Do's and Don'ts
Dean and I have been married for almost 23 years, y'all! What the cuss? Thankfully people were put in our path as we got older to model what a healthy marriage looks like and we learned how to have the hard conversations about what to do and what not to do. Marriage is not like the movies, in case you thought they were, like me. I love a good romcom! Always a happy ending, then the part where there is pretty music and they fall in love, then, oh no!, there is something wrong, but they work it out and are more in love than ever. To tell you the truth, marriage to me, is even more beautiful than that. There are hard things, and kids, and growing and changing pains, and kids, and our pasts that we still have to work through, and did I say kids? Let me just say, IT.IS.WORTH.IT. I just thought if I could share a few safeguards that we established in our marriage, maybe it could help some one.
1. Avoid being alone with a person of the opposite sex. I am telling you, it is never wise. It may start out innocent and it could possibly stay that way, but it sure gives room for concern. Friendship takes time and vulnerability to develop and that is definitely not something you should be doing with another person of the opposite gender. Honor your spouse enough to just have others around always. Even at work. I know that sounds crazy and people may think it's dumb, who cares, you are being discerning and caring well for your marriage and spouse.
2. On that same note, you should NOT keep emails, messages on social media, or phone calls a secret. If you are hiding it, you know it's wrong. I am not friends on social media with ex boyfriends and if I am in conversation with some one, an old friend or just someone asking a question, I always let Dean know. It's nothing to freak out about, its just accountability and openness with your spouse. I really believe its super important.
3. Communicate with transparency. You have to talk, guys. I know we have been on dates and literally not known what to talk about because all we could think about were our kids. It's ok. But you have to talk. Be truly honest with how you have been feeling or things that have upset you or made you frustrated. There is nothing dumb, no wrong answer. Sometimes sitting with each other and just saying something, anything, will get words going and conversations are born. Sounds silly but man, we struggled with this when our kids were little. Especially when Dean started doing a sales position at work. He would tell me he was out of words. Like, what? He had talked all day. And me, well, I always have words and I had been home with 4 kids all day. So, you can see the dilemma. Thankfully we have worked through that.
4. Boundaries with your kids is really important! We try to never argue in front of them and we also try to let them know, allll the time, that we are on the same team. Mom and Dad will not be divided. We make the rules together and stick to them, together. We have each others back. Our relationship comes first. Those are all things we have said to our kids over and over. This establishes some real security for your kids, some healthy boundaries and stability for them. It is good for them, don't let them fool you. Dean and I believe that God should be first in your life, then spouse, kids, jobs, and so on.
5. There are so many more, but I'll end on this. Do not withhold sex as a way to "punish" your spouse. Sex is the one thing that brings intimacy on a level you will never have with anyone else. It might be hard some days but it can really cause a wedge between the 2 of you and I believe there is an enemy that is lurking around wanting so badly to break up marriages. It can cause some to turn to porn or deeper friendships with some one of the opposite sex. Both are dangerous!! Also, talk about it! Ladies, I know we are tired and I know we go to bed with snot and goldfish on our clothes some nights. You will need to rally! This needs to be a priority. Obviously, there are times when it is just not going to happen, I am not saying have sex every day. HA!(or am I?) Just don't use it as leverage or as punishment. Do it. OFTEN! k. that's that.
Here is a pic of us from the late 90's, taken with a disposable camera, before we were married and no idea what was in store for us. (And obviously drinking a bud light ice.) Look how far we've come! I don't think anyone thought we'd make it past 5 years. Yet, here we are. Marriage is work but it's worth it. I hope this gives some insight. We had no clue what we were doing when we started out. Love to each of you.