Thursday, February 5, 2009

Wife Rule #96: Guard the Boundaries

Much has been said in recent years of the importance of securing our borders, for whatever crosses the borders of a nation eventually affects the people within.

It's the same way in a marriage. I like to think of our marriage as a kingdom--a sovereign nation--that my wife and I are building together. And as the king and queen in our kingdom, we each have specific responsibilities to make our kingdom strong and secure. Some of my most important responsibilities are to secure the borders, the boundaries that define our kingdom. With these boundaries firmly in place, my wife can have absolute confidence in the safety of our marriage, no matter what condition the world around us is in. These boundaries are there to protect her.

I will mention four such defining boundaries. Each is a sacred, integral part of our kingdom. Each requires a constant patrol of vigilance. Each must never be crossed, for without boundaries, a kingdom loses its power, identity, and security, and will ultimately fall.


First and foremost, fidelity is essential in our kingdom. How could my wife and I build a strong marriage without complete trust in each other? To attempt to do so would be like constructing a building without a foundation. It could stand for a while as a facade of strength, but ultimately would always fall down.

When we joined together, all outside romantic associations ended. There must be no lingering thoughts of others, no longing for a different life, known or unknown. There must be no flirtations with anything which would undermine our marriage, whether in the form of persons, pictures, or printed word. Though the world bombards us with titillating invitations, fidelity demands that we deny indulgence in any behavior that would cause our hearts to wander from the one we promised God we would love; that we reserve certain sacred aspects of our selves for each other alone.

By consciously focusing on closing the boundary of fidelity water-tight, we ensure that no foreign influence will come between us and cause a rift in our sacred union. "What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder" (Matthew 19:6).

How beautiful and rare and sublimely satisfying is the intimate, loving relationship of complete fidelity that my wife and I share. It is sacred--it is precious--it is off-limits to the world--because God ordained it so and we work to make it so.


The boundary of civility ensures that we reserve our very best behavior for each other. After all, there is no one on earth more important for me to impress than my wife. Shouldn't I reserve my very kindest words, my most sincere compliments, my best manners, my most earnest exertions of self-restraint and meekness, for my queen and partner?

As the one person who sees the complete picture of who I am, up close, warts and all, I owe her my very best efforts to be a person worthy of her affections. So make the bed; wash the shower; thank her for dinner; kiss her goodbye; call her at lunch; tell her I miss her; tell her she makes all the difference in my life. In short, show her the courtesies and affections and honors that I would want to be shown to me.

"Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband" (Ephesians 5:33).


Protecting the boundary of dignity includes shielding my wife from the ridicule of the world. There are plenty of people in the world who will never appreciate the true beauty and nobility of a person such as my wife. The world in large part issues judgments based on face-value facades, on glittering exteriors, and on flashy accomplishments that are ultimately unimportant, thus undermining and ignoring the true potential of the souls of God's precious children.

When this fallen world encounters an other-worldly angel such as my wife--whose visible exterior radiates with beauty born of virtue, and thus stands out from the world--its typical reaction is one of confusion. The world doesn't understand what it has never experienced, so it's reaction is to fear, to mock, to tear down, to attempt to strip the immortal soul of its dignity in whatever way it can.

My job as a guardian of her dignity--and the dignity of our kingdom together--is to reinforce to her the divine value that her chosen path of other-worldly peculiarity bestows upon her. She has never sought after the honors that the world bestows; she has always chosen priorities that place her on a plane above, and I honor her for that. I honor her for choosing God's way over man's ways.

"The world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world" (John 17:14).

And in addition to shielding her from the ridicule of an uncomprehending world, my own conduct towards my wife must always, always be calculated to maintain her dignity. For example, I must never try to lift myself up with a laugh at her expense. I must never assume a posture of talking down to her. I must never do or say anything that would cause her regret, or pain, or shame, in any way. She should feel perfectly safe with me.


Last of all, the boundary of integrity means that I am the man my wife believes me to be. She can take my words and actions at face value. She can trust that I mean what I say, and I do what I know to be right. She can believe me when I say I love her. She can trust that her life and soul, which she has freely given to me, are in good hands that would never intentionally hurt her.

Integrity doesn't imply perfection, but it is my most earnest attempt to be true to myself. And when I can look the man in the mirror in the eye without feeling ashamed, then I am prepared to love my wife with a pure and honest heart. I am prepared to guard all the other boundaries of our kingdom.

As Job said, though others encouraged him to curse God and die because of his hardships, "till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me" (Job 27:5).

These four boundaries: Fidelity, Civility, Dignity, and Integrity, make up the borders of our kingdom. With them firmly in place, there is no room for doubt, for fear, for suspicion, for shame, or for decay in our marriage. These boundaries, when shored up through mutual faith, love, and effort, become an impenetrable, armored wall that encloses us in a fortress where peace, love, and harmony can abide in the constant presence of the Spirit of the Lord.

And that's the type of kingdom that can endure forever.

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