Anything of value deserves to be protected—and your marriage is definitely valuable! Even when things are good in your relationship with your husband, it’s wise to keep your eyes open, communicate well, and put some “guard rails” in place to keep things on track and safe. Since women are often the more communicative half of a marriage, it may fall on you to initiate discussions and see that important things are addressed…
Every marriage has different circumstances and challenges, but there are key danger zones that are pretty standard across large numbers of couples. With those in mind, we’ve created some ways to protect your marriage– a collection of specific safeguards that can protect both of you from stumbling and 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 for you 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 the cancer that’s ruining the sex lives of countless married couples. Real life can never measure up to the hyper-sexualized 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 some ground rules to protect either 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 secretaries or assistants 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 then stick to it. The two of you should decide together how your income will be used 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. Decide together on 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 for the children should be, and then 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 time with others more than your spouse, you might soon feel like you have more in common with those outside people. Limit the hours spent 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 love to engage in husband-bashing or who find such behavior cute.
10. Share your faith together. 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 there are some things you can probably guess your spouse’s reaction to, be careful not to assume too much. When in doubt, ask.
12. Transparent communication. The only reason to have a cell phone or online password that your spouse doesn’t know is if you have something to hide. Both partners in a marriage should be completely comfortable with having their spouse look 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, call and 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 husband or wife’s whereabouts breeds suspicion and resentment.
14. Taboo Topics. 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 a situation your spouse wouldn’t be comfortable with, or that puts your marital integrity at risk.