Photo: @LysaTerKeurst and @GlennonDoyle on Instagram
In the past 12 months the online Christian lady-blogging world has gotten two huge shocks related to the marriages of those who were much followed and hailed on our sphere of influence. Just this week, Lysa TerKeurst of Proverbs 31 Ministries announced that she would be pursuing divorce from her husband of 24 years, Art TerKeurst after his “repeated” infidelity and substance abuse. Despite her attempts at forgiveness and intensive counseling, Art found himself unable to choose his marriage over this new woman. And last year, on the eve of publishing a book that was 100% ABOUT saving her marriage and CHOOSING her husband despite his infidelity, Glennon Doyle Melton (now Doyle) of Momastery fame announced that she decided to divorce him anyway. (The book was still a best-seller, natch.) Later, Doyle revealed that the reason she decided to divorce her husband was because when she met soccer star Abby Wambach, “I actually felt the words There she is. This was just an absolute recognizing of the person I was supposed to be with forever.” She told Elle Magazine that instead of choosing the marriage she had fought so hard to save, she decided to go through the process to “risk every single thing in your life to have the one thing you’ve always wanted.”
My friends, I do not fault TerKeurst for seeking a divorce. And her ministry is one I respect with all my heart and will continue to follow. If Doyle was going to pursue divorce, I believe she had Biblical grounds after her husband’s own repeated infidelity…but the way the reconciliation, the book, the divorce, and her whirlwind subsequent marriage to Wambach took place makes it seem…well, press-worthy for one thing, Though I have HUGE respect for Doyle’s fundraising and humanitarian work, I don’t look to her for Christian wisdom.
But that’s not my point. AT ALL.
My point is that people of influence are not safe from spiritual warfare—Satan LOVES to attack those proclaiming Jesus’ name out loud and their marriages are a certainly KEY place to start. But if we believe ours are any LESS vulnerable because we aren’t in the spotlight, we’re believing a lie. Sure, it may be easier to keep our troubles secret for awhile, but our marriages are no less important to the Kingdom of God than our favorite Christian mom bloggers’ are.
So, wives? Let’s make a plan with our husbands to PROTECT them. It takes TWO to protect a marriage, and both spouses need to do their part.Here are a few ways to be intentional about protecting your marriage, for starters.
1. Be accountable with electronics
Ha ha, you thought I was gonna start off with something scriptural, right?? Well, I am. I believe a HUGE part of “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” (Proverbs 4:23 ESV) is watching WHAT you’re looking at online and WHO you’re talking to online. (TerKeurst was very up front about saying her husband met the woman he cheated with online.) You and your spouse should have access to each other’s phones, tablets, computers, browsing history, etc. Text messages, yep. If he knows I’m going to be seeing his messages and I know he can read mine anytime he wants to, it establishes a huge level of trust and accountability. Because of a men’s accountability group he is in with some godly friends, I even get an email each week that tells me what my husband has looked at online on all of his devices and computers. When you don’t have a way to hide these things from each other, your MUCH less likely to want to start hiding something.
2. Flee from temptation
Guess what, folks? I LOVE my husband. I want our marriage to last FOREVER. But I am super, super, SUPER imperfect and sinful. Saved by grace? YES! Immune to temptation? NO! Talk with your spouse about your weaknesses. I have a friend who is not on Facebook at ALL because she is fleeing a temptation to look up old boyfriends. She knows that despite her love for and commitment to her spouse, she has a weak area that might cause curiosity about an old flame to turn into more. She has been open with her husband about it and this is one way she has chosen to not put herself in an iffy situation. It may be something entirely different for you and your spouse, but whatever it is—don’t deny it! Trust each other with it and be accountable to each other. Much was made recently of Mike Pence’s unwillingness to be alone with a woman who is not his wife, but to me that’s just an example of healthy boundary that the two of them have established because they VALUE their marriage.
3. Die to self
This is of course, the hardest one of all. SO much easier said than done, and where the struggle gets really, really, REAL. I NEVER knew how selfish I was until I got married. Then WHHOOOWEEE did I learn that I LOVE ME. But because I am a Christian, I have decided to follow Christ. So putting myself first isn’t going to work, in LIFE in general, and certainly not in my marriage or motherhood. The core truth we miss when we start looking around for satisfaction in people or things outside of our marriages is this: Christ laid down his life for us, and he expects us to lay down ours for others. “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed,” Peter said in 1 Peter 2:24. And of course Jesus himself said “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:12-13 ESV). Married people, lay down your lives, a.k.a. your selfish desires, FOR YOUR SPOUSE. Don’t “risk every single thing in your life to have the one thing you’ve always wanted,” as Doyle says she did when she divorced her husband to marry Abby Wambach. Don’t decided that you deserve someone who gives YOU what YOU need, as I presume Art TerKeurst did. Risk every single thing YOU ever wanted to HONOR the vows you made before God and your spouse. Risk what YOU want, tell your wants and desired GOODBYE if they are not going to contribute to God’s BEST for you—a healthy and loving marriage. Hear me when I say: I don’t know what’s best for me. I need to seek the counsel of God’s word and godly, marriage-encouraging friends if I want to pursue HIS best, and not my own. I will wager the same applies to you. (Insert caveat about abuse here. If your spouse wants to abuse you sexually, emotionally, verbally, or physically, that is not a time when you need to lay down your life. You need to get the heck out to SAVE your life, and seek help!! Do NOT listen to says you must endure abuse because of your marriage vows.)
4. Seek Accountability From Godly Friends
Got wise counsel? Get yourself some friends who are champions of marriage. You want a girlfriend who will listen and offer advice when you are having a marital struggle, not one who encourages you to complain about your husband and eagerly offers up additions to your laundry list of his faults. If you have friends who constantly tell you what’s wrong with your husband and want you to join them in cutting down theirs, you’ve got friends you don’t need. Venting is one thing, indulging in a roast of the man you’ve pledged your life to and the union you’re in is another. Surround yourself with wise counsel, friends who know God’s Word and want HIS best for you, as TerKeurst said she did. (Note, sometimes these wise friends will eventually, as they did in Lysa’s case, have to tell you that your spouse has abandoned your marriage and that you need to get out. You can be a champion of marriage and still recognize that one is irretrievably broken.)
There are many other points I could make, but I leave with you with two words: BE INTENTIONAL.
Know you’re not immune to a failed marriage, and decide to start saving it before it’s ever in trouble.