Learn and Live

img_1216306746134_2171A lot of the godly lessons I learned about marriage came with 20/20 hindsight—where I failed in my first marriage. You can learn a lot in 22 years of doing things wrong. I once attended a church where the pastor’s catch phrase was, “You can either live and learn or learn and live.” His point being that we can live life our way and learn through the consequences of our actions or learn what the Word says and try to live accordingly. My first marriage was a classic example of “live and learn.”

I’d been married 21 years when my ex-husband started doing real estate on the weekends, hoping to transition from his physical job to this as a career. He was working every Saturday with a woman, and often it was just the two of them in the office. He’d come home and share some of their conversations—nothing earth shattering—and I never thought to be concerned. I was pretty confident that because I’d been married over 20 years, our marriage was safe. A few months later, much to my shock, he walked out on me—and a year later he married this woman

Lately, my life has been a series of chapters—seasons where lessons are laid out and I have clarity. The chapter I’ve been living through lately might be titled How to Protect Your Marriage. It’s easy to get casual about this after years of living life with your spouse. I know I did. But John 10:10 says, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy…” Satan is just waiting for us to let down our guards, and then he moves in for the kill. He has a much better chance of claiming people for himself if he can divide and conquer.

Over the past month or so, Chris and I have been blessed with the generous help of a sweet Christian friend. This man has offered to come over to our house and do some technical stuff with our sound system so we can use it to its full capacity. He’s been over twice, and both days Chris was as work. It struck me that, although there is nothing inappropriate about this friend’s attitude, it may not be appropriate that he be here with me without my husband. Old fashioned thinking? Maybe. But there’s a reason we live in a society where the divorce rate is over 50%. We can all use a little old fashioned common sense these days. But what was done was done, and I didn’t foresee the situation arising again.

A week later, Chris attended a conference in Portland, Oregon, and I needed to drive down to the Bay Area to pick him up from the airport. He’d spoken to the friend the day before, who offered to drive down with me to keep me company. Chris didn’t think anything of it—he just passed on this friend’s offer. One thing I love about my husband is that he trusts me completely—because he’s trustworthy and I’ve never given him reason to doubt my faithfulness. However, I wanted him to be a little more discerning. There were two reasons not to take up this friend’s kind offer. The first is that it’s just not appropriate to be alone and in close proximity with another man. The second is that I had to take into consideration this friend’s wife. I tried to imagine how I’d feel if Chris offered to take a six-hour trip just to keep a woman company. Not only would it make me question Chris’s motives (trustworthy or not) but it would put a wedge between the woman and me, weakening our friendship. I explained all this to Chris who not only understood, but realized that we need to set some boundaries.

Last week I was talking about this subject to a young man who’s only been married for a couple years. He had many friends before meeting his wife—both male and female—with whom he’s continued communication. He told me that one of his female friends emailed him and the written conversation bordered on the too familiar, as it often does with good friends. He had to stop and think about how he’d react if it was his wife communicating with a male friend. Would he be okay with it? His response was to tell this young woman that although he valued their friendship, he needed to protect his marriage and discontinue their relationship. I was impressed with his integrity and honor and pleased to see how much he valued his wife.

Protect your marriage! It doesn’t mean you have to be distrusting, paranoid and jealous. But it does mean setting boundaries. Let your spouse know, every day, how much you value him or her. And realize that the prince of this world is Satan, who will find whatever chink you have in your “armor” and move in for the kill. Strong marriages are an affront to him and he will use whatever devices necessary to destroy yours. Dissatisfaction and apathy are the gateways to this attack.

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