An Undivided Heart
When I was in college, I loved dating. I went on dates with many women, was in a relationship with a few, and married one of them. It's a difficult transition to shift your mindset from one of dating to one of a committed relationship. A marriage, being the lifelong commitment that it is, requires your full, undivided heart.
Dating is fun, as it should be. Getting to meet a multitude of people, learning what traits you desire in your spouse, and making rookie mistakes are all good and healthy things. There's nothing wrong with a young man or young woman dating many people. Not only is each date a quasi-interview for a potential future spouse, it's a safe and fun environment to get to know people on a deeper level. Your children should be encouraged to engage in an active dating life that's both age and relationally appropriate. By encouraging healthy dating at home, you can give them the tools they need to continue healthy dating when they move out.
Once you’ve chosen your spouse, and they've chosen you, it’s imperative to have an undivided heart. Your spouse deserves and needs your full love, as do your children. 99% of spouses expect exclusivity in their marriage and the practical implications are clear when one considers the survivability of a marriage when one spouse cheats. An undivided heart is the best tool for maintaining and growing a vibrant, healthy marriage.
Marriage isn't about just avoiding evil. It's also about doing good. It's not enough to shut out distractions. Rather, in addition to avoiding distractions and temptations, a spouse must actively pour themselves and their love into the relationship. It's precisely the exclusivity and permanence of marriage that gives it its stability. Give your love only to your wife.
The benefits of exclusivity are self-evident. Men don't want to materially support the rearing of another man's children. Women don't want to compete with other women or unrealistic fantasies. On a deeper level, both husband and wife want to be respected. On your wedding day, you promised your love exclusively to one another. Based on those promises, we each simply expect our spouse to follow through.
The problem is that we live in a world of distractions. Pornography, careerism, excesses, fantasy media, and other distractions divert precious energy, time, and resources away from marriage. When one spouse struggles, the whole family suffers. When distractions start to plant unrealistic expectations in the mind of a spouse, the marriage starts to crack. These are not harmless distractions and they’re anything but "normal." It's vitally important that we cut through the lies and the posturing and recognize distractions for what they really are. These distractions are the single greatest threat to your marriage and are the gateway drug to infidelity.
Again, life, especially marriage, is not simply about avoiding evil. Instead, we should be actively choosing to live the good. There's a great strength in an undivided heart. One is not a prisoner of his own passions has a clear mind and an open heart. They are able to navigate around temptation, recognize truth, and love fully. When you're able to give fully of your self, your marriage will benefit immensely. Like a carefully tended garden, the flowers will blossom and the fruit will be rich.
As Jesus said, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." In the same way, a heart divided cannot support a marriage. Let go of the things that are holding you back from fully and freely loving your wife.