[notice]A fortnightly column on marriage, family and relationships.[/notice]
There are many things that will come to threaten the sanctity of your relationship. When you make your wedding vows to your spouse you have no idea how good or bad circumstances will get in your marriage. We do not think of strategies we can implement to safeguard our relationship. But if we have anything of value we know to take protective measures to safeguard it. Whether it is a home or a car we go to great lengths to protect our possessions. We put burglar bars in houses; different kinds of doors and windows, roofs that minimise water leakage. We put alarm systems and tracking devices in cars and build garages to protect them from too much sunlight or rain.
People that have gone through a divorce list some of the following contributing factors: lack of communication, financial challenges, unmet sexual needs, in-laws, conflict management, work, and church activities. What I have found from counselling couples is that generally, these days, people are impatient with each other. They become irritated over small matters that then escalate to unmanageable levels.
Understand that you are different from your spouse and it is inevitable that you will have different ideas of how to approach situations. This may cause conflict. Focus on areas of strength and expertise and respect the other person in taking a lead in areas where they are more knowledgeable.
- Communicate your needs to your spouse. He or she cannot read your mind or guess what you want or when your needs are not being met. Sit down and talk it through. Do not go and tell your friends private details of your marriage. When you do that you are not protecting your love.
Because of the dangerous times that we live in we know that we have to implement security measures in our homes, schools or places of work. Violence and crime are everywhere and indeed it would be irresponsible not to provide security for your loved ones. As you would take precious care of the material things that you possess (car, house, furniture, and clothes) by putting measures in place to to protect them from being ruined by the elements, take care of your spouse. Protect your relationship from anything that will potentially destroy it.
As a family we have had our fair share of intruders coming into our home. In our 13 years of marriage we have at least three break-ins where thieves stole computers, televisions, laptops and money. As a result we tightened our security. What would have happened if we had put in these security measures before there was a break-in? Would we have lost our valuable assets? Some people use fancy security to scare off burglars: they have burglar bars, complicated alarm systems, they join the neighbourhood watch, have a security company patrol their area, have bodyguards. WE GO TO SUCH LENGTHS TO PROTECT OUR OUR MATERIAL POSSESSIONS BUT DO NOT PUT THE SAME AMOUNT OF EFFORT INTO THINKING ABOUT PROTECTING OUR RELATIONSHIPS.
In the natural — in the physical — we would not build a house without windows or doors because we know that when it rained our house would be ruined. We would not build a home without a roof because we would expose our family to the heat; to the rain. We would not buy a car if we didn’t know where to park it. A car that is left outside for a very long time will eventually be ruined. It would rust from too much sun. It will be damaged by too much rain. If it gets very cold it might struggle to start.
SO MANY OF US TREAT OUR RELATIONSHIPS WORSE THAN CARS; WORSE THAN OUR HOUSE WORSE THAN OUR MATERIAL THINGS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Any relationship that has no protection measures put around it will eventually be destroyed — too much cold, too much heat. When you are very cold to your spouse, when you do not give them any attention, when you do not make time for them, when you do not touch them, when you treat everybody else with respect except them, all these chip away at the beauty of your relationship until you have a colourless, rusty shell of a marriage. Take care to protect your marriage from potential destroyers — safeguard your marriage.
The divorce rate is high all around the world. What makes two people who were once so very much in love want to call it quits on their marriage? What makes one want to throw it all away, to close the door on their marriage? How does one’s object of desire, love and passion suddenly turn to enemy number 1? All of these pitfall are possible and will happen if you do not constantly check for threats to your marriage; if you do not put walls of protection around your relationships.
Below are some of the safeguarding measures we have learnt over the years:
- You must be intentional about being one. The Bible tells us in Matthew 19:5 and said: ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one.’ Have a vision as a family that you are working towards. Let this be your goal as a couple: that you will be one. People in your life must know that “Nothing comes between those two! They are one”.
- Commit to working it out together. The goal should not be to out-shout or outsmart each other in winning an argument but to find a solution to your problems. My husband gives a beautiful example of two people who are paddling a boat. If they are going in different directions the boat will not go anywhere but if they are paddling the boat in the same direction, that boat will reach their destination in no time.
- Depart from evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it. Actually seek ways to maintain peace in the home. It is not necessary to dissect every statement and comment your spouse makes but you should also not hide how you really feel because you do not want a fight. Pursuing peace is also about dealing with areas in your relationship that are not particularly pleasant.
- Treat your spouse the way you would want to be treated!!!!!! Be kind hearted. Make a commitment not to insult your spouse about anything. Make this your goal that you will edify with your words and if needs be speak the truth in love.
- Be quick to listen first before talking. So many people want to be the ones who are heard ALL the time without giving their spouse time to put their point across. Hear each other.
- Do not try to resolve a problem while you are both angry. If one spouse is angry they must calm down first before talking about the problem. Every time we tried to talk about a problem while we were both “boiling” it has never worked. All it does is make people say things they don’t mean, only to regret their words later. Calm down first and then tackle a problem TOGETHER! Focus on the problem and not the person. You are both fighting the situation and are trying to solve a problem.
- Make time for each other. Do not let your relationship be stagnant but be constantly finding fun ways to be together. Experience new things and places together. Try a different restaurant. Read a book together. Travel to different places together!!
- Do not harbour resentment and unforgivenes! This is where the enemy can get a foot in the door of your marriage. The more you dwell on a problem the more resentment and anger will well up in you that will make you want to fight your spouse.
- Be a blessing. Let your spouses feel that they are the most blessed people on the face of the earth for having you in their life. Make a goal on a daily basis to be a blessing. Go out of your way to try to please your spouse. This is your gift that God has given you for a lifetime. Treasure your spouse and let him or her know that you do!!
- Be accountable. One of the things I appreciate with my husband when he is away is when he gives me all his travelling and accommodation details. Communicate vital information. When you are going out to lunch at work tell your spouse. When you are about to drive with a member of the opposite sex tell your spouse. Do not have a friend of the opposite sex unless she or he is a friend to both of you. Be vigilant in prioritising your relationship even it means that you will have to unfriend some people. Wear your wedding ring; it tells others that you are committed to your vows and to your spouse.
- Have an interest in each other’s world. My husband is in tourism and environment. I accompany him, when time allows, in his travels to different places. My passion is the performing arts. As an actor one of my favourite places is the theatre. My husband accompanies me for a night at a theatre.
- Work out a realistic financial plan together. So many marriages dissolved as a result of the global economic crisis. They failed because people did not communicate their budgets together. Be transparent. Don’t have secret accounts.
- Be honest about kids if you have any before the marriage. Nothing can challenge a marriage like finding out about a child. With the child comes potential drama with their mother or father.
- Finally, spend time with the Holy Spirit. He will warn you when you are going into situations that would be dangerous for your marriage.
This past weekend I was watching Fireproof which is a popular film on marriage. In the film the couple is fighting about everything. The couple that was once in love now cannot stand the sight of each other. The father of the husband gives his son an assignment: for 40 days he has to do various things to show care and love to his wife. The wife wants a divorce, she wants out, she is tired of the cold treatment from her husband. Through many acts of love and finally understanding the true meaning of the word love the husband manages to win his wife back. Love is the biggest protection against anything that could threaten your family.
Warren Barfield wrote the theme song for Fireproof. The title of the song is LOVE IS WORTH FIGHTING FOR. The chorus of this precious song is:
Love is a shelter in a raging storm
Love is peace in the middle of a war
And if we try to leave, may God send angels to guard the door
No, love is not a fight but it’s something worth fighting for!
That is so true!! Love is the protective measure in our relationships. Love is there to safeguard the relationship against any storm.