How do you protect your marriage from affairs that could kill it?
“To stand firm in the battle for our marriages, we must be prepared. We can never assume that having a good marriage shelters us from temptation. In this age of “anything goes,” the wise woman will purposefully build walls around her marriage ahead of time to help close the door on opportunities for temptation.” (Judy Starr)
That also goes for the wise man.
Protect Your Marriage?
It’s like what Gary and Mona Shriver wrote in their book, Unfaithful: Hope and Healing After Infidelity:
“The fact is that very few of us start out to disrupt marital intimacy. Sometimes we simply fail to establish it. Sometimes we fail to maintain it. More often we fail to protect it. ‘It just happened’ is a common explanation for adultery. It exposes how little we understand the steps that got us there. When we don’t have appropriate hedges in place we invite it to happen.
“…You have to admit your vulnerability before you can recognize the need for protective measures. Safety glasses were created because someone got hurt. Don’t let that someone be you or your spouse.”
Last week we talked about our marriages being more vulnerable to infidelity than we realize. We think it could happen to everyone else, but us. But as we discussed last week that’s what Judy Starr thought.
Judy is the author of a book titled, “The Enticement of the Forbidden.” She and her husband had a great ministry to over 40 countries showing the Jesus film and never thought either of them could be attracted to anyone else because they loved each other and were happily involved in ministry work together. But they let their guard down and Judy found herself tempted. This can be a lesson for all of us because if it could happen to Judy, it could happen to us.
Building on last week’s message (prompted by a 2-part interview with Judy on the Family Life Today radio program with Dennis Rainey) we’d like to share a few more things, from which we could all learn. As the Bible says, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” We’re all vulnerable to temptation if we don’t stay on the alert as the scriptures tell us in 1 Peter 5.
First off, we want to say that Judy was fortunate because her husband wanted to work with her after her emotional affair to rebuild their broken relationship. That doesn’t always happen. She and her husband Stotler began the process of putting their marriage back together the way God showed them.
“I began making our marriage the priority that God intended it to be in the first place. I had allowed work to overshadow that, so I really focused on our marriage.”
“Also I really worked on rebuilding trust. Anytime I felt there was something Stotler needed to know or wanted to ask, I’d give him that opportunity; or I’d share with him things that I felt were important for him to know, so that he really sensed I wasn’t trying to hide anything. I really wanted to rebuild trust in our relationship.”
What else did Judy and her husband do to rebuild a healthier marriage? She said:
“There are basic things any marriage needs to do to build walls of protection around them, not only to reestablish trust but for the future of that marriage.”
Protect Your Marriage
The following are important practices Judy shares in this interview and her book that will strengthen and fortify the walls around your marriage:
• “The first thing is, having our times with the Lord individually.
I don’t believe there is anything more important that protects our marriage than our individual time with the Lord, making sure that we’re yielded to Him and willing to do anything that He tells us to every day. That’s absolutely the most important thing that we can do daily.”
• “And then there’s the issue of learning to protect our relationship with other men (or women), how we respond to them.
That is because in this society, it’s such a lax situation between men and women and the friendships that grow. It’s very easy for a friendship to grow quickly beyond the bounds that God intends for a friendship with another man.”
(Please note that the same goes for a man with a woman. Judy’s testimony is aimed at women but that doesn’t make it any less significant for men to apply these principles.)
Judy was then asked:
“As you look at friendships with men from church and in ministry with you, what keeps it an appropriate versus an inappropriate friendship?”
“I call it building an ‘invisible wall,’ and certainly one of the first things is not sharing personal, private information —anything that should be kept exclusively for my husband and for that relationship.
“If I find myself looking forward to sharing something with another man rather than my husband, that’s definitely a red flag. I need to focus on sharing all the things that are important in my life with my husband, first and foremost, so those needs for intimacy are met in that relationship.”
(Again, this applies to men and their dealings with other women.)
• “Build protective walls in the workplace.
The workplace is one of the first places women are being drawn to men. This is because there are so many women in the workforce these days, and it’s so easy. As women —we go to lunch with the men we work with, we’re dressed our best, we’re working with other men on the same important projects. It’s the same kind of driving thing all day.
“By the time you go home, you’ve already shared your heart with everybody else. You have nothing that you need to share with your husband anymore. We need to be so careful of saving those kinds of intimacies and those things that are exciting in our lives to be able to share with our husband.”
Please men —this applies to you also.
• For Women: “Protect your marriage through discretion in clothing.
Men become easily aroused sexually by the stimulation of sight. Therefore, what we wear is very important. To attract men to you sexually by the clothing you choose is to defraud them because you cannot (or should not!) fulfill the desire you arouse. 1 Thessalonians 4:3-6 tells us, ‘For this is the will of God —that each of you know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, and that no man transgress and defraud his brother in this matter.'”
• Protect your marriage by spending time together.
One of the best guards against infidelity comes from having your emotional needs met within your marriage. That means sticking to the plan of spending time alone together each week! Unless we purposefully protect that time, all of life’s “urgent” needs will undermine our marital intimacy like termites that slowly eat away the foundation of a house. What can be more urgent than protecting your marriage?
• Protect your marriage through accountability.
Accountability to a mature godly woman [is] invaluable. Accountability may be the key issue that makes or breaks our faithfulness to God and to our spouse. (Again, this is good advice for husbands, as well.)
You can read the 2-part transcripts for this Judy’s radio interview, which were conducted by the ministry of Family Life Today by going to Familylife.com and putting in the title, “The Enticement of the Forbidden.”
— ALSO —
An article that comes out of Judy Starr’s book (which is no longer being published) is posted on the Family Life web site. You may find it helpful to read:
There are other important things Judy Starr shares in her book, The Enticement of the Forbidden. And there are other things included in this compelling interview that you’ll want to learn about. We hope you can find a way to access to reading them.
In closing, here’s some great advice given by Dr Willard Harley:
“If you ever find yourself infatuated with someone other than your spouse, don’t walk away, RUN!”
And from the Bible:
“Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body. But he who sins sexually sins against his own body. Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own. You were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18-20)
Steve and Cindy Wright
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