3 Reasons to Put Up Fences in Your Marriage
Proverbs 25:28, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”
What Can a Fence Do for a Fixer Upper?
A fence can clarify your property lines between yourself and your neighbor, and add beauty to a property. For example, a wrought iron or a picket fence. It can provide privacy for things like a pool, to hide an air conditioner, or just to keep out nosy neighbors. Fences are also great at protecting from unwanted people and animals. They can even keep out criminals who would take things. You could put up a fence around your garden to keep out animals. Fences could be used to keep things in like pets and children.
What Can a Fence Do for your Marriage?
Poet Robert Frost once wrote a poem entitled Mending Wall in which he made famous the saying,” Good fences make good neighbors.” The poem invokes a philosophical question as to why we have fences. Why don’t we share what we have with others? He was walking with his neighbor helping him mend the wall between them and he basically asks, “Why is this fence here?” I think the point is, we should let people into our lives, even though it opens up to risk.
Clearly, there are some fences that we should not have. However, there are some things in your marriage that absolutely NEED fencing in. And these things are critical to your personal health and the health of your marriage
3 Reasons to Put Up Fences in Your Marriage
1. To Clarify Your Individual Responsibility
So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
II Corinthians 5:10
Marriage does not dissolve individual responsibility.
Two lives becoming one, means two individual lives combine to create an incredible God-inspired union. But you are still responsible for you. You are responsible for your walk with the Lord. You are responsible for your actions and their consequences. God will hold you accountable for you!
Marriage does not transfer individual responsibility.
You have a responsibility to God and your spouse to fulfill your Biblical role in marriage. (See Ephesians 5:21-33) God has made the standard for husbands and wives. You are responsible for you. And generally speaking your accountability ends with you. (The fence)
For example, I am responsible as a husband for being the spiritual leader in my home, but I am not responsible for my wife’s walk with the Lord. I can help her, but not make her.
You are not responsible for the behavior of your spouse, but you are responsible for yours. For example, if your spouse flies into a fit of rage, you don’t have to do the same thing.
Don’t enable your spouse by taking those consequences for them. The following are some verbal examples for following this principle:
- “If you are going to raise your voice at me, I am not going talking to you until you calm down.”
- “If you are going to hurt me or the children, I am going to leave until you get help for your anger.”
- “If you are going to drink alcohol, I am going to leave with the children until you get yourself sober.”
- “If you are going to look at pornography, I am not going to be a “wife” to you until you are willing to change.”
2. To Protect from Harmful Things
Know when to say no to hobbies.
Hobbies are not a bad thing, but they can become harmful. The following are examples of normal healthy hobbies:
These all can provide a release and a distraction. You should allow and support your spouse to have these things that make them an individual. But hobbies can become hurtful when they are obsessive in nature. Consider the following examples:
- The wife who overspends when shopping.
- The husband who overspends on his hobbies.
- When they are neglectful to your family and your obligations.
The roles in marriage can be abused with hobbies. Like when the husband uses his headship for selfishness. Or the wife who uses her spirit as a way to control and manipulate. It’s up to you to determine the limits of your hobbies. Nowhere to put the fence up in your marriage relationship!
Know when to say no to work.
Recognize and accept your own responsibilities at work. You have to come to the understanding that you are responsible for your job- not for someone else’s. If someone else can’t manage their time- that is on them. Put up a fence at work to keep it out of your marriage. Your family needs you to be present because your marriage cannot thrive if you are not there. That is why sometimes you have to schedule time with your wife and family.
Know when to say no to friends and family.
Learn to say no to the family that expects too much from you. Learn to say no to friends who want to dump all their problems on you, but never listen to yours. Learn to say no to friends who are irresponsible. Put up a fence to protect your marriage.
Know when to say no to ministry.
This is a big one! You have to put up a fence between your marriage and your church.
And the apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat.
But weren’t there still people who needed the Gospel? Wasn’t their still work to do for the Lord? If you are serving the Lord, but ministry is putting a strain on your marriage- it’s OK to say no. How many people have pushed into the ministry and hurt their marriage?
For example, I did a pulpit supply for a church for a year while working a full-time job with overtime, another part-time job, and dealing with personal problems. This was too much! I am responsible for my life, my marriage, and serving the Lord, but not everyone else’s problems! It’s so important to know when YOU have to so no!
Preachers have a secret tactic to motivate people- they put you on a guilt trip. And I understand why because there are people who are doing absolutely nothing for the Lord. Therefore, special motivational tactics are needed to get the job done.
But if you are doing what you can for the Lord, don’t feel guilty about what you can’t. Remember the disciples, who could have helped more people, who could have done more for the Gospel. Jesus could have put them on a “guilt trip”, but instead He said enough is enough- take a break.
By the way, God wants you to serve Him because you love him- not because of guilt or fear. I think it’s clear from the teachings of the Bible.
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
II Corinthians 9:6-7
And when we get to Heaven, our works will be tried by fire, and the only thing left will be those things we have done with the right motivation. (See I Corinthians 3:11-15)
3. To Keep Out Negative Influences
You must let go of your parents.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
God designs life as a cycle and it goes like this. A man and wife in love produce a child. They make decisions for the child, and teach them to make their own. When the child grows to maturity, he marries and in love produces a child of his own. The goal of the whole process is to leave the parents and cleave to one another. That means that the influence and role of your parents change at marriage. For example, when I was dating my wife, her dad was like Rambo, he was super strict. but after we were married he left us alone because we had our own life together.
Unfortunately, parents aren’t always so understanding. The following are examples of ways parents may try to control a married child.
- Where to live
- Where to go to church
- Where to work
- How many kids to have
There are several reasons that couples allow a set of parents to control their married lives. Sometimes it is obligations from sacrifices those parents have made. But that is what parents are supposed to do, make sacrifices for their children. You are obligated to respect and honor them, but not allow them to control you. Gifts from family and friends are great as long as they come with no strings attached. If they can become a means of control, you are better off not accepting them.
You must not allow third-parties into your marriage.
Beware of the shoulder you lean on. When having marriage problems your first inclination may be to talk about it to someone. It could be the lady at work who “admires” you. Or maybe the man at Church who “understands” you.
Beware of the love triangle. It’s like the storyline of a Hallmark movie- there is always that other person pulling at the affections of the main character. It makes for great entertainment, that’s why they use it. But it will destroy your marriage. It almost happens by accident. Just sharing your heart and emotions with the opposite sex can put you in an emotional love triangle. Before long you are caught in the trap of having conflicted feelings for another person.
The bottom line is if you fail to “fence in” your marriage you can become vulnerable to the snares of satan.