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The Fosters’ seven secrets for a happy marriage

chrisandjoannJoAnn and I have been married 12 years. Not all that long, of course. But I marvel every day at the depth of mutual joy, respect, and love I experience with her. We sat down together for a few minutes after breakfast this morning, and thought about some of the things that we believe make our marriage work, and keep it growing and expanding. It’s a starter list, that I hope to add to, but here’s what we came up with.

 1. Transparency. "The most important thing to me is knowing that if I really want to know something, you will tell me," she said. "This gives me a lot of security. I know that you will tell me the truth if I ask you -- even if it's something I may not like to hear. And the funny thing is that because I know this it's almost as if I don't have to ask you. It means there are no secrets between us and to me that's very important." I’d say we both feel it is very important to be straight with each other, telling each other how it is, though we express ourselves in different ways. JoAnn is succinct. I’m a bit more long winded.

 2. No grudges. The next thing that came up was acknowledging that neither of us holds a grudge. "If something comes up between us, though it may be painful -- and so often seems to come out of nowhere -- we deal with it and move on," she said. The image that came to my mind as she was talking about this was what happens when you drop a stone into a quiet pool. When the stone hits the water it sets up a disturbance for a few moments. But soon the pond becomes calm again. That is how I experience my life with JoAnn. It's as if we have a base of agreement to which we can always return no matter how badly our feathers have been ruffled.

3. Trust. We have learned to trust each other. "You have to be secure in yourself to be able to trust someone else,” she said. “For example, I said to you a long time ago, concerning other women, 'It's okay if you look, it's okay if you talk, but no touching.' But after I told you that I had to be secure in myself and know that no matter what happened I would be able to handle it. I'm not naïve. I've been betrayed before. But I felt the potential of trust was there and I was more than willing to let it grow and evolve."

4. Willing to acknowledge mistakes, and change. I’ll let this one speak for itself.

5. We don’t hesitate to express appreciation to each other. Of course, this has to be genuine. But one of my earliest memories after first meeting JoAnn, while we were living a long way away from each other, was how when she wrote she would often call me “an adorable male person.” Needless to say, I liked this. It made me feel good. I often say to JoAnn something like, “Did I tell you yet today what a caring person you are?” And before you know it, we’re having a hug.

6. We complement each other. This is despite the fact we are very different, and come from very different backgrounds. I'm a poet and dreamer -- rich in imagination – for example, brought up in London with English ways imprinted in my bones. JoAnn is a practical soul, a lover of quilts and quilting, brought up in Kansas of pioneering American stock. Useless to ask JoAnn what she thinks of one of my poems. But ask her to figure something out -- something that might take me half an hour -- and it'll be done in half a minute or less.

7. Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, we share the same values. They are spiritual values. Truth is important to us, for example. Integrity is important to us, and inner peace is something both of us cherish deeply. We both want to do the right thing, to the highest and best of our understanding, and knowing that this is true gives us a basis of agreement despite our absurd differences, externally speaking.

Do you have any thoughts or advice of your own regarding what makes a happy marriage? If so, I’d love to hear them, and perhaps, if you’re willing, pass them on to readers. I hope to do another post on this theme by and by, and make it into a series.

PS. This blog is still just a toddler. If you enjoyed this post, please do what you can to pass it on and help this blog grow. For example, you could email it to a friend. What could really help would be to submit it to your favorite social media site. Click on the “share this” button below and give the post a thumbs up at Stumbleupon or Facebook or Twitter for example. Thank you so much for any assistance you can give in this way, and thank you so much for visiting this blog. May joy and abundance and peace be with you.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill Campana August 12, 2009 at 8:02 am

Chris,

I can relate to each of these 7 secrets and uphold them as “truths” for my husband, Frank, and I.

And by the way, I have passed your blog on several times to my Facebook friends, and will do so again today!

Thanks for your blog.

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Christopher Foster August 14, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Thank you so much for your words Jill. And thank you so much for passing my blog on to your friends at Facebook. Much appreciated! Give my best regards to Frank, won’t you?

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