Marriage is hard! Temptation is everywhere! Sin makes us really stupid! It keeps getting easier and easier to screw up as a husband. Whether by falling into sin or failing to build the relationship with your spouse.
It is essential in every marriage that you establish clear boundaries. Through my own family experience and after years of working with teenagers, I have seen the pain of divorce and marital infidelity. After experiencing the pain of my own parent’s divorce, I’ve always been willing to sacrifice some of my own freedom for the sake of my marriage and my children.
Here’s eight things that married people should never do if they want to stay married…of course, I know I’m probably over-stating some of these points. I know you can come up with exceptions to some of my points. For that matter, I have examples of when I’ve violated some of these principles. Here’s the important thing: when you start getting close to crossing these lines, you start to feel really uncomfortable.
If you want to know more about setting boundaries in marriage, check out Henry Cloud’s appropriately titled book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life.
#01 – Never Ride in a Car Alone With Someone of the Opposite Sex
When I first moved from Texas to South Carolina for Bible College, I ended up car pooling with a girl from my youth group growing up. I didn’t really know her prior to this trip, and it’s a long 20 hour ride without much of a view. All you can do is talk…and so we talked. Then, 18 months later, we got married.
I’ve been a firm believer in the romantic powers of car rides ever since.
But seriously, car rides are times when we tend to lighten up and open up. We feel safe, and we start sharing things. You’re isolated from the world, and it gives opportunity for all kinds of trouble.
#02 – Never Say Anything to Your Spouse You Don’t Mean
This seems really obvious, but when emotions start flaring up, suddenly we start saying really stupid things.
I don’t recall when I put it together, but “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” is probably the stupidest phrase children learn. Broken bones heal, and you usually have little long term affect. But hurtful words can cause permanent insecurity in a person.
Specifically words from people we respect or care about have tremendous power over us. When you use your words for harm against your spouse, you poison the relationship. Be extraordinarily careful with the words you use toward your spouse.
The tongue has the power of life and death – Proverbs 18:21
#03 – Never Hold Private Online Conversations or Private Personal Emails With the Opposite Sex
Obviously I email women on a daily basis, and I chat with them on Facebook. However, there are three people on this planet that have ALL of my passwords for everything. It’s almost a running joke with one of them. I’m pretty easy to hack on Facebook because I leave myself logged in. My wife or accountability partners can check what I’m up to any time they want.
Certainly some things should remain private, but nothing in your life should be private from everyone.
When you start having secret email and social media accounts where you’re having private conversations, you’re setting yourself up for moral failure.
#04 – Never Trust Yourself Enough to Think You Don’t Need Accountability
I’m a pastor, and I really don’t trust myself.
Thousands of years of human history has proven that men and women keep doing really really stupid things. We keep doing the same really really stupid things. Even the most irreligious person in the world would agree if people would just obey the 5th – 10th commandments, the world would be a far better place (Do not kill, commit adultery, steel, lie or covet). After 3,000 years, that’s still a great list of ways we keep screwing up our society.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? – Jeremiah 17:9
A FEW THINGS IN MY LIFE:
- I have Covenant Eyes on all my computers and smart devices
- Three people know all of my passwords
- Two people who aren’t my spouse have permission to ask me any question
- It is accessible. There are literally millions of porn websites which can be accessed almost anywhere.
- It is affordable. Most people who view pornography only view the free material.
- It is anonymous. You can look at porn in the privacy of your home or office. No one has to know you are viewing it.
#05 – Never Meet in Private With the Opposite Sex
Obviously, you can talk to the opposite sex one-on-one. I do this on a daily basis with my office manager. What I don’t do is schedule meetings alone with women after office hours. I don’t schedule lunches alone with women. When I meet one-on-one with a woman or girl, the door is usually open, there’s always a window where people can peek in, and someone who is currently in the building knows we’re meeting.
#06 – Never Confide Emotionally in the Opposite Sex
Some affairs are all about horn dogs that can’t control themselves. But most physical affairs start as emotional affairs. A friendship grows into a deep friendship. It’s extremely common for emotional intimacy to lead to attraction. There’s a reason some say men and women can’t be just friends. Most of the time, emotional intimacy leads to physical intimacy.
Which leads me to the obvious remark on the list…
#07 – Never Pursue Someone that Isn’t Your Spouse
Don’t pursue women that aren’t your wife!
Despite what happens in the movies and romance novels, affairs don’t just happen. Happily married men who are making good choices don’t suddenly fall into an affair in a moment of weakness. Almost without exception, there is a series of small “innocent” choices which lead to an affair.
THE STORY OF AN AFFAIR
What happens is they meet someone somewhere that they connect with. They’re attracted to them physically or relationally (they’re friendly). An innocent conversation at the water cooler turns into intentionally going to the water cooler. A few occasional texts turns into daily conversations. An innocent lunch in the cafeteria turns into coffee after work.
Over a period of time, an enormous amount of relational and emotional energy is poured into someone besides their spouse. They’ve connected relationally. They’ve connected emotionally. It’s just a matter of time before it will transition into something physical.
On the outside, most of these actions look fairly innocent and can be easily rationalized. But it’s really simple: if you’re attracted to someone, DON’T PURSUE THEM!