Marriage, Temptations, and Boundaries

I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot lately and then read this fantastic post at Her Bad Mother.  In it, she talks about how important her marriage is and explains some of the efforts she makes to protect it.  I agree with her completely.  A strong marriage is no reason to become complacent.

Particularly now with so many distractions so easily accessible.  Not that prior generations had it easy.  Far from it.  Many of my peers grew up in broken homes.  My own parents are still together after 32 (almost 33) years, but that relationship is a second marriage for each of them.  My husband and I got married in 1998.  Many of our friends got married the same year, and our relationship is the only one in the circle that lasted.  We don’t have some special secret.  We just made it a point to always work to strengthen and protect our relationship in every way we can.

In each of the failed relationships, they failed to set up and stick to solid boundaries.  And in this world where 140 characters of the fight you are currently having can be broadcast to a worldwide network, those boundaries take on even greater importance.  Or when a few clicks on Facebook can tell you that your old high school crush is single.  But those things are obvious, right?  What about meeting that forum friend for coffee?  This forum where you found some like minded people that may not include your spouse.  It’s certainly acceptable for spouses to have differing interests, but you must use caution with those connections.  It’s far too easy to build a fantasy around that person with whom you believe you have so much in common.

Especially if you become complacent.  “It could never happen to me,” is the most dangerous thought you could have.  “I love him so much, I could never be tempted by someone else.”  You’re wrong.  If you let yourself believe this, you are setting yourself up for trouble.  My husband is my best friend, my partner, my lover, etc.  I think he’s handsome and charming and all the wonderful things a wife should think of her husband.  I still don’t go out to lunch one-on-one with male coworkers (even when I want Indian food that my husband doesn’t eat).  I only chat on Facebook when he’s in the room.  If the idea of not sharing something with Michael even crosses my mind, the very next thing I do is tell him about it.  And he does the same with me.

My marriage defense plan is not so different from my home defense plan.  Just because I am confident in my skills with my shotgun, does not mean I leave the front door open when I go to bed.  I have multiple layers of defense.  Locking the deadbolt does not mean I cannot defend myself, and keeping appropriate distance in outside relationships does not mean my marriage is not strong.  No one puts a security gate at their bedroom door.  You put it outside your home, at the end of the walk or drive.  It’s only the first layer of defense.  There is nothing sacred in so much grass and concrete.  It only serves as a buffer should your first defense be breached.  It serves as a warning that a threat is coming.  We should defend our marriages at least as aggressively.  Our boundaries shouldn’t start at our bedrooms.  There should be enough distance to have a buffer before the threat is to what is sacred.  Alarm bells should go off when you laugh too easily at someone’s jokes.  When you feel too excited to see someone other than your spouse.  They should go off long before some ‘moment of weakness.’  Those moments are a lie.  They have built up in steps because the boundaries weren’t there.  No alarms were tripped before the danger was imminent.  Those moments are preventable.

It’s important to remember that their are multiple avenues where threats can creep in.  The internet is an all too convenient vulnerability.  Why would we believe that eHarmony could bring someone together with a soul-mate but would not also have the power to tear a relationship apart?

I don’t share fights on the internet.  If my husband and I have a disagreement, it is between us.  And honestly, those disagreements are few.  If something is bothering me in our relationship, I go to him and not my readers even though I really do have awesome readers.  And I believe that is one of the reasons our disagreements are few and easily forgotten.  Not so easy when it’s been transmitted through so much bandwidth.  Google never forgets.  I don’t gripe about petty to my real life friends either.  Our relationship is sacred and worth protecting.

Many of my readers have made the decision to arm themselves because threats to our lives can come at any moment from any direction.  We don’t expect them, but we do prepare for them.  Divorce is far more common than murder.  Shouldn’t we be just as diligent in protecting our marriages?  Perhaps even more so.  Protecting your marriage doesn’t mean you expect infidelity or lack trust anymore than slipping that snubby in your pocket means you expect trouble.  Indeed, we all say that if we expected trouble at a given time and place, we wouldn’t go there at that time.    Don’t go looking for trouble, either in that dark alley or in your marriage.  If you do, you’re likely to find it.

10 thoughts on “Marriage, Temptations, and Boundaries

  1. Well said, J. I totally agree and do my best to live accordingly as well. My marriage is the strongest part of me and you better believe that I will protect it with all that I have.

  2. What I have found to be of utmost importance is keeping your spouse informed.

    I suspect this has been a major goal of the wifey and me as a result of repeatedly and lengthy separations. Happens when two active duty sailors get married. Less often now that I’m out, but even now the wifey is on deployment. When we’re apart for anywhere to two to eight months at a go, it’s not like either of us are going to simply suspend our social lives because the other isn’t around to meet our new friends, etc. I’ve seen that simple fact ruin numerous marriages and couples, even those who started out trusting each other, loss faith in each other and, even when there was no infidelity, become convinced there is.

    I can’t count how many times I’ve heard variations on, “Well, if he/she is just a friend, how come I’ve never heard anything about them.”

    So the wifey and I make a point of keeping each other informed about what we’re doing with who. More importantly, it’s volunteered, not pried out. It’s amazingling easy to trust someone who calls, or e-mails, every day to let you know what she’s been up to and with who.

    By the time one of us would return from a deployment, the other almost knew all the friends who’d been made during the deployment themselves.

  3. You know, you two have made it a lot harder for me to go and get myself hitched, as I hold pretty high standards because of the wonderful example you and others have provided in my life. In both your marriage and your raising of a fine young man, I have had a first-hand example of How Things Should Work. While I may be single for a lot longer than I, at a young adolescent age, ever thought conceivable, you should know that your actions speak louder than the words of this blog, and you are well appreciated for this.

    All my love,

    ~~Beej.

  4. “It could never happen to me,” is the most dangerous thought you could have.

    Absolutely true, and it’s extensible, as a concept, far beyond the marriage bed.

    Things happen. You can’t let yourself just slide along as they do.

  5. I know B. And I am so very happy for you guys. *note to other readers: I have the happy distinction of being the one that introduced Brandy and her hubby. There’s a funny story there:)

    Aaron-thank you for weighing in on the unique situation of military marriages. I’ve no experience there. You are right. There should be transparency with your spouse. Communication is really the cornerstone of any great relationship.

    Beej-You flatter me. Honestly, I’m glad to have set the bar high for you. You’re worth it.

    CGHill-You’re right, as usual.

  6. You are very right Jen, as always. The wife and I work very hard at communicating all the good and bad things going on in our head.

    She’s my best friend and we both understand that it takes a lot of work to stay that way. Marriage doesn’t make problems go away, it multiplies them.

    We went into this knowing that there were going to be problems ahead. We’ve stuck together and worked our way through them, just the way God intended us to.

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