Sunday, January 11, 2009

Tips for protecting your marriage

The last few months have been amazing for my dh and I. The 6 months or so preceeding, were pretty awful. We have always had a pretty good marriage. We laugh together, we joke a lot, we work as a team pretty well. But i have to tell you, it takes very very little to GRADUALLY start things down the wrong path. Husbands and wives have very different but very important needs, and when one is neglected, it can turn into a slippery slope that has the potential to end up someplace you never dreamed it could.

1. Respect your role. Wives, be submissive to your husbands, Husbands, love your wives like Christ loved the church. Wives, even if you have a valid concern and even if your husband is quite obviously WRONG, guard against the instinct you will have to fight against him. It just can't go anywhere good. NOT only will you LOSE the argument at hand, if you make wrong choices, and behave badly, then you will not only LOSE the argument, you will also trash your marriage. Take your concerns to the Lord, HE is the only one who really truly understands you and HE is the ONLY one you can trust WHOLLY.

2. Take time together. Relationships require SO much time, love and attention... Think of how you feel toward an old friend you haven't talked to in ages who has changed a lot. You don't know them anymore! Don't make that mistake with your marriage! KNOW your spouse, take every opportunity to sit and talk together about meaningful things! Make date nights a priority, maybe get up early and eat breakfast together, or stay up late and pray together before bed. Don't neglect the physical aspect of your relationship. A GREAT sexual relationship does WONDERS for building up other aspects of your relationship.

3. Do NOT put your children first in priority. This is so hard. Falling in love with your children is inevitable and wonderful. Its so crucial to remain attached at parent your children in such a way that they know they are loved and valued. But that can be done without being at the expense of your spouse! He needs you too! And someday it will just be the two of you (HOPEFULLY!) You want to be able to talk, and relate and be friends with each other.

4. GUARD your heart. I know, you probably think you would NEVER cheat on your spouse. Believe me, I did too. And i didn't physically, but i DID emotionally.
And let me tell you, there is NO difference. It is just as devastating to your family regardless. KNOW yourself well enough to know your triggers, know your weakness. I always assumed that because i didn't have lust issues, IE. look at a good looking guy and feel lustful, that i was not even a candidate for this. What i didn't realize is that my personality is such that i am drawn to personality. I was drawn to a regular looking guy, because he was compassionate and kind, and giving. I, being a compassionate nurturing, interpersonal type person, was eager to be there for a male friend who seemed lonely. BAD idea. Watch out for friendships with the opposite gender. Its playing with fire. Its NOT worth your marriage. And you know what else? It's NOT worth the damage to your own psyche that ensues either. I think as married people, we tend to forget what getting your heart broken feels like. But "I" can't forget. Because its so fresh and so raw, STILL, months later. And being such a complicated situation, on soooooo many levels, its THAT much worse than when you are still a kid.

5. If you discover you have NOT guarded your heart well, and something happens, STOP it. WHATEVER is going on, no matter how small, if it feels wrong to you, it absolutely is. Don't doubt yourself, don't continue the path you are traveling, do whatever you can to break ties with the person with whom you have an inappropriate relationship. Do NOT give in to thoughts that lead you to believe you could have a future with this person. You will NOT. A teeny tiny percentage of remarraiges based on affairs succeed. That's because when one person leaves their spouse for another, its seldom because they are TRULY incompatible. Usually you have a wound in yourself that needs to be healed, you can't fix that by seeking to be filled by another person. Come clean to your spouse, allow him to help you decide how to best handle the situation. Ask him to please be your covering, to be your protection in every way. To help you guard your heart, to help you prevent yourself from being in wrong situations, to love you and cherish you and help you to know you are loved. If his covering over you is strong, you can withstand SO much.

Finally, keep in the forefront of your mind that your marriage is far more than a contract. It is a covenant. It is intended to be strong and powerful and beautiful and eternal. If yours has become floppy and weak and flimsy, you need to strengthen it, NOT tear it down. If you ask God to help you, He WILL and you can take that floppy sad excuse for a thing, and turn it into something strong and proud and beautiful that will stand, and will reinforce you and your husband as you work to strengthen it, and build each other up in the process. But this can only happen if you have the humility to take whatever steps are needed. You can't be prideful and selfish and expect anything to change. SOMEONE has to be the one who gives MORE. It will never ever be a perfect 50/50 split. Why not you? When i was in that bad situation, earlier this year, i would constantly remind myself what a JERK dh was, what he was doing wrong, why HE was shooting himself in the foot and wrecking our marriage. But in the back of my mind i kept having this nagging feeling of "But aren't I the one who's supposed to help him when he's acting stupid? Aren't I the one who knows him BEST and can most effectively help him out of a rut? And i was totally right. I AM the one who is supposed to be there for him and recognize when things are not right for him, and be there to give him a hug and tell him I love him anyway. The thing is, there will always be struggles in life. And its US against the world, NOT me against him. I hope that anyone reading who is having issues might be able to apply the lessons I've learned in my life to avoid having to learn them personally.

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