In the business world, you’ll hear the term “Moat” thrown around. It references back to medieval times where a moat was used as a line of defense to the castle. The wider the moat, the more easily a castle could be defended. For businesses, it is what things are in place that puts you at a competitive advantage. Things like brand name, patents and secret formulas (Coke) carry inherent advantages. Other firms build moats through cost advantages, schedule advantages, and ease of use. In marriage, we also need to build and maintain our moat to protect us from usurpers and other things that threaten the institute of marriage.
The first and foremost defense is building a better marriage. Not to beat a point to death, but that starts with self improvement and working toward a solid marriage dynamic. If this is in place, and the tingles and love grows solid, it’s much, much easier to defend.
Second, be aware of social media and your competitors lurking in the shadows. Ex-boy(or girl)friends, friends from the gym, co-workers, beta-orbitors… they can all easily be “Friends” with those using Facebook and the like, having private conversations or texts with your wife or husband while they are sitting there right there on the couch. It’s fun to putter around on twitter and Facebook and can easily drain the evening away, but beware that if someone thinks your spouse is worth it or attractive or perhaps the Usurper just went through a divorce (or is going through one) and these people won’t care the collateral damage that they will cause. This secret text/Facebook message game is poison to a marriage. It gives your wife the attention that she unknowingly craves, causes a dopamine release from these people (especially dangerous with exes since they have positive memories that get stirred up), and basically makes her incapable of rationale thought. If you have an inkling that anything inappropriate is going on, or she’s texting too much, nip it in the bud. Don’t have to be suave, simply be Ogre-ish and ask to see who she’s texting, what she’s texting, her Facebook account, etc. If she/he has issues with showing you this, giving you the “you don’t trust me…it’s a private thing” and spinning it back to you, that should be a red flag. Marriage is built on openness and trust. I do stupid shit and have stupid and inappropriate electronic conversations with my friends, but if Holly wanted to see what was going on, I’d let her and be embarrassed (possibly) about my correspondence depending what it was about.
These electronic communications are but the tip of the iceberg and while dangerous in their own way, should be stopped prior to actual in-person meetings. Work persons or those involved with any regular, on-going hobby or activity are most likely to try and compete. I wouldn’t even trust dudes at church who are in private groups with a spouse if you aren’t there. Yeah, you should trust your spouse but with divorce so rampant and the nature of men (who are often dissatisfied with their own marriages) going after someone else’s castle is fairly common.
Work trips, girls nights out even funerals or birthdays or family events that take your spouse out of town, without you and without responsibility are a recipe for trouble. Mix in old friends, alcohol and a different mindset can occur. Instead of “Mother of two, wife of one” she reverts back to “Single Gal, Looking Good Tonight”, and with that comes feeling sexy and confident and likely getting attention from dudes and maybe even hit on. You can’t be there, so in this regard it’s pretty hard to defend except for laying out expectations beforehand and making your marriage so solid that crossing that line is not a possibility.
Other aspects that threaten marriages are oftentimes family and friends. They nitpick at you or your spouse and bring up faults and scars and doubts about who you’re married to, their ability as provider, their ability as parents. Beware of confiding your marriage problems to unscrupulous friends, some may be looking for an opportunity to use marital strife to move in themselves should the opportunity arise. An unscrupulous friend knowing that you guys are in a rough spot may use that ammunition to make a move at, say, a backyard bar-b-que (alcohol, fun familiar vibe) that you can’t be at due to some other obligation. These people don’t necessarily have your best interest at heart and can cause earthquakes where there were once only minor tremors. Parents nit-picking can be really bad too and create doubts on the quality of spouse you married. Tell these people to butt out and that you’re working as husband and wife to patch up the weak spots.
Hopefully, the only moat you need is a solid self and marriage foundation that you’re continually fortifying. But always be on the lookout and be ready to mount other defenses should you start to see those other types of marriage attacks.