Marriage Monday: Protective Boundaries

 

image1.JPGMy husband and I have a lot of boundaries in place to protect our marriage. Some of them seem strict to some people. But, in a world where everywhere I turn people I know are getting a divorce or news from an affair is coming out, it doesn’t seem quite so strict.

Recently we were talking with some friends about marriage boundaries: the husband was telling us that a lady he works with just doesn’t understand what the big deal about riding together in a car is. Often they have business lunches with a group and she doesn’t think it is a big deal that they ride together. He has tried to explain that is just an agreement he and his wife have in place, they won’t ride in a car with the opposite sex alone.

Now, it didn’t seem nuts to us. My husband and I have the same boundary. We don’t do car rides or meetings alone with the opposite sex. This means coffee meetings, lunches, or even counseling sessions. Why? Our marriage is the most important relationship we have and we believe in protecting it. My friendships are important to me but not as important as my relationship with my husband. Most people don’t go looking for an affair, it just happens.

It starts as texting, riding to lunch together, meeting for coffee and becoming too comfortable with each other. Also, we don’t want it to even look like we are doing something that could potentially cause division in our marriage. I would prefer to risk offending someone else than to break a  boundary that I have set with my husband. I believe that men and women can be friends. I have some men in my life that are like brothers to me, but they are also friends of my husband; and they are for our marriage.  Friendships can flourish as long as there are healthy boundaries. There are many friendships throughout the years that have had the potential to ruin our marriage and very strong boundaries had to be established.

 

The world may see it as weird, but I see it as putting the most important relationship first and making efforts to affair proof our marriage. It is not jealousy. Neither my husband nor myself are jealous people. We have just witnessed far too many people we know live through the heartbreak of affairs that could have been avoided.

What about you? What boundaries do you have in place to protect your marriage? What boundaries do you need to consider putting in place to protect your marriage?

 

 

6 Ways to Keep Seeds from Turning into Weeds

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Recently, my husband said something that I didn’t quite like. It just kind of hit me wrong, but wasn’t a very big deal: so, I didn’t say anything. However, a seed had been planted. Later on, it began to bother me a little more. As I thought about that thing, it bothered me more. When I thought about that thing again, I was really bothered. That seed had grown into a weed that I had been watering and nurturing all day. Finally, in the bed that night I told him that I didn’t like what he had said earlier in the day and it really bothered me.

As we tend to do when trying to grow weeds, I had taken what he said very wrong. Once he explained it to me, I totally got what he was saying and what he had meant. Thankfully, that weed had not gotten so big that it was hard to dig up. I guess I wouldn’t be stealing the covers from him after all that night.

When a small seed is planted and not quickly uprooted it is not long before we start jumping to conclusions. We assume, we ponder, we accuse, we think negative thoughts and before you know it we are dealing with a giant weed. A weed that is sucking all of the nutrients from the good seeds that have been planted. A weed that is so big it is blocking our view, stopping us from seeing the right perspective. Oh how the enemy loves weed seeds. They wreck relationships of all kinds; loved ones, co-workers, bosses, employees, and friends. They also reek havoc on our emotions. Weeds cause anxiety, stress and keep us distracted from what we should be doing.

Some weed seeds are self inflicted. At times, we all listen to negative self talk or the the wrong voices. Some of the biggest weeds I have dealt with came out of my own negative inner voice.

What if we could throw out those negative seeds before they took root and started to grow? Here are some steps to help you get rid of that seed before it becomes a weed!!

  1. Seek Clarity! If you are confused by something, it rubs you the wrong way or you don’t quite understand; speak up!!! Get some clarity! It is on you if you are misunderstanding something and don’t speak up. This leaves lots of room for jumping to conclusions and that will quickly lead to a weed.
  2. Face Your Fears. A lot of stinking thinking seeds are planted out of fear. We are afraid of what people are thinking, we are afraid of failing or we are afraid of being rejected. We need to stop and evaluate the reason why we are feeling the way we are. If we are having these thoughts out of fear, we need to stop and ask God to make us more aware of His presence and who we are in Him.
  3. Prayer – I can’t express how important prayer is! Confessing our thoughts to God and asking Him to adjust our perspective is the quickest way to throw out a bad seed. Ask God to heal your thought process and give you wisdom!!
  4. Discipline – It make take time. A lot of us have trained our thoughts to be negative.  We must understand that we can’t always stop a thought, but we can change it if we are disciplined enough. For example, we may think, “what if this person doesn’t like me?”  We have to reroute that thought with, “I am going to be the best me I can be,  if this person doesn’t like me, I will be fine. God is on my side.”  Chasing away that negative thought with a positive one will quickly uproot a seed trying to become a weed. The more you replace negative thoughts with more positive ones, the more you will rewire your brain to respond that way. You are diluting the negative with positive. This will take discipline, but successful people are disciplined.
  5. Respond Instead of React: Understand that there will be conflict in your life. Instead of jumping to conclusions and reacting, choose to respond. Handling conflict well will help you avoid giant weeds of dissension!
  6. Above all...

“Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; He’s the one who will keep you on track.” Proverbs 3:6 (The Message)

What are some ways you keep seeds from turning into weeds?

Open the Door

I have realized that it is not just in ministry that people feel lonely and isolated. In reality, most people that I talk to feel that way.  They do not have many friends.  Most people that feel that way also seem to have a difficult time making new friends.  First of all, they tend to be very picky. They want to be friends with the pastor’s wife or the worship leader, but no one else in the church  so they don’t have many friends. Second, they are always waiting for someone else to open the door to friendship. They are waiting on someone else to make the first move and soon develop the victim mentality because no one wants to be their friend.

As with every other relationship, real friendship takes some work.  First of all, you have to be willing to put yourself out there. You have to be open to new friendships and in fact, you have to sometimes be the one to open the door to it. You may have to strike up the first conversation, you may have to invite someone out for coffee. Is there a chance you will get turned down?  Sure there is!  You can’t take the fact that people are very busy and trying to keep the relationships they do have going in tact for granted.  But, that just means you leave yourself open to keep trying. You should also pray.. ask God to send you friends!!

Keeping yourself closed off and the door shut will be very uninviting to someone hoping to strike up a friendship.  Open the door!! Be inviting!! It may be a little out of your comfort zone at first.. but meeting new people and building relationships is so worth it!

We usually have a tendency to be jealous and competitive with the people that do what we do. In my case, it would be other pastor’s wives and women in ministry. However, this is only keeping us from some of the best relationships in our lives!  Some of my biggest  “ah ha” moments come out of my friendships with other women that do what it is I do.  Learning to really be “for” other people is one of the most rewarding things you can do. You see, you have to give what you need. So, if you need people to be “for” you, be “for” other people. If you need a great friend, start trying to be a great friend.

Relationships are always a 2 way street. There is taking and giving. No one wants to start a friendship with someone who they think just wants something from them. So, be a giver, even when it is not reciprocated. God sees, and He is faithful to give us what we need. So open the door today!!