In yesterday’s blog I discussed briefly the concept of guarding your heart and how important that is to keep our marriages intact. Affairs come in many stripes, but for married people they nearly always involve emotional connection. Married people know you aren’t going to be sexual with someone unless you like them. You might be attracted to someone, but if he opens his mouth and he is a jerk, you wouldn’t give him the time of day. Of the affair cases I’ve seen, all but a handful started through the doorway of emotions.
This is a hard boundary to keep in our day of wanton disregard for anything that smacks of protocol. Casualness is in. Couple that with the cultural encouragement to do whatever you want, whenever you want, with whomever you want and you have a recipe ripe for affairs.
I suggest to couples that they need to “affair proof” their marriages. One of the main ideas (I call them “Ground Rules”) is to:
never discuss your problems, especially problems with your spouse, with someone of the opposite sex.
The opposite is also in play:
be very careful if someone of the opposite sex wants to talk to you about his or her relationship problems.
The red flag needs to go up in a situation like that. It’s time to call home. As our Proverb for today says:
“keep to a path far from her.”
The “her” in the verse above is an adulteress. But it could just as easily been an adulterer. If you take out your Bible and read the whole of chapter 5, don’t be alarmed that the passage is discussing the temptation being female. It’s difficult to write about couples and spouses and partners and husbands and wives and he/she. The writer of Proverbs is smarter than me and just keeps it simple. He writes to his son about the temptation his son will face. So the temptation is female. He could have written to his daughter and then the temptations would be male. But the principles here are meant to be universal. So if you are female and reading this in your mind’s eye you say to yourself:
“keep to a path far from him.”
The reason the red flag needs to go up if you open up too much to someone of the opposite sex or someone of the opposite sex opens up to you (see how hard it is to write in both genders?) is because boundaries are being crossed. It’s none of the other person’s business. You have issues at home? You need to talk to your spouse. You can’t talk to your spouse? Then together see a counselor or your pastor who can help you learn to talk with each other. But DO NOT open up to that cute guy or gal at work who seems SO NICE. KEEP TO A PATH FAR FROM HIM! OR HER! If you are willing to break this important emotional boundary it will only be matter of time before other boundaries will be going down. Your job is to guard you heart. If you don’t guard your heart, your body is right behind.
Some jobs make it really difficult to keep this Ground Rule. Emergency techs, firemen, police officers, and military are particularly at risk. Here are people of both genders in close quarters for hours on end of boredom followed by intense rush of excitement. Camaraderie is paramount to effectiveness, safety and mutual trust. They depend upon each other for their very lives. They are told in their training they are family and have to trust each other so relationships are encouraged as a matter of survival. How are they NOT supposed to talk about some personal things in between their very heavy and scary responsibility?
The only way is to guard your heart. And tell your spouse when boundaries are getting too close. And then recommit to keep an emotional path far from his/her door.