Welcome to Part Two of my blog entitled Fortify Your Marriage. Why? Because your marriage deserves to be fortified! Not only is marriage sacred, but the potential rewards are immeasurable! I confess that this, having been written by a man, is probably more suited for a male readership, and I’d love it if you’d check out Part One first, if you haven’t. In Part One, I shared the first 3 tips for solidifying your defenses against whatever temptation you may run across. In a culture of disposable relationships and sex for sport, you’re bound to run into a sticky situation a time or two. The fact is, no matter how much we love our wives, none of us are perfect. Here are 3 more tools to help you keep your head on straight even in the heat of battle.
4. SPEAK it into existence.
This has been a habit of mine for years, even before I knew it was a useful tool. As a child of divorce, I made a decision early on that I absolutely would not get a divorce in my life. Ever since then, I’ve been quite single-minded about my marriage (even before I was married), and fairly vocal about it as well. Recently, while again traveling the country playing guitar, I was talking with a close friend about our marriages. I told him that I knew I would never cheat on my wife. He asked me how I could be sure. I said, “Are you sure your’e not going to rape someone? I thought so. I’m sure I’m not gonna cheat on my wife.” There is a reason I say these things out loud, though. There is power in words. When I am telling my bandmate that, I am reminding myself, solidifying that conviction. I am hearing myself say it with authority and confidence and internalizing it. I’ve been saying that for years and I can’t tell you what an incredible help it has been. So do it. Even if you’re unsure of yourself, say it. Even if you don’t mean it yet, say it. Say it over and over again, and eventually you’ll discover that you do, in fact, mean it heart and soul. I know I do.
5. IMAGINE the consequences.
I have to credit my dad with this one. Imagine, as vividly as possible, the scene if you were to betray the trust of your spouse. If I were ever to be unfaithful, I have a clear vision in my mind of what my life would look like. First of all, I will have betrayed my own integrity. I swore in front of her, God, and all of my closest friends and family, that I would stay by her side until death. No other promise in our society seems to be so easily dismissed as the marriage vow. Emotionally, I will have deeply wounded my wife, as well as my (soon to be!) two sons, will have betrayed their needs in favor of my own short-term pleasure, my own selfishness. I imagine being cut off from my two brothers-in-law and my wife’s family whom I love so much. I imagine the way my little sisters, who have looked up to me so much, would perceive me with disappointment, questioning the example I have set so far. I imagine being alone, in an apartment of my own, sending half of my income to my wife who now must work full time, as I do, us alternating who picks our sons up from daycare and who has them for the weekend. I imagine my wife trying to decide whether to tell my boys the truth about why she and daddy aren’t together any more.
Long before I was ever married, I successfully scared the piss out of myself, and I’m thankful I did. It’s yet another line of defense, and makes it that much easier to walk the line. So paint that picture in your mind. It’s a valuable exercise, and quickly and sharply brings things into perspective. Imagine that scene, and then go kiss your wife because she is awesome and she deserves it.
6. VISUALIZE faithfulness.
Pitchers visualize their pitches before taking the mound. Swimmers close their eyes and visualize their next heat, executing perfectly, moving swiftly, winning. Public speakers, athletes, writers, salesmen and CEO’s all use this tool to strengthen themselves, to move toward their goal. Spouses can do the same. Instead of daydreaming about what you wish you could say to the girl across the bar, daydream about what you would say if she came on strong. How would you win? I have imagined, on many an occasion, what I would say to a girl who wanted me to ruin my marriage, to betray my wife and destroy my family so she could have a little fun that she may or may not remember. Suffice it to say, it’s a biting and ruthless monologue. I see that scenario as a direct attack on the happiness and livelihood of those I love most. Having visualized that scenario numerous times, there is a much better chance that I will respond under pressure. I don’t mind pitching in the World Series when I’ve got years of preparation to lean on.
Be a man of your word. Put in the extra work. We’ll pull all-nighters to get an A. We’ll risk thousands of dollars for financial gain. We’ll run mile after mile or devote countless hours in the gym to achieve a level of health we deem important. Why not strive with similar vigor to achieve a goal of far greater worth?
Obviously every marriage is different, and I haven’t come close to touching on every aspect of what it takes to go the distance. If you have additional wisdom on how to fortify your marriage, please share! The more ammunition we can take to the battlefield of monogamy, the better. I adore my wife and will fight for her any way I must. In the meantime, I’ll be in the mental gym, doing rep after hard rep to fortify my marriage.