Gary's blog for couples and parents plus resources for individuals, leaders and churches.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Marriage Insurance - Guard Your Heart.

The wisdom-filled book of Proverbs in chapter 4, verse 23 suggests a profound and vital guideline for life in general and certainly for our marriages: Above all else, guard your heart. We must remember that while we may be totally committed to our spouse and have the best of intentions in every situation, our hearts can be swayed by another.

This can be especially true during times when our normal communication and interactions with one another are strained or limited. This can happen during extended times of separation, one of us having an illness, our children being new or very young and when our marriage hits other rocky spots.

If we're not on guard, another person's attention, interest, listening ear and even spiritual maturity towards us can become very attractive, filling a need that isn't being met at home. There may be absolutely no desire to be involved with one another but we can start to connect on a soul level that can fill an empty place in us that feels wonderful at the time. We can start to want to be with them even more because their attention feels like a cup of cold water in the desert.

This is often how affairs start. A physical connection comes but only after the soul and spirit were joined. And let's not be naive here. Inappropriate relationships between two married people or a married person and another often take place in Christian settings including the church. Christians often spend large amounts of times as leaders, church staff and the like getting close to one another through ministry, prayer, meetings and activities.

Picture the worship team, for example, who regularly practice, encourage one another and pray together. They're doing things that matter for God's glory and have wonderfully fulfilling times being with one another.

Those kinds of situations are usually a good thing but only we guard our hearts! Keep male and female relationships appropriate. You may think our approach is too strong but I'll share it with you any way. Jackie and I never have coffee or a meal alone with someone else of the opposite sex who isn't a relative. I never counsel with a woman alone when there isn't someone else in another office nearby. In addition my assistant always knows she's there.

We are committed to guarding our hearts. Neither of us have opposite sex friends who aren't also the friend of our spouse. Once a number of years ago I was counseling a female college student at my church and she locked her keys in her car. She asked if I would be willing to take her the short fifteen minutes into her apartment on campus to get her keys.

My response was that I'd be happy to do that but I needed to see if my wife could go along. Sure enough Jackie was able to join me and we took her to get her extra set of keys. You know, that was an important decision for me to make for me, but it sent a strong message to Jackie as well that I'm not going to take risks with our relationship. Was a college student interested in an old guy like me? Hardly. But guarding my heart was just as important as protecting her whether that mattered to her or not.

We've all seen relationships implode because of immorality or an affair, haven't we? And I know I've rarely seen that happen without drastic consequences. No one's ever said to me, "You know, Gary, I'm kind of glad that affair happened. It really has worked out for the best for me and my family." Instead, there is deep heartache, hurt and pain that stays for years. Even if healing and restoration occur (and they can), the process is long and involved.

Save your marriage from all that. Put up some appropriate, but wise barriers now and let God help you guard your heart!
Gary Sinclair Writer | Speaker | Leader

Gary is currently a consultant, teacher, speaker and chaplain providing resources for families, leaders and churches.

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