After writing What To Do When You Are Lonely in Marriage, I realized from the many comments from readers that this is a huge issue. So many husbands and wives are lonely in their marriage even though they live in the same house and share the same bed. Over the years, I’ve also sensed from our readers that there are many who don’t feel “safe” in their marriage. I’m not just referring to physical safety. I’m talking about feeling safe in many different ways.
It’s important to understand that one of the best ways a husband can fill his wife’s heart is to help her feel protected, by cherishing and safeguarding her physically and emotionally. But safety is not just an issue for women. Men need a sense of safety and security, too. So here are 7 safe spaces you should work to create for your spouse every day of your marriage:
1. Safe Confession Space: It takes courage to say “I messed up, and I’m sorry.” Your marriage will be stronger if you are committed to honoring a spouse’s courage to confess a wrong. Some confessions can be a big blow, but it’s worse to hide hurts and wrongs under a veneer or fear or pride than to get them out in the open and forgiven. So tell your spouse something like “Let’s give each other freedom to confess to each other without fear of retaliation.”
2. Safe Physical Space: Your spouse needs to know, without doubt, that you’re committed to their physical safety. Anytime one spouse is allowing or putting the other in harm’s way, everything else about the marriage is jeopardized. Conversely, a commitment to physical safety builds trust.
3. Safe Emotional Space: Emotions are quirky, unpredictable, and at times intense. If your marriage is a place where emotions can be explained and explored without ridicule or rejection, then trust and health can grow. Tell each other, “We will guard against verbal attacks, ridicule, and criticism that can squelch our emotions or encourage unhealthy hidden fears.”
4. Safe Sexual Space: Physical intimacy is built on trust. When a spouse feels used or misused sexually, doubts about basic commitment to their safety occur and, as a result, trust and intimacy crumble. Commit to each other that “I’ll never sacrifice long-term satisfaction and closeness for short-term, selfish actions that carelessly hurt and objectify you.”
5. Safe Relationship Space: Even when the relationships inside your family are healthy, your spouse is dealing with dozens, maybe hundreds, of other relationships that can beat them up. Your spouse will sometimes need your marriage to be a refuge of sorts when their outside relationships are challenging from time to time.
6. Safe Risk-Taking Space: Taking risks is scary and hard, more for some than others. A spouse who knows that they are married to someone who will stand by them and remain loyal and encouraging, even if they fail, is more likely to take risks that can be rewarding in many ways.
7. Safe Venting Space: Your marriage will be stronger if you allow your spouse to vent occasionally, without being judgmental or defensive. It doesn’t mean the venting spouse should be allowed to be belligerent (see the earlier comments on physical and emotional safe spaces). But if you can commit to each other, “I’ll work to be patient when you need to release the pressure valve about your problems and worries,” you’ll help each other keep the stress and frustrations from boiling over into something worse.
None of these safe spaces can be created perfectly. But a couple that works hard to make their marriage safe will be far better for it. [Tweet This]
Do you have safe places in your marriage? Please share your comments below.