Years ago I was guest teaching at a small Bible College. My friend, a full-time professor there, had done the unthinkable. He had left his wife and literally run away with one of the students. It was a major moral disaster for his marriage, his family, the girl and the Bible school. I began to think about what to do to protect your marriage.
Here we are at church a few weeks ago.
As I write this, Carolyn and I are about to celebrate our 37th anniversary (on August 4, 2016). I’m so thankful that we’ve never had such a horrible marital crisis as this couple. Why didn’t we? One big reason is that we have implemented simple yet powerful protections.
How can you protect your marriage? How can you make sure nothing like this ever happens to you?
Here are 4 simple yet powerful ways to protect your marriage:
01. Be very careful about outside male-female friendships.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)
Carolyn and I have best friends: hers are female, mine are male.
We hear about couples who have best friendships of the opposite sex that end in disaster. It’s almost proverbial that marriages are often obliterated when a spouse runs off with a best friend.
Affairs don’t incubate and hatch in 5 minutes. There’s a “courting” period. Thus, the further we stay away from any potential of incubation, the safer our marriages will be.
To protect your marriage, be very careful about your outside relationships.
02. Try to avoid all appearance of evil.
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22 KJV)
Years ago when traveling with Josh McDowell we met a single church leader who had a large house. His girlfriend was living in one of the “other bedrooms.” Josh cited this verse as reason enough not to have a girlfriend living in the house, period. Although they claimed to be living separately, they were not avoiding “all appearance of evil.”
Of course, avoiding the appearance of evil is always a judgment call. Someone might think it is OK to have lunch out with a person of the opposite sex. Others might not.
How do we know what is appropriate? One great way is to ask your spouse and then accept the response without argument. Even better, ask the Lord. If your heart is humble and seeking Him, He will guide you into a wise course of action (James 1:5).
03. Don’t compare unless it’s a favorable comparison.
“There are many virtuous and capable women in the world, but you surpass them all!” (Proverbs 31:29 NLT)
“You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you.” (Song of Solomon 4:7 ESV)
I love how the writer of these passages praises his wife as the “best in the world” in whom there is “no flaw.” Were those conclusions based on scientific research? Of course not—it’s just opinion.
Likewise, in my opinion, my wife is the wisest and most beautiful woman in the world.
If you refuse to make unfavorable comparisons, your opinion will be the same. Simply the best.
The opposite is to compare and even verbally demean your spouse. That’s about the dumbest thing in the world to do. This includes say cutting things and are “just joking.”
But the problem isn’t just spoken words. The issue begins with our attitudes. Any attitude like “I could have done better,” and “now I’m stuck” or “I don’t know what I was thinking” has your marriage on dangerous grounds.
To protect your marriage, don’t compare your spouse unless you are making a favorable comparison.
04. Avoid slippery slopes.
As I write, Carolyn and I have our handyman Leonard in the backyard putting steps into the slope down our hill. Why? Because it is quite steep and every time we need to go to the bottom of our property, we slide and almost fall. It’s dangerous—someone could wrench their back or ever suffer broken bones.
In a similar way, there are slippery slopes in marriage we must carefully avoid.
Here are some examples:
Connecting with “old flames” on Facebook or other social media.
Flirting with the opposite sex.
Shows, movies and other entertainment with the outright or subtle message that “sexual relations outside of marriage are exciting and harmless.
”Sexual daydreaming and lust.
People say, “What’s the danger? It’s just entertainment, just fun. Don’t be so stodgy.”
Proverbs puts the danger in this way: “For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” (Proverbs 23:7a KJV)
Someone summarized this idea with this wise saying:
We sow a thought and reap an act;
We sow an act and reap a habit;
We sow a habit and reap a character;
We sow a character and reap a destiny.
It all begins with our thoughts. How do you get rid of the slippery slope of harmful thoughts? You practice “thought replacement.” You replace bad thoughts and temptation with good and helpful thoughts.
This is exactly what God’s Word says to do: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” (Philippians 4:8 ESV)
This year (2016) marks the halfway point of our marriage, 37 years (I’m shooting for 75!). How will we make it? It will take effort AND healthy habits like the 4 in this article. I pray that you will protect your marriage by following these 4 guidelines also.
For more help with building a happy marriage, check out these articles I have written:
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