We all drive a Relationship Car, whether it is in our Marriage, Individually, Family and so on. Here, we will focus specifically on the Marriage Car.
5 Boundaries for a Healthy Marriage
There are 4 relational tires on the Marriage Car: The Emotional, Mental, Physical and Spiritual. Let’s look at each individually:
- Emotional Tire: this is what most family systems teach us when it comes to emotions (feelings). Feelings are driving the car and in charge of us rather than being in charge of our feelings (being the caboose rather than the engine). We are taught to react rather than respond or feelings are rationalized away as irrelevant.
- Mental Tire: This is what I am thinking about myself, others, and/or circumstances. In marriage, this is what I think about my spouse positively or negatively. In conflict, am I thinking of my spouse as my enemy or my friends as the consequences will be different. Scripture focuses on what we are believing “…as a man thinketh in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7).” Or “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45).”
- Physical Tire: in marriage, this is non-sexual physical touch (a spouse’s love language) or sexual intimacy. I can be physical fit and healthy in my individual car but this does not translate into healthy, physical tire in the marriage!
Here is where it can get interesting! The brain is an organ just like the heart is. As the heart can malfunction so can the brain. If my chemical levels are out of balance, I cannot just talk my way into a normal serotonin or dopamine level.
Another interesting consideration is that a physiological challenge can affect the other relational tires. If I break my foot, I register the pain of a broken foot yet how I handle my broken foot goes into the mental, emotional and spiritual tires! Why do some people handle physical adversity in self-pity and life is so difficult while another person still sees life as good and God is still with me and for me!
- Spiritual Tire: this is for me the most crucial tire as my relationship with the Lord does not naturally make me good at conflict resolution but God’s Word and my relationship with Him empowers me to receive what He wants me to understand and then do (learn healthy communication tools or deal with the attitude of my heart). Here are 3 primary areas where I see this tire deflate in the marriage relationship:
- Truth vs a Lie – I will often live in a lie about my relationship with my wife, myself or my circumstances. Fear is real but it is not truth in God’s economy. It is not wrong to wrestle with fear yet if I go live in fear, I am living in a lie. God’s Word is truth so how am I working my way towards experiencing the truth of God’s Word.
- Unforgiveness – living in resentment, bitterness and unforgiveness towards my spouse, myself and/or God will deflate this tire quickly!
- Spiritual Warfare – there is not a demon behind every tree but I think we discount how tenacious the enemy is to go after us and render us ineffective in our Christian walk. He can gain control and influence by sinning, being sinned against and generational sin.
How We Drive Our Marriage Car
Based upon the above, there are a couple of ways we drive our Marriage Car when we are not in a good place in our marriage:
- ON FLAT TIRES- If one or more of our tires are at 5 to 10 pounds of pressure, how will our car drive? It will keep veering off the road and the energy and effort to keep it moving forward gets exhausting. And sometimes, we have a complete blowout and we are stuck on the side of the road.
- LOOKING THROUGH THE REARVIEW MIRROR: If we keep looking to the past and stay stuck there, there will be a lot of collateral damage as we will slam into everything around us.
Cleaning Up Your Mistakes
How can we be intentional to put air in our tires so we are driving with the right pressure in our marriage tires?
Emotional Tire: Feelings are important (God made them) because they are indicators that a situation is affecting me positively or negatively but they are not to be decision makers. It is not wrong to feel “rejection” but if I go live in my rejection, now I can only see that person through rejection which becomes dangerous when making decisions.
Mental Tire: I need to slow down and THINK. What am I believing with the person/situation? How did I arrive at this belief, through some assumptions? Is this a fair belief to assign?
Physical Tire: Sometimes, it is good to get a physical check up or consider medication in the short term as prescribed by a doctor or therapist. Or I need to recognize if one of my “Love Languages” or spouse’s “Love Language” is physical touch and I am starving my spouse or being starved.
Spiritual Tire: In marriage, this is self-work- dealing with my resentment/anger, addressing footholds the enemy has, lies (self-deception or deception from the enemy) and so on. Or the “Us” work my spouse and I can do together. Are we in healthy community, praying together consistently and encouraging each other in our relationship with Christ?
I hope the Marriage Car can be a useful tool to gauge how our marriage is doing and ways to put air in our tires so we can drive our Marriage Car at full capacity!