Why We All Need “Spotters” in Our Marriage
“We need more spotters!” I called to the girls on my cheerleading squad.
We were attempting to build a new mount, one where the girl on the top of the pyramid would be tossed into the air before being caught in the arms of two of her teammates standing on the ground. Before making that dismount, however, she had to successfully get to the top of the mount.
So I called for more spotters. A spotter is someone on the ground who stands ready, arms outstretched, to assist the gal on top should she start to wobble. If she does, the spotter reaches up and holds her ankles to steady her and keep her on course. The spotters on the ground are essential to the success of the mount. They can make or break the landing. They can prevent falls and ultimately injuries.
The sideline of a football game isn’t the only place where we need spotters. We need them in our lives as Christians as well. We must surround ourselves with those who will look out for our good, with arms outstretched, ready to steady us should we begin to falter.
Sadly, over the twenty years we have been married, my husband and I have witnessed the failure of half a dozen marriages of friends, fellow church members, and even some in our extended family. Looking back, there were warning signs that some of these people were beginning to wobble; to flirt with sin and to invite trouble, and ultimately infidelity, into their lives. This left us pondering the question, “Could we have done something to help?” We also contemplate, “What can we do as a couple to prevent something like this from happening in our own marriage?”
In my happily-ever-after way of thinking, I used to surmise that followers of Christ never had affairs or divorced. If they did, then I doubted if they really were Christians to begin with. Unfortunately, we have discovered that there are genuine, godly believers who are victims of divorce. They meant their marriage vows and intended to keep them “til death” but were joined to a partner that decided to forsake their vows. Sometimes their spouse’s double life was discovered. Maybe abuse was part of the picture, leaving them with no other option than to leave.
While this has sometimes been the case, more often that not what we have witnessed is this: middle age marriages where one partner lets down their guard and allows a casual acquaintance to crescendo into a full blown affair. Many of these marriages were ones that we thought were going along quite nicely. Happy kids. Beautiful home. Status in the community or at church. A few of them of them were from our own marriage accountability group we led five years ago! What on earth happened?
They had no spotters.
The unfaithful partners in each of these cases were islands unto themselves. Yes they attended church. They looked and acted like fine, faithful, husbands or wives. But they made a chain of decisions unchallenged by others that landed them in the arms, and eventually the beds, of someone who was not their spouse. Then the horrible aftermath of the divorce took its devastating toll on those all around them.
While many say that divorce is only the business of the two parties involved, my husband and I look at it differently. We have told our kids that it is like the atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima during WWII. While it was aimed only at the target in the crosshairs in the scope, lives for miles around were affected by its dropping. These affairs and resulting divorces have shattered the lives of their children and have saddened neighbors, extended families, and coworkers. And these splits have left other kids, watching from a distance, wondering if their own parents will call it quits too.
Looking back at a couple of these situations, my husband and I can remember times when we felt a check in our spirit about the behavior of some of these people. We were uncomfortable by the attention they gave to a member of the opposite sex or by their seemed obsession with someone in a committee situation. We even spotted a few out in public with someone who was not their spouse and who they were seeming to pay great attention to in a flirtatious way, but chose to say nothing. Looking back now, we wish we had risked the loss of friendship or the chance of being misunderstood. We lost these people as friends anyway when they decided to leave their families for that person.
So what can we do? Can we prevent this from happening in the lives of others? Not always. However, we can take precautions to make sure that we have our own spotters in place.
I have a friend whom I will tell immediately if I am having any improper thoughts about another man. Maybe I enjoy the company or attention of a male just a little too much. Or it might be as seemingly innocent as my thinking, “Boy, I wish Todd was handy like so-and-so!” or “Joe Smith is such a good dad. And he never forgets his wife’s birthday.” Comparisons kill contentment. Comparing our spouses to others lets Satan have a foothold. Before too long, he has us in a no-holds-barred choke hold!
This accountability arrangement with my friend works both ways. In one instance, she admitted to me her improper thoughts about a man and her excitement about seeing him in a church committee situation. That was all it took to extinguish the flicker before it grew into a flame. After confessing her thought patterns to me, her feelings for him went away. Often secrecy breeds sin.
Little wrong choices also breed sin. In each of the heartbreaking situations we have witnessed, it was a series of little choices that led to the breakup of the marriage. In one instance, the person chose to join a gym with a somewhat steamy reputation. Then they made the choice to talk frequently and flirtatiously with some married members of the opposite sex at that gym. Next they chose to spend time alone with one person in particular. One time they allowed physical contact to occur. This led to an all out physical affair. Now two marriages are ending in divorce affecting eight innocent children!!! And all it took was a series of five bad choices in a row. Hear me—ALL of us are capable of five bad choices in a row!! That is why we need to take our relationship with God seriously and seek accountability.
Our life itself is a series of choices and we are its sum.
To insure that we make choices that are in keeping with God’s will, we all need a spotter or two. They can help keep our wobble from becoming an all out free fall.
Karen Ehman, KarenEhman.com
Need a little encouragement in your marriage? Check out Karen’s new book, Keep Showing Up: How to Stay Crazy in Love When Your Love Drives You Crazy. It’s available for preorder now with special bonuses, including a Bettering Your Marriage challenge starting February 4.
SPOT ON! You hit he nail on the head multiple times! You echoed my thoughts repeatedly. You have stated the truth boldly and better than anyone.
I pray Song of Solomon 2:15, 1 Cor. 10:13, and others verses for my husband and our marriage. I pray for our hearts to be guarded in HIM and towards one another. I cannot control his actions, thoughts, desires…it’s a battle that must be given to the Lord…I must petition the Lord on my husband’s behalf. I can’t be his Holy Spirit!
I recall a sermon where the pastor said he told his wife he was struggling with someone. Oh, that we could all be that transparent and able to communicate in our marriages. He said she didn’t come down on him, but helped him make the proper choice towards having interaction with this person.
Most times, we refuse to disclose we are struggling or admit we are dabbling in inappropriate action. We may refuse to see it or be blinded to the potential harm. There are times I see something as dangerous and want to extinguish it quickly, but do not speak up. BUT, I pray fervently. Knowing when to take action versus allowing the Holy Spirit to work, that’s a struggle.
Experiencing first hand the devastation of divorce at about age 6-7, I was scared to marry and assumed I would be divorced within three years. PRAISE GOD, we have been married nearly 20 years and have four beautiful children. Sadly, we have seen divorces all around us, infidelity, and tragically, the ending of my in-law’s 34 year marriage. Talk about rocking your world! We have also asked ourselves if we could have done more. Inserting yourself into someone’s “business”, thinking it isn’t your place or they will work it out are all common excuses.
I pray fervently that my children, their children, and any child in our bloodline, would never have to suffer the heartbreak of their parents getting a divorce or the ugliness of infidelity. Thank you for such a well-written , honest discussion about this tragedy.
Thanks Karen and For the Family for encouraging me in my marriage – what a powerful post. I love “That is why we need to take our relationship with God seriously and seek accountability.” Oh so true!
Your sentence “Comparisons kill contentment. ” caught my attention today. To much negative talk of a spouse causes discontentment also. Having found myself with women who continuously spoke negative words about their spouse I had to disassociate from them. Satan causes us to fall into his traps so easily
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