Over the past few years, I am seeing more and more marriages of couples and friends around me falling apart. It’s one thing to see it in my practice as a Licensed Professional Counselor, because I work with couples in strained and hurting marriages all the time. But it’s a totally different thing when I see it impacting my friends and family.
Couples who have been married as short as 12 months- trying to weather the storm of human nature, all battling the elements that tear marriages apart, and many times failing. It breaks my heart to see the suffering that comes from a broken marriage, and the devastating effects it has when a once united body is torn apart in two by the jaws of divorce.
It makes sense that God hates divorce. He, more than anyone else, sees the pain it brings to his people.
It is crucial to protect our marriages from the things that can tear it apart. On the day we were married, John and I were reminded of this truth as the pastor who married out pulled out a few nursery blocks from his pocket. He went on to explain the symbolic lesson behind each shape- diamond, circle, and triangle. But the one lesson that has stayed with me the most is the importance of the Circle.
The circle represents boundaries. It is the wall of protection surrounding your relationship. The barrier that keeps deadly intruders from finding a way in. And like it or not, intruders are all around. They can take on so many forms that if we’re not careful, they will find a crack in our walls and slowly seep in.
In an attempt to guard our marriage from Intruders, my husband and I have been deliberate in keeping a circle around our lives that belongs only to us. Our marriage is our sacred space, and there are certain components to each other that only we have access to. We have been careful to protect the things that could easily lead us into the way of an intruder:
Emotions: Before anything else in an inappropriate relationship comes the root of emotion. It’s important to guard ourselves from interactions that give to someone else a part of us that belongs to our spouse. Obviously, we need to have great caution when sharing our hearts with someone of the opposite gender, because there are parts of us that are “magnetic” when shared with the heart of another, and should be shared with no one but our spouse. There are certain conversations that I choose to partake in ONLY with my husband, and he with me.
But even more subtlety dangerous, I have found there to be truth in this matter even when it comes to same sex relationships. Women, in particular, love to connect on a deeper level, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem comes when those interactions are taking the place of the depths of connection that we are meant to have with our spouse. Sometimes, even venting to our friends about our marriage can be enough of an out to keep us from “venting” to our husbands. A lot of communication between spouses is lost because it is finding it’s way out through other relationships. It’s important to be proactive about connecting with your spouse, sharing your heart, your feelings, your dreams. We are created to connect, so we will either bring that need to our spouse or allow it to be filled by intruders.
Interactions: My husband and I are very deliberate about the choices we make when it comes to interacting with the world around us. From what comes out of our mouths, to what we write in emails, to the way we handle our body language – we make a choice to honor each other in everything that we do when we’re interacting with others, specifically those of the opposite sex. We have built a trust with one another, a trust that started from the first day that we met.
Because of that trust, we have full access to each others lives as well as anything that has to do with interactions with other people including passwords, emails, text messages, computers, conversations, etc. etc. The trust that we have with each other comes with certain responsibilities, but that trust also allows us to share in an intimate freedom with one another that far outweighs the sacrifices and responsibilities.
Time: This is the quietest of intruders, but one that is ravaging many homes because of it’s silent entrance. Our time is a valuable commodity that should be invested in the people that we love and cherish the most, and given to those who we are committed to. For us, we choose to invest our time in each other.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m up for the occasional ladies night and John has his time to connect with his friends, but when the two of us are available, we do our best to use that time to connect with each other and instead use our “free time” to connect with our friends. This takes some extra work, some looking ahead at schedules, some planning and preparation. But it allows us to use our time for each other to the best of our ability and to put each other first.
Although even if you are together every moment, that doesn’t protect you from the Intruder of Time. Time can slip away with your separate hobbies and interests. You can be in the same room, but find that the time you are spending is really not being invested in each other at all. With all the modern distractions of Facebook, Pinterest, Reality TV, and yes….even blogging…you can find that your time is being given to the inanimate in exchange for the intimate.
Protecting your marriage from intruders is a daily task. We’ve really worked to be mindful of these things for the past 8 years, and we pray that God will continue to keep us on guard…always protecting, always trusting, always hoping, and always persevering in our marriage and in our love. Because a healthy marriage never happens by mistake – it always takes planning, preparing, protecting.
I pray the same for you as well.
[Love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Debra Fileta is a Professional Counselor, speaker, and author of the book True Love Dates: Your Indispensable Guide to Finding the Love of Your Life, where she writes candidly about dating, relationships, and how to find true love. You may also recognize her voice from her 150+ articles at Relevant Magazine or Crosswalk.com! She’s also the creator of this True Love Dates Blog! Connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!
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