Back when I was a young blushing bride at only twenty one years old, someone gave me the most incredible piece of marital advice. I did not realize at the time how incredibly it would sustain and protect the intimacy of our union. Moreover, I had no idea, how it would continue to build our friendship and become one of the 5 ways to protect your marriage, that my husband and I have clung to over twelve years of married life.
#1. Don’t Be a Gossip
One older married spouse approached me with a seasoned ‘marital tip’. They offered it casually. But for me, it was so starkly against unconventional that I cleaved to it. That piece of advice stuck in my head and it changed my marital viewpoint for good.
They said, “Don’t be a gossip. Don’t go railing about each other to someone else, only to make up the next day and forget how you gossiped about your life partner. Take the time to listen and work it out together. People judge. Keep things close.”
That was mind blowing to me. I had only ever heard spouses say negative things about each other TO other people. Wow. And I am thankful every day we followed that advice.
Here’s the point. Everyone has a bad day. Sometimes we have a rough year. Marriage is messy and beautiful and hard and SO rewarding all at the same time. Never let an argument turn into a bitter seed by chewing on it with someone outside your marital circle.
Why? Because if the person is not your spouse, and you unload a bag of “I can’t believe my significant other did this” on them…you are hurting your marriage. When that confidant cares for you, they will eventually get a tainted and obscure picture of who your spouse actually is…especially if they only hear the negative.
Why would that matter? Well the opinions of others may not matter, but when you continually speak negativity about your significant other, three things happen.
3 Things that Happen:
- You lose confidence in your spouse through your words. Yep. Words matter. Mind set matters. And it affects how you relate to them, when you constantly “vent” about the challenges you face being married to them. It hurts YOU more than them or the person listening.
- You paint an inaccurate picture that does not tell the whole story. Are there two sides to every argument? Inarguably so. Running and spilling the beans to justify yourself only damages your marriage. The very people who care about you cannot help but see your spouse in an obscured light. Does their opinion matter? Maybe not. But, think about how you would like to be talked about. Speak that way.
- You forget who your partner is. That ‘three legged race’ at carnivals comes to mind. You are in this together. When you first run to someone else to get you through the race, you are not cleaving to the individual tied to you. You are screaming out to the people passing you by to help you ‘deal with’ the person you’re attached to. Fight to work it out together first and foremost. It protects your intimacy. Indeed we are ALL just broken people, climbing towards growth. Be realistic about fault and better yet…eliminate the ‘blame game’ altogether.
And for all those who think I am talking about “silence in abuse” , that is the furthest thing from what I am talking about. If someone is crushing your spirit, body, mind or soul…seek help immediately.
I am also not speaking about “seeking counsel”. Gaining understanding in a marriage through wise counselling is highly valued. This can infuse a marriage with love and protection. However, be sure you seek someone trustworthy and in union and openness with your spouse, not behind their back. That will continue to build and protect your marriage.
#2 Adore Your Spouse
Get ready to eye-roll ‘humans of practicality’. When I met my husband, it was literally “Love at first sight”. I cannot spell out for you how we knew we belonged together but I know God had His hands all over our love story. Barely speaking the same language, we married within four months of meeting each other. There were whispers of “secret pregnancy” (complete nonsense) and “They’ll never last”, but I don’t blame those who could not understand. It was unconventional. It did look “odd”. But if my husband had proposed to me the day we met, I would have said “yes”. And I mean that very frankly. Sometimes, in the rare curls of time and circumstance, two souls recognize their companion. We did.
One thing we took in stride over the years was all the advice and warnings of “falling out of love” with each other. We would thank them, and grin at each, because we had a secret. That was not going to be our fate. We absolutely adored each other. And we made a point to act out our adoration every single day.
When people would tease and jibe Yvan about ‘losing interest in me’, he would respond the same way every time, “I love my wife”. So much so that he bought a shirt saying “I love My Wife”, so people would pester him less. And he gushes about me to this day without ceasing, despite my protests.
For him? I would do anything. He holds my highest esteem and greatest joy. The greatest gift I knew I could give him were children. So I happily reproduced seven precious products of our lasting love.
The adoration begins, first with worship of our loving Father in the morning. We are not ‘unawares’ that He brought us together. And it continues on in a million little moments, of kisses and teasing and making each other our favourite food.
A marriage filled with adoration is like ‘eating well’ or any other habit you create with purpose. It happens continually, in proactive, intentional ways every day forever.
I think when we are so used to ‘speaking our truth’ in today’s world we forget how little that actually builds someone up. Being Honest? 100%. But they way in which we are honest and truthful can be ‘cutting’ if we forget the person we love most deserves our respect.
Have they earned it? Have you? What does it mean to earn respect in someone you are intimate with?
Is it consistently taking out the garbage? Is it being what they need most when they need it? Or perhaps in how we speak…
Speak more LOVE. Let your respect come out in genuine compliments and beautiful words. WHY NOT?! If you have the opportunity to build and protect the most precious thing you have…will you? It does not have to be fancy language, just say something you value in them. Simple and sweet is better than convoluted.
There are attitudes we spread over the course of our day that add up to our life. The words we choose hold the heaviest weight in showing someone our respect. Words are a hard thing to choose, sometimes. But it is really worth the effort and time to choose wisely. Name calling has no place in 5 ways to protect your marriage.
Husbands, did you know your wife wants you to HEAR and acknowledge you care about her viewpoint? She does not necessarily want you to “fix” her. She does need to know you have eyes for no one else but her.
Wives did you know how you respond to your husband sexually speaks volumes of respect (or lack their of) to them? Having no interest, is a crippling blow. I am not talking hormones, and feelings and women’s rights…I am just speaking in and of itself. Your best friend, your partner, needs to feel wanted.
There are so many simple ways to show your spouse respect. If you pay attention, you can deeply bless your partner, in this loving way. Protect your marriage in showing respect.
#4. Keep Your Sights on Each Other
This ought to be obvious, but with all the infidelity and broken marriages in the world today, it is not always evident.
When you promised each other forever, you promised a LOT.
You also promised them to keep an eye on them. CARE about your spouse’s struggles, battles and triumphs. Be each other’s biggest fan and protector. Don’t let someone else take that place.
You promised that person would hold your most intimate trust. Protect your marriage by guarding that trust.
Infidelity through friendship (without being physical) is still infidelity. If someone holds a higher place in your heart and mind than your spouse, it rips at the very foundation of your marriage.
Am I saying you cannot have friends of the opposite sex? Of course not! But the place of “BEST” friend ought to be solely saved for the person you promised your life to. Protect your marriage and your friendship.
Yes. I am suggesting you and your spouse ought to be best friends. And that you should drive each other wild, so that no one else can hold a candle to you. Care more about your spouse than anything else…even your kids. Your kids will grow up and gain families of their own and you will have marriage in the wake of an empty nest. What you build today counts for tomorrow.
It works. And it is one of the 5 ways to protect your marriage.
#5 HAVE FUN
Do you know what makes me sad? When couples forget how critical it is to have a blast together.
Yvan and I are literally like little kids who just want to spend all our time together. He’s like my “Camp Boyfriend” still.
I want to sit beside him at every table.
He wants to hold my hand whenever it’s close.
We find every way we can to connect each day.
And our morning coffees are sacred.
Right down to the coffee mugs we drink them in.
Protect your marriage by having too much fun. Your memories will thank you later.
Here are a few fun ideas to do with your spouse TODAY:
- Put the kids to bed early and light a fire. Roast marshmallows.
- This is a ‘no-brainer’ but make love often. Like as often as you can. Plan for it if you have to. Don’t rush things.
- Make a “Bucket-list” of things to do in your marriage together (ie: Bike trips, visit Rome, hike more often).
- Do one special thing together EVERY DAY. Ours is our “coffee” where we chat and cuddle and laugh together. It may not be a full blown date but it happens EVERY SINGLE DAY.
- Date each other at home. This is really under-valued. You do not have to “escape” to have an amazing evening. Buy fancy food and cook it for each other. Buy each other a small gift.
- HERE are some more wonderful ideas for FUN with your spouse!
Excellent article! There is so much truth in it. It makes me think of an excellent sermon about marriabe by Voddie Baucham (I don’t remember the title unfortunately), but there was a phrase I remember that spoke to me. It resume in… No matter what , God commands us to love our spouse. Because no matter what our excuses, we are still commade to love our neighbor and even our enemy, so we can get out of it (not talking about abuse here as we could love from a distance if necessary). It was said with humor, to say that we never have a reason to not love and love should be reflecting the love of Christ. Nothing is too broken if we accept to be broken together beforeChrist (like the song says).