I’m gonna say this right off the bat. This might be the dumbest blog post I’ve ever written. It is dumb and long. And yet, I feel so compelled to write it that I’m posting it anyway.
There’s a phenomenon that can happen to a married couple that can leave you burned. A scenario that comes at you out of nowhere and leaves you looking bad when you thought you were championing the greater good. I call it The Thunder Saver, and if you’re not careful it will strike you down like Emperor Palpatine.
I’ve been burned by trying to be a Thunder Saver twice in the last couple years, and both times it revolved around news that friends of ours were pregnant. I’m sure it can apply to other situations where secret information is involved as well, but guys especially, when you are asked to keep news of a recent pregnancy secret, don’t let it play out like this.
How a Thunder Saver Can Get Burned
This is how it happens. (We’ll use fictional friends of ours, Neil and Val, as an example.)
Neil and I are talking and Neil says, “Oh by the way, don’t tell anyone but Val and I are expecting. She’s due in June, we’re pretty excited!”
So you offer Neil the obligatory congratulations and then Neil throws in, “Oh and don’t tell your wife. I think Val wants to tell her.”
You’re a good guy, and the last thing you want to do is steal Val’s thunder, so even though you don’t like keeping secrets from your wife, you agree to hide this info from her.
In the meantime, Val doesn’t tell your wife about the pregnancy right away. And since you’re not the kind of guy who spends time every day thinking about your friends’ pregnancies (because that would be a tad creepy), you kind of forget about it.
Maybe it’s a few days later, or maybe it’s a few weeks later, but eventually Val gets around to telling your wife her exciting news. But here’s where you get burned EVERY TIME. Val knows that you have known about the pregnancy, and Val doesn’t want to deliver exciting news to your wife only to have her say, “Oh yeah, Bryan already told me about it.” So Val emotionally protects herself and says, “I don’t know if Bryan told you yet or not, but we’re expecting!”
I hope you see the travesty that has just occurred.
At that moment my wife has no idea that I was trying to be a Thunder Saver. She doesn’t know that I hesitantly told Neil I would keep it a secret so Val could deliver the news. And she doesn’t understand that I basically forgot about the news 20 minutes after Neil told me because I’m a guy and I don’t really STAY excited about other people’s pregnancies for long. I wasn’t actively keeping something from her.
Furthermore, when Val protected herself by saying
“I don’t know if Bryan told you yet, but we’re expecting…”,
what that sounded like was,
“I don’t know if you and Bryan have the kind of relationship where you share things with each other, but if you don’t (and that is so sad if you don’t), I’d like you to know that my husband and I (who unlike you guys, actually talk to each other) made love (probably following a great talk) and are now expecting a baby.”
So now Erica has to respond with, “I’m so excited for you…and I can’t believe Bry didn’t tell me!”, and for all she knows I was supposed to tell her the news and forgot because I’m a jerk.
So the next time she sees me, she’s all “Did you know Neil and Val were expecting?” and I’m like “Yeah! Good news, huh?” and she’s like “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me!” and I’m like, “I told them I wouldn’t so Val could do it!” and she’s like, “well Val just put on Facebook that we’re getting divorced.”
How To Avoid Getting Burned
If you don’t want to get burned being a Thunder Saver, you’ve got 2 options.
1. Don’t be a Thunder Saver. Tell Neil, “look, I’m gonna tell Erica tonight or tomorrow so if Val wants to deliver the news, she better do it now.”
2. Talk Directly to the Person Who’s Thunder You’re Saving. In this example, I should have talked to Val and said, “Listen, I don’t like keeping things from Erica, but I’m going to keep my mouth shut until you tell her. So when you tell her she WILL be surprised. And then after you tell her, let her know that I knew, but I was being a great guy and kept it to myself for her sake and that I should win an award for it or something.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how it should be done.
Oh, and [claire huxtable voice] let the record show [/claire huxtable voice] that my wife isn’t actually unreasonable and would never really get mad at me for something like this, though I like to pretend she would.
(Frankly, I feel a little bit like George Costanza trying to take credit for the big salad, and I love it.)
Thunder Savers, unite!