What kinds of things do we guard? Isn’t it always the things that are most valuable to us? And what kinds of things do thieves attempt to steal? Is it not things they consider valuable?
Here’s what we know about Satan: he “walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). He is a thief who has come “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). From the beginning (like, the very beginning), he has sought to divide marriages. He doesn’t want couples serving God together, because he knows “two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up” (Ecc. 4:9-10). Satan wants you to fall, but he doesn’t want you to get up. He definitely doesn’t want you to have someone there to help when you do. Therefore, he wants to destroy your marriage. Especially if it’s one that is useful for the cause of Christ.
So how can we guard our marriages? How can we make sure we are actively fortifying our hearts and guarding a relationship that we know is very precious in God’s sight?
I think it starts by examining your life from the outside. Are all of your Facebook profile pictures just selfies or is your Instagram account full of you? Is your marriage celebrated on any social network? Do your coworkers know you’re married? Do your coworkers know you love and honor your husband, or do they hear complaints about your marriage more often than not? Who do you turn to when the inevitable hard times of marriage come? Do you complain to a member of the opposite sex, seeking approval from a man you have no business having the approval of? Do you find comfort in bashing your husband and exposing his weaker attributes, even to someone “safe” like your mom or sisters? If one or more of these things are true, then perhaps we aren’t guarding our marriages like we should, because guarding our marriages first starts with guarding ourselves. If we are not constantly guarding our tongues against complaining and gossiping, then our marriages are going to be left vulnerable. If we are not guarding our hearts against lust and sinful affections, we are leaving a huge hole exposed for the enemy to crawl in and defeat our marriage.
Next, we must set up guardrails in our marriage. Sometimes, when I’m driving down the road, I wonder why so many miles and miles and miles of guardrails are necessary. Why would anyone just drive that far off the road? But then, as I am driving and come across an accident that has been prevented because a car was stopped from driving head-on into oncoming traffic. Without guardrails, things are worse. You hope they aren’t necessary at all, but if they are, you’re glad they’re there. So set them up in your marriage. Make a rule about time spent alone with the opposite sex. Set up rules about communicating with your husband if a man has had private correspondence with you. Make it a rule in your own heart that every man you encounter knows that nothing he can say or do is private between only you and him. Everything – everything – is to be filtered through your husband. Seem extreme? It’s a guard rail. Perhaps you become so close to a member of the opposite sex, be it similar personalities or a shared sense of humor, that you are tempted to start comparing him to your husband? Maybe a joke crosses the line only once, but it opens a door for inappropriate thinking. We must make sure every interaction is shared because our holiness and purity in marriage are far more important.
Perhaps as a preacher’s wife, you think that you might not have to guard your marriage quite as diligently because the people you (and your husband) encounter are spiritually-minded people. However, we often have to guard our marriages even more. People come to us at their most vulnerable – their most broken. We must guard ourselves against making unhealthy emotional connections. We must work even harder to keep our marriages strong and pure and blameless. Never meet with a member of the opposite sex alone. Don’t allow women to create an unhealthy dependence on your husband (via texting, Facebook messages, emails, or meetings), nor men with you. Attend Bible studies and go on visits with your husband when he needs to do those things with a woman. Become rock-solid at keeping your mouth shut so that your husband knows you can be trusted with sensitive information; otherwise you will hurt the work instead of helping your marriage. In every way, be intentional about guarding your marriage and being beneficial in your joint effort in the kingdom.
Finally, we must seek contentment. Contentment in marriage is not something that happens based on who your husband is or isn’t. Contentment in marriage comes from the contentment that you have in Christ. If you lack contentment in your marriage, it is not your husband’s fault – regardless of how he acts. Lacking contentment in marriage is a selfishness problem. It means we are focused on our needs and our desires being fulfilled above anything else. However, the Bible instructs us to have an “agape” love for our husbands, which is a choice we make to put his best interest above our own. It is not in your husband’s best interest that you have an affair, or check out mentally of your marriage. It is not in your husband’s best interest that you complain about him constantly, speak down to him, defy his authority, or question his leadership. Not only that, though, but none of those things are in your best interest. When we let our guard down in marriage and allow ungodliness and unholiness to enter, we have allowed sin into our hearts and thus have separated ourselves from God. There is nothing worse than that. That is why we must must must choose to seek after contentment in Christ; to find our joy and strength and peace and purpose in Him. We will never have happy marriages if we are not content in Christ. We will have marriages that are unguarded and at risk of massive destruction.
There is nothing more selfish than an affair, even if you claim that it’s only because your husband isn’t ______ enough. In the ways you feel that your husband doesn’t meet your needs, rely upon God to sustain you, not Satan to entertain you. Ultimately, at its core, that’s what an affair is: seeking Satan’s attention and care instead of seeking peace with God. So guard your marriage. Don’t give place for a physical or emotional affair. Don’t let any fiery dart penetrate a relationship that God Himself has joined together. Look into the mirror and analyze what you’re projecting about yourself and your marriage, set up guard rails, and seek contentment in Christ. Guarding our marriages is worth any and every amount of effort we can pour into it because God has said we “are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate” (