Posted in Family, love, marriage, wtf

Make a Marriage Great Again (Part Two of Ten)

Nothing is more noble, nothing more venerable, than fidelity.  (Cicero)

Disturbing statistics:  22% of men and 14% of women admit to having an affair during their marriage.  Even more disturbing statistics: 74% of men and 68% of women say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught. (www.statisticbrain.com)

This past weekend, our friends’ son was married to a beautiful girl.  As with most weddings, there were flowers, dresses, food and promises of love and faithfulness until death. There were also the fun things, like the silly song that the bride’s family sang to the groom called “Lukey Pukey” (don’t ask) and the square dancing in the barn (Allen and I had left feet, six feet, or just a lack of dancing ability – we did get our 10,000 steps for which we were thankful – see FitBit post).

We were reminded again and again that day about the second WTF (see last week’s post on this to get the inside joke) in our series of F words – FIDELITY.

This very word is designed to evoke trust (probably why there is a huge bank who has the name).  With it comes the ideas of loyalty, faithfulness, allegiance and support.

For many of us, the first thing that comes to mind with the word fidelity in marriage is the sexual relationship (the “forsake all others” part).

When Allen and I meet with engaged couples, we ask them, no matter whether or not they are currently sexually active, to give each other the “gift of sexual integrity” during the mentoring process.  It is basically a sexual fast for the four to six months we explore all aspects of their relationship before the big day.  For many, this is a no-brainer. They understand the deeper reasons behind this request:

  • building of trust
  • providing a basic litmus test of self-control and patience
  • exploring spiritual and emotional aspects of the relationship without the physical
  • entering a sexual fast (much like a food fast) to provide an environment where God can work at some deeper levels

For others, this is very difficult, and with good reason.  In a society that has expectations of sleeping together as proof or the natural result of love, it may come as an odd request. At this point, we ask them to take a step of trust in us, in the mentoring process and in the Creator of marriage.  We can tell you this for sure: we have never seen it backfire in our eight years of meeting with over 80 couples.  We have seen relationships heal and thrive.

Allen and I were blessed, albeit for the wrong reasons of following the rules, to wait until marriage for the fulfillment of our physical union. We had no idea then what an incredible gift this was to each other.  A huge benefit for me over these 26+ years is that I have never worried that Allen might have an affair.  His self-control, ability to wait and integrity provided a place of complete trust for me.  I am extremely thankful.  It’s one area of our relationship that I feel safe.  I believe he does as well.

Our hearts were designed for fidelity (loyalty, faithfulness, allegiance and support).  Not just physically.  That is just the area that seems to be highlighted when this subject comes up.  When we marry, we want to be chosen never to be unchosen.   Marriage provides a unique backdrop for true intimacy in every area of our lives: spiritual, emotional, mental and physical.  It is the only human place to be fully-known and fully-loved, and as the Bible says, “naked and unashamed.”

Fidelity is the framework for this intimacy.  This safety net offers a place where we can fully reveal ourselves (become fully-known) to another.  The fulfilled promise of loving and not leaving (“until death do us part”) is huge.  This brings with it the second part of intimacy, being fully-loved.  Each is a requirement of the other and makes a never-ending circle of knowing and loving.

I know some of you are thinking, “But we haven’t been faithful to each other.”  (And maybe even “you have no idea because you guys made all the right decisions,” yada, yada, yada.)  Remember how I said I felt safe in that one area.  That’s true.  But we have not had complete fidelity (loyalty, faithfulness, allegiance and support) with each other.  We are humans.  We have revealed dark sides of ourselves only to be met with a lack of understanding, blame, shame, yelling (okay, I yell), shutting down and bailing out (maybe not the D (ivorce) word, but there are many ways to practice infidelity).  We are still practicing (because we are not there yet by any stretch) what we preach.

Fidelity is hard work.  It’s big and small, long-term and in-the-moment choices to know and be known, to love and be loved.  But it is worth it!

Just now, Allen called and said, “Who are we to share this message?  We certainly don’t have our act together.  It’s hard for us.”  We then paused and reminded each other that even though the struggle is very real for us, we are working really hard because we believe this and the message still deserves to get both in here (to us) and out there (to you)!  Marriage matters!  We matter!  You matter!  Fidelity matters!

Semper Fidelis!

A week break and then number three:  FALLIBILITY

 

 

 

Author:

I am a wife, mom, daughter, women's group leader, sister, marriage mentor, friend, speaker and lover of Jesus.

12 thoughts on “Make a Marriage Great Again (Part Two of Ten)

  1. I love the square dancing video – it looks like so much fun!!
    You are so right – it is such an incredibly important thing to be “chosen and not unchosen” (or re-chosen in some cases). People really, really want to make good, healthy choices for themselves and for their relationship with their chosen ones. I know many more people would make and keep those important choices throughout their life together if they had wise, experienced and relationally knowledgeable support and guidance like you and Allen provide through your couple mentoring. You are one of the few couples that I would trust with a responsibility like this, not because you do it all right (or worse yet, think you do) but because you have fought so hard for each other and for your healing . . . and you are committed to continually make choices that lead to real change and growth.

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  2. It’s always good to hear from people in the ” struggle” rather than those who think they are above the struggle. THANKYOU for sharing Esther. Yes fidelity is so much more than physical ! Loyalty , allegiance , faithfulness and support ! Emotional faithfulness is key to it all !

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  3. Thank you Esther! As i was reading this, I was reminded of Augustine’s famous prayer to God in the midst of his sexual struggles: “O Lord, give me chastity, but not yet.” I think we can all agree on the idea and ideal of fidelity, of fidelity that I will practice tomorrow or in the future or when it is convenient or easy. But it seems that the minute by minute, hour by hour, momentary TODAY practice of fidelity (and all the other F’s) is the only way the ideal has the slightest chance of ever happening. I think fidelity is best seen in the hundreds of small choices we make, and much less in the “big” ones.

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  4. I’m so enjoying your blog Esther. Especially the marriage mentoring parts. Our hearts are in that arena as well and I love learning form what you and Allen are doing. Blessings and keep on writing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Asking couples who are engaged to abstain in this day takes courage but it is truth and goodness. I confess I struggle with this as we talk with our couples. Many times it is the elephant in the room I don’t want to talk about. May Christ give me the courage to gently, lovingly and respectfully point this truth out to those who call Him Lord. Sex is for married people, and it is worth waiting for. Fidelity is vital and it is worth the sacrifice because the benefits are huge. Thanks for this post. LOVE everything you write.

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