Does your spouse feel safe with you? Do you pray for each other?
Does your spouse feel safe with you? Do you pray for each other? (Flickr )

Connected. Loving. Engaged. Invigorating. Happy. Isn't that the kind of marriage you want?

If you answered yes, then keep reading. I'll share with you an important key that will help you get there.

On the other hand, if you would rather have a spouse you can manipulate and control and who walks on eggshells around you, feel free to click away from this page. This will not help you put your spouse in a box and keep them there for your own individual pleasure.

If you find yourself complaining about what your spouse is or isn't doing, I want to shake up your perspective. Yes, they're failing in many ways. But for right now, imagine yourself in your spouse's shoes. And then ask yourself this question:

How Safe Does My Spouse Feel With Me?

You may feel justified in behaving badly toward your spouse because of the ways they have failed—and are failing—you. Put those thoughts aside for now. From your spouse's perspective, are you creating a space where they feel safe?

If you're a husband, that might look like this:

  • Does your wife feel provided for, protected and cherished by you?
  • Does she feel you take her opinions, feelings and ideas into account when making decisions?
  • Can she can come to you with frustrations or problems, knowing you will listen?
  • Do you "get" your wife? Does she feel understood by you?
  • Does she sense you truly value her gifts, talents and dreams?
  • Does having you as her husband help your wife thrive?

If you're a wife, that might look like this:

  • Does your husband feel respected by you?
  • Does he feel you appreciate his struggles and the things he does for you?
  • Does he feel that you have his back, supporting him when attacks come, that you're "all in"?
  • Does he feel you are interested in what he cares about and that you want to be a part of his world?
  • Does he sense that you are his biggest cheerleader?
  • Can he share his heart with you, knowing you will guard it carefully?

How well do you think you're doing here? How safe does your spouse feel with you?   

Why Feeling Safe Is Important

Would you be inclined to care about, respect, love, honor and cherish someone who was prickly, demanding, unpredictable, critical or manipulative? No!

Feeling safe is not the only important ingredient in a healthy marriage, but it's one you cannot do without.

Imagine a beautiful butterfly or a wild buck. Your spouse is not one of those! But if you want your wife to display her mesmerizing beauty, to fly with joy, you cannot crush her. If you want your husband to bound with energy and passion, you cannot pull him down and pelt him with criticism.

Those analogies do not adequately picture what your wife or husband brings to your marriage, but it illustrates how you will not be happy together without a large measure of safety.

Increasing the Safety Factor

So you've recognized that your heart is not as safe a place for your spouse as it needs to be. Here are a few top ways in which you can increase the safety factor in your marriage:

1. Apologize when you have caused pain. It doesn't matter whether you were "right" or not. If your spouse was hurt by your words or actions, own up. Pay attention to the pain you caused, apologize and ask for forgiveness. Notice how you caused them pain and do something different next time.

2. Consider how your behavior affects your spouse. Are you too busy? Constantly critical? Refusing intimacy? Making decisions without their input? Choose to notice—and to really care about—how your behavior affects your spouse. The point is not to only or always do what your spouse wants, but to truly care about how you affect them.

3. Only speak well of your spouse in public. There is a place to deal with your spouse's mistakes, and it's not in public. Find a godly older Christian believer or a counselor to get honest feedback from—confidentially. But belittling your spouse to family or friends or on social media is a definite no-no.

4. When you have a complaint, choose your words carefully. Your spouse will make mistakes, hurt you and disappoint you. There will be times you will have to confront them. Instead of belittling their character, talk about their behavior and how it affects you. Imagine how you would feel if they said the same thing to you, and choose your words accordingly.

5. Seek to understand them. It's easy to focus on what your spouse is doing wrong, or on your own wants and needs. Choose instead to focus on trying to understand your spouse. Take the time to listen attentively when they have something to say. Ask follow-up questions to help you truly understand where your spouse is coming from.

If the safety factor is low in your marriage, why don't you take the first step in making things better? And as the safety factor increases you will be more connected and happier.

Here's to a safer and more understanding relationship in your marriage!

Question: How safe does your spouse feel with you? What might you do to increase the safety factor in your marriage? You can leave a comment by below..

Dr. Carol Peters-Tanksley is both a board certified OB-Gyn physician and an ordained Doctor of Ministry. As an author and speaker, she loves helping people discover the Fully Alive kind of life that Jesus came to bring us. Visit her website at drcarolministries.com.

For the original article, visit drcarolministries.com.

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