Building Hedges Around Your Marriage

When my first marriage failed due to toxic outside influences, I discovered first hand what I had been naive to.  My ex-husband and I neglected to build walls around our marriage in effort to safeguard it from destruction. Unfortunately, without those walls and commitment on both sides to success and protection our marriage failed. A lot was lost and many issues were created for us to sort out. 

Growing up I had always thought of marriage much like a fairy tale. I had never really given much thought to the work it would entail and to the perseverance to protect it at all costs.  Sure, as the marriage progressed I was more inclined to think of things that could harm it, but it was all internal.  Arguments, financial issues, children, etc. were the areas I concentrated on.  I never gave thought to outside influences destroying us quietly and slowly. I naively trusted my ex-husband and never gave thought to where he spent his time, who he spent his time with and how much time we spent growing together.  Because of that we grew apart and developed lives away from each other. We found friends that we didn't share and we enjoyed situations that we didn't speak about or share with one another. By the time it was clear that we were failing, it was too late to build our walls. The desire to make it work was gone, first from him, then from me.  The destruction that caused for our family was heartbreaking but God heals.  God mended our hearts.

The decision to re-marry was huge for me. I knew exactly what that would entail for myself and for Duane. I don't think he was even quite aware of all that would be required from us emotionally, physically, mentally and spiritually in order for us to remain protected.  Being able to share the stumbling blocks that ended my first marriage and share with him all that I had learned was vital to our survival as a couple. He shared a lot of the same understandings but some were new to him.  We are finding more and more reasons everyday to cleave to one another and block out any potential threats to our marital well-being.

"Most couples think they're strong so they don't have safeguards in their marriage. But Satan is always looking for an opportune time to tempt husbands and wives with inappropriate relationships."
~ Al and Lisa Robertson, Duck Dynasty

Some would think that over-protection is prudish and based on fear.  Yes, over-protection is based on fear but not an unhealthy fear, but a wise fear.  A fear of the known outcome if we don't protect. In the same way that you shelter your children from a sexual scene in a movie or a bully at school, we are to protect our marriage from anything that could harm it.  Call it whatever you want, but I call it, wise.

I've seen destruction in marriages over things that seem small but over time they become very large problems. Like the first weed in a beautiful garden, if not plucked or removed it will produce more weeds and if left unattended, eventually your beautiful garden is simply a pile of weeds. The only way to continue to see a beautiful garden is to build a foundation that will not allow weeds to grow in the first place.  That foundation will save your garden and keep it looking and feeling beautiful.

Some of the things to consider when laying your foundation:

1) Movies- Do you find it casual to watch a movie with intimate scenes or nudity? How about the woman taking off her shirt quickly exposing her in just a bra? We all know that men are driven to sexual desires by vision, so what in that could harm your marriage? What does that quietly do to a man's desires and to a woman's self esteem? What about "Mommy Porn" like the movie 50 Shades of Grey?  How about watching a movie full of vulgarity in marriage or where a couple treats each other horribly?  Quietly they seem harmless, but what are those messages transmitting to your brains?

2) Friends- Are your friends healthy and do they encourage your marriage and union? Do they gossip about your partner with you or around you? Do they encourage you to have inappropriate relationships or feelings? Do they help you work things out with your spouse rather than encourage anger and divisive feelings?  Are they trustworthy around your marriage?

3) Children- Do your children come before your spouse? The bible is clear that "two become one flesh".  Your children are important but not more important than your spouse. You are a team, unified and must remain in tact for your marital health and ultimately for your children's benefit.

4) Habits- Do you put yourself in situations that could result in harm to your marriage? Do you drink too much? Do you allow yourself to be alone with the opposite sex? Do you confide in someone of the opposite sex, thus creating an emotional affair? Do you spend too much money? Do you enjoy others more than your spouse? Do you have a habit that causes you to ignore your spouse? These are things that are dubbed as "normal" but they are far from normal and over time can create a division in your marriage.

5) Trust- Does your spouse trust you with their most intimate feelings? Are they safe with you or do they hide things for fear of rejection, retaliation or embarrassment? Do you make fun of them or tease them for things they cannot control?

6) Sex- Are you sexually active with your spouse? Sex is the most intimate act you can do with another person and is reserved solely for your spouse. You are their outlet and the only person they are able to experience sexual gratification from. Having sex on a regular basis is very healthy and will encourage intimacy between you both.

7) Respect- Do you respect each other? Do you uplift your partner and speak highly of them to others?  Do you honor their desires and needs as important?  Do other people see you respecting your spouse regardless of circumstance?

8) Last but not least is love. Do you truly love your spouse.  Do you tell them you love them? Do you show them? How do you show them?

There are so many more encouraging ways to build a foundation for a healthy marriage, but remembering that the tiniest and most seemingly insignificant thing can quickly turn your marriage into a breeding ground for weeds is key.  Talk with your spouse regularly about temptations and those things that you feel could destroy your marriage if left to grow. No matter how small, every feeling is important in this discussion. 

Duane and I have had to both make some adjustments and changes in the way we approach certain things in our lives.  The movies that we watch, the things we do in our spare time, and the people we spend our time with.  Everything has a consequence, good or bad.  There is never a wrong decision to do something that will protect your marriage. Others may not understand but it doesn't matter, you are in this marriage and not them. Protect it without apology or hesitation.

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