Madonna and Guy, Tea` and David

It seems like everywhere you turn couples are breaking up.  And not just celebrity couples either but couples that you thought at one time would be together forever.  Infidelity is majorly on the rise.  As a pastor’s wife you would think that it wouldn’t be something that I would worry about.  Right? 

Well just like in the “real” world, affairs and infidelity and adultery is just as prevalant in the Church.  Divorce is on the rise everywhere–including among Christian couples. 

Recently there was a really good discussion on one of the Facebook groups that I belong to.  It was about boundaries in your marriage.  Aaron and I have always had certain boundaries in our marriage.  In fact, when we were in our marriage counseling the minister that married us advised us on some of these boundaries.  Sadly, that same minister himself is now divorced.  (That was a complete shocker to Aaron and I but was a reality check that marriage is not to be taken for granted and is something you have to work on continually.)

So in this facebook group (Church Planting Wives) we had a pretty vivid discussion about this.  Some of us were all for boundaries, some of us agreed to some of them and others thought that some of them were ridiculous. 

So I’d like to know what you all think.  Whether you are a believer or not, whether you’ve been married 40 years or 6 months. 

Here are some of the things that Aaron and I do to protect our marriage.

1)  We never ride in a vehicle or go out in public alone with a member of the opposite sex.  Never.  Now someone brought up the situation of a woman being stranded on the roadside in the rain and would my husband just drive past her and not pick her up because of our ‘rule’.  Of course Aaron would not do that.  He’d pick her up and then he would promptly tell me when he got home. 

2)  I have access to all of his online accounts.  E-Mail, MySpace, Facebook, etc.  And he can have access to mine at any time.  Some of the ladies in the group thought this showed that we have no trust in each other.  I think it’s the exact opposite.  For one, this holds him totally accountable.  He knows that anything he writes may potentially be viewed by me and vice versa.  A couple weeks ago, someone from church (a man) sent him a very private e-mail.  Aaron told him and told me that he was going to delete it because he didn’t want me to see it.  And I’m cool with that.  Normally he keeps his e-mail up all the time anyway so when I sit down at the computer it pops right up.  He often will carbon copy e-mails to me that he sends to women in the church, or other female friends just so that I am on the up and up. 

3)  Aaron does not counsel women in the church alone, or even out in public, one on one.  Again, some of the women on the site had a problem with this.  Being involved in ministry as long as we have we have seen many times when emotionally fragile women get very attached to their ministers.  Hello?  You are just ASKING for trouble when you put a woman like that alone in a room with a stable, caring man!  Aaron will talk with women from church on the phone or after church in full view of anyone, including me.  If he has a phone conversation with them he will tell me.  Sometimes he will ask another woman to take on that role of counseling or helping out a woman in need.  (This hasn’t happened too often). 

4)  Nothing is kept a secret from one another.  (At least, you better not have any secrets you’re hiding, punk!).  Aaron has literally seen me inside and out (I’ve had two c-sections!) so there really isn’t anything that I hide from him.  And hopefully that goes both ways!  I trust him to tell me when there is something that he is struggling with–even when it’s hard for him to do so.  Now granted, our communication hasn’t always been perfect but it’s been better in the last year or so than I think it has been ever in our 10 years together. 

5)  We tell each other where we are going.  If Aaron has a meeting, he tells me where, with who and for how long he will be gone.  If he’s going to be later than expected he calls me.  And not that we have caller ID for this purpose, but I can see where he is calling from.  I think this just shows respect for one another.   

6)  Aaron has a program on his computer that allows two other men from our church to see what has been viewed on it.  If anything questionable comes up then they can ask each other about it.  I guess in a way it keeps me accountable too since we use the same computer.

Is our marriage perfect?  No–of course not.  I’d never claim that it is.  I admit that I have taken our marriage for granted.  That I have fallen into that trap of believing that “he’ll always be here.”  And I can’t think like that.  I have to actively “work” on my marriage every day.   I know there are things that we need to work on.  Our ‘date nights’ are way too few and way too far in between.  We rarely go anywhere without the kids (I can think of only one time when we spent a night away without them since Annagrace was born!).  We don’t spend enough time just talking (although we’re getting better at that). 

So anyone out there who has actually taken the time to read this–what do YOU do to protect your marriage?  Is this something you have thought about?  Where you given any advice before marrying that you found helpful?

10 Responses to “Madonna and Guy, Tea` and David”

  1. 1 Heidi October 18, 2008 at 2:51 pm

    I think that is great. I think boundaries in marriage need to be there. I have to say that I think at least one of these is a bit too strict to me, but people can decide in their marriages what works for them. Not everyone will have the same set of rules.

    I know that I appreciate it that my girl friends help me safeguard my marriage. They do that by being my best friend and my husband being secondary to that friendship. And the same with the guys. They guys are his friends and I am a secondary friend to them. I think that these boundaries are at least as important in Christian community.

    I’m not saying that a man and woman cannot simply be friends, but I just think that in my life, this is what works best for us.

  2. 2 Melissa October 18, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I, for one, think marriages have to have boundaries. Now we don’t have the same boundaries as you do, but some of them are very similar. For example, I do have access to all hubby’s online accounts and he has access to mine. We rarely, if ever, log on to each other’s accounts unless we are doing something for the other one. But he knows that he can always look at mine and vice versa. Plus we know each other’s friends and are mostly friends with spouses and such. We have no secrets. We always know where the other one is and check in with each other often (not to be confused with checking up on each other).

    I think it is very wise of Aaron not to counsel women or be alone with women from church. I know a lot of ministers who have another female from the congregation present or their wives. It can get really emotional in counseling sessions and that emotion can lead to a couple of different bad situations. So, I think this is extremely wise.

    The best advice we got when we got married was 1) throw the word divorce out of your vocabulary…you made vows before God and therefore you should honor them, 2) remember love is a choice, you choose daily to love your spouse through all types of situations (even when it’s difficult), 3) never go to bed angry.

    All of this has helped me trememdously. Hubby has been traveling on and off for 3 years now. I could be an insecure wife and freak out every time he left and wonder if he would find someone else. But I chose to trust him to honor his vow and we kept communication open. It was hard, but there’s much love between us. We’ve had some difficult times but through it all God has seen us through.

    We’ll have been married 8 years in March of next year and we still feel like newlyweds most days 🙂 (Of course, we haven’t had kids yet so we could feel a little less like newlyweds when we do!)

    I think you and Aaron are very wise to set your boundaries and be open with one another!

  3. 3 lene October 18, 2008 at 10:27 pm

    I think some of your boundaries make a lot of sense for someone in your hubby’s position, such as the rule to not be in a vehicle alone with a woman, or to counsel a female churchmember alone. This protects him from any possibility of false accusations. Sad to know such things have been an issue,however rarely.

    This wouldn’t be an issue in my own husband’s case, so it isn’t a boundary issue for us. We both have friends of the opposite sex, and neither of us worry about that, and it has never caused us any trouble.

    We’ve been married 26 years now. We both have grown more mature and accepting of our differences. Some of the things about each other that drove us nuts in the early years now seem so unimportant… It also helps that over time we’ve learned from each other. I was a spendthrift when we married, and I now am very financially responsible and frugal. Jeff was a bit narrow minded and tended to judge people who were different than he was, but he’s one of the kindest, most accepting men I know now, meeting people where they are, so to speak.

    Of course, we both still have our flaws. I’m still a bit of a slob when it comes to housekeeping (except for the dishes, cooking, laundry.) And Jeff is still one of the least romantic and mushy guys I know, despite knowing how much little romantic gestures mean to me. These things used to weigh on us and cause us to fight, and they just aren’t issues anymore. We accept each other “warts and all” now. (And when he does things like checking the tires and oil and brakes when he knows I’m going to be making a trip to my mom’s, I can see the deeper romance in the gesture, and flowers seem piddling in comparison.)

    The important things for us have been : that we both deeply respect each other, that we laugh together every day, and that we both live by the promise we made all those years ago to build a life together through hardships and grief as well as times of plenty and joy. It hasn’t always been easy, by any means, but we’re closer now than ever. Mushy romance seems insignificant when you have someone who cleans up after you when you throw up and then warms your bathrobe in the dryer while you’re cleaning yourself up in the shower. LOL

  4. 4 lsaufley October 19, 2008 at 5:33 pm

    Heidi–I’m curious to know which one you think is too strict for you. Just wondering! A lot of people seem to have a problem with the riding in the car bit. I have to say that it has happened two times to me in the last 10 years. Once was a mutual friend (who is really more like a brother to me) and Aaron knew and it was unavoidable because he was staying with us and I had to take him somewhere. The other time was or work–I had to take a male nursing student out for patient visits with me.

    I guess in another situation I may feel differently about this. In college it wasn’t unusual for me to take a male friend to the store to run an errand or to grab a bite to eat but then again, I was engaged then and not married and Aaron was not the leader of a church at that point in time.

    We were talking with a friend about this yesterday (he is also a pastor and also has that same “boundary” set up in his marriage). He said that someone once told him that if, for instance, he was in a car with another woman by himself and someone sees him then it may place the question in their mind that he is having an affair. And he said, “If that doubt is in their mind, then I might as well already be having an affair”. I see his point. People talk, people gossip, rumors can fly.

  5. 5 Aaron October 19, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Tons of boundaries + steadfastly sticking to them + huge love for my smokin’ hot wife = no accusations of impropriety… intact integrity.

    Love ya, babe. Great post. My personal thoughts… it shouldn’t just be guys in “my position” that are doing this. Every married couple should do whatever is necessary to protect their marriage.

  6. 6 Exie Anderson October 20, 2008 at 9:23 am

    Marty and I have all of the same boundaries. In the 6 years that we have been married there have been a few times when having these rules in place have saved us from having to make some difficult decisions. We never have to look at a situation and decide if its safe because long before that situation presented itself our “rules” were in place.

    I wonder who we learned these rules from? They really are the exact same as yours. weird.

    For those who disagree with rules because of the exceptional circumstance such as “a woman being stranded in the rain” I would say that these guidelines are just that guidelines for how we choose to conduct ourselves and just like in every other aspect of our lives we have to look at each individual situation and how it fits into the grand scheme of things. If riding alone in a car with someone of the opposite sex was not against the rules then we might allow ourselves to do it without thinking twice, but because it is one of our rules, it will only happen in rare occasions, with communication attached.

    Same with counseling and other rules.

    One rule that has come in handy many times for us is no one of the opposite sex is allowed in our home alone with the other. I can’t tell you how often people will just invite themselves in or expect to be invited it. But I have no problem at all asking them to wait outside or just inside the glass door and Marty the same way. For me that one is more for the appearance of evil but it has saved us.

    Have I told you that I can’t wait till you guys move to greenville………..I hope you move into our neighborhood or near us 🙂 🙂

  7. 7 lene October 20, 2008 at 4:25 pm

    One thing to remember, though, is that your integrity isn’t dependent on the opinions of other people. Your integrity comes from inside. Granted, for some people the opinions of other people will carry more importance than for others. But I also wonder whether we should automatically assume people will leap to the conclusion that something fishy is up if they see a married partner in a vehicle with someone not his or her spouse. I never assume that if I see someone with a person of the opposite sex. Do you think most people do, really? I’d hate to think the worst of people by believing they do think that way.

    I guess even if someone else did jump to that conclusion about my hubby, or me, it just wouldn’t matter a hoot to us. We know the truth, and we have complete faith in each other. Our marriage and our personal honor come from within us, and gossip or hurtful thoughts from other people just don’t have the power to destroy those things. I’m sure it’s that way for you, too, although you also choose to consider public opinion as well, and that’s a valid choice for you. Sounds like you have a secure and happy marriage!

  8. 8 Heather October 20, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    Laura, Thanks for taking time to be so open and frank about a crucial issue. You are right on the money. We must wake up and face these issues, and not let temptation take us by surprise. We also have these boundaries in place in our marriage and anytime I get to talk to a newlywed, I encourage the same standards. May God continue to bless you and use your heart to touch others.

  9. 9 Meghann October 21, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Just to add to some of the already really great thoughts up here. Boundaries are definitely important, as well as communication & love.
    Our pastor that married us gave us a few thoughts that have stuck with me & wanted to share.
    a) always fight “fairly”..voice your opinions and/or feelings without accusing your spouse. Instead of saying “you always this or that”, say “i feel like (whatever)” or in this situation I need..
    b) marriage is a daily have to choose to love & stay together all the time. (some days this is easier than others)
    c) Marriage is NOT about happiness. The Bible does not say man shall leave his mother & father & live happily ever after with his wife. All the time you hear about people just “not being happy” in their relationship. If we based our marriages on a feeling instead of a commitment, all of us would be divorced!
    All of that being said, Nelson & I will celebrate our 8th anniversary in April. It’s not all been fun or easy, but he’s still my best friend & we keep working at it!
    thanks for sharing your insights Laura..they’re definitly something to think about!

  10. 10 lsaufley October 21, 2008 at 4:18 pm

    Exie–That is weird that we have the same “rules”! We also abide by the “not being alone in the house” rule too. This doesn’t usually present itself too often. You have to think about how things look to your neighbors. I know that Lene mentioned that it didn’t matter to her what others thought because she and her hubby know the truth. However, my hubby works at home and I can’t imagine how it would look to our stay-at-home-mom neighbor to see women coming in and out of our home while Aaron is there alone.

    Meg–I LOVE your advice about marriage not being about happiness. That is really great advice and I’ll have to remember that for the future when talking with other wives.

    One peice of advice that I give often to newlyweds who are involved in ministry is to remember that there is a difference in God being first and the church being first. Yes, God should ALWAYS come first but your family should take precedence over your church family.

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October 2008

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