How secure are your marriage boundaries when it comes to relationships with people of the opposite sex? Hopefully better than the boundary between my driveway and my neighbors’.
We have a small fence on the boundary line that only goes partway down to the road. This was never a problem before last year when our neighbors parked a trailer in their driveway. They couldn’t get up their driveway, so they would drive up our driveway and drive through our grass into their driveway.
After several months of this, the weather turned cold, and we were about to be hit with a big snowstorm. When they realized they wouldn’t be able to cross 18 inches of snow in the grass, our neighbors had to move the trailer so they could get up their own driveway.
Well-respected boundaries not only make good neighbors, but they also create strong marriages.
One of the best ways to show your spouse you love and honor them is to set boundaries with the opposite sex and respect those boundaries. You see, we have to accept the fact that everyone we come into contact with doesn’t have the best intentions. People can manipulate us or fool us into compromising situations. It’s better to have a plan in place before a predicament presents itself.
Jesus wants us to be aware of the evil going on around us.
Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Matthew 10:16 (ESV)
Being aware of the devil’s tricks to destroy marriages doesn’t mean that you can’t be friends with people of the opposite sex. It just means that those friendships should have boundaries set upon them.
Keep in mind that most affairs start with harmless small talk. Then a lack of marriage boundaries causes the relationship to go too far. This slow fade into sin is why people often don’t see an affair coming.
So, what marriage boundaries should you set, and how should you act around these opposite-gender friends? Here are some “Dos and Don’ts” to create a strong, loving boundary around your marriage.
Marriage Boundary “Don’ts”
- Don’t be alone with someone of the opposite sex. Don’t be alone in a car, go out to dinner, or work late alone with someone of the other gender. If you have to go somewhere alone with someone, make sure your spouse agrees to it before you go.
- Don’t flirt with anyone except your spouse. Leaning in to listen intently, brief, casual touching, and laughing just a little too much can give the wrong impression to the other person. Keep a professional distance and demeanor.
- Don’t stick around if you are feeling any temptation. If you notice a member of the opposite sex flirting with you, run!
- Don’t be friends with anyone that your spouse does not feel comfortable with. There are no exceptions to this rule. Arguing with your spouse about why it’s ok for you to be friends with them will only make them more uncomfortable and cause your partner to lose trust in you.
- Don’t discuss details of your marriage with anyone of the opposite sex. Don’t talk about your spouse’s flaws, intimacy issues between the two of you, or any other conflicts affecting your marriage. It makes you seem available.
- Don’t be a shoulder to cry on for members of the other gender. If someone wants to talk to you about things in their lives, ask if bringing your spouse along is ok. If they don’t want your spouse there, it’s a good sign that they could be interested in more than just counseling.
- Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do if your spouse were there watching. Be aware of the way to talk to members of the opposite sex, and if you know your spouse would be hurt or angered by the words, don’t say them.
Marriage Boundary “Dos”
- Keep your phone and computer open to your spouse. They should know all of the passwords and PINs so they can access the technology at any time. If someone of the opposite sex sends you a message, you should make sure your spouse is aware of it, even if you think it’s not a big deal.
- Set boundaries concerning the kinds of media you would want the other person watching. It’s well established that porn will create issues for your sexual relationship, but be careful with movies with sexual content. Most of us have streaming services, and those services do not have to comply with all of the over-the-air regulations, and it’s easy to stumble upon inappropriate shows.
- Set rules for what should happen in a situation where you or your spouse will have to be alone with a member of the opposite sex. If it’s unavoidable, like a work trip or dinner, what would the other spouse like to do to feel comfortable?
- Avoid as much one-on-one time as possible with the opposite sex. Whether at work or while participating in any activities, stay away from situations where you will be alone. Keep another person in the room at all times. Even church activities aren’t automatically safe. Just look at the many high-profile Christians who have fallen into sexual sin.
- Create friendships with other couples, and do things together will all four of you.
- Keep your spouse in the loop when members of the opposite sex reach out to you by forwarding emails or text messages that you receive to your spouse. Tell your spouse about it if you talked with someone during the day for an extended amount of time. If someone from work tells them you were chatting someone up during the day, and you didn’t mention it, even an innocent conversation can cause your spouse to feel insecure.
- Talk about your spouse often when talking with others. Michael Hyatt calls this the best adultery repellent. Even before I was married, I talked about Dan all the time. One of my male friends from college once told me that he was thinking about asking me out, but all I did was talk about my boyfriend, so he knew he didn’t have a chance!
- 5 Ways Healthy Boundaries Will Help You Have a Better Marriage
- How to Establish Boundaries that Protect Your Marriage.
When setting boundaries with the opposite sex, it is essential to make black and white rules. It’s a yes you can do it or a no you can’t. It’s the gray areas that will get you in trouble and threaten your marriage. Marriage boundaries help you stay in your own driveway! Be thoughtful and work together with your spouse to create these limits and then follow them!
Marriage Missions has a quick quiz you can take to see if you are wandering into a danger zone with an opposite-sex friendship. Check it out here: Questions: Guiding Opposite-Sex Friendships in Marriage.
You can also learn more about setting a boundary around your marriage to protect it in this book by Jerry B. Jenkins Hedges: Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It .