Tip #23: Get in Over Your Head
Man, our culture doesn’t always make it easy to stay married, does it? One of the most bogus messages we hear about marriage is that husbands and wives should keep a little piece of themselves private. You know, like feelings you keep from your mate but share with some other friend. Or a secret bank account where you keep a little stash on the side “just in case.”
But the highly happy couples I surveyed and interviewed weren’t buying it. They threw everything into the ring – their hearts, their wallets, and especially their hopes –risking everything and deciding to believe that it would pay off. Many of these couples had moved from being very troubled in their marriage to very happy… and this particular secret was one of the most important reasons why.
They literally removed the word “divorce” from their vocabularies. They took a deep breath and decided to not have their little stash of money on the side. They gave each other full access to bank accounts, email accounts, computers, and telephones, hiding nothing. Sure, some couples did it a bit differently – for example, if one spouse had a gambling problem, they would get counsel about what financial boundaries to put in place – but otherwise they made themselves completely vulnerable to each other and took what felt like a huge risk of getting their heart broken or losing everything.
And once they were “all in,” they found that the earlier actions they had been taking to “protect themselves” actually created the very problems they were trying to protect themselves against!
As one woman I interviewed said, “What is more foolish? Taking the risk to trust him and risking the small likelihood that your spouse will betray you? Or deciding that you’re not going to fully trust him and risking the almost certain likelihood that it will build a wall between you and undermine your marriage?”
One husband who had come very close to divorce told me, “Everything changed when we decided to lock ourselves in this marriage and throw away the key. Even if only one person decides to change the commitment level at first, It is amazing how much things change when you stop saying the ‘D-word’ and instead decide that as much as it depends on you, you truly are in it until death do you part. My wife started to refuse to listen when I would throw out the D-word… and pretty soon it was catching.”
He continued, “We decided that since there was no eject seat, we had to work this out. We had no other choice. It took a few years, but we are so happy today. We love being married. I wish everyone would realize the power of true commitment.”
When it comes to marriage, you truly get what you give. We get so much more when we give our spouses our all and decide that we are going to be all in no matter what.
Join us next week as we help men understand the female brain’s constant open windows – and what to do about them.
From Chapter 12 of The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages, by Shaunti Feldhahn.
Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only, The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages and her newest, The Good News About Marriage. A Harvard-trained social researcher and speaker, her ﬁndings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times. Shaunti speaks regularly at churches, conferences, and corporate events. (Inquire about Shaunti speaking, or visit www.shaunti.com for more.)
The post originally ran at the Christian Post for Marriage Mondays. Welcome to Marriage Mondays! Each Monday, join us here in the Book Corner as I share my top findings on the little, eye-opening things that make a big difference in creating great marriages and relationships. Today’s post is one of a series on the surprising truths that men and women tend not to know about each other–and which change everything once we do.