Marriage is made up of many things, including joys, sorrows, successes, and failures. But when you think about what you want marriage to be like, the furthest thing from your mind is a battleground. However, there are some battles you should be more than willing to fight. These are battles that pertain to protecting your spouse.
Unfortunately your marriage has enemies out there. They come in different forms and use different strategies, but nonetheless they will conspire to destroy your relationship unless you know how to ward them off.
Some are clever and seem attractive, only to undermine your love and appreciation for one another. Others try to lure your heart away from your spouse by feeding you unhealthy fantasies and unrealistic comparisons. It’s a battle you must wage to protect your marriage – when love puts on armor and picks up a sword to defend its own. Your mate and your marriage need your constant protection from things like:
Harmful influences. Are you allowing certain habits to poison your home? The Internet and television can be productive and enjoyable additions to your life, but they can also bring in destructive content and drain away precious hours from your family. The same thing goes for work schedules that keep you separated from each other for unhealthy amounts of time.
You can’t protect your home when you’re rarely there, nor when you’re relationally disconnected. You have to fight to keep balance right.
Unhealthy relationships. Not everyone has the material to be a good friend. Not every man you hunt and fish with speaks wisely when it comes to matters of marriage. Not every woman in your lunch group has a good perspective on commitment and priorities. In fact, anyone who undermines your marriage does not deserve to be given the title of “friend.” And certainly you must be on guard at all times from allowing opposite-sex relationships at work, the gym, or even church to draw you emotionally away from the one to whom you’ve already given your heart.
Shame. Everyone deals with some level of inferiority and weakness. And because marriage has a way of exposing it all to you and your mate, you need to protect your wife or husband’s vulnerability by never speaking negatively about them in public. Their secrets are your secrets (unless, of course, these involve destructive behaviors that are putting you, your children, or themselves in grave danger). Generally speaking, love hides the fault of others. It covers their shame.
Parasites. Watch out for parasites. A parasite is anything that latches onto you or your partner and sucks the life out of your marriage. They’re usually in the form of addictions, like gambling, drugs, or pornography. They promise pleasure but grow like a disease and consume more and more of your thoughts, time, and money. They steal away your loyalty and heart from those you love. Marriages rarely survive if parasites are present. If you love your spouse, you must destroy any addiction that has your heart. If you don’t, it will destroy you.
The Bible speaks plainly about this protective role, often using the analogy of a shepherd. God warned, “My flock has become prey … food for all the beasts of the field.” How so? “For lack of a shepherd.” Not because these men were too weak to perform their duties but because they didn’t pay attention. Instead of watching to make sure that the sheep weren’t being picked off by predators, “the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock” (Ezekial 34:8). They took extra good care of their own needs and appetites but gave little thought to the safety of those under their supervision.
Wives – you have a role as protector in your marriage. You must guard your heart from being led away through novels, magazines, and other forms of entertainment that blur your perception of reality and put unfair expectations on your husband. Instead you must do your part in helping him feel strong, while also avoiding talk-show thinking that can lure your attention away from your family. “The wise woman builds her house, but the foolish tears it down with her own hands” (Proverbs 14:1).
Men – you are the head of your home. You are the one responsible before God for guarding the gate and standing your ground against anything that would threaten your wife or marriage. This is no small assignment. It requires a heart of courage and a head for preemptive action. Jesus said, “If the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into” (Matthew 24:43). This role is yours. Take it seriously.
While we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. –Romans 5:6
Remove anything that is hindering your relationship, any addiction or influence that’s stealing your affections and turning your heart away from your spouse.