What do you do with what matters most? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
Today, my wife Allie and I have been married for seven and a half years, which is incredible to think about. It really seems like something incredible to realize that when I go so many places, I have my wife going with me. That is a treasure. When I get together with other couples, we are just that, a couple. When I get together with my own family, we are together and it seems odd to think I sleep next to my wife in the room I used to have to myself alone.
One question asked to me today was about relationships with other women. This is something I keep guard on. Why? Picture you have a safe-deposit box at the bank. What are you going to put in it? Will you put in the groceries you bought at the store today? Will you put in a bottle of medicine you bought over-the-counter at the drugstore? Will you put in a can of cat food you bought at the pet store?
Or will you more likely put in fine jewelry, important documents you have, money, family heirlooms, etc. Why? These are things of far greater value. They need to be guarded and protected. What matters most is what you protect the most.
In earthly relationships, my marriage matters the most to me. That is why I guard it. In my ministry capacity, I often have to answer questions from women that get in touch with me. For a simple question, that is fine, but if it becomes anything involving intimate issues, then I always ask if my wife can be in the correspondence. If this is not agreed to, I tell them I must pass them off to a female who can answer their questions.
Most affairs do not start out with a guy getting out of bed one day and saying “You know what? I think today would be a good day to cheat on my wife.” They start with a guy in an innocent relationship with a woman, perhaps at the office, and she starts giving him some attention that he likes. He starts talking to her and before too long, he’s joining her on her lunch break or vice-versa. The relationship is emotional but as that emotion starts to build up, the people in it want to turn it physical and lo and behold, they wind up at a hotel together.
This is also why I follow the Pence rule. A lot of people mocked Pence when that came out. (I do realize it is not original to Pence, but it is called that often.) If Harvey Weinstein had followed this rule, how different would things have turned out? My relationship with my wife is not worth risking.
Also, this means that pornography has absolutely no place whatsoever in my marriage. I never look at the stuff. If it accidentally pops up on my computer, I feel awful. I go and tell Allie about it immediately. I don’t want her to ever be on my computer and see a link come up that makes her wonder what I’ve been doing.
Sexual fidelity is a major deal for me. Allie is the only woman I have ever had sex with and I intend to keep it that way. Why would I want another woman in my head when I’m with my wife? Do I dare want to say that Allie is not good enough for me? Absolutely not! I regularly tell her she’s the most beautiful sight I have ever seen! Just the chance to see her and be with her has been a great motivation in my life for necessary change that I need.
Being on the spectrum, we also have therapy together and that is a great benefit to our relationship. We have no problem going to other people when we are in a tough situation and getting their input. That’s just seeking wisdom and we realize many people have been married far longer than we have been and know a lot more.
I also do the steps to maintain our relationship everyday. If you are on Facebook and are friends with me, you know that I don’t post on Sunday, but every other day, I post something about how I love my wife. People also know that I can be mild-mannered. I can sometimes be rough in a debate with a skeptic, but there are limits.
Yet if anyone dares to insult my Allie on there, then people know the rule. Stay back and get out popcorn. Rage is the only word to describe it. You could say my philosophy then is “We don’t negotiate with terrorists.” I take no prisoners and I let anyone have it who dares to go after her. Efforts to calm me down in that state are pointless. You might as well try to calm down the Hulk when he goes into a rage.
It also means you plan in advance for birthdays and anniversaries and Valentine’s Day. Our anniversary is on July 24th. That means that planning for the next year begins on July 25th. As it stands, I am right now considering multiple options for what I will do on that day. Normally also, book sales that I have saved up under my ministry partner are used to support what I want to do that day.
This requires intentional work. This requires sacrifice. It also requires many times going against my feelings. There are times my wife wants me to do something and I don’t really feel like doing it. Imagine she needs something and I have just sat down and want to read my book and hear, “Nick. Will you go to the store and get some milk?” My wife can’t drive due to a brain injury, so I have to do it. I can assure you I don’t want to do it most of the time. I don’t feel like doing it. I would love it if someone else could do it. I still do it. Why? Because I love her and if there is something my wife needs and my feelings don’t care for it, my feelings have to take a back seat.
If you build your relationship on your feelings, you’re dooming it to failure. No feeling can last forever. It shouldn’t even. Many of us could not focus at all if even positive feelings always lasted forever. Sometimes, negative feelings will show up, and you have to go against them. There are always little foxes seeking to destroy the relationship.
Christianity plays an integral part in what we do as well. When it comes to nighttime, before we go to sleep, we read a little bit from the Bible and then we pray together. Prayer is something we turn to in crisis. We’re also available when we need it to do ministry. We make an interesting team. I tell people I’m the head and she’s the heart. If you want someone to really listen to you and emphasize with you and feel your pain with you, go talk to her. She’s better. If you want someone who can reach your head and answer your questions, come to me.
Today, one of the greatest reasons I am the man I am today is because of my wife. She has transformed me in ways that even my own parents who have known me longest in my life think of as remarkable. My old roommate before I married Allie knows I used to pretty much have frozen pizza en masse in the freezer for my dinner every evening. When I told him that is no longer the case because Allie has changed my diet, he just said “Wow.”
If you have a marriage, work to build it. Should your spouse work to build it too? Yeah, but if they’re not, that doesn’t absolve you of your responsibility. Of course, this is different if you are in a relationship where you are actively being abused or the children are being abused. In that case, get out while you can. At least go with separation for the time being and demand that the offending spouse get some therapy and don’t go back into the relationship until a therapist okays it. (Of course, you also don’t be going and having affairs with other people in a time of separation.)
If you think your marriage is valuable, you will cultivate it. If you don’t, you won’t. The reality is that if something is important to you, you spend time on it and learn about it and do what you can with it. My wife is a gift and I treasure the relationship with her and it’s always new to me. Some things never get old. Loving my wife is one of them.