Monday

Marriage Monday: Open Book

First, I have to say this. I have NOTHING to say that Carol didn't say better. If you only have time to read one blog post, read this one. Amazing. Thank you, Carol, for speaking clearly and wisely about marriage. Awesome.

Moving on.

Let me tell you a huge lie today's society will tell you about marriage: it's okay if I don't tell my spouse about _________________. Fill in the blank with: a conversation with an ex, an amount of money you spent that you shouldn't, a stumble into an old sin. You name it.

Society makes it clean and convenient: "I don't want him to worry." "I know what I'm doing." "It's my money anyway."

Dave Ramsey, the financial "stay out of debt" guru who makes no bones about anything, said it quite succinctly like this on his radio program one time: "The only secrets you should have from your spouse is what his or her Christmas present is."

Well, that's pretty extreme, isn't it? Yes. Yes, it is. But coming from someone who has stood at the edge of divorce, I have come to realize that extreme measures are necessary to keep sacred that which God has called to be holy. Yes, your marriage is called to be holy.

If you need to keep a secret from your spouse, ask yourself why. That conversation you had with your ex, maybe not an 'ex' but "just a friend"... no, REALLY, he's just a friend. Maybe it's not you that overreacts but your spouse? Either of those needs to be addressed. Calmly tell your spouse, "I want to be accountable to you for what I do, but your response makes it difficult."

That website you visited just to scope it out? Let your spouse know so he can hold you accountable. That money you spent that was maybe too much? Your spouse needs to know. If you know you're going to have to tell your spouse, maybe you won't spend it in the first place.

The money thing: Troy and I both have our own stash of "fun money": he writes resume's and brings in a few extra bucks and some of my articles bring in some money. Sometimes our "fun money" has to go to pay the bills because, you know, there is nothing more fun than the toilet flushing when it needs to. But sometimes we have a little stash and that is just ours to do with what we want. Troy buys hunting or gun stuff. I buy running gear or get a massage.

But I have been known to spend our grocery money on clothes that the kids don't really need, or a cute pair of shoes for me, and keep it a secret. That's a problem. I have had to learn to curb my spending (novel idea: live within my means) and be upfront with Troy when I mess up and let him help me get out of the mess I made.

I have learned that any secret you are keeping from your spouse is a tiny little crack that Satan can use to place a wedge in your marriage. It then builds to, "He just doesn't understand me," and graduates to, "I think I can start building this entire life over here without him knowing..." and then there are enormous problems.

Satan loves the lies and the dark places, and the lies grow there. Bring them all out into the light. Scripture says again and again that a married couple should be ONE. Can you keep a secret from one side of your own body? No. Nor should you keep a secret from your spouse. Let him/ her be your accountability partner, and bring those lies out into the light where they belong.

4 comments:

Sheila said...

Sarah,

Great post! I totally agree about not keeping secrets re: money.

But I do a lot of internet marriage counseling, and I'm not sure I completely agree that EVERYTHING needs to be shared. For instance, I think if a guy is getting over a pornography addiction, what he really needs is a MALE accountability partner who is obviously not his wife so that he can confess things to that guy, if he slips up. I'm not sure it helps the marriage if he tells his wife everytime he's tempted or everytime he looks at something, especially if he is dealing with it with another trusted Christian.

I think honesty is ALMOST always the best policy, but the key, to me, is accountability. If a person has true accountability about a temptation, I'm not sure it's always helpful that the accountability partner be a spouse. I could be wrong about that, though; it's worth debating. So what do other people think?

You can find Sheila at To Love, Honor and Vacuum!

Bob said...

Here's a place to start: shared passwords. I know hers, she knows mine. All of them - e-mail, Face Book, Quicken!

In addition to the accountability it brings, it addresses the plaintive question asked just before the funeral, "Does anyone know how to hack into his/her computer? I need to pay some bills."

Wendy said...

I've been keeping a secret for some months. I have been scared about a health issue (waiting to see a specialist) and my DH does not deal well with my health issues, so I kept much of my fear to myself. Obviously he knows me well after 31 years of marriage but by not verbalising the fear it was sort of keep under control.

Advice?

Sarah said...

Sheila, I agree that there are some things that should be tread lightly around. In that instance, I believe the addiction should be openly discussed in the manner of: "I have this problem. I plan to do something about it by doing this." The one with the problem (people, do not be surprised how many women struggle with pornography addictions as well. It's a problem) yes, then needs to have a same-sex accountability partner to keep from further hurting the spouse. But the spouse already knows (yes, they know...) that there is a problem and trust goes a LONG way being built back up by saying, "I respect you enough to want to conquer this problem."

Bob, I was just thinking the same thing this weekend: Dave Ramsey (I think he's very wise, obviously) also advocates what he calls "a love drawer" (I think they changed the name, b/c that sounded... weird... :-) where you list out passwords to the bank, your life insurance, etc., in the event of your demise. Troy and I are both doing so much driving these days, we need to update our "love folder" to include how to get into each other's computer (but I'm the one that pays all the bills) should a crazy take one of us out.

Wendy, I am so sorry you are carrying that burden alone... and I would be willing to bet that your precious husband wouldn't want you to carry it alone, either. I understand. Since you asked for advice, I will tell you what I would do in your position:
a)arm yourself with as many 'do not fear' verses as you can find. Put them on index cards and keep them in your purse. Go through them every time the worry comes over you. God has you in His hand.
b)Go to your husband. Explain to him that there is something that is weighing heavily on your heart and you would really like him to share the burden with you. I think when you appeal to his "knight in shining armour" side, he will realize (and you may need to tell him): he is NOT allowed to "not handle this well". He has no choice but to be someone to walk through this with you. Let him borrow some of your index cards if he has to.
c)I am PRAYING that whatever this is turns into a big fat nothing, but let's imagine that it is something. And imagine how hurt your husband would feel that you didn't trust him with that information. He's a big boy. Allow him to be a big boy. And tell him you NEED him to be a big boy. And share your feelings about it together. Praying that all goes well.

 
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