Safeguarding Your Marriage (6-11-18)
No one ever walks into a marriage expecting it to fail. At least, no one with whom I have ever spoken has done this. As you plan your wedding and go through premarital counseling, your focus is on all of the excitement that comes with committing your life to your soon-to-be spouse. You are zeroing in on your fiancé's best qualities and dreaming of the life you will spend together. The possibilities of what the two of you can accomplish as one unit are endless and you can't wait to step into the journey.
Not many people sit down and talk about what happens when temptation creeps into the relationship. No one discusses ways they can protect themselves from falling into the trap of infidelity, pornography addictions, and secret-keeping. The reason is because this is the greatest fear of every single married person. I think another reason is because many of us are somewhat blinded by our love for each other and we can't imagine ourselves, especially, ever falling into one of those traps.
My husband and I spoke of this to some extent in our premarital counseling sessions with our pastor before we got married, but I don't think we really took a hard look at this until we had been married for about 2 years. Some men began opening up to my husband about their addictions to pornography. Mind you, some of these men had seemingly perfect marriages with their spouses. We also were made aware of several cases of infidelity within marriages that we had really looked up to formerly.
We saw marriage after marriage struggle from falling into these traps. Many of them overcame these challenges, but not all of them. We sat down one night and had a really long heart-to-heart discussion about these issues and what we could do to prevent anything like this from ever happening in our own relationship. As much as I trust my husband and he trusts me, no person is exempt from failing in any area. As soon as you start to feel comfortable in your relationship, the Devil will place something in your way to try and get you off track.
Most moral failures don't happen overnight either. Most of them are a slow process of being weakened and chipped away. In most situations, a husband and wife will grow apart without realizing it. The busy-ness of life gets in the way of spending quality time together. Slowly they grow apart and begin filling their needs with ‘innocent’ conversation or Internet browsing. It builds from there and before either party realizes what has happened, their marriage is in turmoil and all trust has been completely shattered.
Keith and I took a deep look into our own relationship. We pinpointed areas that could potentially be a channel to weaken or harm our marriage. Some of these may seem over-the-top to some people, but I live by the quote "better safe than sorry" when it comes to marriage and family. We came up with a few safeguards for our own marriage to which we would adhere. Here is the list we came up with:
- Implement an Internet browsing filter.
- Eliminate movies with any form of nudity.
- We do not go out to coffees or lunches with any person of the opposite sex alone.
- Disclose all eMail and social media passwords to each other.
- Create a safe environment to speak the truth to one another.
- Take time to pray together every night.
Here are my reasons for each:
- Use of Internet browsing filters: Keith and I chose Covenant Eyes, not because we had a problem with viewing inappropriate content online, but because it is just WAY too easy to do if we are ever in a place of vulnerability. Covenant Eyes sends us a weekly report of each other's Internet activity. It notifies us of any website that was viewed above the maturity level we have set for our desktop computer, tablets, and phones. It is simply an accountability website that allows there to be no doubts or questions.
- Removing movies with nudity from our watch list: We chose this because film desensitizes us to images and can cause us to objectify the beautiful human body that God has given us. God created man and woman to have the most intimate of relationships through marriage. Viewing films that portray people unashamedly exposing their bodies devalues what God has called good and it can easily cause insecurity within the marriage.
- Do not go out to coffees or lunches with any person of the opposite sex alone: We chose this because, first of all, it can cause people to talk and assume something is going on when it really isn't, and secondly, it can put one in an awkward situation where one person gets the wrong idea of the time together. We have many friends who are of the opposite sex, but we don't allow it to go anywhere beyond a friendship. I don't go to my guy friends with my frustrations pertaining to my husband and neither does he go to his female friends. It can be way too easy to get into a deep conversation with another person when there is no one else present and there is always the potential to form an emotional bond which can, over time, lead to something worse. Most affairs start with an emotional connection between two friends that then escalates into a sexual affair.
- We disclose all eMail and social media passwords to each other: This is basically so that there is never any question to whom we are speaking and what we are spending our time doing. Social media opens up an entirely new arena for people to misuse the Internet. Don't get me wrong, as we love our Facebook and Instagram accounts. It's a great way for us to keep in touch with our friends from all over the world and it can be an awesome tool for marketing and communication, but it can definitely be used for wrong situations as well. My husband and I both have had people contact us through social media with extremely wrong motives that we did nothing to initiate. Honestly, I think it's very rare that we would ever check each other’s accounts, but we have made them available to each other for the sake of transparency.
- Create a safe environment to speak the truth to one another: This one is a process - I'm not going to lie. This takes listening to each other without judgement. It means that when one party speaks their truth, the other party can't react, but they need to respond. It takes self-control, understanding, and patience to have a safe space. There have been many times that one of us has shared something that was on our heart or burdening us, and the other has reacted with anger and bitterness. Immediately when that happens, walls go up and block further conversation that could have brought healing and a closer bond to one another. This one takes practice and a whole lot of self-control.
- Take time to pray together every night: We chose to do this because it's really hard to go before God together when there is something coming between you and your spouse. It's much harder to lie to an all-knowing God than it is to tell your spouse a lie. It's hard to bring your day before God when you know that you mistreated your spouse in some way, shape or form. This holds us accountable and keeps us rooted in our purpose as a married couple.
Maybe some of these safe-guards still sound ridiculous to you even after I shared my reasons for each, but we have set them in place because we love each other way too much to take any chances. I have seen too many marriages fail because caution was thrown to the wind and people thought they weren't ever going to be weak enough to fall into the trap of infidelity. I would like to believe that I would never even consider crossing that line, but I don't know what stones life will throw at Keith and me in the next 5, 10 or 20 years. We love each other like crazy, and we have so much respect for one another, but as I stated earlier, these things don't happen overnight. It typically happens after a long time of slowly letting down your guard and taking small steps in the wrong direction.
I really believe that marriage is the most amazing earthly relationship in which two people can be involved. It deserves the conversation on how to keep it safe. The greatest things in life normally come through hard work and commitment, and marriage takes both of those, but it is so rewarding. If you can find some time alone with your spouse this week to talk and connect, I would encourage you to take the time to discuss safe-guarding your marriage. It can only help strengthen what you already have.
Thank you for taking the time to read this. I pray that this has resonated with you and encouraged you!