I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately and then read this fantastic post at Her Bad Mother. In it, she talks about how important her marriage is and explains some of the efforts she makes to protect it. I agree with her completely. A strong marriage is no reason to become complacent.
Particularly now with so many distractions so easily accessible. Not that prior generations had it easy. Far from it. Many of my peers grew up in broken homes. My own parents are still together after 32 (almost 33) years, but that relationship is a second marriage for each of them. My husband and I got married in 1998. Many of our friends got married the same year, and our relationship is the only one in the circle that lasted. We don’t have some special secret. We just made it a point to always work to strengthen and protect our relationship in every way we can.
In each of the failed relationships, they failed to set up and stick to solid boundaries. And in this world where 140 characters of the fight you are currently having can be broadcast to a worldwide network, those boundaries take on even greater importance. Or when a few clicks on Facebook can tell you that your old high school crush is single. But those things are obvious, right? What about meeting that forum friend for coffee? This forum where you found some like minded people that may not include your spouse. It’s certainly acceptable for spouses to have differing interests, but you must use caution with those connections. It’s far too easy to build a fantasy around that person with whom you believe you have so much in common.
Especially if you become complacent. “It could never happen to me,” is the most dangerous thought you could have. “I love him so much, I could never be tempted by someone else.” You’re wrong. If you let yourself believe this, you are setting yourself up for trouble. My husband is my best friend, my partner, my lover, etc. I think he’s handsome and charming and all the wonderful things a wife should think of her husband. I still don’t go out to lunch one-on-one with male coworkers (even when I want Indian food that my husband doesn’t eat). I only chat on Facebook when he’s in the room. If the idea of not sharing something with Michael even crosses my mind, the very next thing I do is tell him about it. And he does the same with me.
My marriage defense plan is not so different from my home defense plan. Just because I am confident in my skills with my shotgun, does not mean I leave the front door open when I go to bed. I have multiple layers of defense. Locking the deadbolt does not mean I cannot defend myself, and keeping appropriate distance in outside relationships does not mean my marriage is not strong. No one puts a security gate at their bedroom door. You put it outside your home, at the end of the walk or drive. It’s only the first layer of defense. There is nothing sacred in so much grass and concrete. It only serves as a buffer should your first defense be breached. It serves as a warning that a threat is coming. We should defend our marriages at least as aggressively. Our boundaries shouldn’t start at our bedrooms. There should be enough distance to have a buffer before the threat is to what is sacred. Alarm bells should go off when you laugh too easily at someone’s jokes. When you feel too excited to see someone other than your spouse. They should go off long before some ‘moment of weakness.’ Those moments are a lie. They have built up in steps because the boundaries weren’t there. No alarms were tripped before the danger was imminent. Those moments are preventable.
It’s important to remember that their are multiple avenues where threats can creep in. The internet is an all too convenient vulnerability. Why would we believe that eHarmony could bring someone together with a soul-mate but would not also have the power to tear a relationship apart?
I don’t share fights on the internet. If my husband and I have a disagreement, it is between us. And honestly, those disagreements are few. If something is bothering me in our relationship, I go to him and not my readers even though I really do have awesome readers. And I believe that is one of the reasons our disagreements are few and easily forgotten. Not so easy when it’s been transmitted through so much bandwidth. Google never forgets. I don’t gripe about petty to my real life friends either. Our relationship is sacred and worth protecting.
Many of my readers have made the decision to arm themselves because threats to our lives can come at any moment from any direction. We don’t expect them, but we do prepare for them. Divorce is far more common than murder. Shouldn’t we be just as diligent in protecting our marriages? Perhaps even more so. Protecting your marriage doesn’t mean you expect infidelity or lack trust anymore than slipping that snubby in your pocket means you expect trouble. Indeed, we all say that if we expected trouble at a given time and place, we wouldn’t go there at that time. Don’t go looking for trouble, either in that dark alley or in your marriage. If you do, you’re likely to find it.