Relinquishing Control–A Success Story


Russell and I at the Salsa Cabana. Our eyes look crazy because the flash blinded us.

Usually I don’t dish about dates with my husband, but since I promised an update on how I handled giving up complete control to be totally surprised, I’ll share. I say totally surprised, but I actually knew that we were going to dinner. I just didn’t know where and what we’d do afterwards. And I say give up complete control, but that’s actually not completely true. Since I didn’t know the dress code for the restaurant, I consulted with my husband to find out what I should wear.

“Wear something semi-formal with comfortable shoes,” he suggested.

“Comfortable shoes?  You mean like teacher shoes that I would wear to work?” I inquired. Teacher shoes are the flat orthopedic-like shoes that are comfortable for hours of standing and walking.

“I can’t be cute with a dress and teacher shoes!” Every dress I pulled out of the closet was shut down as an option because they were either too dressy or not dressy enough. So I told him to pick. While I was in the shower he took it upon himself to choose what he thought was the perfect outfit for me.  When I saw it I regretted putting him in charge of that decision. He chose a brown and green combination that included a skirt from a suit, a button down cotton shirt and casual knee boots. It was sweet of him, but I refused to wear it because it wasn’t my style. Who am I kidding? I thought it was ugly. I wanted to feel and look good on my birthday, so I had to take control back just a little.


The lovely view of downtown Columbia from Al’s Upstairs italian restaurant.

After I picked an outfit, we drove to Columbia (an hour away from home). During the drive we shared the things about each other that we are thankful for (my suggestion). We were supposed to do this on Thanksgiving Day but the food, sleep, football games, and black Friday shopping took over. It was off the cuff too. We were supposed to write them down each day in November, but we both forgot to do it. Despite the impromptu nature of it, I still felt special. I should say that I had to navigate this trip even though I didn’t know the name of the destination since my husband’s sense of direction is not something I’m thankful for. He only told me the address, but I got us near enough to the vicinity to find it. We arrived at this small but elegant italian restaurant with a beautiful 2nd-floor view of downtown Columbia. It’s called Al’s Upstairs.  The atmosphere of this place was very intimate and romantic–dimmed lights, candles, soft music, and of course that killer view.

“How did you find this place?” I asked.

“A man never reveals his secrets,” he said, but I persisted. I told him I kind of thought he was going to take me to the last restaurant we had gone to because he knew I liked it.

“That wouldn’t be original,” he explained. Good answer.

“So how’d you find out about it?” I asked again. It turns out he asked around and a coworker recommended this place. I’m glad he listened. Next we ordered our food and while we waited we continued our thankful qualities list. A few laughs later, our food arrived. It was delicious! The service was equally pleasing too. So far I was delightfully surprised with my birthday celebration. I wanted to know what was next. Again, he had to tell me something because he needed me to give him directions. We were going salsa dancing–something we had only done once while we were dating but was loads of fun.

Although I had to literally pull him to the dance floor, we got in a few good dance moves–the salsa, merengue, bachata, and the best latin dance of all, the wobble. My shoe choice ended up being perfect for dancing. We laughed some more, acted silly, and just enjoyed each other’s company into the early morning. A birthday well spent.

It turns out my husband had put a lot of thought into planning a fun birthday date that we both enjoyed, without my help. What I learned is that he actually knows me better than I give him credit for and that I can trust his judgement when it comes to gift giving while I relax and enjoy the ride (or give directions on the way). 🙂


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