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 marriages even though they live in the same house and share the same bed. I’ve also sensed that there are many who don’t feel safe in their marriages. And I’m not just referring to physical safety.
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 that you want to be able to give each other freedom to confess to each other without fear of retaliation.
2. Safe Physical Space
Your spouse needs to know without a doubt that you’re committed to his or her physical safety. Anytime one spouse doesn’t intervene when the other is in harm’s way—or puts 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 his or her safety arise 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 him or her up. Your spouse will sometimes need your marriage to be a refuge of sorts when outside relationships are challenging.
6. Safe Risk-Taking Space
Taking risks is scary and hard, more for some than for others. Spouses who know they are married to someone who will stand by them and remain loyal and encouraging, even if they fail, are 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 safe physical and emotional spaces). But if you can commit to each other that “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 marriage safe will be far better for it.
Do you have safe places in your marriage? Please share your comments below.