How To Keep Boundaries With The Opposite Sex
Healthy marriages do not experience affairs, period.
Affairs spout in the soil of neglect, isolation, and loneliness. Combine that with a lack of healthy boundaries with friends of the opposite sex, and you have a recipe for a home wrecker.
Having walked so many couples through the aftermath of an affair, the stories are all starting to sound the same. After the wedding bells, something changes. The feelings of love, the emotional drug of choice entering into marriage, slowly fizzles. Couples who don't start with healthy habits fall into a daily rhythm that often leaves them feeling more like roommates than lovers. Feeling the emotional void, many look outside the relationship to find anyone to fill their love tank.
The reality is that we all have friends of the opposite sex. And that's okay.
The encouragement here is to recognize some healthy boundary limits and not set up camp near them. Boundaries are about prioritizing your marriage, meaning that your relationship takes first place over anyone else. It's also about protecting your marriage. Doing this, you show an insane amount of respect to your spouse proving that you're willing to go out of your way in order for them to know they can fully trust you.
Statistics are all over the map, but they say about 40% of marriages will experience an affair. Please pay attention! Do not think you are immune to this. Marriage is one of those things you have to constantly be fixing, tweaking, and maintaining. The couples we've had on our couch are overwhelmed with shame as their families have been torn apart, only wishing they still had an ounce of prevention.
Here are 4 things that every couple must do to keep boundaries with the opposite sex:
1. Don't be alone with a person of the opposite sex outside of work. Romantic relationships come out of recreational activities and intimate conversations. It's a gray line to have lunch with a co-worker, but once it moves into dinner and drinks, ehhh... no!
2. Do not be friends with anyone your spouse does not feel comfortable with... no exceptions. And don't be ridiculous by fighting for that friendship once your spouse waved the red flag. That only makes you look like a dummy.
3. Don't share private details of your marriage with anyone of the opposite sex. Lean on a mentor, pastor, life coach, or a trusted friend of the same sex.
4. Do not become the shoulder for someone of the opposite sex to cry on. Hand them a tissue and walk away.
Hard truth: I get it, but frankly these stories are way too common and the pain is too real. Do not pull fire out of the fire ring! Fire is an amazing thing inside the ring, providing warmth, joy (and even s'mores!), but once it's out of the ring, it's a nightmare to contain.
Marriage Action Plan:
- Talk to your spouse about practical ways you can protect and prioritize your marriage.
- Ask your spouse if there are friends in your life they don't feel comfortable with and what would be a realistic game plan on backing away.
Written by Meygan Caston
Meygan Caston is the co-founder of Marriage365 and lives in sunny Southern California with her husband Casey, their two children and dog Hobie. She loves her family, the beach, writing, spa days and helping couples connect in their marriage. Her life long dream is to live with the Amish for a month, walk the Camino and have lunch with Brené Brown.