Recently, someone asked me the question: “How can I protect my marriage?” It forced me to consciously list, and mentally check up on myself, for the things I knew I should be doing to protect my own marriage. Apart from the obvious “Don't cheat on your spouse”, here are 10 practical ways to protect your marriage starting today.
- Pray for your marriage and for your spouse. – Pretty simple right? But often neglected. No one wants the success of your marriage more than God, because a good marriage between born-again Christians gives a good testimony to the world of the love of God in action. Commit your spouse and your marriage to the Lord every day.
- Put their needs above your own. – Easier said than done. But it can be done. Romans 12:10 speaks of love for a brother or sister in Christ, but if you can prefer them, all the more, the Lord can help you prefer your husband/wife. Their physical, emotional, sexual and spiritual needs. Even when you are exhausted or have a headache (Ahem!) God's grace can help you to meet their needs, as He has called you to do (I Thessalonians 5:24).
- Be honest, and respectful to each other always. – There is no greater pain than dishonesty or disrespect from the one closest and dearest to you.
- Learn their language of apology and be quick to ask forgiveness. This book has been a great tool for teaching us to do this.
- Forgive – Forgiveness means when I forgive my spouse I treat him/her just as if they'd never sinned. I don't hold that offense against them any more. I don't continue to bring it up or use it against them.
- Have a safe place to discuss differences. – Designate the porch swing, a certain fence post on the property, a certain restaurant downtown or somewhere for a “safe place” for discussing differences or working out problems. Once you've agreed on a place, don't bring it up elsewhere, and especially be careful not to make your bedroom the “disagreement place”.
- Become a student of your spouse. – People change with the passing of time. The person you married 10 or 15 years ago, will not be the same today as he/she was then. Their beliefs, goals, interests, and many other things have probably changed. And we should want and expect them to! It is not healthy to remain the same forever, we must all continue to grow and change. But neither is it healthy to treat your spouse as if they are the person they once were. We must continue to study, talk to, ask questions of our spouse. To have and to hold and to guard their heart, you must know their heart.
- Resolve not to allow porn into your marriage for any reason. – For a great resource, read this post by Heidi St. John
- Learn their love language, and use it often.
- Make dating a habit. – Even if it's just 30 minutes a week, make time for each other to be alone and concentrated on each other. Take a walk, run an errand, sit on the porch after kids are in bed… it looks different for every couple in every season of life, but you should never stop dating!
Now it is your turn! In what ways do you protect your marriage?