The Protective Barrier of Marriage

Imagine you exist as a circle. Now, imagine your spouse as a circle as well. If we metaphorically overlap these circles so that each of them creates a new semi-circle, we are left with something that looks a little bit like the Olympic rings. This, I believe, is a good diagram for marriage—two people who have come together to create something new, something that was not there before.

Now try to imagine a larger circle protecting these two overlapping circles. This is a barrier that filters people and information in and out of the marriage. This filter can, at times, appear very thick, preventing any outside rupture in the marriage. At other times, it appears very thin, so that quite a lot of people and information can get through. The protection of the marriage depends on how that filter is negotiated by the couple, as well as the necessary adaptations to the environment.

Is Your Marriage Protected?

There are times when the couple needs to have a strong protective barrier around their marriage. These times might occur when tragedy besets the relationship, such as an affair or the death of a family member. Other times, the barrier needs to be very thin, such as when a newborn’s needs are being met. The barrier is there for the protection of the couple, but it does not always have the same resistance to the outside world at all times.

Years ago, my wife and I went on our honeymoon to the Sierra Nevadas and to Yosemite National Forest, where we came upon the majestic sequoias. These mighty trees are hundreds of feet tall and appear like giants on the earth, and yet, their root system is quite shallow. These gentle giants are at once massive, yet fragile. This is a little like our marriages, they can be strong and withstand a tremendous amount stress and strain from the outside world, and then can be innocent and fragile only to crumble at the slightest wind. The amount of what our marriages can withstand depends on our root system. The stronger and deeper the roots, the more the marriage can withstand.

marriage and relationships

In my Tulsa marriage counseling practice, couples come to me because their barrier has been disrupted and their roots are too shallow. Perhaps too much of the world (kids, job, parents, friends, etc.,) are breaking through. Without a strong structure, too much can be devastating. If this continues, the couple starts to feel disconnected from each other. A lack of communication follows, and eventually the couple starts to rely on others and other things to supply the intimacy and emotional connection they need form each other—that goes for men, too.

This is not to say that a marriage is simply a couple standing strong against outside forces. What happens inside that protective barrier is equally important, as each individual must learn to nurture the needs of the other. However, if the couple is not protected as a whole, or if the creation of something new is not sheltered, then it becomes too vulnerable, and too fragile to outside forces.

Read the questions below to determine if you have the necessary protective barriers in place for your marriage.

  1. When you reflect on your relationship, are you creating enough of a barrier from outside forces?
  2. Is your barrier too thin, letting anything and everything through?
  3. Do you have a strong enough root system to withstand heavy winds, or are your roots shallow, so that you may easily topple?

Like anything we value in life, our marriages need to be nurtured and protected. The road is not always easy, but it’s always worth the investment.

Start Creating a Protective Barrier

If you feel like too much of the world is breaking through, and you are about to topple over, the best thing to do is to make an appointment with a Tulsa marriage counselor Tom Philp. To take the first step toward a stronger marriage relationship, call us at 918-398-7678 or request a counseling appointment online.

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