Who do you have that keeps you accountable in your marriage? Do you have someone who will ask you how you have been treating your spouse? Do you have anyone who helps you keep your commitment to your spouse?
It’s no secret that social media can have a dark side. A counselor friend of ours told us that of the couples he meets with who have had affairs, 90% began through contact via social media. In a report by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 81% of their member attorneys saw an increase in the use of evidence from social networking websites. And a University of Austin study found that users of social media are twice as likely to think about leaving their spouse.
Dating websites and websites designed to help people have “discreet” affairs (read: adultery) abound. Unsolicited “follows” on Twitter from porn sites troll the Internet. At Build Your Marriage we regularly monitor, report, and block those groups that try to connect with our Twitter feed and you should do the same!
We are thankful for social media. We seek to use if for redemptive purposes in the marriages we are privileged to reach. And yet there has to be a strong call to couples everywhere to put measures in place that will protect our hearts from the relentless temptations the Enemy places before us.
We aren’t anti-social media, but we are all about using it wisely to build your marriage. Without careful controls on its use in marriage, social media can lead to unhappiness and even divorce. A University of Texas at Austin survey found that people who are heavy users of social media are 32% more likely to think about leaving their spouse. To build your marriage you have to guard your marriage.
Here are ten commandments of social media to read with your spouse. Print it, sign it, and post it in a place where you both can read it.
In over 33 years of marriage and almost as many years in full-time ministry, we have learned a few things about temptation and sin: 1) None of us is above falling and failing, 2) Satan will leverage our failure to keep us down, and 3) God wants us to walk in HIS victory, not in our failures.
This has profound implications on a marriage. If a spouse is burdened by their past—whether it is recent or long ago—it affects the dynamics of the marriage. They are living with reduced hope, limited confidence, a more critical spirit, and spiritual distance from God and their spouse.
We’ve walked the journey of sin, pain, and shame. We understand—and we can write with confidence that there IS hope, there IS victory, and there IS restoration for you through Jesus Christ! Here are four things to remember when your past isn’t pure:
Do you know anyone whose life or marriage has been rocked by things that were done in secret—things that one spouse thought no one would ever find out about? The thinking is that things that are hidden are free from accountability or consequences.
Read this verse from Ezekiel carefully. “…have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The Lord does not see us….’” (Ezekiel 8:12 ESV) The context is that the 70 elders of Israel were worshipping images of false gods while publicly leading people in following God. Scroll ahead to today with the pervasiveness of pornography and what is done “in the dark, each in his/her room of pictures” by Christians. Do you see the connection?
Statistics are that 50% of Christian men and 20% of Christian women are addicted to pornography (you can see the research here)—and that doesn’t account for those who look but are not “addicted.” In addition, 56% of all divorces involve one party’s excessive use of porn (find this statistic here).
For those who struggle with pornography the message in the Bible is one of promise: there is hope and healing through Jesus! Here are some important things for you to know…or to pass on to your spouse or friend caught up in secret seductions:
1) Your choices have consequences
Choosing to stay pure and honor Jesus—to be the same in public and in private—brings great benefits. Some of the benefits are that you are empowered by God’s Spirit, you have increased intimacy with God, you have peace of mind, your marriage is protected and your love for your spouse deepens.
If, however, you choose secret seductions, there are consequences that affect not only you, but those you love. For example: your prayers are no longer heard (see Psalm 66:18), the power of the Spirit doesn’t flow through you, you dramatically increase the friction in your marriage, the likelihood of eventual divorce dramatically increases, and you give Satan a foothold in your life and in your family.
2) What’s done in secret isn’t secret
God is well aware of what you are doing. He reminds us, “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.” (Galatians 6:7) This is important because one of the early lies is that you are getting away with something. No, God is simply giving you time to repent on your own before he disciplines you back into a righteous relationship with himself.
3) You cannot out-sin the blood of Jesus
Giving up and giving in to what has had mastery of you is exactly what Satan wants you to do. He wants you to think that God is tired of forgiving you and incapable of delivering you. Nothing could be further from the truth! Jesus took on himself the burden of all of your sins (and ours) and paid the complete price.Some of the greatest people used by God in the pages of the Bible are people who were broken: murderers, liars, adulterers, a prostitute, a betrayer and the list goes on. You are never beyond his cleansing power. He welcomes a broken and contrite spirit (Psalm 51:17 by King David after committing adultery).
4) Get help…NOW…be radical
Be radical and get a truth-telling Christ-follower of the same gender to help you keep your commitments to Jesus. Perhaps you’ll need to invest in a Christian counselor. Go to XXXChurch (totally Christ-centered) for a ton of resources and download their software for online accountability. Or go to Covenant Eyes for their resources and software. Do whatever it takes to break the cycle of secret seduction starting today.
You CAN do all things through Christ who strengthens you (Philippians 4:13). Protect your heart and your marriage with integrity and purity as you stand firm and build your marriage!
We have a service that monitors our financial accounts to protect against identity theft. We warn our children when they drift toward danger. We make sure our cell phones are secure and our homes locked up. We are vigilant to protect what’s important to us.
We are vigilant to protect what’s important to us aren’t we? Maybe not.
You see, many marriages are rocked because one or both partners have failed to protect their heart. The Bible says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23) But what–specifically–do we protect our heart from?
Here are five places to protect our hearts followed by what we gain by being diligent. See which ones resonate with you. Then, with God’s help, do everything possible to protect your heart!
Protect your heart from:
The door of temptation gets flung wide open when we allow ourselves to “wonder” about an old fling from high school, college, or previous employment. Out of curiosity, we look them up on Facebook. We read all we can, and then…perhaps in a moment of impulse shoot them a private “hello” and eagerly look for a response. The old phrase that “curiosity killed the cat” is more true in marriage than anywhere else. A counselor friend of ours tells us that with 90% of all couples he sees about infidelity, Facebook was involved.
Certainly curiosity can have multiple applications of danger beyond Facebook. The point is, protect your heart against unhealthy curiosity. When in doubt, DON’T.
When we dwell on what we don’t have, we open ourselves up for ongoing dissatisfaction in our marriage. We wish we had a spouse that was like our friend’s spouse. If only they were more fun, more engaging, a better listener, enjoyed our hobbies, were different from how they are.
Protect your heart. Focus on what you are thankful for in your spouse and verbalize it to them. Listen to yourself affirm your spouse and it will coat your heart with teflon and protect you from discontentment.
3. Sexual Temptation
Protect your heart from seeking images and videos on the web that will only erode your character and drag you into a dark abyss of shame and guilt.
Sexual temptation with another often starts with a longing for a deeper connection with someone who “cares” for us. Protect your heart from the opposite gender who seems to desire a deep connection and interest in you. Put up walls, boundaries, and RUN into the arms of Jesus and your spouse.
This is closely associated with discontentment. A critical heart achieves the opposite effect of what is desired. We want change, but we seek it by consistently pointing out what’s wrong.
Don’t misunderstand, sometimes we have to honestly point things out. But excessive criticism can create a critical spirit which will push our spouse away from us rather than draw them close.
It doesn’t take much to want to treat, reward or comfort ourselves. Stress, conflict, criticism, and over-work are some of the contributors that can make us think, “I deserve this.” What happens next is we start focusing on our needs as primary and our spouse’s needs as secondary. Making the situation more volatile, we expect our spouse to meet our entitled desires and if they can’t we seek to have them filled through someone or something else.
We have to protect against entitlement thinking. When you recognize an entitlement thought, acknowledge it as such. Then ask God to help you fight entitlement thinking by choosing to do something loving for your spouse!
What we gain
Here are a few things we gain when we protect our heart:
- We have God’s favor and blessing on our life.
- We are content because we have kept our affections in check.
- We are filled with peace because we are living with integrity.
- We gain deeper appreciation for our spouse because they alone have our earthly affection.
- We are empowered by God because he has a pure person to work through.
- We build our legacy of a healthy, honoring marriage.
What other places can you think of where spouses should protect their hearts? Leave your comments below. And make the commitment in your heart to protect your heart as you build your marriage!