Monday, September 15, 2014

Protect Your Marriage

As a new wife, I have found myself hearing about other marriages that are struggling and my heart absolutely breaks for them. Whether it is a close friend or a blog I come across online, it breaks my heart to learn that marriages all around are suffering and people are fighting to just stay married. Before I met my husband, marriage itself kind of terrified me. All I have ever seen around me are marriages that have failed, and I struggled with fear that eventually, everyone would leave. God has done an incredible work in my heart over the past five years, healing some raw, tender areas from my past, and now I am married to a man that is patient, gracious and selfless who I know is in it for the long haul.

I have a confession to make though: When I have heard of certain marriage struggles like adultery for example, I have been extremely prideful thinking to myself "That would NEVER happen in my marriage. Neither of us would ever cheat on each other." And while I believe that is true to a point, I woke up in the middle of the night with a thought repeating over and over in my head. Protect your marriage.

No one, no couple is above any sin. We are humans who are inherently sinful, and I believe that the enemy will make every attempt to hinder a marriage that is bringing honor and glory to God. At any time, we could fall victim to the enemy who will play on our weakest and most vulnerable areas to cause harm to ourselves and our marriage. In the Bible Jesus says about Satan "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." [John 10:10] Because of this, I think as wives, we have an important responsibility to protect our marriages.

P R A Y  F O R  Y O U R   M A R R I A G E

First and foremost, I think the most important thing we can do is pray for protection over our marriage. I pray for my husband daily, and recently, I've started asking God to just protect our marriage as well. I ask God to protect us from our own selfish and sinful ways, for protection against the schemes of the enemy, and for him to break down any strongholds on sin in our life that is keeping us from true intimacy. Rachel wrote an amazing post about how to pray for your husband that is full of wisdom and things to pray for each day.

S E T   A S I D E   T I M E    TO   C O N N E C T

Its very easy for us to fall into the trap of waking up, going to work, going off to our evening plans which are many times separate with me babysitting at night, and then falling asleep to the TV each night. If we let that pattern continue, we would easily go days or weeks without really sitting down and having time to talk and connect with each other. It is important for couples to have consistent time to be together without the distraction of phones, TV, computers, etc and really touch base about whats going on. I've talked here about our Saturday morning checkups which I admit, we have slacked at doing over the past busy months, but its something we are going to implement again. Another idea is to sit at the dinner table with the TV off and phones away, or to shut off the TV before we go to sleep so we can talk instead.

P R A C T I C E   H E A L T H Y   B O U N D A R I E S

Boundaries are something that may feel too much like a rule, but by setting them, you are protecting your marriage and respecting your husband. Each couple is going to have different boundaries and there isn't a right or wrong formula for the perfect boundaries to protect a marriage. An example of a great boundary for us is that when Ronnie gets emails from other females at church, one of them always copies me on it. It is a really respectful and thoughtful act that isn't "required" and its not a rule, it just is one way of being transparent with each other that leaves no room for questions. Andy Stanley did a great series called Love, Sex & Dating which he talked about some other boundaries like never riding in a car alone with another female or going out to restaurants alone with females, even if it was work related. Maybe these seem extreme for your situation and thats okay-the important thing is to figure out what would make your spouse feel uncomfortable and how could you ease that. Is it just a communication thing, like letting them know you who you're with so they are in the loop? Boundaries are going to be different for everyone, but could go a long way in protecting your marriage.

R E S O L V E   C O N F L I C T   W I T H  G R A C E

The most important principle in our marriage is grace. Its forgiving each other even when we are deeply hurt. There is a difference between forgiveness though and brushing off or avoiding conflict. Sometimes in order to avoid conflict we brush things under the rug, thinking that means we are being really forgiving and full of grace. But unresolved conflict can build walls between you and your spouse, and each little imperfection can start to chip away causing us to be bitter and resentful.  I think its important to be able to discuss what ever hurt you with your spouse, and they should feel the same freedom to discuss that with you. Its important to have an attitude of grace and forgiveness and do this in a way that isn't attacking but bringing to their attention how their actions made you feel. If you are on the receiving end of a talk like this, its easy to want to defend yourself or turn it around and focus on what your spouse did that made you act the way you did, but by listening and truly being remorseful that your spouse was hurt, you can break down the barriers that chip away at marriages.

Have you ever thought about the need to protect your marriage? What things do you do to protect it if so?

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