These can’t be called the Secrets of Marriage because it would be volumes, not paragraphs. The other big reason is that I do not know all the secrets of other marriages. They are each like different people. Each has its own needs and fulfillments. Each has its own roles and dynamics. I do know that finding it in your own marriage, with your spouse, is possibly one of the greatest gifts that can ever be received.
Secret #1 in your marriage is that we never speak badly about each other, in public or private. Not ever in front of them or behind their back. Even joking comments that are meant to be harmless usually are not. Derogatory comments will develop into derogatory thoughts. These thoughts will become destructive words or actions. Mean spirited comments about anyone, especially your spouse can’t be pulled back. It does not matter how sincerely you apologize, once your words are out, you can’t bring them back in. You own them and the consequences of them. It is far easier to cultivate the respect that you have for your spouse and let that guide your comments than to continually test your marriage with disrespect.
Secret # 2 is similar in regards to #1. You will have differences in opinion with your spouse. Some things are minor enough to back off of those and fight the battles that you feel strongly about. Those will happen from time to time also. The important part is determining if you are arguing for the betterment of your family and to enrich the direction that they will need to take, or are you arguing for the sake of pride, just to win. If one spouse feels very strongly about the direction the family needs to take, and it is not a subject that you feel strongly about, it is time to let the partnership in marriage determine that you should back down and listen to the counsel of your partner. If you both feel strongly about different sides of an argument and it does end up in heated discussion, here is the important part, always discuss the issue, the whole issue, and nothing but the issue with respect for the other. The arguments that lead to items listed in Secret #1 are due to pride interfering in a discussion that you feel you are losing. Never, ever, let personal issues invade heated discussions. Always deal with the issue at hand, look for common ground to build on slowly and deliberately, and never draw personal and hurtful comments into an argument or discussion.
Secret #3 is that I have no close female friends and your mother has no close male friends. We have acquaintances of the opposite sex, but not close friends. It may seem old-fashioned and overly cautious, but through 14 years of marriage, it has worked well for us. Not only does it take away any temptations of impropriety, but it takes away the jealous thoughts I may have incorrectly formed about a close male friend of your Mom’s. If I have real worries, even if they are not true, about a close male friend that your Mom has, it can lead to hurt feelings and destructive action on my part, all because of something that has not even happened! It is not just a matter of trust. As close male/female friends go through tough times in their own marriages or single life, you may be asked to console them or they may share intimate details of their situation that can cause conflicting thoughts about your own marriage. You may find things in common with them that make you question if your own marriage is satisfactory to you. That is why it is important to choose the correct mate for you. (A subject for a separate writing). Even the doubt of whether you have married correctly is highly dangerous and damaging. The actions that follow these thoughts can create problems and hurt feelings difficult to overcome. Can a true alcoholic take just one drink? Maybe. Is the wreckage of finding out that he can’t worth it? Likely not. When you look for the companionship of the opposite sex solely in your own spouse and the mysteries and joy of building that friendship and relationship that spans the eternities you will know one of the truly greatest gifts from God.
I know I have listed only 3 Secrets to Our Marriage here and I know that there are many more. If you diligently find the right spouse for you and follow these 3 steps, the other ones will be a great joy to find with your own spouse. A family is like a small business sometimes. You need to discuss and trust with your spouse and find patterns of things that make you both happy and give your marriage fulfillment. Then incorporate them into your lives and keep looking. As you implement them, your relationship will grow beyond the temptations and you will find what your Mom and Dad have found in each other. The only thing greater is to bring children into this world born out of that love. Don’t misunderstand that it is not right to conflict in opinion with your spouse. It will happen many times, and it should. Your opinions and feelings are a valid and equal part of the relationship you will form. But always question the motivation of the discussion. Is it to help your family grow or is it to justify something you have already done or that your pride wants you to do. We all grow frustrated and angry and need to express it. Do it constructively, and it will strengthen your marriage, not weaken it.
I always love you and pray that you will find in your spouse what I have found in your Mother.