Building Safe Spaces

April 10, 2023

Over the years of doing marriage intensives for couples in crisis, we’ve seen many husbands and wives who don’t feel safe. I’m not just talking about being physically safe. There are lots of ways we can feel unsafe in our marriages. So here are four safe spaces we want to work on creating in our marriages.
Number one is physical safety. Your spouse needs to know without a doubt that you’re committed to not inflicting any kind of physical pain or harm to him or her. Physical abuse jeopardizes any relationship. Physical safety builds trust and is foundational to all other safety issues.
Second is emotional safety. Your marriage needs to be a place where you can express and explore your feelings without the threat of ridicule or rejection. Allow each other to vent freely once in a while without the fear of retaliation. Promise to guard against any verbal attack or ridicule or criticism that may squash true feelings that harbor unhealthy, hidden fears that will erode your intimacy.
Third is sexual safety. Physical intimacy is built on trust. Whenever a spouse feels used or misused sexually, trusted intimacy crumbles. There’s no place for selfishness in this area of your marriage. Commit to each other that you will never sacrifice your long term satisfaction and closeness for selfish actions that carelessly hurt and objectify your spouse.
And finally, spiritual safety. We don’t feel safe in this area because one spouse believes that he or she might be more spiritual than the other. Resist the prideful thought that I am more spiritual than my spouse. Ask the question as a couple, “How can we help each other grow more in our relationship with God?” Then work out a plan together to get there. It’s going to take patience and sacrifice, but the results will be the greatest depth of intimacy you’ll ever experience.

The reality is that none of these safe spaces can be created perfectly, but the couple who works hard to make their marriage safe will be far better for it. The Bible assures us that perfect love cast out all fear.

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