Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: Marriage boundaries
By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
Awhile back, we brought a new puppy into our home. Is there anything cuter or sweeter?
One of the responsibilities we had for this little innocent puppy was to secure the yard and the pool. So that she would not come to any harm, would not get out of the confines of the backyard and would not slip and fall into the pool, we spared no expense making sure that yard was puppy-proof!
Why? Because we wanted to protect her because she was of great value to us and because we love her.
How about your marriage? Are you protecting it? Have you placed a “fence” around it, secured any escape hatches, and posted a “keep out” sign against “intruders” — inappropriate friendships, unhealthy activities, pornography?
It’s easy to get lulled into thinking that all is well, which can lead to a bit of indifference or complacency and an overall false sense of security if the status quo if not tended to and challenged every so often.
Have you ever done a bit of “spring cleaning” when it comes to checking out the state of your marriage? There are some enemies of marriage that could be lurking around yours or mine … let’s look at them, hunt them down and send them scrambling! What “fences” should we erect to protect our marriages?
- Have Spatial Boundaries! Do you make it a point to be aware of your own body language? When around someone of the opposite gender, do your words — as well as the “language” being spoken with your body – exhibit a respect for your own relationship by maintaining a healthy distance? For example, when greeting someone, are you giving “side hugs” to the opposite gender? Do you make it a point to not be alone with that someone of the opposite gender? “Innocent” lunches, rides in the car, meetings, travel – are you intentional in bringing a third party so that there is not an “appearance of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:22)? It is so honoring of your spouse to inform a colleague, “Out of respect for my wife/husband, I do not have business lunches alone with the opposite gender. Can you bring another colleague along?” This will ALWAYS be met with respect from the other colleague, and you will feel really good because you have set that boundary/expectation!
- Have Verbal Boundaries! Another way to honor the marriage is to be mindful of the words you use when speaking with one of the opposite gender. Stay away from topics such as: the state of your marriage following a disagreement or disgruntlement between the two of you; questionable jokes about sex or about the disparagement of a spouse; and personal compliments about the way one looks, especially about the body. Remember, the only one you flirt with is your spouse!
- Have Temporal Boundaries! Make sure that the quality time you give is the time you give to your spouse and family. Of course, there will be times when work demands that you be there, that time must be spent on a certain project or deadline. But when you step back and inspect the time you give to what is important, hopefully the majority of that time is given at home!
- Have Visual Boundaries! Simply stated, pornography can destroy the foundation of intimacy between a husband and wife. Whatever you must do … do not allow it to get a foothold!
It’s not always easy to identify how something quite innocent can turn into something that threatens a relationship. But if we keep the value and love of our spouse always at the forefront of our choices, decisions and intentions, the enemies of marriage will not be allowed to sneak in and tear at the very fabric of those premier relationships.
Temptation is all around us; however, the way we tackle temptation is up to each of us. Keep focused on that which deserves to be secured, protected and honored! It is more precious that the sweet innocence of a curly bundle of puppy cuteness!