We’re visiting family this week and have been going through pictures and stories. One story that inevitably comes up is the story about when I was 15 and dad entrusted me to pull the car up at the grocery store. I got in the car and took the “long way” around the parking lot to feel a bit of freedom.
You know those people who park their car in the middle of nowhere so nobody dings their car with a car door? Well, THAT person parked in that parking lot. While I was driving around, I was glancing around to see when my parents where exiting the store when it happened. Her parked car hit my moving car…at least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
A quote I came across by Marriage Works this week was:
Between the quote and my family bringing up my first car crash, I thought I’d take our weekly marriage blog and deal with an issue that so many people struggle with. It’s the issue of other people either trying to steer your marriage and/or you allowing someone else to steer your marriage. Like MW says, I’m all about advice from others (for Pete’s sake, I have a marriage blog I better believe in advice). But there’s a difference between…
…advising and meddling
…seeking wisdom and refusing to take responsibility
…getting counsel and getting manipulated by people
I believe wisdom comes from a multitude of counselors, but when the rubber meets the road, you and yours spouse need to be in control of the direction. Here’s some practical help to make sure the “steering wheel” stays in your hands.
1. The way to keep control is to “lose control.” Colossians gives us great advice in 2 specific spots. First in Colossians 1, says “in him all things hold together.” He not just able to hold the world together, he is able to hold YOUR world together. Secondly, I like how the message says it in Colossians 3, “Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives.” Here, Paul reminds us that when it comes to the Word (The Bible), we should do more than invite it in, but let His Word give the direction for your home and marriage. Keep Christ central. Give plenty of room for His Word in your life. Because when the storms of life come, the one who builds his house upon the rock of Christ will still be standing (Matthew 7:24-27).
2. Protect confidentiality with your spouse. Nehemiah 7:3 says the people stood guard over their home. Your home needs to feel safe. But if you are breaking confidence with your spouse, your spouse will not feel safe enough to share, let alone, open up to you. I understand the need for close friends. I understand there are people you have shared with for years and years and, for some, those friend you have known for longer than you’ve known your spouse. …BUT it cannot break the confidentiality of the marriage. If you feel the need to share with an outside source, ask for permission to share and ONLY share what has been granted.
3. Limit interference. Boundaries are good to set up BY your marriage (notice I didn’t write “boundaries IN the marriage…there’s a difference). Learn to have tough conversations with friends AND, especially, family. Sometimes we endure unnecessary pain in our marriage to prevent the painful conversations that are absolutely necessary. A TRUTH I’ve shared before on a Sunday: You can give unconditional love without giving unrestricted access to everybody. It is not unbiblical or unloving to restrict a relationship. Boundaries are biblical. Psalm 1:1 says, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” There’s some people my marriage cannot be around and stay on our journey. There are some people we cannot give access to our heart and dreams or else they will deter our destiny. Prov. 4:23 says “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Again, boundaries don’t mean you don’t love them…It means you don’t have to live at anyone else’s level but what the Holy Spirit has set up for you. You are called to be a steward of the marriage that the Lord has given you.
4. Keep your kids away from the wheel. Sometimes as parents, we center our marriage around our children so much that, when they’re gone, we have to spend time re-discovering each other. I love Cammi and Ethan more than they will ever know. BUT they do not run my marriage. They’re not allowed behind the wheel of the direction of the marriage. My marriage cannot take a backseat to them. It needs to thrive during child rearing for our sake. Really, it needs to thrive for their sake as well. Does that mean I don’t sacrifice for them? No. We’ve laid down a lot for them. But we don’t put our needs (physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual) on hold for the 18 years of them living in our house. I’ve seen that crumble marriages. We’ve had to learn to get creative and to purpose to grow our marriage in the midst of the chaos of parenting. Hebrews 13:4 says it best, “Let marriage be held in honor among all…”
Stay in the driver’s seat! Your parents, your friends, and certainly your children don’t belong there. It’s a place reserved only for you, your spouse, and Jesus.
Keep on track and enjoy the ride.
Thanks for letting me ramble…