How safe is your marriage? Is it a refuge from the storms of life or do the storms break loose in the home? Each spouse is responsible for making the relationship safe. The purpose of this post is to guide you in looking at your part. A favorite quote that we learned from Dr. Emerson Eggerichs of Love and Respect Ministries is: “Your response is your responsibility.”
You have the ability to make your marriage a safe place for your spouse. You can foster an environment in your marriage where your spouse experiences:
- Unconditional love
The apostle Paul writes about making a relationship safe in his first letter to the church in Corinth. He writes, “Love bears all things….” (1 Corinthians 13:7) The word that is used for “bears” in the original language actually means “to put a roof over something,” or “to protect.” The idea is to receive our spouse into the safe dwelling of our relationship where they can know that shame, guilt, and condemnation will not rain down on them.
Here are two ways you can do your part in making your marriage a safe relationship:
1. Promote the Best
We’ve all heard someone complain about their spouse, haven’t we? It usually begins with, “Do you know what my husband/wife did? He/she _____________” and the list of failures and sins are aired to an ever-increasing circle of itching ears. Unwittingly, the complainer has just made that circle of relationships unsafe for their spouse because that spouse is now viewed through the lens of failure by those people. Even worse, the complaints are sometimes delivered to family members, thus making future interaction strained and less safe. Keeping the analogy of the protective roof, they have been kicked out of the home and into the pouring rain.
Instead, leverage your interaction with family and friends to speak the best about your spouse. When your mate lets you down or fails, keep it between the two of you.
Practice publicly talking about their latest success, their character traits you respect, and the things they do that make you smile. The Bible says in Proverbs 17:9a that “He who covers an offense promotes love.” You can cover your mate’s shortcomings by promoting what is positive. This next week, see how many times you can inject the best about your spouse into conversations with family, friends, and colleagues!
2. Protect from Shame
Although Satan is known as “The Accuser,” some spouses take on the role of helping him out when it comes to their mate’s sins. We ache when we hear of a spouse reminding their mate time and again of their past failures. Their effort helps keep their spouse locked into the shame of the past instead of experiencing the freedom that is found through Christ’s forgiveness and grace.
To “bear all things” for your spouse includes taking the position of a protector and shield on their behalf. When you hear untrue things being said of them (perhaps by family?), be the one who takes a stand in defending them.
If your spouse is recovering from public sin or failure, you have the opportunity to make your marriage a safe refuge for healing and restoration. This isn’t to minimize what took place or to negate the consequences, but in the context of your marriage your spouse has to know that they are loved unconditionally. You can reassure them that they are safe “under the roof” of your love for them. That will propel them toward taking the next right steps. And, it will increase the intimacy and connectedness between the two of you.
How have you created a safe marriage for your spouse? List your ideas below and continue in the journey to build your marriage!