Be careful about touching. While you might shake hands or squeeze an arm or a shoulder in greeting, embrace only dear friends or relatives, and only in front of others. Also, be sensitive to the attitudes and interpretations of those you choose to touch.

Watch the nature of your compliments. If you pay a compliment to someone besides your spouse, make it on clothes or hairstyle, not the person himself or herself. Allow yourself to be friendly, outgoing, and encouraging, but don’t run the risk of having the person assume anything beyond that.

Speak well of your spouse to other people. Never make your spouse the butt of jokes or discuss your marriage problems when talking with others who might use that as an invitation to come between you. Guard your tongue, and say only positive things about your husband or wife when you’re with others.

Tell your love story to others. Keep retelling the story of how you met, fell in love with, and married your spouse. As you do, you solidify in your mind the things that attracted you to your spouse in the first place.

Remind your spouse – and yourself – of your wedding vows. Take the time regularly to remember your wedding vows. Reaffirm them through love notes to your spouse, in romantic conversation, and in other creative ways.

Remind yourself of what you could lose if you’re unfaithful to your spouse. Imagine yourself having to confess to your spouse that you’ve had an affair. Then imagine the price you might pay for that – losing your family, the future of your dreams, even your relationship with God. Know that it’s definitely worthwhile to do whatever it takes to protect your marriage.

Forget the myth of quality time; give your family quantity time. Make it a top priority to spend as much time as you can with your spouse and children. Arrange your work schedule around your family, rather than vice versa. Be available to your family whenever they need you, and enjoy sharing experiences with them everyday that can’t be scheduled into small blocks of "quality" time. Know that doing so will naturally build a strong bond between you and your spouse, as well as give your kids the sense of love and security they need.

Plant any other hedges that either you or your spouse need to protect your marriage. Get to know what specific weak areas you and your spouse each have that could threaten your marriage. Work together to do something practical and concrete about them. Then celebrate your victories together!


Adapted from Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It, copyright 2005 by Jerry B. Jenkins. Published by Crossway Books, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Ill.,

Jerry B. Jenkins is the author or coauthor of more than 150 books, including the best-selling Left Behind series. As a marriage and family author and speaker, Jenkins has been a frequent guest on Dr. James Dobson’s Focus on the Family radio program. He and his wife, Dianna, have three grown sons and two grandchildren.