Shield your marriage from the enemy!!!
This something we wish we would have known starting out in our marriage. We became aware of it a few years in and were so grateful for this bit of advice. When we got married, we were young and just thought our young love could overcome all obstacles. Well it can, if you're armed with the right weapons. So we thought it'd be helpful for us to share some of our weapons with you that we have used throughout the years to shield our marriage from certain attacks!
- Side hugs are your friends! (Seriously! Allen has always practiced this well and it makes me feel so honored. Even when he hugs other female family members, he never embraces them close...it's a quick hug and a big ole pat on the back - hahaha- and then movin right along. To some this seems no big deal but to us it's important. We are the only ones -of the opposite sex- who we embrace closely...other than our parents and our own siblings. This does a few things for our relationship: A. It honors each other and B. It never gives someone else the opportunity to get the wrong idea.)
- Be careful of letting someone other than your spouse connect emotionally with you (Highway to the Danger zone!🎶). This is a big one yall! Emotional ties can be super dangerous! It's a slippery slope from being a listening ear for someone of the opposite sex to ending up in a relationship with them. Again, Allen practices this well also. He once had a girl pouring out her heart to him at work (shortly after we got married). Fortunately he had been made aware of that danger via a mentor, and he recognized the signs. He purposely decided to be unavailable when she was near and avoided talking to her. In addition, he told me about it which just added one more safety measure - accountabiltity. Our post on Honesty Breeds Intimacy discusses that a bit more as well. So, this may all sound crazy and his co-worker may have thought him rude, but our marriage was more important to him than what some part-time co-worker thought of him. Yep! I felt honored for sure! On my part (Carol's), I try to be careful not to "vent" to other men, other than my husband...not even family members (other than my Dads, of course. Haha).
- Break any ties - emotional, physical, or spiritual with former romantic relationships..don't look back, you're not going that way. Even if you believe nothing will come of it and you believe you're strong enough to handle it, it's not worth the risk and again, its one more way to honor your spouse.
- Don't entertain thoughts of the "D" word (divorce)...the grass is NOT greener on the other side. Yes, God can bring restoration and redemption and "beauty from ashes" from a divorce, but its not His ultimate, beautfiul plan, and getting to that redemptive part is so much harder than just pushing thru the hard times with your spouse. For more on that, see our post about Be An Oak.
- Never be alone, if at all possible, with a member of the opposite sex in a car or a secluded room. We know this is not always possible but if it can at all be avoided, it's a good policy. Allen has a policy that he will not ride in a car alone (especially on a business trip) with any other female, other than his wife. This is not only to avoid any kind of temptation but also to avoid any potential false accusations or rumors that could be started.
- Brag on your spouse...especially if you're talking to someone of the opposite sex. We find ourselves often bragging on each other to other people we encounter- at work, at the store, at church, etc. If your talking about how amazing your spouse is, and there just may happen to be a little spark between you and that person - or even if not - that's a pretty good way to snuff it out!
- Focus on the positive - It's so easy to get annoyed with each other and focus on how the other is not meeting your needs, but try to turn that around and remember that neither of you are perfect, and there's always something good about your spouse (otherwise you wouldn't have married him/her). A great way to do this is to make a list of 10 things you love about your spouse, or 10 small ways they love you. Come on now...there has to be at least 10. LOL
Now for the nitty gritty: We would highly encourage you to read this post (and the other posts) with your spouse and discuss what you're currently doing to shield your marriage, what you need to begin practicing for your marriage (on the lists above or elsewhere), and if there's anything going on that you need to stop! Then be honest with your spouse, so that it's no longer a secret and then it can begin to diminish the threat to your marriage. Oh, and side note: be sure to be a safe place for your spouse as they share with you! Stay tuned for a post on that another day (something else we have learned along the journey).
We believe in you and your marriage! We know God has equipped you to do the hard work it takes to have a beautfiul relationship with each other. Don't take the easy road. The prize is worth the price!
Cheering you on,
Allen & Carol