One of the most important rules in my marriage is this:
NEVER EVER say a negative thing about your spouse in public.
Our reasons for this rule are simple: We don’t want to be hurt, and we don’t want to hurt each other.
Early on in our marriage, I remember laughing with some friends about our husbands. The men were hanging their heads, laughing, and snapping back as we women giggled through a list of the many ways they regularly disappointed us. I remember smiling Justin’s way and being surprised to find him serious—sad even.
That night, Justin told me how much he’d been hurt by my words. He said, “I don’t always feel safe with you.”
I was floored. What I’d meant as a joke, a way to bond with a group of friends, had made my husband feel small and unloved.
And I knew as soon as he said it that I’d feel exactly the same way if the tables were turned.
There are plenty of people who want to humiliate me. Plenty of people with arrows in their quivers, ready to hurt me.
My spouse shouldn’t be one of those people. Spouses are protectors.
Because we have this rule, I know two things:
My husband will never embarrass me.
I will never embarrass my husband.
And that means a lot. It means my name, my reputation, and my honor are protected. But, more than that, it means the love of my life is protected, too.
**I re-read this after I wrote it and I realized I’d missed one of the biggest reasons for the rule: It’s not just about me or about Justin, it’s about our love, the actual love connection itself. You see, insulting one another in front of others opens your relationship up to criticism. It allows others to pick at the foundation and question its sturdiness. It makes people wonder, “If she says that it public…”
I don’t mind so much when people think little of me. I mind a lot when they think poorly of Justin. But I mind most when they think poorly of our love. Because our love is better and purer and more perfect than we’ll ever be.
Why would I ever want to devalue something like that?