Nov 07

Hello Friends! I think there comes a time in every marriage when the relationship between the husband and wife is affected by someone outside the marriage, be it a parent, a sibling, a friend, a boss, a child, or even someone random. Often most of the people outside of our marriage have been a part of our lives longer than our spouse. Many times those people have influenced us in our decision making, been there through the dark times, and had quite an impact on helping us to become the person we are today. So then, what should their role be in the context of our marriage? How does the relationship have to change? Does it even have to change? What new boundaries need to be established going forward in light of this new covenant I made before God?

I have found that many, if not all, of the relationships I had prior to my marriage had to be examined in light of my bond with my husband. The relationships that were healthy to begin with, I noticed, became even better. Where there was a respect of boundaries and for the covenant of marriage, the relationships continued to flourish. However, what became apparent very quickly were the unhealthy relationships both my husband and I had with friends and family that needed to change. This happened in a variety of ways. Because my husband and I were now “one”, anyone against him was against me too, and vice versa. Many, many arguments between my husband and I were about these very things.

You see, prior to getting married, friends and family were very important to us. In fact, in many cases friends were considered family. This happens with both men and women, but with men I think the bond of brotherhood runs deeper, especially if the man was single for a longer period of time. For women, we form emotional bonds with people which are not easily broken. Those people love us deeply, and we love them, so why does the relationship have to change? Because in the covenant you made before your spouse and before God you promised to put your spouse above all else. They have become closer to you than any relationship you have ever had on earth, and the relationship you share with them is only second to your relationship with God. No other person in your life can even come close to the oneness you now have with your spouse. As we are in Christ and He is in us, so we reflect that principle in our marriages.

I write to you as a loving warning, to let you know the dangers of not establishing proper boundaries with those we love outside of our marriage. Just because we are now married does not mean we need to cut off the rest of the world. It just means that the rest of the world is now second to it. It means that anything setting itself up against the marriage needs to be dealt with and given proper boundaries so the relationships can continue in a healthy way. I have learned that unhealthy relationships outside of the marriage can create great conflict within the marriage. It is imperative that you protect your marriage, for Satan hates it and will attack it from all sides if there is an open door.

If you are struggling with this, I recommend a couple of things to try. First, do not share your marital problems with anyone close enough to you to have a skewed view of the situation. Doing so invites them in to a place they do not belong. It gives them reason to resent your spouse because they love you and do not want to see you hurting. Trust me when I tell you, their perspective will not help you, because typically they see and empathize only with your side. Rather, seek help from an objective third party, be it a counselor, a mentor, a pastor, or someone in this sphere. Someone who will not pass judgement and can see clearly enough to really give wise counsel from the Lord.

Second, take your grievances to the Lord, especially with regard to unhealthy relationships. Ask God to change the dynamic of the relationship or remove it if needed. I remember that there was a relationship that was very unhealthy that created a lot of tension in my marriage. Without getting into details, I prayed that God would handle it, and I stopped nagging my husband, and within a couple of months the person was removed for a time. When the relationship was restored, it was restored in a healthy way, and there have not been any issues since. God desires us to have healthy relationships, and He will protect your marriage if you give Him the room and authority to do so.

Third, I highly recommend reading Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend. This book teaches you the importance of establishing boundaries and gives you practical instructions on how to do it. It explains what healthy boundaries look like so you can decipher whether or not you have established them and what areas in your relationships are in need of some work. Reading this book and establishing boundaries has been a real paradigm shift in my marriage. There were areas I didn’t even realize were a problem. I am not an expert on this. In fact, many of the things I have learned I got from this book. This book was written from a biblical perspective and gives many of the principles of God in setting up good boundaries.

Fourth, love and forgive. Remember, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. (See Ephesians 6:10-18) Our struggle is not with the people, but with the oppression, the dissention, the evil trying to set itself up against our marriage. We are called to love people, and forgive them, because they do not even know what they are doing. Even if they do know what they are doing, it is up to God to decipher the intentions of the heart, not us. Our part is to pray for our enemies and our loved ones that are in need of God’s divine help and to take up the authority given to us by God to pull down strongholds of the enemy. (See 2 Corinthians 10:3-6)

Healthy boundaries with others are of vital importance to the peace in your home. The good news is that there is something you can do about it! Praise God that we are never in a situation to great for Him. Next time I am going to dive a bit deeper into spiritual warfare. We have been given authority by God to take back our homes and our marriages for the Lord. I hope this blesses you in your marital journey!!

 

 

 

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