Building “Hedges” around Your Marriage
by Lisa M. Hendey
I typically "blur over" when reading books related to relationships, but Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome (Kregel, December 2004, paperback, 112 pages) by Nancy C. Anderson grabbed me from page one. This is probably due to the fact that Anderson takes time to share her own experience and marriage prior to jumping into suggestions for how you can improve yours.
In the first section of the book, we learn why Nancy calls herself a "cheater" on the opening page and we experience the strains and near break up of her own marriage. Thanks to the power of prayer, true forgiveness and the guidance of loving parents, Nancy and Ron were able to work through the challenges they faced and have now gone on to be happily married for 26 years.
Given this backdrop, the second section of the book is filled with helpful principles that will enable couples to avoid the many extramarital temptations that may crop up in even the strongest of Christian marriages. Nancy shares her ideas and wisdom in a fun, very readable fashion.
The "things to do" and "things to think about" sections at the completion of each chapter help to pull together the concepts presented and to apply them to one's own relationship. This is a great resource for couples in all stages of marriage and equally valuable to couples either happily married or facing challenges. Invest the time to read this book and share it with your spouse.
Nancy Anderson has the following to share about her new book and safeguarding your Christian marriage.
Q: Nancy thanks so much for your time and for this great book! You start off right away by introducing yourself as a "cheater". Why did you feel compelled to share your own experience of adultery in this book and how do you hope that this can help readers?
A: The reason I tell my story is to, hopefully, prevent it from becoming someone else’s story. I am willing to say, “I’ve been to the other side of the fence and I can tell you that the grass is NOT greener. It’s full of weeds and thorns…it’s a lie.” I want to tell couples that if they water their own marriages, they can grow a beautiful, healthy “green” relationship in their own backyard.
Q: Could you please briefly describe the six protective "hedges" we can build around our marriages to keep them intact and flourishing?
A: The H.E.D.G.E.S. are all action words, because we have to be proactive in our marriages, always rebuilding, remodeling, and reconnecting as life brings challenges that can divide us.
Hearing - Listening to your spouse is they key to unlocking their heart. People who have committed adultery often say, “My wife/husband never listened to me - they never heard me.”
“The hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made both of them.” Prov. 20:12.
Encouraging - Experience the teamwork building power of a helping hand and a compliment. Focus on the positive qualities of your mate.
“So then, let us aim for harmony…and try to build each other up.” Romans 14:19
Dating - Build a life that celebrates marriage. Have fun, laugh and play together.
“Let your fountains be blessed. Rejoice with the wife (husband) of your youth.” Proverbs 5:18
Guarding - Establish safeguards for your relationship. Set clear boundaries, that neither of you should cross.
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it affects everything you do.” Proverbs 4:23
Educating - Study your mate as if he or she was a textbook. Seek to understand and appreciate your mate’s unique qualities.
“Dwell with your wife according to knowledge” 1st Peter 3:7
Satisfying - Meet each other’s needs. Ask your spouse what he or she needs from you, and then do those things.
“You shall be like a well-watered Garden” Isaiah 58:11
Q: What role should faith play in the marital union? Why is commitment to a Church family so integral?
A: When I had my affair, my husband and I were lukewarm Christians who were not attending church. That lack of accountability lead to my self-deceptive thinking. I didn’t get Godly council and I took advice from non-Christians. I believed the world’s lie; “You deserve to be happy,” I sought feelings over truth and selfishness over self-control. I took God off the throne of my life and lived to please myself.
Now, with Christ as the foundation of our marriage and our church as our social and spiritual base, we stand firm and accountable to other Christians.
Q: I know that many couples who are experiencing marital challenges will benefit from their reading of your book, but why should happily married couples invest their time in reading Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome?
A: Because preventing an affair is always better than trying to recover from one. Some security firms hire reformed burglars to show them where their property is vulnerable; I can show you where your marriage may be vulnerable. Also, every husband and wife should know the warning signs that may indicate your mate is having an affair. If you have a good marriage, this book will give you creative ways to make it great. It has many fun and practical ways to keep your marriage fresh and exciting.
Q: You discuss planting "guarding hedges" in some of the areas of one's life where temptation might creep in - could you please say a few words about these, especially the workplace and church environments.
A: Jake and I worked together. He told me that I was funny, pretty and smart. He laughed at my jokes and bathed me in compliments. Those compliments were like magnets and I became very attracted to him. My husband was critical and rarely praised me, so I was starving for positive attention. I’m not excusing what I did, but the workplace can be a dangerous environment if you are not being “watered” at home.
Most affairs begin with a flirtation and flirting can happen anywhere, even at church. Choir members, Sunday school teachers, and committee leaders often work together at church activities, and that can lead to trouble if the relationship becomes too personal. We have to guard our hearts, even at church. If you are attracted to someone, stay away, and don’t allow an inappropriate bond to form - we are told to flee temptation.
Q: Thanks again for your time. What do you feel is the single most important factor in creating and maintaining a successful marriage?
A: For me it has been the friendship factor. I not only love my husband, I like him. Our relationship is not just based on passion and romance, it’s deeper than that. Those things may come and go during the years, but our friendship, trust and devotion are stronger and more stable that our emotions. Love based on caring for each other and a firm commitment to Christ is described in Ecclesiastes 4:12b where is says that a three-stranded cord is not easily broken. If you love God, and each other, in thought word and deed, your three-stranded-marriage will survive and thrive.
For more information on Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome visit Amazon.
Lisa M. Hendey, wife, mother and webmaster of http://www.CatholicMom.com
is an avid reader and writes from Fresno, California. Visit her at http://www.lisahendey.com
for more information.
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