We’ve all heard it said, “Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce.” Although the actual numbers may vary slightly, it is a shocking estimate. The actual divorce rate is a difficult metric to measure because of all the unmeasurable and unreported variables involved. However, even if it’s in the ballpark, this should be a call to arms for everyone who desires a love that lasts. Of all the different ways we seek to safeguard our love, three things have stood out as pillars of protection—boundaries, rhythms, and prayer.
Boundaries as Protection
As Audrey and I entered into marriage, we knew that the locomotive of our love would not stay on track without boundaries. Boundaries are the protective rail lines of our love. Boundaries are designed to protect, not prohibit. For example, a ski boundary line, a divider on a freeway, directions on the back of a medication bottle—these boundaries are not set in place to hold us back; they are set in place to safeguard us.
Boundaries in marriage are no different. Their purpose is to protect our marriages from division, hurt, bitterness, animosity, and miscommunication. Early on in our marriage, Auj and I were encouraged to protect our love by setting boundaries for our finances, our friendships, and our technology—specifically social media.
I believe that the overuse of social media is posing a massive threat to our love stories. It can be a tempting place to zone out, escape, or invite wandering eyes. It can allow comparison to steal the joy that our love stories were meant to experience. It can steal our time, causing us to spend more of it scrolling feeds than connecting with our loved ones. Without boundaries for phone and social media use, we’ll lose our grip on what it means to truly connect.
Here are a few of the boundaries we use to protect our love story:
- We don’t use social media on Sunday.
- We don’t check our phone during date night.
- We don’t get on our phones in bed.
- We have access to each other’s social media accounts.
- We don’t go out one-on-one (coffee/drinks) with the opposite sex.
- We don’t keep texts, emails, or social media messages to the opposite sex a secret.
- We don’t text old boyfriends/girlfriends without the other knowing about it.
We encourage you to come up with your own list of boundaries. It doesn’t need to be exhaustive, nor does it need to be completed overnight. Just begin the conversation for the sake of protecting your love.
Rhythms as Protection
Rhythms are constant and reliable. They are a way to build consistent patterns of behavior for successful outcomes. Rhythms have been monumental in our marriage for protecting our love. The rhythm of date night, taking an annual trip, keeping a sabbath, putting our phones away at certain times, working out, nightly walks—all are life rhythms of consistency that help us work toward the life and marriage we want.
You know that famous quote, “Failing to plan is planning to fail”? I believe the same is true with rhythms. Throughout the years of our marriage, we’ve established daily rhythms, weekly rhythms, and yearly rhythms. We have implemented rhythms for rest, rhythms for health, rhythms for family, rhythms for celebration, and rhythms for communication. Some have come and gone with certain seasons of life, but some are constant across all seasons. We’ve noticed that all the folks who have marriages we look up to have rhythms—consistent patterns of behavior that they can rely on.
In an effort to lay the groundwork for healthy communication in our marriage, we committed during our honeymoon to asking ourselves a series of questions once a week. The questions were simple but incredibly effective for cultivating consistent, clear, and honest communication. We committed to asking each other the same six questions every week for the first year of our marriage. This weekly rhythm helped us understand each other better so we could love each other better. It was so helpful for us that first year that we committed to continuing the rhythm.
Prayer as Protection
I’ve heard it said that one of the truest tests of our love for someone is how often and fervently we pray for them. In other words, prayer is evidence of love. If you’re married, do you pray for your spouse? Do you pray with your spouse? An experienced married couple challenged Audrey and me a few years ago when they asked us, “When you encounter conflict in your marriage, do you pray about it more than you talk about it?”This statement still convicts us today.
We believe that prayer is the best first line of defense when we encounter struggles, issues of the heart, and conflict. It should be our go-to, not our last resort. Pray for each other, for your future marriage and family, for your discernment in decisions, for the Lord to guide your relationship, for your dreams and desires, for life circumstances, for growth in your knowledge of the truth, for the ability to walk in wisdom, for a heart that longs to praise God, and for protection over your love story.
God is the Ultimate Protector
Ultimately, we believe that the greatest protector of love is God: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31). And God is love: “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). As we invite God into our love story and allow him to be the strand that prevents us from unraveling (Ecclesiastes 4:12), we are able to love more intentionally, more creatively, and more faithfully.
We’re all in the process of writing a love story. Maybe you’re dating and have just begun the first chapter. Maybe you’re married and on chapter 15. Or maybe you’re single and writing an exciting prologue.Wherever you are in your love story, protect it. Be intentional, get creative, and stay faithful.Click To Tweet
Wherever you are in your love story, protect it. Be intentional, get creative, and stay faithful.
Taken from A Love Letter Life by Jeremy & Audrey Roloff. Copyright © 2019 by Jeremy & Audrey Roloff. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.