Today, I welcome guest author, Holly Smith from A Martha Heart, who shares about divorce-proofing your marriage.
Before I even begin, I must remind you that I do not write this from a place of perfect or having it all together. Lest you think that, please read my article here. Second, this is NOT an article of condemnation or rebuke for those of you, who are currently in the process of getting a divorce or have been divorced. I know how hurtful this is and how the process may make you feel a cloak of shame and pain–I have worn the same cloak through our journey of bankruptcy. The intent of this article is solely to give you tools, to be a help and to speak over this topic as a weapon against an unrelenting enemy, who has YOU and ME and our marriages squarely in his target. Not for one moment should we ever forget that. So let’s shed a light on this topic, which could easily remain an unspoken topic. Finally, I am not an expert. But my Chris and I have received some good teaching over the years!
1. Take the word DIVORCE out of your daily conversations–when you are “joking” or even just being edgy, there is no need to open this door. Leave it closed. Now, I’m not being silly and saying that the word divorce will never come up in discussion. For after 21 years of marriage, we have watched our fellow comrades fall to it. Every time it has broken our hearts–every time it has cut us to the core. And every time, we do pray for those involved truly. It is not a matter for gossip nor is it a topic we enjoy, but it should bring out compassion in your heart for both husband and wife and for other family members and friends.
2. Stay on the same team. If it becomes you versus me in any aspect of our lives, then we need to talk it out and possibly get good godly counsel. This is from a Longhorn, Methodist and Yankee who married an Aggie, Baptist and Southern boy. Work out every difference that matters! Some things are just fun to have opinions about, but when it edges on dissension, and you will know in your heart what that feels like, then take time to work that out. Talk about those things. Talk about the areas where you are feeling like a situation or person is trying to divide. Then get back to back and face the situation, as a battle. A divided house will not stand. It won’t and it can’t.
3. When you have “somewhat” against them and you find it creeping into every conversation and many thoughts, there and then you need to throw the baggage out. You have been carrying it too long. Forgive it. Cover it with grace. And love them. I guarantee you that these thoughts will continue to happen–because, as I said you have a very real enemy, who whispers in your ear ALL the time. So do I. And though my hackles might rise up again, I must CHOOSE how I’m going to think. Take that baby captive and make it obedient to Christ. Love covers a multitude. Choose to love. Yes, I know. I know it smarts and it hurts, but you choose to cover it with love. When the time is right and interruptions are nil, discuss this “somewhat” with your mate. Tell them, this hurt me. I love you. But you need to know this hurt and we need to work through it.
4. Get away together. Make it happen–even if it is a “stay-cation” kind of thing. If you have children, you need to find a way to spend at least 24 hours together without interruptions and do what you used to do, before children. This is the time to discuss the hard things and time to DREAM and time to re-learn what it is that made you fall in love. I highly recommend Family Life’s Weekend to Remember. My Chris and I have gone six times and benefited greatly from each one. It is a great investment! We have given it as gifts and we will most certainly go again!
5. Laugh together. Laugh at yourself and your silliness. Laugh at the quirkiness of life. Laugh about the things that once again are happening (like $4.31 in your bank account–hello? we still need a budget!). Watch a funny movie. Listen to Brian Regan. Take a walk down through your neighborhood and “silly walk” the whole time.
6. Guard your heart and your mind. Watch what you watch. Watch what you read. Leave the past in the past–no archaeology to see how “they” are now. Leave them. Guard it. If you find that what you are doing (what you are watching, drinking or participating in) brings out the “old man” in you (your old way of life before Christ changed your way of living), guard there. Don’t go there. Lock the door and throw away the key. When you are with other couples, guard your tongue and what you say regarding your spouse. One word of criticism will effectually emasculate them. Speak words that edify. Watch how your body language speaks, too. I cannot tell you the times I have watched another woman speak “available” to my Chris. You better believe I was not only watching but placing myself and Jesus between us. Two layers of impossible right there– we don’t spend time with them again.
7. NEVER go to lunch or be in the same home with someone of the opposite sex alone–unless it’s a family member. NEVER. I don’t care if it’s business or whatever. Don’t do it. Bring a friend. Invite your spouse along. It is a good boundary.
8. Self-monitor your conversations in social networking. Guard every aspect of your words and intent. If you struggle here, I recommend that you invite your spouse or a close friend to keep watch and have the right to say–that looked a little flirty to me.
9. Find those activities you enjoy together and make TIME for them. We love to read and to travel. We love outdoors and hiking. We enjoy movies and going out to dinner. We hold hands and smile at one another often. We love to listen to music–past and present–and to sing. These (and much more) are activities that we enjoy. Watch over your schedules here and make one another priority. Most activities we enjoy do not cost a cent either, so no excuses. You DO what you WANT to do.
10. Dream of the future together. Talk about the dearest passions of your life and plan for it. I have a sweet friend, who wanted to swim with sharks. Her husband had cancer and he died. Afterwards she found that he had stashed away in their closet savings for her dream–just a dollar and then some more, but enough for the trip. She immediately planned and went. Though her heart was (and is still) broken, they dreamed together and planned for it. Dreaming is something God intended for us to do and it is even better if we can dream together and weave plans for the future. They may not happen the way we hoped, but we are tied together–and what God has tied together, no man or “impossibility” can separate.
Perhaps here, you’d like for me to give you an out…like a get out of jail free card or an excuse. I won’t. I will pray for you, though. You are welcome to let me know to do just that. Marriage is worth it. It is sacred and blessed. And I am in this for life with my Chris. After 21 years, I find that we are still learning about one another–I know that we can never outlive our ability to find out more and love more and laugh more and dream more. He is my heart–not one part do I withhold.
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