Ladies, there seem to be three major areas that are like quicksand for marriage: in-laws, children, and other men. You can be sailing along together, enjoying all the areas of intimacy, but suddenly you step into the dangers of one of these landmines, and you and your husband might find yourself in trouble fast. In her book, Becoming the Woman of His Dreams: Seven Qualities Every Man Longs For, Sharon Jaynes offers this list of twenty-five ways to safeguard your marriage from these inevitable traps.
When it comes to in-laws…
- Have a plan of when in-laws will visit and how long they will stay. Put the dates on the calendar to mark the beginning and the end of the visit.
- Take a walk if you find yourself growing frustrated. Find ways to stay refreshed during their visit. A walk outside can offer you fresh air and a little bit of margin.
- Destroy the list of negative character flaws or irritations. Don’t let yourself dwell on anything you don’t like about them.
- Create a list of positive attributes and admirable qualities. Write down your list. Consider sharing it with your spouse as well. Your positivity can be contagious.
- Let negative comments roll off your back. Choose to believe the best about the person who speaks negative comments. Try to paint their words with a positive shade, and give grace to allow for what they may have meant to say instead.
- Prepare for the holidays by communicating expectations ahead of time. Some people like do all the baking; others want to stay out of the kitchen. Some like to keep all the traditions in place; others like to try new things every year. Have a conversation to communicate these expectations.
- Pray. It can be helpful to write down a verse to carry in your pocket and read when you have a few minutes alone. For example, Ephesians 4:32 (NLT), “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
When it comes to children…
- Get away once or twice a year without the children. A weekend in the spring and fall can go a long way to staying connected. Remember what it was like when there were only two.
- Get creative and plan a date night once a week. This tradition helps you stay connected, and it models for the children that you two belong to each other above all else.
- Get lovey-dovey and stop what you’re doing to give him a hug when he comes in the door in the evening. Who doesn’t like to be noticed? Stop what you’re doing and show him you’re glad he came home.
- Get intentional about looking for ways to show him he’s still number one in your life. Leave notes on his pillow or next to his toothbrush. Plan a post-bedtime picnic in your bedroom. Pick up his favorite dessert the next time you’re at the grocery store. Remind him that you know him, you see him, and he is loved.
- Get personal by having intimate conversations with no interruptions. Bedroom doors have locks for this very reason.
- Get your husband involved in caring for the children. Invite him to read the bedtime story. Often the same story comes alive again in Dad’s voice. (And you can listen from the hallway… or take a break.)
- Get practical and think of ways to reignite the flame of passion once the baby comes. (Perhaps nap when the baby naps.) Let’s be honest: your body is exhausted in every single way, and the last thing you may want is someone else waiting for you to serve him with it. Though it seems contrived and may lack spontaneity, put “intimacy” on the calendar. This gives you time to prepare, and it gives your husband something to look forward to.
When it comes to other men…
- Have an accountability partner (a Christian woman friend) with whom you can admit any tempting thoughts. If need be, ask her to pray for you. Choose someone who can ask the hard questions, someone with whom you can be completely honest. Ask her to expect the highest standards from you.
- Avoid contact with any man to whom you feel attracted, either emotionally or physically. Be honest with yourself and set boundaries.
- Avoid having a male best friend. It’s just not smart or healthy for your marriage. Give your husband the first and best portion of your friendship.
- Avoid telling your marriage problems to another man. Even if he has good advice, it’s too easy for him to become the hero.
- Avoid having a male confidant. Don’t say anything to another man that you wouldn’t first share with the one you’re married to. Share with your husband and your best girls.
- Do not believe Satan’s lies that life could be better with another man or that you’ve simply married the wrong person. If the grass looks greener somewhere else, then get busy watering your own lawn.
- Avoid being alone with another man (whether socially or professionally). It seems like a difficult boundary to keep in today’s professional circles, but it’s a safeguard that matters.
- Avoid seemingly innocent Internet relationships. There just aren’t very many Internet-exclusive relationships with the opposite sex that are safe and innocent. Give your husband your passwords and don’t keep secrets.
- Stay connected to God through Bible study and prayer. Stay connected to the vine so you can stay healthy for your husband and your family.
- Stay emotionally connected to your husband. Recall and revisit the ways you fell in love. Be a good listener and his best encourager.
- Pray for your husband daily. Ask your husband how you can pray for him, and write his requests on a 3×5 card. Post it where you’ll see it often, and lift him up to the Lord throughout the day. Consider setting an alarm on your phone to actively interrupt your day and remind you to pray for the man you married.