Whether it’s a breakdown in communication or the easy access to pornography, let’s face it: Marriages are under attack more than ever before. Is there anything you can do to protect your marriage before it’s too late? Yes! Here are some things to do—and not do—to bulletproof your marriage.
Do Listen Well
Communication is key. You can’t expect your spouse to read your mind. So when you both don’t openly share about what you need or want from each other, you end up with misunderstandings and hurt feelings. Good communication is more than just words—it includes body language, when to speak, and when not to speak. Be a good listener. Before you respond to your spouse, repeat back what you think they’ve said to ensure that you’ve correctly heard them.
“Great relationships are based on clarity, not mind reading.” – Steve Arterburn
Don’t Stop Growing Spiritually
You want to grow spiritually, right? While you can influence your spouse spiritually and otherwise, you can’t change them. Rather than push or try to force a change, develop your relationship with God on your own. If your spouse is ready to commit to growing spiritually, here are some ways you can grow together as a couple:
- Worship together
- Pray with each other
- Serve as a couple
- Study God’s Word together
“The key to sharing hearts in prayer is to just pray. Don’t fret how you do it. Just start in a non-threatening way. It is so important to be intentional about our praying together. The idea is to meet with the Lord together.” – Dr. Dave Stoop
Do Affirm Your Spouse
When was the last time you told your spouse how grateful you are for them? If it’s been a while, you may want to start expressing your gratitude for them today! You were drawn to your mate because you saw some great attributes in them. But after you got married, the focus turned to the flaws of your spouse. Affirming your mate’s strengths, in spite of their flaws, is a sign of mature love.
“Because God is love, it’s a pretty safe bet that whatever way God loves people is the way that we should try to love them also.” – Steve Arterburn
Don’t Forget Boundaries
From raising kids to being careful about how you interact with the opposite sex, you and your spouse need to have boundaries in place. Becoming “one flesh” as God intended for you to be means having boundaries as a couple and working to agree on what you will say yes—or no—to in your lives.
“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows where I end and where someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership.” – Steve Arterburn and Dr. Dave Stoop
One of the keys to any relationship is to forgive and not be resentful. The closer the relationship is, the more likely we’ll get hurt. Learn how to forgive and to speak the truth in love. Make the right choice by choosing to forgive your spouse and begin moving forward. It can be complicated and it can be difficult—forgiveness is not optional for a healthy relationship. It’s not forgive and forget; however, if you are holding on to hurts, seek help to resolve the issue.
“When we experience real forgiveness, there is more to remember than the pain. We are reminded of what God has done and is doing in our lives through his forgiving us and our forgiving others!” – Dr. Dave Stoop
Don’t Give Into Temptation
Protecting your marriage from sexual temptation is one of the most important things you’ll ever do to bulletproof your marriage. Discuss with your spouse some boundaries to have with the opposite sex. Make the decision to be a faithful spouse and live it out every day.
“Trust is an assurance of love. Someone who really loves someone else would not sooner hurt that person than they would purposefully shoot off their own foot!” – Steve Arterburn
Do Make Intimacy a Priority
Sex is one of God’s greatest gifts to married couples—yet it can be the greatest challenge! Your sex life is one part of a marriage. Physical intimacy is impacted by our emotional, spiritual and mental intimacy. Begin to create intimacy in the other areas of your marriage and learn how to communicate with each other. Spend time enjoying each other, away from the stressors in life. And it will provide a whole new way to experience a whole marriage!
“Couples who naturally and successfully weave their spiritual connection to God with their human desire for closeness and oneness take their marriage to the realm of ultimate intimacy.” – Steve Arterburn
By Kimberlee Bousman