprises for a wife is this intentional study and careful planning of a thoughtful husband.
April 26, 2011 by Tony Reinke