Be an open (e)-book — My husband and I can pick up one another’s computers or phones at any time of the day and see what the other has been up to. Of course, this means we trust each other not to post humiliating Facebook statuses on one another’s profiles, but our message histories, internet searches, email and texts are open to one another. If we wanted to, we could see what the other was reading at any given time. Given how many secrets people try to keep in different online avenues, it seems increasingly important to have your online self be open to your spouse at any given point.

Bring your spouse to the office party — Building a relationship with your spouse’s closer friends and co workers can be a very healthy part of living an integrated, faithful life. Attending that work picnic or end-of-year holiday party and getting to know the people your spouse works with day-by-day by name can be a very healthy way to stay accountable.

Watch your small talk — There is a time and place for sharing some of the challenges that marriage bring, but sharing them with friends or co-workers of the opposite sex can be highly flammable ground. Making jokes or aside comments about your “nagging wife” or your husband who’s “married to his video game” create a gulf between you and your spouse; and by the time you have a friend expressing sympathy for your hard-knock-married-life and saying “I’ve always thought you were nice”, and “they should treat you better”, you might already be forming a dangerous alliance.

Own your responsibility — It is your responsibility to be faithful to your spouse, not your spouse’s responsibility to be so irresistible that you would never dream of unfaithfulness. Own your own stuff. It is not a wife’s job to be “so hot that he never looks elsewhere”, or a husband’s job to be “so attentive that she never dreams of confiding in someone else. Husbands: your eyes are your own responsibility. Wives: guard your heart. If you find yourself drawn to someone else emotionally, mentally or physically, this is a wake-up call for you to make yourself accountable and do some work in your marriage.

Stay spiritually connected to God – Both our sexuality and our spiritually reflect something profound about our human experience: a desire to be connected to others and to God respectively. Experiencing relational emptiness with God can sometimes leave us reaching for connection… in the wrong places. And conversely: those who are walking closely with God don’t go looking for fulfillment outside of their covenant relationships. Taking care of your soul, perhaps in the company of trusted mentor or spiritual director, can do a lot to encourage us in discipleship as well as protect our marriages.

Marriage is a long journey: full of surprisingly beautiful vistas and some alarmingly bumpy patches. Cultivating the habits of faithfulness can do a lot to make sure our marriages are road-worthy from the get-go, long before we find ourselves in a ditch.

 

Excerpts from ‘Start marriage right’