One of the things I cherish most about my husband is the way in which he has consistently put his relationship with me above any other human relationship. This has built such an unshakable trust in my heart and done wonders for our marriage. I met my husband when he was in his final year in engineering school and I was in my first year of architecture school. We spent one year together on campus before he graduated and subsequently we spent 6 years apart while I finished university. He worked in a city nearly 500 miles away from me but never once did I doubt that he would be faithful to me.
How could I be so confident of his commitment? Throughout the time we spent together in our first year he made it clear that our relationship was something he wanted to shout about. Everyone who cared to know knew that we were in a relationship. Even when he moved to a different city, in his office he had a photograph of me prominently displayed on his desk to warn all the ladies that he was spoken for! He would talk about me whenever he had the opportunity. The first time I ever walked into his office it was clear that everyone knew who I was. I felt so honoured.
One of the things I respect so much about him is the way in which he has clearly defined boundaries around our relationship over the years. As a pastor he has been careful never to counsel another woman without someone else in the room. He would never give a ride to a woman alone in his car, if she was not family, without finding another man to ride with him. His boundaries have always been clear. They may seem extreme but extreme commitment requires extreme measures. I believe my husband does these things not primarily because he doesn’t trust himself but because he wants to honour me. Everyone knows that I come first in my husband’s life after God. That’s the way marriage should be.
Do you honour your spouse and does it show? Does everyone else know that they come first in your life? Is it clear that he or she is your top priority after God? Honouring your spouse often means drawing clear boundaries so that other people cannot encroach into the circle of love that binds you together with your spouse. So what does this mean in practical terms? If there is someone you enjoy talking to more than your husband or wife, it means your boundaries are not clear enough. If there is someone you would rather spend time with than your spouse, it means your boundaries are not clear enough. This is even more dangerous when the person you spend time talking to is a member of the opposite sex. If you travel frequently for work, your boundaries need to be clear to your work colleagues. You have no business having a late night dinner with a member of the opposite sex alone, far away from home, and chatting into the night, if you really honour your spouse. Most affairs do not start off as a sexual relationship; they begin as a seemingly innocent emotional connection that gets deeper with more and more sharing and talking.
Sometimes married individuals maintain individual friendships with friends from their past before they got married. This is particularly dangerous when those friends are members of the opposite sex. For the health of your marriage you either need to draw those friends in so that they become friends with you as a couple or you need to let them go. If you are not prepared to reprioritise your relationships so that your spouse comes first you are not truly ready for marriage.
I listened with great amazement as a married woman did everything she could to defend a budding relationship which she had with a younger married man, telling me how spiritual it was. They would confide in each other constantly, speak on the phone frequently, text each other daily and even pray with each other frequently, and she was surprised that his wife was upset. She put it down to the woman’s insecurities. I could not believe that anyone could be so naive. Or perhaps it was just denial. Infidelity does not just jump on people out of the blue; it sneaks up on you when your guard is down. Proverbs 22:3 contains sound wisdom. ‘Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later.’
Make up your mind to draw clear boundaries around your marriage. Honour your spouse in the decisions that you make daily. Cultivate your friendship with your spouse above any other human relationship. Work at it even if it is not easy. Even if you are going through a difficult patch in your marriage do everything you can to pull together as a couple. Intimacy is a direct result of time spent together sharing. Give your spouse the gift of intimacy today.
What boundaries do you need to create today to secure the future of your marriage?