I believe everyone who enters the covenant of marriage has a sincere desire to be successful. No one walks down the aisle, says, “I Do,” only to think about the first visit to a divorce attorney. However, although divorce statistics seemed to have leveled off at around 50%, divorce and broken homes continue to wreck the fabric of society. Depending on what poll you look at, fidelity is one of the top, if not the number one reason for divorce. People of faith, and the secular population, all could use a little help in bolstering their marriage. One aspect of strengthening your marriage is to be proactive in some habits that will honor your spouse.
Since strengthening marriage is a calling of mine, I follow several experts in the field. One such expert is Dave Willis (http://sixseeds.patheos.com/davewillis/). Dave and his wife, Ashley, have made it their point to help and strengthen marriages around the world. In a recent blog, 9 Rules to Affair Proof Your Marriage, (http://sixseeds.patheos.com/davewillis/9-rules-affair-proof-marriage/) Dave shared some practical ways he has attempted to affair proof his marriage. It is my desire to share these ideas with you and how they apply to my marriage. You may feel some of these ideas to be old-fashioned and out of date, but I can assure you they have value and would prove beneficial if practiced. So, here we go:
- Don’t talk negatively about my wife to others or online. When people start venting about their spouse, to friends or online, it’s not just a harmless way to blow off steam and joke about frustrations. It’s a dangerous opening that could pave the way for adultery. When you talk negatively about your spouse, or compare them to others, it chips away at the foundation of respect that must remain strong in every marriage. It also sends the subtle message that you’re not happy in your marriage and you’re “open” to someone who would treat you better. Build your spouse up with your words. The tone of your words about your spouse will shape the tone of your marriage. Words give life.
- Never meet with someone of the opposite sex alone. Recently, Vice President, Mike Pence, was ridiculed by the main stream media for holding to this practice. Although, I try not meet up for coffee or lunch with any woman other than my wife unless it’s a group setting, I have not always been successful. There are two things to consider here: Protection and Perspective. This policy protects you from temptation, and honors your spouse. It also eliminates the perspective of infidelity protects your reputation from false accusations. Recently, we hired a young woman to clean our house and although I was on site, I made it a point to create a safe distance.
- Copy your spouse on all your text messages. Dave shared how their iPhones are set up with the same Apple ID where he and Ashley both automatically receive each other’s text messages. This keeps them in the loop of what’s happening with each other. Deb and I do not do this, but we have access to each other’s phone and text messages. This practice is designed to foster a desire to have total transparency and open communication in the marriage. Being willing to share all of my texts also sends the clear message to your spouse and everyone else that we have a marriage with no secrets.
- Share ALL your passwords. This flows naturally from #3 about sharing text messages. I don’t have a password or a PIN that Debbie doesn’t know and she shares her’s with me. There are no hidden accounts, hidden emails, burner cell phones or anything else that would be off limits to. Deb and I try to maintain a “Secret Free Guarantee” marriage. Studies have shown secrets are as dangerous as lies when addressing trust levels in marriage.
- Stay away from pornography and sexually-explicit content. Brain scans have shown the addictive nature of pornography. Pornography is an act of mental infidelity and Willis shares his personal story and some compelling stats on pornography in his popular post on “The Truth about Porn” which you can read by clicking here. I have never had an addiction to pornography, but unfortunately my eyes have seen things they shouldn’t have. The images I have witnessed in the past have scared my memory and my marriage has suffered because of it. Infidelity always starts in the mind and pornography, along with it’s cheap satisfaction, will only lead to marital dissatisfaction.
- Be cautious with public displays of affection with others. This might seem cheesy, but it’s also very important. One time while greeting a fellow church member, my wife was kissed by the person right on the lips. I was not the least bit threatened, but made it clear it was unappropriated, and Debbie understood my position. Some people hug members of the opposite sex with full frontal assault that can border on an act of illegal groping (no joke). I am a hugger, but never want physical touch to be misconstrued in any way. So even with close female friends, I try to stick with the side hug.
- Don’t engage in ongoing dialogues with the opposite sex on social media. Some people, by nature of their profession, get hundreds of emails and Facebook messages per week. Do your best to respond, but when it seems the person wants to engage in an ongoing dialogue, cut it off out of respect for my wife. Statistics have shown how affairs start by crossing lines on social media. Create a social media set of “rules” and boundaries to protect each other and your marriage.
- Make time for your spouse a priority. Affair-proofing your marriage isn’t just about “defense,” but it’s also about being proactive when it comes to investing in your marriage. As a merchant mariner, I am away several weeks at a time and time together is a premium. I am always looking for ways to spend time Deb and invest in our relationship. Don’t let your marriage get stuck on autopilot, or else there’s a good chance it will crash someday! Investing into your relationship with each other is the same as staying in top physical shape. It takes time, effort, and discipline.
- Always wear your wedding ring. A wedding ring is more than just jewelry. It’s a daily reminder of the covenant you made to your spouse. Does not wearing it mean you love your spouse any less? No, but it is a reminder that every choice you make will impact your spouse in some way. It’s a symbol the rest of the world that you are committed to one another. In some professions wearing your wedding ring could be hazardous, but there are other options such as Safety Rings (https://www.saferingz.com/) and other products. Certainly, people can cheat while wearing a wedding ring, but it’s another line of defense against the temptation.
I hope you can see how these ideas can benefit you and your marriage. These steps do not diminish your individuality or trustworthiness. They prove to add an additional buttress to the foundation of your marriage. Thank you for sharing your time with me and I hope you were blessed.