Are You Fencing out Your Spouse?

(The following post is only true for those who do not have abusive marriages.)
My husband is a huge football fan. And since I’m not, I’ve learned to find other activities at this time of year, so that he’s free to cuddle up with his remote and zero in on the end zone. 
Even though I’m not a fan, I do know one thing about football, or any sport for that matter; one of the main tactics of football is good defense. And very often I think we take that kind of strategy into our marriages. At least, I know my husband and I do. Our natural tendency is to think . . .
Good “self” defense = a healthy and safe marriage
Unfortunately, that couldn’t be further from the truth. God designed marriage to be fence-free—in other words, without self-defenses. If we seek to protect ourselves in marriage (except when abuses occur), we are stepping away from God’s design.
Our focus for protection should be on trusting God to protect us and our marriage, and not on trusting ourselves to right a wrong. That doesn’t mean we never discuss a problem or try to resolve it with our mates. It just means that there is a fine line between protecting ourselves and attacking our partners.
Let me explain how this works. Let’s say that my husband Gary has had a bad day and takes out his frustration on me with critical remarks.
I could protect myself by snapping back at him or lecturing him on what a schmuck he’s been to me. I could also go the other way and withdraw from him in full protection mode.
That kind of response (or reaction) generally heightens our spouse’s defenses, rather than lowering them. In other words, it’s counterproductive and not the way Christ would respond.
Or I could rely on God to protect me by:
  1. Praying for Gary in the moment that he offends me to recognize his part and to soften his heart
  2. Praying for myself to learn how to extend grace as Jesus extends it to me
  3. Think through what I might be doing that’s negatively contributing to Gary’s attitude (although this may not always be part of the problem)
  4. Think through what I should do or say to “help” Gary—instead of focusing on what would “help” myself
That kind of response ignites and releases Christ’s power in our marriage by increasing the flow of love and mercy which results in deeper intimacy—a fence free marriage.
Try it the next time your spouse “steps on your toes.” Instead of jumping into defensive mode, drop your defenses and trust God to bind your marital wounds. He’s never failed me when I’ve given it over to Him.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” Prov. 3:5-6 (NIV)
“It is better to trust the LORD for protection than to trust anyone else.” Ps. 118:8 (CEV)
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