Marriage First: Keeping a Secret from Your Husband

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Remember when I was flummoxed over what to do about celebrating my and Paul’s 30th birthdays? Well, I decided that a separate surprise party for Paul just before his 30th in July was the way to go. But I didn’t anticipate how hard it would be to keep it a surprise.

Paul and I tell each other everything–everything that we remember, anyway. So keeping a secret, even one that’s meant to benefit Paul, felt unnatural. When I found out Paul’s college friend from Boston was coming down for the party, I almost blurted out the good news to the soon-to-be birthday boy. When his other college friends couldn’t make it, I wanted to warn Paul so he wasn’t disappointed when he arrived at the party. And when guests ignored the reply-by date, delaying me from giving a final count to the bowling alley where we held the party, I wanted to complain to Paul, who reminds me that these things aren’t as big a deal as they seem in my head. But if the party was to be a surprise, I had to hold my tongue on all of these things.

Not that all that meant Paul was completely shocked when he pulled up to the bowling alley with our friend the Saturday before his birthday. Apparently, I wasn’t as good a secret-keeper as I thought. When Paul was an invited to an event the next day, I let him know we might have guests staying over that weekend (when I thought our Boston buddies were staying at our place). And when I couldn’t afford to invite every single person we knew, I asked our good friends not to mention the party to others…except Paul was standing right next to me when I made this request. D’oh. Despite that, Paul played along with the ruse that he was going to a friend’s apartment to watch the Oscar shoe-in Jersey Shore Shark Attack and didn’t pester me with questions about the party.

As a result, Paul had a great time with 15 of our close friends. He managed to turn bowling into a violent sport, as he’s wont to do, which led to him scraping his shin and ripping open his shorts. Luckily, our guests weren’t hurt, as far as I know.

I don’t know that I’ll attempt to surprise Paul for his birthday again, but he did ask me not to hurl questions at him regarding his plans for my 30th birthday, in hopes that I truly will be surprised. Deal.

A few pictures:

While the rest of us wore kid-size (re: uncomfortable) party hats, the birthday boy got to wear a special crown.


It didn't take Paul long to start sliding into other bowlers to knock them over...or to tear open his shorts.


We gathered around tiramisu cake and rainbow cookies to serenade the guest of honor with a rousing rendition of "Happy birthday."

More Marriage Firsts
Attending a Wedding Without Your Husband
You’re No Longer Infatuated With Each Other
Being Called Out for Having Sex

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Photos by Gordon Ho

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  • Isabelle Fallon

    It sounds like you guys had a really fun (and enthusiastically competitive!) time! My boyfriend and I keep secrets over Christmas and birthday presents, and we do it well! I love the idea of him being delighted with what he gets and seeing him enjoy the surprise. He’s a brilliant present-thinker-upper so I’m always surprised, pleased and touched that he knew exactly what I would like – sometimes he’s found things that I mentioned in passing months before but wouldn’t get for myself, other times it’s something I’ve never seen but love on sight! But I couldn’t keep a whole party secret – mainly because his friends would “warn” him!

    • mereditor

      Aw, that’s so sweet that your guy’s such a perfect gift-giver! I’m sad to say we haven’t surprised each other with birthday/holiday gifts in a long time. Maybe we’ll give it another go this December!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6OELD43VDITKCW7YDSUEXM5EOQ Kat I

    Aww, I love you guys in the party hats! He looks like he’s having so much fun! I used to work in a bowling alley, so I can genuinely say, it looks like more fun than any party I’d ever seen where I worked. Maybe they were just doing it wrong. Don’t feel bad about not being able to keep it a secret, my boyfriend and I can’t keep secrets at all. In order to not tell him about his Christmas presents this last Christmas, I had to not see him for two weeks and wait til the last minute to buy it. He bought mine early and ended up showing me because he was so nervous I wouldn’t like it, which is funny because he always gets me stuff I like, even if it’s totally by accident. When it comes to presents, for me, the only way to do it is to pick out what I want to buy and then wait til the last minute. I can’t tell him about something I don’t have, right? And I don’t want to tell him before I buy it in case something comes up or I can’t, that way he’s not attached. 

    • mereditor

      Aw, glad we’re not the only couple who struggles with surprises. And yeah, I think bowling was a good choice for Paul!