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!