25 Ways To Protect Your Marriage

11 Jul

Let’s talk about hedges in our marriage. Hedges are boundaries. In Mark 12:1 Jesus said, “A man planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it.” First, the man planted a vineyard. Think of your marriage as a vineyard. You “planted” it the day you said, I do. Next, the man in the parable placed a hedge around his vineyard. Why? Several reasons: to protect it from intrusion by animals and thieves; to keep his vines inside his vineyard; and to separate his territory from his neighbors.

A hedge makes the statement, “Private Property, No Trespassing.” The symbolic hedges around our marriages serve the same purposes. As a married couple, our goal, as co-owners of our vineyard, is to keep the good things in—and the bad things out. The only way to ensure that our marriage survives – and thrives – is to plant hedges of protection around it.

hedges-loving-your-marriage-enough-to-protect-it

In his book, “Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It,” author and family speaker Jerry Jenkins, provides captivating, practical, and no nonsense ways to build hedges of temptations around your marriage.

These HEDGES consist of simple principles that will protect your marriage from external invaders and internal discontent. Here are 25 interesting hedges I have discovered:

#1. Don’t think that your marriage can’t become a casualty.

Look around you and consider how many people you know who have been through separation and ultimately, divorce. Understand that, unless you constantly nurture your marriage, it is destined to decline and die – just like plants that are neglected. Decide that you will take the risks seriously.

#2. Plant early before problems take root.

Know that if you plant hedges in your marriage before you find yourself in a threatening situation, you can prevent many problems from taking root and nip affairs in the bud. Decide to proactively make decisions to protect your marriage. Anticipate danger, plan, and plot your escape before you find yourself in a dangerous situation.

#3. Realize that temptation has only one effective response.

Whenever you’re faced with the temptation of attraction to someone other than your spouse, realize that there is only one response that will work – to flee! RUN! Any other approach, such as trying to rationalize your way out of it, is doomed to failure. Decide to run from the situation as from a contagious disease. Recognize that the right time to act is as soon as you start to notice your attraction to another person. 2 Timothy 2:22 “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.”

#4. Don’t blame God for what’s really your own responsibility.

It’s all too easy to blame God for making it possible for you to feel sexual attraction toward someone besides your spouse. But your responsibility is to choose to channel your desires properly. If you ask God to help you do so, He will strengthen you for the task.

#6. Rely on God’s strength rather than your own.

Realize that, as a human being in a fallen world, your best resolve and inner strength can still fail you when you need it most. Choose to rely on God’s unlimited power to help you keep your marriage strong.

#7. Remind yourself of biblical bases for hedges.

Read and meditate on the Scripture verses that address the importance of hedges to protect something valuable, purity, etc. Look up 2 Timothy 2:22, Proverbs 4:23.

#8. Quit kidding yourself.

Understand the tremendous capacity of every human being to deceive himself or herself when not connected to God. Know that, once you start making excuses for wrong behavior, each excuse will sound more plausible, and you will sink deeper and deeper into sin and ruin. Admit that you can’t trust your own self apart from God, and decide to stay close to Him.

#9. Make it a threesome. Two’s Company; Three’s Security.

Whenever you need to meet or dine or travel with an unrelated person of the opposite sex, make it a threesome. Should an unavoidable last-minute complication make this impossible, let your spouse hear about it from you first.

#10. Be careful about touching.

While you might shake hands or squeeze an arm or a shoulder in greeting, embrace only dear friends or relatives, and only in front of others. Also, be sensitive to the attitudes and interpretations of those you choose to touch.

#11. Watch the nature of your compliments. Some compliments don’t pay.

If you pay a compliment to someone besides your spouse, make it on clothes or hairstyle, not the person himself or herself. Allow yourself to be friendly, outgoing, and encouraging, but don’t run the risk of having the person assume anything beyond that.

#12. Speak well of your spouse to other people.

Never make your spouse the butt of jokes or discuss your marriage problems when talking with others who might use that as an invitation to come between you. Guard your tongue, and say only positive things about your husband or wife when you’re with others.

#13. Tell your love story to others.

Keep retelling the story of how you met, fell in love with, and married your spouse. As you do, you solidify in your mind the things that attracted you to your spouse in the first place.

#14. Remind your spouse – and yourself – of your wedding vows.

Take the time regularly to remember your wedding vows. Reaffirm them through love notes to your spouse, in romantic conversation, and in other creative ways.

#15. Remind yourself of what you could lose if you’re unfaithful to your spouse.

Imagine yourself having to confess to your spouse that you’ve had an affair. Then imagine the price you might pay for that – losing your family, the future of your dreams, even your relationship with God. Know that it’s definitely worthwhile to do whatever it takes to protect your marriage.

#16. Forget the myth of quality time; give your family quantity time.

Make it a top priority to spend as much time as you can with your spouse and children. Arrange your work schedule around your family, rather than vice versa. Be available to your family whenever they need you, and enjoy sharing experiences with them everyday that can’t be scheduled into small blocks of “quality” time. Know that doing so will naturally build a strong bond between you and your spouse, as well as give your kids the sense of love and security they need.

Plant any other hedges that either you or your spouse need to protect your marriage. Get to know what specific weak areas you and your spouse each have that could threaten your marriage. Work together to do something practical and concrete about them. Then celebrate your victories together!

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” Proverbs 4:23

My husband and I are celebrating our 15th year together and I realized that we have already been practicing some of the recommendations outlined by Jerry. Some of these have been shared to me from the wisdom of both our moms and largely from the biblical study and marriage retreats and seminars we have attended throughout our marriage. These have greatly contributed to the continued success and enjoyment of our marriage.

I am sharing here some of our own hedges that we have been able to plant to ward off temptations: 

#17. Choose wisely.

My husband and I avoid unnecessarily spending more or longer time with someone of the opposite sex. For instance, when I’m looking for a personal trainer at the local gym, I chose someone of the same sex and vice versa. We avoid giving or asking advice from someone of the opposite sex. We choose to ask advice or give a crying shoulder to the same gender. This way we avoid any misunderstanding, jealousy, hurt, anger, or miscommunication to everyone.

#18.  Share carefully.

I wouldn’t want to share things about myself or my marriage that I haven’t or wouldn’t share with my  spouse. But if I do, then that would be a red flag. This is what is oftentimes called emotional infidelity. Not all affairs are physical – an emotional affair is just as damaging. So if I can’t share some emotional things with my husband, I’d look to my girlfriends instead. In the same way, my husband turns to his brothers or male friends in our community for “unloading” time and for support and encouragement.

#19.  Stay in large, public settings.

We determine ahead of time not to meet one-on-one with anyone of the opposite sex. If any of our coworker asks if he or she can join either one for lunch, we simply ask a third person to join as well. We don’t hesitate to share the boundary my spouse and I have agreed upon in our marriage, especially if it’s necessary. We remind ourselves that we might just lead by example. We both agree that there should be no one of the opposite sex to be allowed to sit in the passenger side of the spouse’s car. We include in the agreements regarding dining and traveling prohibitions with anyone of the opposite sex.

#20. Don’t be naïve.

Most people who end up in affairs don’t set out to have one. Infidelity usually begins with an innocent relationship that, in time, moves to an emotional depth that crosses a line of fidelity. We both agree to be on our guard and if one of us is remiss, we remind each other occasionally. If either one of us feels that a coworker or a friend from the opposite sex is “too close for comfort,” we call each other’s attention and try to remain to be plainly friendly, not overly friendly.  We try to stay away from people who are very “touchy-feely” and very flirtatious.

#21. Increase your investment at home.

Solid marriages are built by spending time together, laughing together, and playing together. We make sure we set up dates weekly and we make spending time together a priority. We schedule our recreation time together so we can play together, like playing squash or running in the morning or afternoons.

#22. Pay attention to your thought-life.

When all you think about is your spouse’s faults, any other man or woman will look better. To make sure we fall in love with each other over and over again, we make a list of the strengths that initially attracted us to each other. We remind ourselves why we fell in love. We celebrate our anniversaries every month without fail. We increase our encouragement and we decrease our criticism.

#23. Don’t play the comparison game.

We all make mistakes, have bad habits and annoying behaviors. We try not to compare our  “new friend” or some other husband or wife. It would be an unfair comparison because we aren’t seeing that person in a “living under the same roof, taking care of kids, struggling to make ends meet” reality. Instead, we focus on our good side.

#24. Seek help.

Seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness. A Christian counselor can provide valuable perspective and help set new strategies for a marriage that can go the distance. We choose to spend our time with like-minded couples who believe in the same values as we do, and we encourage each other through small care groups, seminars, and marriage retreats to help us preserve our I Dos.

#25. Meet each other’s needs.

I have discussed this lengthily in my previous post: His Needs Her Needs. Aim to know your partner’s needs and endeavor to meet them. Here are the 5 top needs of a man: 

  1. Sexual fulfillment
  2. Recreational companionship
  3. An attractive spouse
  4. Domestic support
  5. Admiration

Here are the top 5 needs of a woman:

  1. Affection
  2. Conversation
  3. Honesty and openness
  4. Financial support
  5. Family commitment

If you think that your marriage is strong and you don’t have any use for hedges, then this is all the more reason to practice some of these recommendations. This will ensure that your marriage will remain strong, joyous, and healthy.

My hedges may not bey our hedges. If some these apply to you, then plant it. If not, you may develop some of your own where you need it. Do you have hedges? What’s yours? I appreciate if you can add your bit of wisdom here. If you want to share, leave a reply in the comment box.

Life is Amazing!

LENY

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