Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Wifey Wednesday: 3 Ways to Protect Your Relationship

Protecting Your Relationship

When the married couples you know get it right, the world is a better place. I simply have to share a moment of awesomeness from a young couple I know.

The husband of the couple is the Godfather of our oldest daughter. We chose him when he was still single. I mean, think about it, a 20ish man in the military as the spiritual backup for our daughter? If that doesn't tell you that he's a cut above, let me just tell you: he's a cut above. His wife is of the same stuff.

It shows in their relationship, too. Neither one of them worry much about what other people think of them. They are not full of the modern psychobabble that causes them to second guess the priorities they give to their relationship. They have made each other and their child the center of their lives and make no excuses to anyone about it. I think it helps that they were both faithful to one another from the beginning: meaning they lived chaste lives before and after they met. It has kept the complications from creeping in. Can you imagine? A marriage without baggage! It changes the whole ballgame.

The simplicity of their relationship shows up in the subtlest ways. Take for example this phone call from the other day. The wife of the couple called me to arrange for a Godfather and Goddaughter snow cone get-together. When it came time to talk details of timing and meeting places she said very casually and cheerfully, "Let me let you talk to my husband. Just a moment!" and handed the phone over.

That may not sound like much, but let me clue you in on some of the subtle ways this phone call indicates that they both habitually and naturally protect their marriage. In this particular instance their marriage was reaffirmed as precious in three subtle moments. In each of these, a clear boundary was established between the two of them and everyone else in the world, including me. The three relationship preserving techniques they used were: "Marital Force Field Activated!", "It's Us!", and "No exceptions!" Let's look at each of these more closely...

-- 1 --
"Marital Force Field Activated!"
When she initiated the call instead of him, she activated a subtle boundary like a marital force field of protection around them both. Her making the call established that she and I are the primary contact of the couple. I have the same habit. With all my married friends, unless I have to discuss specific business with him (like a birthday or Christmas gift for her) I make all my calls to her when I have to talk to them. It puts a social boundary between maried members of the opposite sex. Naturally!

But think about it, for a moment. We are taught in our modern days that we aren't supposed to do such a thing. It's clingy, possessive, old fashioned, or cited as evidence that the husband is too lazy to make telephone calls. Actually, it is just plain old fashioned common sense. Remember that the Catholic penitent promises to God at the end of every Confession to "avoid the near occasions of sin." That means we are bound by that promise to make a prudent attempt to keep ourselves out of temptation's way. Habitually chatting on the phone or getting together to hang out with members of the opposite sex is one of those near occasions and should be curtailed when possible.

In this modern era when the divorce rate is skyrocketing, it's just smart to avoid such situations. This young wife's telephone manners of initiating this call made the entire conversation more comfortable for me and for him in this regard. She stepped in and claimed their social status as a couple. "We are one!" this little act stated, right off the bat. Force fields up!
    Go ahead, be old fashioned:
    Marriages lasted back then

-- 2 --
"It's Us!"

When she said, "Let me let you talk to my husband!" before handing the phone over, this couple declared in a subtle and nonconfrontational way that there was a very clear boundary around the two of them. He was right there next to her, she right next to him, the entire time. The call was a call from them, not just him. It was a mannerly reminder that they belong together and all interaction with others is filtered through the relationship they share. "We are one!" they declared again, quite naturally. So naturally, in fact, that I doubt either was even aware of making that statement.  

-- 3 --
"No exceptions!"
It doesn't matter that she and I are friends, that he is the Godfather to my daughter. Many a woman and many a man has allowed for someone outside the marriage to come in between the two who are married because the exception seemed so logical. "She's my best friend." "He was friends with her before she met me." "He's my brother." Couples need to understand that the only person who can squeeze into the marital bond without damaging or destroying it is a Person with a capital p: Christ. Any other person, other than the children the relationship engenders, belongs clearly on the other side of the line that defines the difference between Us and Them.

The phone call was a success in more ways than one. The couple made me proud to know them, gave me some blog fodder, and established that my husband and I were smart in our choice of Godfather for our girl. Oh yes, and I am very happy to state that the Goddaughter was treated to a snow cone and bragged for days about having the bestest Godfather of all. I have chatted several times on the phone with his lovely wife about it and other things, among them that I was going to brag about her here. It is nice to know that, young as they are, my husband and I have friends like these. Friends who strengthen our marriage by the good example of their own.


  1. I like the way you think. So many times we don't establish boundaries in our relationships and it opens the door to unnecessary influences--which sometimes mean well. I wrote about this a few years ago and asked the question: are your friends, friend of your marriage?

    It seems that the young couple are friends of your marriage and you are friends of theirs for even seeing the real unity in their relationship. God bless you and them and your daughter.

    1. I love that idea of being "friends of your marriage." Could you share the link on what you wrote about that, Makasha?

  2. Excellent points, all of them. And speaking of boundaries, my husband and I have chosen not to have Facebook friends of the opposite sex, no matter how "harmless" they are. There is no reason any other man should know that many details of my personal life, and vice versa. It lowers boundaries, creates a false sense of connectedness, and opens the door for all sorts of problems. Just not going there. Little foxes spoil the grapes. This is my first visit to your blog, and I'm so glad I stopped by! Lori, from Be Not Weary

    1. Welcome to my little blog, Lori. :)

      You raise a very good point about Facebook and social networking. My husband and I have open access to each other's accounts and passwords, and he's politely answered a FB message or two to establish that fact when it seemed like a reminder was needed. I think that you have given it much more thought than we did, though. We'll be discussing this over Thanksgiving while we're cooking! Thanks for the comment. We may be changing things because of you!

    2. Dear Anonymous,

      I don't mind anonymous comments, but I do mind rudeness. Though I could see your point, shouting gets deleted.

  3. So true! I always talk to the wifely half of a couple, too, when making plans, and just chalked it up to girliness or the fact that women like planning more than men. This opens my eyes, though, to the fact that it really is a good way of establishing boundaries and unity!

    1. That's the nature of marriage sometimes, isn't it? We do a lot of it right before we realize why it is right. Maybe it is built in by God or we took it in from our parents. It makes you wonder!

  4. I love this post! Generally I will send a text message to my friends to invite them over for dinner. I have 2 friends, they just got married in June. I always feel like only texting my girl friend and let her tell her husband about it, but sometimes think he'd feel excluded so I include them all in the group message.

    I am so glad to feel validated in reading this, that I should reach out to her. It's also a good note for me because I'm good friends with an exboyfriend of mine, and I'm friendly with his fiance. I often invite them over, but contact him. I will definitely reach out to her from now on too. I respect her being open to our friendship, so that will help show that.

  5. What a terrific post! I immediately sent it to two of my cousins, who both have marriages exactly like this. I credit my aunt and uncle for raising those girls so beautifully! I have been married 18 years, and although we both had some "before" baggage and made some not-so-great decision when we were single, I love that our marriage is right on this track. My girlfriends and I always laugh about how our "social" lives revolve around the wives and their friendships, and the husbands often tag along. But in this light, that's just how it should be.