Almost as soon as I got engaged, my ears perked up at anything promising the secret to a happy marriage. I didn’t grow up with the best example, and I wanted to make sure my marriage was different. I wanted us to be happy for all of our days, and I was, and am, dedicated to achieving that goal. The goal of a strong, healthy, happy marriage.
I’m no marriage expert. I just know what I’ve observed, and what’s worked for us in the 12 years we’ve been married.
The way I talk about my husband to my friends is definitely a factor in my happiness and his. The way I pray for him and our marriage plays another major role in our success. But one of our biggest successes is one that’s often overlooked in the marriage books and sermons.
Our secrets are the secret to a happy marriage
Let me dig into the obvious and not so obvious side of this statement.
Yes, absolutely, openness, honesty and trust are foundational to a happy marriage. Our spouses must know what’s going on in our lives and in our hearts. We should share things that matter to us and also things that might matter to them. It’s easy for me to be open about my thoughts and desires and ponderings, but I may not want to tell my husband what I spent money on. One is important to me, the other is important to him. He needs to know both secrets for us to have a happy marriage.
Sharing our secrets with each other is essential to a happy marriage.
What about keeping confidences? It is so important to be able to trust your spouse, to know that what is shared in confidence will be kept secret. Not shared during guys’, or girls’, night out. Not blabbed on the phone to a friend. Not shared as a “prayer request” when your spouse may not want it to be made public. I’m definitely the more open and chatty one in our marriage, and I have to be so careful not to share things that aren’t mine to share. I feel so incredibly close to my husband, it’s sometimes hard not to feel like his burdens are my burdens, and, therefore, mine to share. They aren’t. They are my burden to bear, my secret to keep, in order to honor his trust in me.
Keeping each other’s secrets is also essential to a happy marriage.
Do you and your spouse have secret, inside jokes? Do you whisper funny comments or remind each other of silly stories? Do you have odd phrases or habits that need to be explained to others because, really, you kind of had to be there to get it?
I cannot tell you how our inside jokes, the little secret, silly things we say, have united us and strengthened our marriage over the years.
Maybe you’re at a spot where you’ve forgotten how to joke and tease? Where you communicate primarily about “family business” and don’t seem to have time to laugh or reminisce? I want to tell you that you do! There is plenty of time and opportunity if you seek it out and make a habit of it.
Inside jokes are a daily habit for us and keep our marriage light and fun. It started years ago with my husband keeping a tiny notebook in his shirt pocket and writing down humorous things that happened to him. Then we would sit down and he would tell me all the stories at the end of the day. Oh to be young and in love. That’s not how we do it now.
Now, with 3 little ones and jobs and obligations to distract us, Facebook and text messages are where we record our exchanges. We make a habit of sending humorous pictures, articles, or phrases to each other throughout the day. Any funny thing one of our kids says, I will text to Nathan right away. Funny memes or articles he comes across on Facebook get forwarded to me immediately.
We also have family phrases that we use and perpetuate just to make us laugh. We decided it would be funny to teach our children to ask for vitamins in a proper English accent. So our kids ask for vitamins (rhymes with bit-amins), not vitamins (rhymes with BITE-amins). We laugh with each other every.single.time.
Often for special occasions, we will get each other items that have to do with our inside jokes rather than traditional presents. One of our nonsense phrases is “purple monkey dishwasher.” I will not bother explaining what the meaning or story behind it is. You really had to be there (see how that works). Last year for Christmas, I had a friend do an illustration of a purple monkey washing dishes on top of a dishwasher. I gave it to my husband framed. He was thrilled.
Sharing silly secret jokes is the secret sauce in our marriage.
It keeps us laughing when the chaos of childrearing might otherwise drive us mad. It keeps us connected when our busy lives might otherwise distract us. It keeps us united when we might otherwise be driven apart.
Take some time. Think of silly things you used to laugh at together and resurrect those stories. Text silly phrases to one another. Put reminders of your humorous adventures up around your home. No one will understand what in the world you are talking about, but you and your husband will just laugh at their confusion. And another inside joke is born.