One of the things that make marriage and relationships generally fulfilling and worthwhile is the fact that there are proper boundaries. In the words of Robin Weidner, “In marriage, think of a boundary as a limit we set that protects the sacredness of our marriage – keeping us far from anything that could hurt our relationship.”
According to Life Esteem, intact boundaries are flexible – they allow us to get close to others when it is appropriate and to maintain our distance when we might be harmed by getting too close. Where there are no clearly set boundaries, abuse is inevitable.
Now, as human beings, we spend our lives every day in a veritable network of relationships. The fact that we are married does not exempt us from close contact with others, including the opposite sex. There are relationships we can and should deliberately cut off,all right, by virtue of our status as married men or women, but there are several others which we cannot but maintain because they tug at the core of our own existence. It is therefore important that we determine what we will allow and what we will not allow in those relationships and ensure that we stand our ground when the temptation to compromise beckons.
Some may not know it, but today’s workplace has become the No. 1 spot for infidelity or sexual immorality. More men and women are breaking their marriage vows by engaging in office friendships that subtly become romantic.
In her book Not ‘Just Friends’, Dr. Shirley Glass states, “The new infidelity is between people who unwittingly form deep, passionate connections before realizing that they’ve crossed the line from platonic friendship into romantic love. Eighty-two percent of the 210 unfaithful partners I’ve treated have had an affair with someone who was, at first, ‘just a friend.’”
From 1991 to 2000, Glass discovered in her practice that 50 percent of the unfaithful women and about 62 percent of unfaithful men she treated were involved with someone from work. “Today’s workplace has become the new danger zone of romantic attraction and opportunity,” Glass writes.
Amazingly, some corporate organisations in our environment who today use women, particularly young ladies, as baits to lure customers or boost their earnings have not in any way helped matters.
In spite of the many pressures around us, the Bible is emphatic: “Flee sexual immorality…”And setting proper boundaries will enable us accomplish this.
Now, nothing erodes boundaries faster than familiarity. Whether or not we like it, the majority of us spend more time with colleagues, bosses, subordinates and business associates or partners than we spend with our spouses. Unfortunately, the connection with these new “friends” can sometimes become very deep and can lead to strong emotional attachments. The problem is, these emotional attachments with the opposite sex can lead to romance, and sometimes does.This plays up the need for married people to have clearly set boundaries, particularly with those they work or relate with.
You will understand that the majority of married people caught in the web of infidelity usually do not set out to compromise. The most noticeable theme is that they work or play with others, grow to understand one another and “relate” better to some of these people than they do to their spouse. This is hardly surprising considering the normal tension often experienced on the home front about bills, problems, chores, etc. Unfortunately, these sometimes leave couples with little or no opportunity to say sweet nothings to each other, complement each other or communicate in a relaxed atmosphere. But the co-worker friend is always there, and is majorly someone who is available to talk with, someone who is always empathizing and someone who does not come with any of the stresses at home. This is what makes such co-workers or workplace friends all the more attractive, hence the strong unintended connection.
It is therefore important that care is taken to always stay true to one’s spouse and marriage in spite of the many temptations out there. One should not encourage or be found in any kind of friendship or relationship that does not strengthen one’s marriage. When proper boundaries are observed, it becomes difficult for outside friendships or relationships to pose a danger to our marital relationship.
Apart from workplace relationships, another issue that often comes up in counselling sessions is that of old flames.Many find themselves trapped in relationships with their exes, even after they have separated and each has ‘moved on’ and married. Much as some can and still do maintain a measure of contact with old flames, it often poses a threat to many a marriage. If you cannot be upfront about it with your spouse, it is not likely to do you or your marriage any good. Interaction with former boyfriends or girlfriends is therefore one area requiring proper boundaries so as not to reawaken something that could be disastrous to your marriage.
Now, one way to ensure that your boundaries are in the right place is for you and your spouse to always be accountable to each other. Good enough, social media today offers an opportunity to constantly be in touch with your spouse – make good use of this opportunity to strengthen your marriage. Infidelity often thrives on secrecy, so make sure openness forms the basis of your own relationship.
Where any relationship with the opposite sex is important and indispensable, try as much as possible to introduce such friends or co-workers to your spouse. The whole idea is to stay protected by not allowing anything inimical transpire between you and them without your spouse’s knowledge.If you have the right kind of friends, they can end up providing great encouragement and accountability in your marriage. Otherwise, you do not need them in your life or marriage. It is important that all your friends are true friends of your marriage.
To help set or maintain proper boundaries, here are some tips:
- Ensure there is enough trust in your marriage for you and your spouse to always have an honest conversation.
- Discuss sexual temptations or attractions with your spouse before they get out of hand.
- Be open or transparent with your spouse.
- Call it off when any discussion or contact with the opposite sex is tending towards intimacy or immorality.
- Avoid jokes with sexual innuendos from someone who is not your spouse.
- Avoid flirtatious eye contact and sensual or immoral hugs.
- Avoid or show displeasure at inappropriate touch or handshake.
- Be careful not to allow the secrecy and anonymity social media platforms provide draw you into amorous interactions with strangers or people who are plainly out to satisfy their lusts and destroy your marriage.
God intends your marriage to be heaven on earth. He will give you the grace to set proper boundaries and consistently maintain them.
Remember, your marriage is a blessing.