Do you know the greatest secret to a happy marriage? Perhaps there are many answers, but one, in particular, has helped me to stay married for twenty-six years.
In fact, I think many couples would agree it is hard to stay married without it. So what is the magic ingredient?
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Sadly, over time, many of us view marriage as more of a battleground than a team sport. We are constantly pushing and pulling each other until something or someone gives. Sort of like a contest with two opponents.
Frankly, this is a terrible mindset for marriage since the day you said, “I do” you became one.
Pause for a moment. Do you forgive easily or harbor bitterness and resentment?
Recently, my husband and I had a very frustrating thing happen to both of us. It could have easily gone bad if we had not decided not to forgive.
Believe me, I wanted to yell. In fact, I wanted to scream.
After you read this, you will understand why the greatest secret to a happy marriage is truly forgiveness.
A Mouse In the House
A couple of weeks ago, I was out at night with some girlfriends. My husband was home alone. He was locking up for the night and let the cat in like usual. Only this time the cat snuck in with a mouse in her mouth.
A live mouse.
Usually, my husband can stop my cat at the door but not this time.
Unfortunately, the cat ran past him and then meowed. When she opened her mouth, the mouse fell out onto the floor. Then the mouse quickly ran away to parts unknown–inside our house.
My husband tried to find the mouse or get the cat to catch it again. No such luck.
After a while, he gave up and went to bed. I came home later that night and quietly got into bed so I would not wake him. I was totally oblivious to the mouse situation.
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Happy Marriage or Screaming?
The next morning I got up, and my husband said nothing. Nothing! After an hour or two, he nonchalantly brought up the cat, and that he let her in the night before. I was thinking, “Okay, that’s nice. He let the cat in.”
Eventually, he got around to the fact that she had a mouse. Nothing unusual about that. My cat loves mice. She brings them to the door regularly–dead.
About 20 minutes later, he said something quietly about how a mouse came in with the cat.
I finally put together that my cat brought in a live mouse. I thought for sure he was going to say he caught it. Or the cat caught it.
That part never came. I finally realized I slept in our house all night with a live mouse running around, and it still had not been found! To make me feel better, my husband said it was a very tiny mouse.
There is no such thing as a tiny mouse. A mouse is a mouse.
My first reaction…let’s burn the house down. No, really.
And then I wanted to scream at him.
This is where I had a fork in the road-choose to have a happy marriage and work together or scream.
Insult to Injury
To add insult to injury, my husband got up from the table and left to go to work. He left me all day with a live mouse in the house. To make me feel better, he said he would bring something home to trap it that night. I have to admit, I was not a happy camper.
Again, I thought about screaming, but it would not have done any good. The mouse would still be running around the house, and I would just have to apologize later for my bad behavior.
Reluctantly, I decided to keep my mouth shut and make the best of a bad situation. I am in a happy marriage, right?
Angrily, I tiptoed around the house all day, praying the mouse would not jump out at me. It was a long day.
Later that night, my husband did bring home something to catch it. Only the mouse was too smart and remained on the loose…for three more days. Yep. I wanted to scream the whole stinkin’ time. At anyone. But mainly him.
On the third day, we did catch the mouse only to be sabotaged by my cat again on the fourth day. Because, hey, three days isn’t long enough to be tested.
The Cat Did It Again
I wish I could say that was the end of the mouse saga ie. marriage trial.
This time it happened early in the morning. My husband was up getting ready for work. He let the cat out around 5:30 a.m.
She had been roaming around for about an hour and wanted back in to eat. It was probably around 6:15 am. He opened the door only to find a RAT in her mouth this time.
And this one was a biggie.
I heard my husband saying loudly, “No Patches! You can’t come in! No! No! She’s got a rat! It’s a rat! She’s in! The cat came in with a rat!”
Meanwhile, I’m still in bed. Asleep. It’s 6:15 am. Guess where she went? Patches went straight for our bedroom WITH THE RAT.
I have never flown out of bed so fast. I am not a morning person. All of a sudden, there was a CAT and a RAT under my bed.
I’m in a happy marriage, I’m in a happy marriage, I’m in a happy marriage.
Rat Under My Bed
At this point, I didn’t know if the rat was dead or alive. I had to find out. I put my head under the bed, and there they were.
Both of them. The cat looked quite pleased with herself. The cat and the rat were laying right next to each other.
Thank goodness the rat was dead. Can you hear what I am saying? “Thank goodness there was a dead rat under my bed at 6:15 a.m.”
I could have put my head under the bed and come face to face with a live rat. Hmm.
I’ll take dead!
After I got the dead rat out, we both started laughing.
We made a deal to look at the cat’s mouth from now on before she comes in. I’m so glad we both chose not to scream and yell at each other. It took a lot of self-control, but I knew it really wasn’t his fault.
The Secret to a Happy Marriage
After twenty-six years together, I have decided the secret to a happy marriage is forgiveness. There is no use fighting about something that can not be controlled.
Things just happen.
I had a choice. Yelling at my husband would have only delayed the mouse/rat problem. The cat was the issue, not him.
Most of the time, you will find the enemy is not your spouse, it’s our sinful nature or even Satan.
Ephesians 6:12 says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”
Keep reminding yourself that you and your husband are on the same team.
Next time you want to yell and scream at your spouse, pause and think about the situation. Control your initial reaction and then go into problem-solving mode. Immediately start thinking, “What can I do to work together to fix the problem?”
It will save you a lot of time and hurt feelings. And you will get rid of your “rat ” problem much faster.
What do you do to have a happy marriage?
Do You Have Family Problems? There is Help and Hope!
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