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Monday, September 20, 2010

Protect Your Marriage

My niece Emily and her husband Josh on their wedding day

I wrote this article a few years ago and thought I'd post it share my heart.  Not to judge...or to say that my marriage is perfect, because no marriage is perfect, including mine.

It's just that the enemy is out there and he is constantly looking for ways to destroy us and marriages are one of the first relationships he attacks...there is such a ripple affect when a marriage is damaged or wrecked completely.

Be of sober  spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  I Peter 5:8

Your spouse is the one to whom you have pledged to love, honor, and cherish for all the days of your life.  Do we treat our spouse today with the same love and respect we did in the early years of the marriage?

I don't know about you...but life can get very busy for me.  I feel sometimes like I am neglecting my precious husband because there are days that I am completely spent by the time he gets home.  Between homeschooling, working from home, taking care of my family and home, and all the other responsibilities I have taken on (and I've pared down too!), it's like I feel I can "let down" when Jeff walks through the door.  And by the time dinner is over and the children are in bed, many times he and just need time to wind down so we can get to sleep on time to start the process all over again.

So, when do we spend time together?  There are evenings we spend chatting about our day, but weekends are really important times for us too.

However, it's often during the time spouses spend apart that the most damage can be done to a marriage.  It's vital that we guard our hearts and minds against the enemy not only when we are with our spouse, but also when we are away from him/her.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.  Proverbs 4:23

These are just a few thoughts on how we have tried to guard our marriage and to keep each other front and center in our hearts and minds.  The Lord has blessed our marriage and prayerfully, He will continue to do so.  Jeff and I never say "never" because once we do that...we are even more susceptible to pride and a fall. 
Flirting is not an acceptable practice for anyone who is married.  If you're going to flirt with someone, let it be your own spouse!  There is great danger to a marriage relationship when a spouse, husband or wife, begins to flirt “harmlessly” with another person.  It’s not harmless.  It’s hurtful.  Even if your wife or husband isn’t witnessing the flirting, it is still damaging the marriage relationship because by flirting, you are slowly giving pieces of your heart away to someone other than your spouse.  Affair-proof your marriage by giving only your husband or wife all the praise, compliments and sweet thoughts you have to offer.

Guard your heart.  Your husband or wife should be the first person with whom you share your hearts desires, hurts, or secrets.  A woman should never share her heart with another man and a man should not confide in a woman other than his wife.  Protect your marriage relationship by giving your spouse exclusive insight into who you are as a person.  Proverbs 31:11-12 says, “The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.  She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.”  Do your spouse good and guard your heart only to be shared completely with them.  The verse talks about the wife and how she is good to her husband, but it should work both ways in a marriage relationship. 

Set boundaries.  My husband and I both agree that we need to be careful of how other people perceive situations.  So, we have determined this:  if I am home and my husband is not, no man can enter our home without him present.  It works the opposite way too.  If he is home and I am not, no woman can enter our home if I’m not present.  Why give the neighbors something to talk about?  We are to flee even the perception of evil if possible.  I Thessalonians 5:22 tells us, “Abstain from all appearance of evil.”  We would do well to make sure our actions wouldn’t allow even a shred of doubt to enter our spouses’ mind.  (Exceptions to this might be close family members, but that is something you and your spouse should determine together.)

Be honest with one another.  Is there someone of the opposite sex within your circle of friends to whom you might be attracted?  We are all human and even when we are in a solid and loving marriage relationship, we are all going to be tempted at one time or another.  If this happens, be honest with your spouse.  It may be that you’ll have to cease having a friendship with that person, if either of you feel it is a possible threat to your marriage.  Your spouse should be a priority in your life and your heart.  Don’t allow anyone outside of that to pose even a possible threat to your marriage relationship.  This may be very difficult, especially if you are faced with talking to that person and explaining why the friendship has to end, but isn't your spouse worth more than a friendship with another person?

Stay away from movies and books that might cause you to stumble.  Even "Christian" romance novels can leave a woman feeling lonely and wanting!  Keep these influences far from you so that you're not walking around wondering why your husband doesn't do this and that or say this and that or buy you this and that.  I confess, I love a chick flick just as much as the next person!  But, try to keep your marriage in perspective, realizing that your husband is unique and precious for who he is and that you fell in love with him for many reasons.  

Make a list - reasons you love your husband - and post it somewhere you can see it often.  Include on that list his character qualities you love, his strengths, and perhaps even his weaknesses.  We can love those about our spouse too!  Perhaps place it inside your Bible or inside a cabinet that only you see. 

Go on dates together.  Make sure you and your spouse go on dates regularly.  A husband and wife can live in the same house and “see” each other often, but never really connect in heart, mind, and body.  Be sure to get away now and then to renew your marriage relationship in every sense!  Bed and breakfasts are a great place to visit and just spend time together talking, relaxing, napping, shopping, or whatever your heart desires.  Just make sure to pack things like candles, matches, romantic music, a CD player, a fancy negligee, and some rose petals too.

Every marriage relationship goes through a valley now and then.  It is during those times that a husband or wife is more vulnerable to compliments or attention from someone of the opposite sex.  Be careful!  Realize that you’re vulnerable and flee the situation as soon as possible.

No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.  1 Corinthians 10:13

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My best to you today!