Monday, June 28, 2010

rules or romance?

A lot of you have read and responded to yesterday's post, and I want to add a couple more thoughts.  First of all, a post on "rules" doesn't sound very romantic.  After all, wouldn't it be a better time to talk about passion?  But I'm convinced that having solid boundaries such as these makes it possible to have a passionate marriage.  We both have the settled security of knowing that our spouse is not out there flirting with someone else or griping about us.  So we have total freedom with each other.

And I thought of two more "rules" - one that has been great, and the other that has not been practical.

For years and years now we have shared an email inbox.  Danny set up the computer so that all of our email accounts - work, school, and personal - empty into one inbox on Outlook.  For some professions (pastors, counselors, etc) I suppose that would not be possible because of confidentiality issues.  But it's been great for us.  I see all his emails with co-workers and he sees all of mine with classmates.  It's great accountability to ask myself, "How would Danny feel reading this?"  And it's also nice to have the inside scoop on each other's world.

Another rule hasn't worked out as well.  Someone suggested years ago, perhaps in pre-marital counseling, that if either of us have an acquaintance with a member of the opposite sex we should make a point to know their spouse even better than we know them.  We thought that was a great idea, but there are a few hang-ups.  If I have class for 30 hours in a semester with a professor or a male classmate and I collaborate on a school project, when will I have an opportunity to spend time with their wives?  What about Danny's co-workers who are single females?  There is no spouse to get to know!  And there's no way I will be able to see them as much as he does.  So this one hasn't worked out in practice, but it has been a good ideal to hold out there in our minds.  Whenever possible, I like to meet and get to know my professors' wives.  And I often ask my male classmates about their wives and kids, or talk about Danny.  It's helpful to keep the whole family in view (when possible).  And with single friends of the opposite sex it's important not to become a confidant or relational counselor unless you can do it together as a couple.  It's different, of course, if you are a professional counselor or on pastoral staff, but the same caution holds true.

The Right Rules => The Right Romance (i.e. with your spouse, not someone else!)


  1. As single person, it makes me sad that you would not become my confidant because of a set of "man made" rules. Jesus spent time alone with prostitutes. Singles get left out and overlooked by churches and Christians because people are so obsessed with rules and protecting themselves. Community is messy.

  2. You've made two important points. Singles DO get overlooked. And Jesus DID 'break some rules' culturally in order to reach out to people. His conversation with the woman at the well was rather scandalous, but not because they were in a room alone together. They were right out in the open at a public well. His scandal had more to do with the fact that he was Jewish and she was a Samaritan. I have conversations with single classmates quite often ... out in the open. I care about my single friends and ask them how they are doing. What would be dangerous is for me to start getting involved with the details of a any man's love life ... whether single or married ... by myself. If a situation arose in which a single or married man wanted to talk more personally, it would be my joy to listen ... along with my husband. That protects him, me, and my husband both from accusation and from taking steps down the road that leads to affairs. Our "rules" are not expressly commanded by Scripture, but they are applications of biblical principles arising from passages such as Hebrews 13:4; Titus 2:4-8; and 1 Tim 3:2-7. I hope that my post did not imply that I would avoid singles in particular. The relational caution that we excercise applies whether single or married. And it is motivated just as much by a desire to protect others as myself. Community is indeed messy, and that's why our behavior in community needs to be marked by biblical boundaries.