So many things in marriage need protection. In a matter of seconds, all of us could rattle off a list of ways we can and must protect our marriages from adultery, from breaking under stress, or simply from growing cold.
But there are other areas of marriage that I think we forget to protect. Even when our marriages are strong, little things threaten to chip away at the intimacy we share.
Think about a few of these things with me, if you will.
SUCCESS – Are you your spouse’s biggest cheerleader?
How often do we consciously remember to protect the success of our spouses? I fail at this one so frequently. My husband is amazing. He succeeds in so many ways, but many of those successes are never applauded. Why? Because Doug is a behind-the-scenes kind of guy. He is the idea person behind the success of others. In all honesty, he prefers to be in the background. But, this world measures success by what they can see. So, if my husband’s success is only visible as the success of others, it can be easy for him to feel like a failure.
I must protect his sense of success! It is absolutely critical for me to acknowledge and cheer on his skills because I am the one who sees them. If I do not protect his success, then I am promoting his failure.
On the other hand…
FAILURE – Do you allow your spouse to fail?
No one likes to fail. But it is so easy to take a personal dislike for failure and turn it into a prison for someone else, especially a spouse. We hold an expectation of perfection over our spouses and magnify every one of their failures.
Protecting our spouses’ freedom to fail is almost as important as protecting their successes. Marriage needs to be the safest place to fail. (Now, keep in mind that I am not talking about a failure to keep marriage vows.) My husband needs to know that my love is not based on his ability to avoid failure. In fact, his greatest growth often comes from moments of failure. It is important for him to know that I applaud, support, encourage, and protect all growth, even growth through failure.
PREFERENCES – Is your spouse free to have preferences?
This may seem to contradict our recent discussion in “The Things He Loves.” Yes, we should grow to share likes and interests. But, support of personal interests is also absolutely critical.
Far too many people poke fun at the interest of their spouses. She criticizes his love for hunting while he mocks her enjoyment of a chick flick, especially if it is a sappy one that makes her cry. She does not understand his innate need to yell at the umpires while he does not grasp the therapy of a shopping trip. (Of course, I don’t really grasp that last one myself!)
Instead of criticizing what we do not understand, we must protect one another’s interests. Some of my husband’s passions make my head whirl. I can’t always keep straight all of the nuances of his interest in guns or politics or even some of the deeper aspects of theology. But I love to see that passion. And I want to protect his freedom to enjoy those things without criticism.
Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list. But perhaps it will stir our imaginations a bit. Maybe by pondering how to protect these aspects of our marriage, we will consider other areas that need protection. Personality traits. Pursuits. Choices. Habits. Methods of relaxation. Work ethic. The list goes on and on.
What can you protect for your spouse this week?