A few weeks ago, we put a little stone in your shoe to help provoke a conversation between you and your significant other about ongoing boundaries with men and women of the opposite sex (i.e., co-workers, friends on social media, neighbors). If you didn't read Part One, go ahead and read it now.
We discuss these relationships in all aspects of the marriage ministry at Watermark, but the topic came front and center again after we read the public reaction to some boundaries Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen established in their marriage (referenced in Part One).
Today we want to follow up by getting very practical. In particular, we want to discuss six ways you can strengthen your marriage when it comes to opposite sex relationships.
What are some practical ways to strengthen your marriage?
- Get yourself some adultery repellant. Blogger and entrepreneur Michael Hyatt often talks about the power of adultery repellant. Every time you speak highly of or mention your spouse, you’re sending off a signal that communicates you’re happily married. Don’t leave anyone guessing whether or not you’re in love with your spouse. Let others know you’re taken and unavailable!
- Know each other’s passwords for all social media, financial, and email accounts. If you're married, then you are one flesh. Genesis 2:24 says, "Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” Unless you’re planning a surprise birthday party for your spouse, there shouldn’t be any secrets or anything hidden from one another.
- Note: you can still buy each other gifts for Christmas or birthdays. Just ask your spouse not to look at your account for a season. Afterward, make sure they get full access again.
- Premarried Couples: you don’t need to do this before you get married, but as you consider marrying this individual, would you trust them to have access to your accounts? Do you have any concerns about what might be on any of their accounts, or do you have anything you’re hiding from them?
- Be cautious about times when you’re alone with someone of the opposite sex. If possible, eliminate all possibilities of this happening. Don’t travel together, drive alone with someone of the opposite sex, and minimize/eliminate closed door meetings with someone of the opposite sex.
- If for some reason your work requires you to do any of the above, keep short accounts with your spouse. Proverbs 27:12 says, "The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” Keep your spouse informed beforehand and updated afterward. Look for ways to build trust with your significant other.
- Do you need to live in fear that if you’re going to be alone with someone of the opposite sex that you will have an affair? Yes and no.
- Yes, because any one of us is capable of making destructive decisions. If you think you’re above this temptation, keep in mind Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 10:12: "Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” Be careful of a prideful mindset that thinks you’re above sin and temptation.
- No, because most affairs take place after a slow drift in life and marriage. Most of the time, an individual who has an affair makes one small decision after another that leads to infidelity. Rarely does a fully devoted follower of Christ wake up one morning and decide to cheat on their spouse. Stay connected to Jesus, your spouse, and community and confess when you take small steps that pull you away.
- Join us at re|engage. Whether your marriage is in a great spot or a terrible one, re|engage provides a safe place for you and your spouse to grow your marriage. Instead of waiting until a crisis hits, be proactive and enrich your marriage. You can also strengthen your marriage proactively by discussing your marriage with close friends or in your community or small group.
- Choose to be different than the pattern of the world. Romans 12:2 says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Choose to be different than the pattern and custom of the world. Others might think you’re crazy, but you need to do whatever you need to do to protect your marriage. Emma Green, a staff writer for The Atlantic said,
"That some people are so quick to be angered—and others are totally unsurprised—shows how divided America has become about the fundamental claim embedded in the Pence family rule: that understandings of gender should guide the boundaries around people’s everyday interactions, and protecting a marriage should take precedence over all else, even if the way of doing it seems strange to some, and imposes costs on others."
6. Last, but certainly not least: Fall more deeply in love with Jesus. We’re not telling you to model your life or marriage after the Pence family. But, there are many practical steps you can take and conversations you can have to safeguard and strengthen your marriage. By far, the best thing you can do is to grow in intimacy with Jesus. The more you and I love the Lord, the less appealing everything else in life looks. When you walk closely with Jesus, pornography and extra-marital relationships will look less and less appealing.
Our team hopes this two-part series on opposite sex relationships put a stone in your shoe that leads to conversations with your spouse and others on how to grow in intimacy with Jesus and in your marriage. If we can help you in any way, please do not hesitate to reach out to our team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author
Scott Kedersha serves as the Director of Premarital and Newly Married Ministries at Watermark Community Church. He’s been married to Kristen since 2001 and together they are raising four boys. Scott writes about marriage, ministry, parenting and books at Scottkedersha.com, and is working on his first marriage book. You can follow Scott on twitter @Skedersha.