Anything of value deserves to be protected—and your marriage is definitely valuable. Even when your relationship with your husband is good, it’s wise to keep your eyes open, communicate well, and put some guard rails in place to keep it safe. Since women are often more communicative than men, it may fall on you to initiate discussions of some important topics.
Every marriage has different circumstances and challenges, but the key danger zones are pretty standard for many couples. It is possible, however, to preserve your relationship, if you use these important safeguards to protect yourselves from damaging or destroying the most important bond in your family’s life.
1. No secrets.
There’s never a good reason to keep a secret from your spouse. We’re not talking about what your real hair color is, ladies. We’re talking about where the money goes, where you’ve been, and what’s really going on in your relationship and family. Honesty is essential.
2. No opposite-sex friendships.
You can be friends with other couples together, but it’s a terrible idea to have a close relationship with anyone of the opposite sex outside of that.
3. No porn.
It may be quietly acceptable in some social circles, but it’s ruining the sex lives of countless married couples. Real life isn’t like the choreographed world of pornography and exposure to it can rob you of the chance for a natural, fulfilling relationship. This goes for both partners and includes erotic fiction.
4. Agree upon work boundaries.
Understanding that professional men and women work together and that many affairs begin in this environment, it’s important for you and your spouse to agree on ground rules to protect both of you from falling into this trap. Special caution should be taken with business travel.
5. Know your spouse’s co-workers.
Don’t skip that office Christmas party and, if possible, have at least a little familiarity with any co-workers who work daily with your spouse. Pop in to take him to lunch occasionally—not as surveillance, but just to be familiar with his world and to spot trouble if it arrives.
6. Negotiate the family budget and stick to it.
Decide together how to use your income and what your financial goals are. Once those guidelines are set, failing to live within them is dishonest and unfair. If something unusual comes up, talk about it. But be transparent about who’s spending what.
7. Establish boundaries for the kids.
Disagreeing on parenting can be toxic to your marriage and disastrous for your kids. Talk about what the rules and expectations are for the children and support one another by sticking to your joint decision.
8. Beware of extreme time-eating hobbies.
It’s fine to have individual interests, but if your hobby or passion causes you to spend more time with others than with your spouse, you might begin to believe you have more in common with them, and you might begin to put them first. Limit the time you spend on separate endeavors each week or find something you enjoy doing together.
9. Be loyal.
It’s a mean world out there. Your spouse needs to be able to count on you to speak positively about him and defend him if necessary. Avoid friends who engage in husband-bashing or who find such behavior cute.
10. Share your faith.
Couples who share a similar faith and communicate regularly about that have an anchor to help them make decisions and a set of fundamental beliefs to keep their thinking in harmony on most issues.
11. Don’t assume. Ask.
While sometimes you correctly could guess how your spouse will react to something, be careful not to assume too much. When in doubt, ask.
12. Communicate with transparency.
The only reason to have a cell phone or online password your spouse doesn’t know is if you have something to hide. Both partners should be completely comfortable if their spouse looks at any social media accounts, text messages, or other forms of communication.
13. Be accountable.
It’s not a sign of a lack of trust for married couples to check in with one another. It’s a sign of the times we live in. If you’re going to be late, let your spouse know. If you’re going to lunch with a group from the office, shoot your spouse a quick text to say so. Finding out about these things later or being left to wonder about a spouse’s whereabouts breeds suspicion and resentment.
14. Establish good boundaries.
You’re married. That means it’s no longer OK to talk about sex around members of the opposite sex (especially as it pertains to you personally), and it’s definitely not OK to flirt, no matter how much you insist that it’s nothing. Every affair in the history of the world started out as “nothing.”
15. Be careful with Girls/Guys Night Out.
If you or your spouse likes to get together with friends on occasion, make sure they’re like-minded friends who won’t drag either of you into situations your spouse wouldn’t be comfortable with or that put your marital integrity at risk.
How do you protect your marriage?