By Sean Chandler New posts Every Monday & Wednesday
Marriage is hard!
Once the honeymoon is over, and you settle back into normal life, it doesn't take very long to realize conflict is inevitable. There are so many ways for tension and conflict to creep into a marriage:
- Honest disagreements where no one is actually wrong
- Miscommunications leading to hurt feelings
- Poorly chosen words
- Thoughtless choices
- Selfish choices
- Intentionally toxic actions intended to harm
When you take two sinners and make them roommates, they will sin against each other. Inherently, sin between two people creates space between those two people. There will be times when feelings are hurt and romantic emotions dwindle and, in those times, there will be space between you.
This is why it is absolutely essential that you protect your marriage. Not for when everything is great, ideal, and Pinterest-worthy, but for the times of stress, hurt, and confusion.
It is essential in every marriage that you establish clear boundaries.
Most people don't naturally drift towards wanting to establish boundaries in their relationships. In the past, when I've written about boundaries, people have accused me of not trusting my spouse. Nothing could really be further from the truth. I trust my spouse just fine.
- I don't trust myself!
- I don't trust the person I can be when I'm hurt, vulnerable, and broken.
Boundaries protect us from ourselves and our own worst tendencies.
For me, it seems easy and obvious that, if I love my spouse, I can sacrifice a small amount of freedom for the sake of my marriage. The goal isn't to follow a rule. The goal is to go to great lengths to protect your marriage.
I know I need to establish a boundaries where I am weak and where my spouse is sensitive.
The entire point of boundaries is to establish a moral sensitivity that's still in a safe zone. Despite the implication of my somewhat clickbait title, if all you do is violate one of these boundaries, your marriage will be perfectly fine; they're all intentionally in a safe space. The purpose of each boundary is to stop you from going down a path that could lead to devastation. The boundary creates a moral sensitivity within your conscious when you're heading in a dangerous direction.
Below are seven boundaries I have in my marriage. Some of these may be impractical or unnecessary for your marriage. But, your marriage does need boundaries:
- Where are you vulnerable to foolishness?
- Where is your spouse specifically sensitive?
#01 – 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.
#02 – Never Trust Yourself Enough to Think You Don’t Need Accountability
I really don’t trust myself.
I don't say that because I have some sort of insecurity or impulse control. Nor do I have a bunch of skeletons in my closet.
My reasoning is very simple. Thousands of years of human history has proven that men and women keep doing really really stupid things. Even the most irreligious person in the world would agree that if people would just obey the 5th – 10th commandments, the world would be a far better place (do not kill, commit adultery, steal, lie, or covet). After 3,000 years, that’s still a great list of ways we keep screwing up our society.
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
"Anonymity is the enemy of accountability!"
BE AFRAID OF PORN
While looking up the Covenant Eyes link above, I stumbled on a great section on their website as to why porn is so especially dangerous in our time. Here’s what it said.
Psychologist Al Cooper said three factors play a role:
- 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.
Like a three-legged stool, break the leg of anonymity and the allure of pornography collapses."
As a side note, I’m truly baffled by any teenager whose parent doesn’t monitor their internet activity HEAVILY.
#03 – Never Hold Private Online Conversations 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 Meet Alone With the Opposite Sex
There was a recent scandal in the news as it was revealed that current Vice President Mike Pence does not meet alone with women, not even for coffee. I can't really comment on the implications of a government official holding to this kind of standard, but I can say that my wife and I have held this policy for as long as we've been married.
The reasoning is very simple: it's very difficult to have an affair if you're not spending time alone with the opposite sex. To be clear, both my wife and I have violated this boundary many times but, because we have this boundary, we're sensitive to the potential of the situation. We keep the other person informed when we're doing anything which might make the other person uncomfortable.
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.
If you’re married, you should reserve that sort of isolation for time with your spouse.
#05 – Never “Vent” About Your Spouse to the Opposite Sex
I would actually recommend you never “vent” about your spouse period, but this is just dangerous stuff.
Think about it: In order to “vent” about your spouse, you’re going to be having a private conversation where you invest emotionally in someone of the opposite sex. Part of the venting process involves the person listening UNDERSTANDING where you’re coming from. Thus, they’re positioned in a better place than your spouse.
When there is trouble, run to your spouse for emotional comfort, NOT someone else!
#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!
About Sean Chandler.
My name is Sean Chandler.
I’m a speaker, YouTuber, blogger, movie-lover, and a pretty normal guy who wants to tell others about Jesus. For that reason, I have spent over 10 years in student ministry.
I've been married to my wife since 2006. We have two wonderful kids, and two overly excitable dogs, all in our home in central Texas.
Click the button below to hear my story!