This week is National Fire Prevention Week so I thought it would be a good time to take a look at how we can try to prevent fires in our marriage before they get started. Have you ever noticed that people you know that are having the hardest time in their marriage are trying to put out one fire after another all of the time? It is like they can’t catch a break and every time they seem to get things under control the wind shifts and they are back to square one. Everyone is going to have to fight some fires from time to time, but if you are putting a lot of wear and tear on the water hoses you might need to evaluate your fire prevention techniques. Let’s look at some ways that we can try to prevent fires in our marriages.
Have you placed enough smoke detectors around your marriage and family? It is easiest to put out a fire before it has started good and has had time to get built up with heat. If we can catch the fires that are starting in our marriages when there is just a little smoke then it is pretty easy to contain them.
What do our smoke detectors need to detect?
We need to have a good grasp of any disagreements that we might have with our spouse. Are we communicating with them in a way that they can understand how we feel? Are we making decisions that are in their best interest? Are we providing a safe and comfortable pathway for discussion?
The National Safety Council says that every home should have smoke detectors on every level and more than one. The smoke detectors should be tested monthly and the batteries replaced twice a year. So, are you checking your smoke detectors around your wife and children regularly to make sure that they are in good condition and ready to sound the alarm when things are starting to get out of balance?
Our smoke detectors also need to have a good grasp on if we are doing the things we need to be doing for our family. Are we taking our jobs seriously? Are we making sure the bills are paid on time? Are we making decisions with how we spend money that do not put the family at risk? Are we involved with the kids? Are we helping them with homework? Are we supporting their activities? Are we talking with the kids about their days and letting them know that we love them?
What if my smoke detector alarms?
When an alarm sounds it is to tell you that there is a problem that needs to be fixed. The goal is to be able to fix the problem and shut off the alarm. Often times we take the approach that when the alarm sounds the problem is unfixable so we take over and dominate our way through the issue or we flee the problem. If we take the approach of “man-handling” the issue we risk losing the “team” support of the wife and family and they will feel like they did not have a fair shake in the outcome. The issue will only be “settled” in our mind. If we flee the problem we are just putting off dealing with the problem hoping it will somehow go away. This is the same as letting a fire burn and then bringing some wood, paper, and matches and putting it in the same place the next day.
The National Safety Council says it is a good idea to keep fire extinguishers near areas of the home where fires may start. I think it is a good idea if we have fire extinguishers nearby the areas in our marriage and family that are most likely to catch fire.
Fire Extinguisher #1: Worth
When a smoke detector sounds in your marriage how are you going to approach the problem? You need to evaluate the issue and determine if this is something that you are willing to risk your marriage to have your way. Is the outcome of this decision important enough that it needs to be a point of divisiveness between you and your wife? There are definite things that should fall into this category and that you should hold strong to in fighting for your marriage. Often times we can answer this question and understand that it is not something that needs to be fought tooth and nail over. We can put out the fire immediately because we understood the relevance of the issue.
Fire Extinguisher #2: Communication
Once we have determined that the issue is something worth fighting for it is important to try to communicate openly your feelings on the issue. It is equally important to listen to your spouse and completely hear her side of the issue as well. Everyone has a desire to have “their” way in a discussion but it is important to try to see if there is some merit to their side. They just might have a different view that might be worth considering or that might be easier for them to do their way in the long run. The ability that you can bring from having an open discussion can make both of you feel more comfortable with the other’s approach. It may be that you both can find ample room for compromise and even decide that the other’s approach is better once you can openly talk about the issue.
Fire Extinguisher #3: Decision
Sometimes you are not going to agree. I know this one is probably the one where most marriages have the biggest issues. The problem is that once they reach this point there is nowhere to go. If you can’t agree on the direction you are just stuck with the problem and nobody can go anywhere. In my marriage, and hopefully following the biblical example, when we reach an impasse on a decision my wife submits to my direction. If she trusts that I have taken her ideas into consideration, that I have looked at the problem and evaluated it taking the best interest of the family over my own, and feel led that this is how we need to proceed, this works unbelievably well. If I do not approach this power with the proper humble spirit in making this decision I will never allow our marriage to prosper the way it should.
Fire Extinguisher #4: Flee
Is there a time to flee the problem? Fleeing the problem doesn’t make it better. Fleeing the problem doesn’t make it go away. However, if fleeing the problem gives you time and space in which you can approach the problem from a better place or clearer mind than that is perfectly acceptable. If you have problems controlling your anger or temper when a smoke alarm goes off, fleeing is a much better option than doing something that you would regret much more than the original problem. If your spouse has issues with anger or temper, fleeing may give them chance to cool off a little bit and think through the issue a little bit more clearer so that you can both approach the problem with clear heads. Never ever let your solution to the issue be physical violence to your spouse.
On a side note, I just want to point out that you should try not to use Fire Extinguisher #4 if you do not have to. Fleeing is very much a problem which leads to passiveness in your approach to marriage. Try to use it only when it protects you from yourself or from your spouse so that the issue doesn’t become your reaction and not the original alarm.
The National Safety Council makes many recommendations to be aware of the flammable items that you have around your home. We can do many things each day that limit how flammable all of the areas in our marriage are. Our attitude around our wife and kids can be a huge factor in how flammable our relationships are. We need to try to be as loving as we can when we are home. We need to be able to let them know that they are important in our lives. We need to let them know that their feelings matter to us. We need to let them know that we are looking out for their best interests. We need to let them know that we are trying to protect them. We need to be men that they can trust and look up to. We need to let them know that we love them.
How do you prevent fires in your marriage?
The US Fire Administration says that having working smoke detectors more than doubles your chances of surviving a fire. Do you have the smoke detectors up and working well in your marriage? Have you made all of the necessary steps to help you survive a fire in your marriage?
One last point, the US Fire Administration says that the leading cause of fire deaths is careless smoking. This might be a stretch, but does it seem like there are a lot of marriages where one spouse is going around playing with fire or trying to start a fire all of the time? Are you guilty of stirring up the fire at times in your marriage? Are you sometimes looking for an argument or a battle? Why? What are the motives behind this mindset? Is it to try to get some personal gain? Is it that you have not forgiven your spouse for something and think this will give you some retribution? I fear those that are working to create division in their relationship. Please evaluate your motives and evaluate your heart before it is too late.