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Dr David Christian Marriage Advice

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Do You Know How to Really Protect Your Mate?

Do You Know How to Really Protect Your Mate?

It is no secret that life can be very challenging. It is all the more challenging when we believe we’re going through our struggles alone.

Many couples come to me feeling completely alone—emotionally, physically and spiritually. They are separated by years of tension that add up to mounds of resentment. They are further separated by a complete lack of awareness of what is happening within their mate.

Since they don’t really know the inner battle that rages within their mate, and are further separated by a chasm of distrust and anguish, they selfishly fight only their own battles, subsequently not knowing how to really protect their mate. They myopically view every situation from their own needs, not the unmet needs of their mate.

The culmination of tensions that leads to emotional separation is needless. This goes against God’s divine order for His creation that we protect our mate from the dangers of this world and serve as a “helpmate” for each other.

Consider the Apostle Paul’s admonition in The Love Chapter of the New Testament where he says simply, “Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13: 7).

These simple words are plastered on cute cards, blackboards and even on our smart phones. We know them, but do we live them out on a daily basis? Do we understand that it is our obligation to extend ourselves to care for the legitimate needs of our mate, loving them, serving them and ultimately protecting them? Love is not about selfish desires, but the needs of our mate.

Sam and Tamara were an illustration of the challenges of this issue. Having had significant conflict for the past two years, their twenty-year marriage hung in the balance. Both had firmly set up their camps—arguments against the other; rehearsals of how they had been wronged; resentments repeated in their minds, causing greater and greater division.

“I don’t really think he loves me,” Tamara said sharply, irritation simmering just below the surface. “He only thinks about himself. When I present a need, his is bigger. When I have an emotion, his trumps mine. I feel utterly alone.”

Talking to Sam was much like talking to Tamara.

“She is just as stubborn,” he said firmly. “Don’t be fooled by her nice attitude. She can get very angry and yells at me. Sure, I get hooked and yell back. What am I supposed to do instead?”

Sam and Tamara had a mountain of hurts between them. When they thought about their mate, they felt hurt. Both had been wounded and out of those wounds they hurt each other. But, there is a better way.

Let’s consider what these couples can do. 

One, consider that it IS your place to protect your mate. In a world of individualistic pursuits and ambitious dreams, it is important to remember that you are married, and as such it is your responsibility to love your mate well—and that means protecting them.

Two, consider how to best protect your mate. How does your mate best need your protection? For some, this means giving them the quality time they so desperately crave. For others it is providing a safe and loving home while yet for others it means financial stability. For all it means freedom from emotional chaos that comes from fighting, addictions and ongoing resentment.  

Third, consider placing your needs aside for a time to meet those unmet needs of your mate. True love requires extending ourselves—we go beyond what is expedient, pushing ourselves to love our mate well. We set aside what we want to do at the moment to help our mate. We set aside our wounds to minister to the wounds of our mate.

Fourth, consider finding other people who can help you feel better (same sex) while you minister to your mate. As you gain support and encouragement from your friends and counselor/ pastor, you can feel more equipped to minister and protect your mate. This support will help you maintain the journey even when good things are not coming back to you.

Finally, consider persevering in the protection of your mate. Scripture encourages us to “not become weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9). Remember that ministering to, and protecting, your mate is a spiritual act of service. Protecting your mate is not simply a good thing to do, nor is it simply a kindness to perform, but quite literally a spiritual act. Keep that in mind as you protect your mate.

Do you long for protection by your mate? Consider how you might offer protection first. If you would like to learn more about finding a way back to your mate amidst emotional conflict, please go to our website, and our new website, and read more about the Therapeutic Healing Process. Please send responses to me at and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website. You’ll find videos and podcasts on sexual addiction, emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.

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Publication date: March 24, 2015