Mark and I have been great friends since we were 11 years old. We bonded and shared our lives with each other in a beautiful level. This friendship, then, grew into an intimate relationship. We fell in love. I fell in love with my best friend.
However, I have also always been “one of the boys” and Mark enjoyed being friends with girls, too. There was a phase in my life where I greatly enjoyed a computer game called League of Legends and this opened more doors of friendship for me, specifically with guys. Mark and I have always supported each other when it comes to friendships, even towards the opposite sex. In fact, Mark has a lot of female friends who he hangs out with.
Things had to change when we got married, though.
Marriage is probably the biggest target of the enemy. When a husband and wife falls apart, the entire family deals with the pain and consequences. It’s like hitting many birds with one stone.
Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say. Do not let your heart turn to her ways or stray into her paths. Many are the victims she has brought down; her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is a highway to the grave, leading down to the chambers of death. Proverbs 7:24-27
Have you ever heard of relationships that failed because their partners had other best friends? That person we spend more time with, that person we trust more, that person we rely on more, that person we call out in times of trouble, that person we share our joys with, that person we think of first when we had whether a good or bad day. Our best friend. Well, in marriage, your spouse is your best friend. I think that relationships must first be built on friendship. We must first connect with a person in that level first before we can get intimate with them. Friendship is the foundation of a relationship while God is the core and overall protection.
Earlier this morning, I was thinking how important this topic is and that maybe it would be of great help to some of you out there. So, I am going to share why and how we protect our marriage.
We both get exposed and will be exposed to different people in our lives and that means having to interact with others including the opposite sex. Friendship is amazing! God made us to interact and live with others. Sadly, the enemy uses the beauty of friendships to tempt us. Tempt us into thinking that maybe our spouse is not the best for us, maybe there’s someone out there who would fit us better, maybe we made the wrong choice.
Even people who were once madly in love with each other fall into temptation. Everyone gets tempted everyday. Temptation is a part of our daily living. We get tempted to quit, we get tempted to eat junk food, we get tempted to sleep instead of working, we get tempted to spend on unnecessary things. It’s our response to temptation that matters.
We spend more time with others than we spend with our spouse. We work 5-6 days a week and 8-10 hours a day. That’s why it matters to keep the bond strong. That’s why it’s important to still put an effort in pursuing and protecting each other.
And in marriage, giving in to temptation leads to a very dark path and each member of the family gets dragged in it. Let me give you a picture. A man might find a girl at work attractive. There’s nothing wrong with this until he finds himself trying to build connection with her. Sooner or later, they spend lunch breaks together. The ending? I think you know. Women are also no exception. Sometimes, when our husbands tend to lack somewhere, we pour our hearts out to someone. “He understands me better”, we think. The result? I think you know, too.
It’s not about being malicious. It’s about accepting that we are humans who have weaknesses. There’s nothing wrong in wanting to draw a clean, bold, and vivid line towards our relationships with the others.
The battlefield of temptation is not outside; it is inside. It starts with a deceived heart and mind. Outside or physical actions of giving in to temptation is a sign that we have lost the battle inside. That’s why we must have to guard our hearts first. Guard what is inside first.
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23
Unfollowing Accounts That Disturb My Peace
Mark and I have decided that we would filter our follows. How do I expect my husband to stop looking at other women when I can’t stop looking at other men? I used to follow accounts of guy crushes but have found myself admiring them more than I should. I should keep my lens focused on my husband. If a woman finds it offending for a man to look at other women, why would it be acceptable for a woman to stare at another man? “I’m just appreciating him”, we say, yet get hurt when our husbands give us the same excuse.
We Don’t Spend “Isolated Time” with the Opposite Sex
We avoid being left alone with the opposite sex. We don’t eat lunch or study one on one with the opposite gender. We prefer going out on three’s.
Of course it’s impossible to 100% achieve it. When it comes to situations we can’t avoid, we just text each other just for a heads up. “Hey honey, I am here at the library with *name* right now.” We don’t need to explain why we’re together or justify our actions too much. Just really like “letting you know because I don’t want you to perceive another meaning about this. Because you matter to me”.
Mark and I used to be on a long distance relationship. He said he had work to do with his female classmate in his dorm. Yes, his dorm. A girl and a boy in one room doing work. I know there’s nothing wrong, I trust him. But what would others think? What about temptation? No matter how I put it, it just didn’t feel right. I very very rarely confront Mark about girls because I want him to know I trust him. This enables him to trust me, too. I said, “I don’t know honey. I don’t feel comfortable. Something doesn’t seem right. Why don’t you guys just go to a computer shop?”. His excuse was, “we’re trying to save money. I have a computer and wifi here in my dorm. Maybe I could just keep my door open?”. True, so I just let him make his decisions. At least he knew how I felt. Moments later, he called me. “Hi honey, I’m with *name* right now, we’re doing our work in my room. I invited *guy friend* over (his dorm neighbor). They’re friends, too. We’ll do our work and catch up, too.”
Another scenario was when he had to spend houuuuurs in a coffee shop with a girl because they had to interview each other for a project. Their course is Psychology so it really involves interactions. I supported him but admittedly, I wasn’t at peace at first. They finished so late! But then, Mark called me, “Hi hon, how are you? We just finished….” and basically told me how it went. He actually shared a lot about me.
It’s nothing like reporting to someone but more of, “hey, your feeling matter to me and I just want you to know that”
Asking, “How’s your heart?”
We are open to each other about temptation. Especially, Mark. I don’t know how he handles it so well. I am the one who has more sharing to do about temptations of the heart. It really helps to get it out in the light rather than hiding it in the dark. When I tell my husband about my struggles, they seem to lighten. I remember telling Mark that I was feeling comfort with this guy. This guy was always so nice and thoughtful to me (and everyone else). But I came to a point where I felt that my level of appreciation for him has gone more than what I should be feeling. I started to like seeing him, like being around him, and finding comfort in him.
I am really grateful to the Lord for working on my husband; he can smoothly and gently respond to me with, “Why, honey? Is there something wrong? Have I been lacking in something lately? Why do you feel this way?”. And he’s right, our focus only tends to get diverted during times when our spouses do not seem to be fulfilling a certain need. In my case, my weakness is in lack of time and appreciation. There’s no justification to this action; that’s why we should humble ourselves, admit our faults and weaknesses, and apologize. Even when the line has not been crossed yet.
Being able to be honest with each other builds trust. And being humble enables us to improve. Be honest that we have weaknesses and being humble that we have shortcomings. Cheating can never be justified, what ever the reason is, it is wrong. But we can be open to our partners when we feel weak, and we can still be there for each other. Beside, we are best friends, right?
We Don’t Open Up Our Hearts with The Opposite Sex
When we open up to someone, it’s like giving tiny bits of our hearts to that person. It takes trust, understanding, and connection to be able to open our hearts. That’s why it’s natural to feel safe and loved when we open up and that person gives us comfort and affirmation.
Unfortunately, this positive intention is often mistaken as love (romantic love). And this honest gesture’s line is too thin, that once we touch, is easy to cross. We begin trusting and communicating with others in a level that we shouldn’t; in a level that is meant only for our partners.
Mark and I agreed that it would be the best for our marriage to open up to our own girl friends (mine) and guy friends (his). We also protect our marriage by opening up only to people who we can trust. We prefer opening up to our discipleship group leaders because we know that they will give us healthy advice and will not judge us for our mistakes. We never lash out our problems to a random person or people who will not have a positive contribution to our problems.
We do not open up to the opposite sex for comfort. That’s something we have to give to each other. Even though it’s hard, we do our best to talk to each other with much gentleness and sincerity during challenges. After awhile, we comfort each other. We do not open up our hearts to any other person but to each other. We don’t get the best of each other sometimes, but we’d never opt to give even the tiniest piece of our hearts to another person.
We Make It A Point to Spend Quality Time Together
Like I said, we spend more time with others than with each other because that is the nature of studying and working. Almost everyone is in the same set up, I believe. This is the reason that we have to make the most of whatever little time we have for each other.
For as much as we can, we commit to eating dinner together. We really wait for each other. We also spend at least 2 hours before bed time talking to each other, watching videos/movies/series, giving each other a back rub. We make sure to start and end the day with each other.
We also prioritize date nights. Though weekly date nights really is the best option, monthly date nights are what is best for us at the moment. We try our hardest not to skip that.
Sometimes, love is spelled as T-I-M-E. Whether it is a date night or just simply bonding at home, talking about how our day went, it still counts. Every marriage demand time and effort. No matter how understanding we can be when it comes to schedule, we MUST spend time together. We MUST carve time for each other. We MUST remember that marriage is as (if not MORE than) important as career or business is.
When I think about it …
Marrying someone means going through life with someone. It means sharing both the good and bad times with each other. It means spending the next 5, 10, 20, 40, 60, years together. It means giving the rest of your days here on Earth to someone.
Marriage is a tie between me, my husband, and the Lord. No one else. I love my husband and he loves me. We trust each other, value each other, and long to protect each other. We share the same joy and the same pain. Why would I want to get into this kind of connection with anyone else? Why would I think that there is a person other than Mark who can provide me with love and comfort? Beneath our marriage is a strong foundation of friendship.
We are both meant to be friends with other people, be friends with both male and female. But we are meant to be best friends only with each other. Whenever we connect with another person in a level that is only meant for the both of us, how do you think that would make one of us feel? When we let someone in, in a chamber of our hearts, where our spouse is meant to be, what does that tell you?
If you have this beautiful connection with your partner, keep on protecting that. If you don’t have it yet, make it your priority to build up your friendship. Make it your priority to have God at the center while making friendship your foundation.
Build your friendship, and protect your marriage.
A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother (Prov. 18:24).