Skip to main content

Which is more intriguing to you: When your spouse has a heart-stopping shock or the look on your spouse’s face as it gradual dawns on them that a surprise is unfolding? Either way, you can create a treasure hunt that will make a great memory.

Today we’ll talk about ideas for how you can create a treasure hunt your spouse will remember forever.

In this article you’ll find

  • An example of a treasure hunt reveal
  • Two reasons treasure hunts make great memories and bring you and your spouse closer

Treasure hunt example: It’s all in the details

Years ago, after sitting at a small table for ten minutes eating our frozen yogurts, my husband became an archeologist. He carefully dipped his spoon into the frozen yogurt, gingerly brushing aside a bit of the swirl.

Then he dug in from the other side, and finally pulled out a smeared piece of plastic. He wiped the yogurt away from the plastic with his napkin and unfolded the plastic to reveal the next clue in his treasure hunt.

“How?” asked my befuddled husband, “How did you do this? I ordered from the counter. I ordered my yogurt and you weren’t even there.”

It’s true. I wasn’t at the counter when he ordered his yogurt. I made a point of letting him order my yogurt for me.

The romance of surprise

When we walked into Penguins Frozen Yogurt on the corner of Pearl and Broadway in Boulder, Colorado, David thought the surprise was bumping into his mom and sister. They were seated in the back corner snacking on a frozen yogurt of their own.

He was already disoriented because he didn’t expect to see them. After the four of us chatted and giggled for a bit, I asked David to order us a frozen yogurt from the counter while I schemed with his mom and sister.

Part of the fun of a treasure hunt is waiting and watching to see if the stunt will work. I was watching every bite David took of his frozen yogurt. I started to get worried when he reached what looked to me like the bottom of the bowl.

But after he pulled that saran-wrapped clue out of his bowl and realized what it was, he tossed his head backward and let out his distinctive laugh.

I fooled him. I looked like a magician getting that clue into a bowl of yogurt he’d ordered himself. It’s a story my husband has told at least a dozen times since then.

With a well-planned detail, you will look like a magician to your spouse. This magic is why treasure hunts make great memories.

Treasure hunts bring magic to everyone: Reason #1

A week before the treasure hunt with Dave, I went around town, planting clues. I visited Penguin’s Frozen Yogurt and when one of the workers behind the counter asked if they could help me, I said I had an unusual request.

“Next Sunday I’m going to come into this shop with my husband. He’s going to order something, and, when he does, I am hoping that one of you would be willing to place this clue into his frozen yogurt.” Then I produced the saran-wrapped clue that Dave would later find hidden inside his frozen dessert.

All the people behind the counter were college-aged kids. They all smiled, and a fit, young man whose hair hung in his eyes said, “Yeah. I’ll be here Sunday.”

After I handed him the saran-wrapped clue we all talked for about five minutes. “What are you doing?” asked a lanky young woman.

“I’m taking my husband on a treasure hunt,” I said. “This is his next clue.”

Strangers become teammates when you include them in your treasure hunt

They wanted to know what else I was planning for the treasure hunt. “Where will you be before you come here?” asked Hair-in-His-Eyes-Guy.

“We’ll be watching the street performers,” I said. Pearl Street in Boulder is famous for the magicians and jugglers that perform every hour or so.

“Where does our clue send him?” asked Lanky-Girl. Did you catch that? Where does our clue send him? She was now one of my team players.

When you involve other people in your treasure hunt—even, or maybe especially, strangers—it unites you. You become a team. The college kids at Penguins Frozen Yogurt were rooting for my marriage that Sunday afternoon.

When you take the time to include others in your treasure-hunt-surprise, and—in the moment of the discovered clue—that translates as inclusion in your relationship.

When you include others, and they anticipate your private joy, it feels to your spouse like the whole world is rooting for your relationship. Your private moment becomes a public celebration.

Try this:

Engage others—even strangers—in your treasure hunt.

Here’s 3 ideas:

  • Ask if you can hide your clue at their home/establishment.
  • Invite them to help you create a clue or two.
  • Invite them to join in one of the treasure hunt activities making a surprise appearance.

Treasure hunts increase trust: Reason #2

Your treasure hunt details will either work out or they won’t.

If the details work out wonderfully, your spouse learns they can trust you to spend extra time planning something special designed to make them happy. If the details fail miserably, you have a chance to show your spouse that time treasured relationship time is more important than precise execution of details.

Your attitude is what builds the trust.

I could have stressed about it when we walked into Penguins that Sunday and been panicked about catching the eye of hair-in-his-eyes guy. But then I would have been uptight all day: worried about success more than enjoying the relationship time.

Uptight and worried? That erodes trust. That attitude sends a silent message that our relationship has to have perfect details. You want to send the opposite message.

I love this reminder from Gretchen Rubin that things that go wrong often make the best memories. It’s true! I’m sure your favorite stories include fiascos. Disaster + time = humor, right?

Try this:

Once you’ve planned your treasure hunt, relax and trust that it’s unfolding in a way that will create lasting memories.

This means that you let yourself have as much fun on the treasure hunt as you hope your spouse has. After all, joy is contagious. Stress is contagious too, so rather than pollute your treasure hunt adventure, choose joy.

Want to stop arguing and start connecting with your spouse? This FREE e-course will offer you habits to improve your marriage communication so you can smile more and fight less. Sign up to improve marriage communication.

Sign Up to Improve Marriage Communication