Openness in the Marriage Relationship


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I googled the quote and found the book. You had recommended it to me, and we have it at home on loan. Clearly not LDS, that much I agree. But that doesn't mean the author isn't right. I'll tell you this much, I had not found this gem as I had not yet taken the book seriously. But this is a huge revelation to me.

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I personally don't believe in any secrets between spouses. While it doesn't mean that I think spouses need to give each other a verbal report of every waking minute of their day, I believe that secrets are destructive. If what I'm doing has to be hidden, and it's not a surprise for her birthday, it's wrong. If she feels the need to keep a box full of love letters from old boyfriends under the bed, that's wrong.

I don't want to be married to someone who is clinging to their past, with other people. I want to be married to someone who only wants to be married to me, and has no regrets about it. I think secrets, even if they don't actually make this so, at least always threaten the possibility. And how can we trust a spouse who feels the need to keep things from us? what are they hiding?

Before I got married, I told my wife all the really bad things I'd ever done. Not to dwell on them, or fail to avail myself of the atonement, or any of the other things that I hear bandied about by sanctimonious folks sometimes. I told her those things for one single reason: so that she'd know the worst I've ever done, so there'd be no unpleasant discoveries in the future, and so that if she was okay with that, I'd know that we could make it. It's like that part in the movie "Meet Joe Black", where that guy who really loves his wife tells Joe, "She knows the worst thing I've ever done, and it's okay. And when two people know the worst the other has done, they're then free to love each other fully." Okay, I'm paraphrasing a bit, but that's my point.

No hiding. No secrets. Being up front, forthcoming, honest. That's the way to go. A spouse who can't manage this is not the kind of person I'd want to be married to.

When two people get married, do they lose their individuality? I think not. Yes, the two become one, metaphorically speaking, but it doesn't necessarily mean you have to get new hobbies or become a different person. You have to take into consideration that the decisions you make now affect two people, not just one. You have to take your spouse's needs and wants into consideration when making decisions that are personal and seem to be your own singular prerogative. That's the discipline. I believe that if a married couple successfully shows consideration for each other when making decisions throughout decades of marriage, they will eventually become more and more like each other, and those kinds of sacrifices will become easier. In fact, you might say that they would be turning into each other, becoming like each other. And in that way, they would perhaps give up their individuality, in a manner of speaking, but it would be voluntary.

In my own experience, after less than two decades of marriage, I've found that my wife is such an indescribably essential part of my identity that without her I'd be a broken, hollow shell of a person. I may not feel that way all the time, but when she is out of town visiting relatives, it's unmistakable. I felt complete before I met her, but without her now, I'd be only a shadow of complete. That's how I think it should be. Married people should need each other like they need air.

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