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An unpopular way to stay happily married.
Trading freedom for depth
When you married you traded in a freedom to roam for the persistent presence of one. You swapped the search for one for a search to deeply understand one you married. You lost some things when you got married. If you try to get those freedoms back you’re risking your marriage. No one assumes they’re going to have an affair. No one assumes their spouse is going to have an affair. If you don’t put in boundaries in your relationships with other people you’re risking an affair. You might think that’s crazy talk but ask someone who is divorced if they assumed they’d get divorced. It all sounds impossible and paranoid, until it’s real.
[Tweet “No one assumes they’re going to have an affair.”]
You’re allowed to risk but don’t expect to to win if you do
Risk is a judgement call. In the first Superman movie a boy is swinging on the outside of the rail of Niagra Falls. He holds on with one hand then lets go. As he begins to fall back he grabs on with the other hand. The back and forth continues until of course the inevitable happens. He slips. Stop and listen. It was inevitable. He was stupid. He was on the outside of the railing. Those around him were not paying attention as well as they should. He falls and it was his fault.
Respect the rails
Rails restrict our freedom, thank God. When I was a child I thought and acted like a child. I hated boundaries. Then I grew up and had children of my own. Now I fully understand boundaries. Boundaries give my children a place to run and keep them from running into the street. Adults need boundaries too. We need railings and we need to stop swinging on the outside of them. Rotating from one hand to the next, believing we are invincible. We humans like our freedom. Unfortunately freedom is why people have affairs.
Freedom isn’t freedom when it enslaves someone else. That’s what happens to the victims of affairs, the spouse who was faithful and of course the children.
My wife is a child of divorce. Boundaries weren’t respected. Someone played outside the railing and they fell. Heck, it was more like they jumped over the railing. They didn’t like the constraints. Everyone else paid for it. Eventually they paid for it too but the immediate consequences were felt by everyone else. Selfishness does that. Everyone other than the rule breaker pays for the mistake at first.
What I won’t do with another woman
If I can help it, and I usually can, I won’t meet alone with a woman. I won’t sit in public and have coffee with a woman if I can avoid it. I won’t ride in a car with a woman. I won’t have private Facebook messages with a woman without my wife knowing about it.
[Tweet “If I can help it, and I usually can, I won’t meet alone with a woman.”]
Am I weak or disciplined?
Am I paranoid or fully aware?
Am I a chauvinist or a loyal husband?
Am I missing out or am I gaining depth?
Unpopular? Not with my wife
Democracy is good so it’s good to vote on ideas like these. In this area of my life there’s only one voter. She’s my wife. She knows that I employ women, have clients that are women and frequently talk on the phone with women about work related items. She trusts me when I leave the house in the morning because we have agreed on boundaries, the kind that protect what I care about more than other people’s opinions. It’s more important to have a marriage that lasts forever than embracing a popular opinion.
[Tweet “It’s more important to have a marriage that lasts forever than embracing a popular opinion.”]
Even pastors ignore rails
“If I did what you advocated I’d be ignoring more than half of my congregation.” That’s what a friend who is a pastor told me. He’s married and has decided to meet privately with women for counseling. Just like my policy is foolishness to him his policy is foolishness to me.
There’s got to be another way to care for people. There are safeguards we can put in place if we find ourselves in situations that could compromise ourselves. Is it worth the risk to your reputation? It is worth putting yourself in a “he said, she said” situation? For my pastor friend it’s worth it to him. I’ve seen too many pastors fall for a member of their congregation. I say put in the rails and keep them there. Another woman’s needs aren’t worth the trust of my wife, the health of my marriage and the emotional security of my children.
[Tweet “Another woman’s needs aren’t worth the trust of my wife.”]
Sex, mistrusting women and paranoia
It’s an oversimplification to say this about avoiding sexual temptation. In the real world people don’t throw themselves at each other. Affairs don’t start off that way. They are subtle. Subtle is more dangerous, always remember that. Women don’t throw themselves at men, they more often connect emotionally. My boundaries are in place so that I can avoid emotional connection with women.
I trust most people and I trust more women then men. This world would be a better place if more daugters and mothers ran things. This isn’t an issue of not trusting women, it’s about putting boundaries in place so trust doesn’t need to be exercised. Avoid testing the will. Temptation is not to be tested, it’s to be avoided.
Paranoia’s root is an unhealthy concern. It’s irrational. There’s fear where there should be none. My boundaries aren’t irrational. I am afraid of an emotional and physical affair. They’ve happened to people I respect and thought would never fall prey to. People I deeply loved and respected stepped outside the boundaries of their promises. They went outside the railing and they fell. Their marriages crashed and their children paid the price. Children usually pay more than the adults.
Divorce hurts kids more than we want to admit
I know this is true. I know because I get to see my wife’s family interact (or not interact) because of a divorce that happened over 30 years ago. Paranoia is irrational fear. Don’t fear the irrational but do fear the real. Fear the things that will ruin your promise, your children’s sense of self and peace.
Men are afraid to agree with this in public
Men understand this rule more than women. It makes sense to us because we know us. We see the world differently than women do. As much as the world would like us to believe men and women are the same, we’re not. We’ve got different wiring and are motivated and tempted by different things. A vast majority of men agree with me that boundaries are a good thing because of the temptations that exist within in themselves and from the world we live in.
Most men won’t publicly support this idea though because that’s admitting their weakness. Men hate admitting weaknesses. The last time I shared this ideas women tore it and me apart. There were an equal number of men who privately thanked me for stating this opinion as there were women that publicly blasted me. Men, I don’t care if share this article with anyone other than your wife. Ask her what makes her feel loved, special and safe.
Be your own Superman
Superman isn’t going to swoop in and save the day if you fall. The best way to save the day is to avoid falling.
Put in boundaries.
Protect what is precious.
Be your own Superman.
Put in some railings and stay on the right side of them.