Continuing with Eric’s list…
A Christian man that I work with, Eric, knows that I blog here and wanted to share with you, as a married man, the 5 things he thinks a couple should talk about before they get married.
Some of these you might talk about in pre-marriage counseling. Some of these you might just naturally talk about (or experience) in your dating days as you get to know one another. There isn’t an option to not talk about or experience these things. You will have to eventually. The question is one of timing: do you want to deal with them before marriage or after marriage, where the risk of hurt and pain is much greater?
These aren’t theological issues – which are important, but these are the practical, day-in-day-out issues that really affect a marriage. Since his list is so great and each item is worthy of discussions, I’ve separated them into 5 different posts. For the most part, I’ve left them exactly as he wrote them.
“How are we going to protect our marriage?” How do we shield, protect, and preserve our marriage from the offenses that *WE* bring to the table, not to mention the external ones? What’s our policy on secrets? (My wife and I have a no-secrets rule within our marriage, which means that anything shared with her is open for discussion with her husband – though things are still managed with discretion, of course.)
How do I let you know my temptation level and when I am on the edge ready to fall over? Should we have a code word or symbol for when it’s time to leave, when I’m uncomfortable, when I think you need to stop, to pause a conflict, etc.?
One thing you learn in marriage is that it’s not a magical formula that removes all sin and temptation, it’s still between 2 sinful people, and none of us are exempt from sin, temptation, and mistakes. But that doesn’t mean that you have to spend your marriage in reactionary mode, you can decide to be pro-active and put things in place to protect and advance your marriage (computer filters, finance committee meetings, white space on your [social] calendar, etc.)
Jeff and I have set up some rules on this, but nothing too formal. Our rule of thumb is that we don’t spend time with non-family members of the opposite sex, as much as possible and really only when you’ve informed the other person. Meaning, I can go to lunch with a group of 5 co-workers, but I won’t go to lunch alone with Co-worker Carl. And we never discuss our marriage with others – family or not. Some situations might be unavoidable – if I had a male boss or if he had a female boss, but we aren’t in that scenario. There was one time that I wanted to meet with a man as he wanted career advice from me. I let Jeff know what was being asked, told him the situation and we didn’t have any issues. This other man and I drove separately to and from the lunch and it hasn’t happened since.
I, too, believe that anyone is capable of anything. Now, there are things that I’m more likely to do (aka: overeat) than some other things (aka: have an affair). But I’ve heard too many marriages that have fallen apart because they didn’t think “it could happen to them”. But it can.
The good news is that you never have an affair accidentally. It starts with a conversation in a cube, then a lunch or twenty, then after work events. Was the first conversation in a cube wrong? Maybe or maybe not. But the series of lunches certainly wasn’t wise.
How will you protect your marriage?