What Are You Doing to Protect Your Marriage?

The lead story in the news a little more than a year ago was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infidelity. Apparently, he has fathered at least one child out-of-wedlock. There are likely more.

An Isolated Apple Hanging on a Tree - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/dsteller, Image #299929

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/dsteller

To be honest, this whole thing made me angry, especially when I consider the impact this had on his wife and children. He is also one more negative example for our own children and grandchildren.

After hearing about this story, my wife Gail asked, “How does someone like Schwarzenegger engage in this behavior?” Great question. Off the top of my head, I offered this:

  • He had numerous opportunities.
  • He evidently thinks he is special—and entitled.
  • He is using his blood supply to power an organ other than his brain at the moment-of-temptation. (Yes, I really did say that.)

However, I don’t intend for this post to be a rant against Gov. Schwarzenegger. I am not his judge. He will give an account of his choices—as I will mine.

But I want to go on the record and say this: Adultery is not normal. It certainly isn’t inevitable. It is not the way God created us. We were made for monogamy and fidelity.

When we are loyal, we reflect the faithfulness of our Creator. When we are disloyal, we reflect the betrayal of both Satan and Adam. It is no wonder that the Bible often speaks of sin as “spiritual adultery.” Betrayal is the original sin.

However, we live in a fallen world—one that is increasingly indifferent to sexual sin. If we want to live and lead with intention, we can’t be naive. We must recognize the temptation adultery poses and protect ourselves accordingly. Nothing will destroy our influence and legacy faster than an affair.

If we are going to avoid becoming casualties, we must have a strategy. Here are three actions I take in order to protect my marriage:

  1. I invest in my relationship with Gail. It is amazing to me that so many men are willing to invest such enormous spiritual, emotional, and financial resources in relationships other than the one they have. This doesn’t make economic sense. If you want your marriage to grow and flourish, you must invest in it. This means investing time—dreaming, laughing, listening, and crying together.
  2. I set specific boundaries. This may sound old-fashioned, perhaps even legalistic. So be it. I think our world could use a little old-fashioned common sense. Therefore:
    • I will not go out to eat alone with someone of the opposite sex.
    • I will not travel alone with someone of the opposite sex.
    • I will not flirt with someone of the opposite sex.
    • I will speak often and lovingly of my wife. (This is the best adultery repellant known to man.)
  3. I consider what is at stake. What story do I want my grandchildren to tell? This puts it all in perspective for me. Do I want them to be proud of my life’s story or embarrassed? Do I want to be remembered as a person who loves his wife and is faithful to her? Or do I want to be the one who squandered his legacy in a moment of indiscretion?

It is time for real leaders to lead—not only in their professional lives but in their personal ones as well. If we can’t lead ourselves, we are not qualified to lead others. Character matters. We must take responsibility for our own actions. Our grandchildren are counting on it.

Question: What are you doing to protect your marriage? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.godsabsolutelove.com Patricia Zell

    I make God the one I confide in–I think my thoughts before Him and ask Him for His input. This has really helped me because waiting on God keeps me from being impulsive. A lot of marital problems come from thinking and acting on impulses. Since we’ve married for 36 years, this strategy has worked for me.

    • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

      Great idea, Patricia. I totally agree that impulsiveness can be a major problem.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      I agree, Patricia.  Waiting on God, and delighting in him, are definite ways to keep your impulses in check.

  • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

    AWESOME post!!  I totally agree with what you said. One thing I do, in addition to your list, is to pray for my husband. It is nearly impossible to feel antagonistic toward someone you are sincerely praying for. It baffles me why people think the grass is greener on the other side….it still has weeds and needs  mowed.

    Now, with all that said, I do not believe that people who are in physically and/or mentally ABUSIVE marriages should stay there. Get away from the abuser, then work on your marriage if both are willing to work on it. I experienced a boatload of guilt when I went through my divorce in the late 80’s because I had married for life. I was married to an emotionally abusive man whom I finally left. Was my divorce a sin against God? Yes. Did God forgive me for it? Yes. I believe we need to do everything humanly possible to make our marriages work. An affair/adultery is not the answer to a bad/abusive marriage.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree with you on both counts. One thing Gail and I do is pray independently for one another in the morning and with one another in the evening.

      • http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/ Geoff Webb

        Oooh! I just got a nugget of gold. Thanks!

      • Karl Mealor

        That is an awesome idea.  

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Heather and I do the same thing, but in reverse order.  Together in the mornings, for one another in the evenings.  It’s amazing how it changes the perspective all day long when we miss that time together.

      • DM

        Good advice.  I wish I had done that sooner and more.  I pray every day for my wife.  I have to this point prayed too little with her.

      • http://financialplanningapprentice.com Robinson Mertilus

        Love the post, Michael. I think it is very much with your theme of Intentional Leadership. As husbands, it takes intentional leadership to have a healthy and strong marriage that cannot be shaken by infidelity. Thanks for sharing the specific actions you take and the heart behind those actions. 

      • Christi

         Yes, always pray for and with each other!!! My husband and I pray with each other every morning and every evening, and we pray for each other during the day when we are apart. Even and especially when he is on one of his very frequent business trips and deployments, no matter what the time difference (right now it’s +18 hours), we make a point of praying together over the phone or Skype. When we can’t speak with each other, we write down our prayers for the other and email or snail mail them. Over the course of 27 years of marriage and long separations, our prayer “dates” have become more important to us than any other appt or mtg, as much a part of our day as sleeping and eating, as sacred to us as attending church and reading scriptures. We are like giddy youngsters newly engaged — we anticipate our time together (even just via the phone) with breathless excitement. Not only do our prayers help us stay true to each other, but they open our marriage up every day to be filled with God’s love and grace!

    • Elizabeth

      I agree that prayer is an excellent way to build and protect one’s marriage! Have you seen the book “Prayers of an Excellent Wife” by Andrew Case? I’ve found it an excellent guide. (Not for every prayer that I pray, but a good supplement. ;)

    • Robert Barns

      Do you really feel guilty for divorcing an abusive husband and thus need forgiveness from God?
      That makes it sounds like God is ok with abuse but not divorce.

      • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

        Robert, thanks for your response. No, God is not ok with abuse and I did not intend for it to sound as if He is.  The guilt I felt was from being disobedient to God. God says he hates divorce, just like he hates lying, pride, murder and other disobedience. It is all a sin against Holy God.  

        I married my first husband KNOWING I did not love him, however, I was physically and emotionally sick and just did not have it in me to make the hard choice of walking away from a bad relationship before the marriage. I made a poor choice out of desperation. I entered into a sacred marriage under false pretenses and ultimately that caused me great heartache. That was the cause of my sorrow about the divorce–not leaving an abusive husband.

        In spite of all the above, God forgives disobedience and gives us a fresh start. Just like a parent whose child has been disobedient, all God desires is for us to agree with Him about our disobedience and turn in a different direction so we don’t make the same mistake again.  I have been married to a wonderful, godly man for almost 17 years. God gave me a re-do for which I am so thankful.  

        • Carolyn

          Leah, I thought I was the only one who married someone that they did not love or were in love with…I stayed as long as I could because of the children. I love the way you described it entering into a sacred marriage under false pretenses—exactly, but I did it twice.  Thankful that I have a forgiving God. I will be waiting on someone he approves and sends looking for me if that be his will for my life

        • Randy

          Leah, I think the major forgiveness/repentance would be for the faulty decision at the Altar, not the divorce. Although forgiveness could be sought in the scandal of the divorce. Such was my case. Divorce is a civil legality. Nullifying the original defective vows is a God thing. Peace to you, and to all that wrestle with broken relationships.

  • Tim Smith

    I’ve found going to weddings to be a real boost and makes me realise how lucky I am. 
    Christian weddings are best as you get a sermon; civil ceremonies here in the UK aren’t allowed to have any references to religion, even music, which seems such a shame.
    Tim

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like going to weddings to. It is always a great reminder of the real meaning and significance of marriage.

  • http://tikesbestfriend.com/ Tim Dahl

    I agree with the majority of what you say. I thank you for the common sense approach to keeping our marriages holy; as they should be.

    I do however disagree with some of your theological basis here: “But I want to go on the record and say this: adultery is not normal. It
    certainly isn’t inevitable. It is not the way God created us. We were
    made for monogamy and fidelity.”

    Now, I agree that it isn’t inevitable. I also believe that God’s plan for us is monogamy and fidelity. However, I wonder if you would substitute “normal” for “natural?” The reason I ask is that when you say “the way God created us,” what I hear is that it isn’t natural. I may be missing this, in a huge way.

    You go on to say that the world is “fallen,” of which I heartily agree. I’m not sure what this exactly means in the Orthodox Church, but where I come from we alternatively use the word “depraved” for “fallen” at times.  I believe this has HUGE implications for us here.

    For instance, monogamy wasn’t normal, and in many places still isn’t. Actually, it can be argued that it is very natural for a human male to desire to spread his seed far and wide. I don’t have the studies in front of me, but I remember reading some things that did not list us in the “one mate” catagory. We aren’t hard wired for it.

    Is it God’s Ideal for us? No. Is it the way we naturally are due to our fallen nature? Yes.

    I believe that this is the reason we have such a hard time with it. This is why Scripture says for us to “flee sexual immorality,” (1 Cor. 6:18) and not to “withstand it,” or “fight against it.” If we think we can withstand it, that we have the moral fortitude to fight it off; we end up sinning in the end. We might put it off for a while, but in the end our fallen nature (our depraved nature) pushes us towards it, not away from it. The best we can do is to stay away from the potential of it, and strengthen what we have; which I think your suggestions do for us.

    We have a few things on our side, which help make the difference. First, we are made in the image of God. I think that part of it means we are able to choose; especially to not participate in what is “natural” (fallen). Secondly, we have the Holy Spirit within us; which helps us to not put ourselves into it; and gives us a bit of a fighting chance when we find ourselves in a situation; regardless of our safeguards. But, we have to follow his leading to get out of it; or else face one of our deepest fallibilities.

    If I was to rewrite your sentence that I quoted, it would look like this:

    “But I want to go on the record and say this: adultery is horribly natural, due to our depraved condition. It certainly isn’t inevitable, thanks be to God. It is not what  God desires for us. We were made for monogamy and fidelity, for it best reflects the character of God.”

    Tim Dahl

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I don’t disagree with your statements or ultimately the sentence as you re-worked it. I think I am making a different point.

      I define “normal” as man’s condition before the fall, i.e., in the garden. In other words, we now live in an abnormal world, one broken by man’s sin. Yes, in this world, adultery is normal. But I think we have to have a view of normal than reaches back to God’s original intention and forward to God’s reclamation.

      I really don’t think we are saying different things. We are just emphasizing different aspects of the same thing.

      Thanks for the input. Excellent!

  • http://twitter.com/katielipovsky Katie Lipovsky

    These are really good points! I’m a newlywed and when we got married, my husband and I set specific guidelines for ourselves similar to yours. Some people thought we were being overdramatic about them, but we work in ministry and we’ve seen first hand the need for people to be intentional in marriage. We want to develop good habits for ourselves that will ensure our marriage stays strong. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think so many problems happen that could have been prevented if people had been more intentional, so good for you. The notion that “this would never happen to us” has unraveled many a marriage.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I agree.  Intentionality is key!

  • http://differentway4kids.blogspot.com Joey Espinosa

    These are great points. One that I would add is taking time away together (just as a couple — no kids, no friends) at least once per year. Two-night minimum.  Use this time not only to just relax and re-connect, but also to plan and dream. It’s so easy to get caught up in life’s routines, and I think this leads to dissatisfaction.

    I write about this here:

    http://differentway4kids.blogspot.com/2010/12/why-parents-need-to-get-away.html

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Joey, great thoughts.  And great post on your website, too!  I really enjoyed reading it.  My wife got away together for the first time last year, and we’re going to make it at least an annual thing.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree. In fact, Gail and I are on a sabbatical right now, just the two of us. It has been an awesome time to reconnect. We have taken long hikes together and, of course, eating together at every meal. We also take one vacation a year with just the two of us.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      We try to take that time away for an evening every month.  I’d like to do it more often, but finances say no right now.

    • Joe Lalonde

      Joey, that’s a good idea. My wife and I have found it to be quite hard to do though. Her work schedule is insane. But it’s something we’re trying to do.

      • Anonymous

        Joe, just keep working at it.  It’s the big rock theory.  Put the big rock in first -plan a time for  a date, and everything else will have to fit around it.  I know with some schedules it is hard.  My husband and I have similar schedules, but there is always something that is going on that there may only be a couple of times a month we can go out or have time for us.  You will work it out.  Just as some others have said, if you are intentional and plan for it, you will eventually get the much needed time together.

        • Joe Lalonde

          Joyce, thanks for the encouragement. We are working at it and I think it’s getting better.

          • Anonymous

            Good to hear, and your welcome!  

  • http://www.solobizcoach.com SoloBizCoach

    I love your advice about investing in your relationship with your wife.  If you are actively working on your marriage it reduces the time to stray.

    I also think about how guilty I would feel coming home to my wife and children after having cheated on them.  There is no fling that is worth the pain that I would cause them.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. I think the self-hatred and shame would be difficult to recover from.

    • Elizabeth

      I SO agree!  I think of my husband and my family as sacred – a gift given to me by God.
      To hurt them by my betrayal and selfishness would be a huge violation of the unconditional love we have for each other.  I am human and weak, but God’s grace helps me minute by minute, day by day…..  Adultery is a temptation I pray I never fall into.

  • http://jasonfountain.blogspot.com Jason Fountain

    Michael,
    I love your point about leaders leading. I do not believe that you can compartmentalize different areas of your life and be excellent in only the areas that you choose AND be a great leader. A true leader is excellent in every area of his/her life. Yes, we live in a fallen world and temptation is always lurking around the corner, but be excellent in every area. I am not inclined to follow someone who is great at work and has a bad personal life.

    Thank you for having the courage of your convictions! We must fight for our marriages – it’s too important not to.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have a fundamental conviction, Jason, that you can’t lead others unless you can lead yourself—and your family. I think this is the biblical perspective as well, which is why church leaders (both elders and deacons) are required to “rule their own household well” (1 Timothy 3:4).

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        I agree as well.  My priorities are 1. God.  2. Heather.  3. Kids.  4. Church family.  5. Ministy/job.  If I’m not doing well in the first ones, nothing below it will flourish.

    • Anonymous

      Yes, that is why it blows my mind when people say, “It’s okay that our president cheated on his wife. . .  that was on  his own time.  That incident was not related to his job.”  -[Very confused look here] Really??  People have lost their moral compass!  So, you don’t think a man or woman who cheats on their spouse will not fall in other areas of their leadership?  Where else will they compromise?  

      All I can think is that most people are not looking through a Biblical lens, and their lens is real foggy as to what is true character and leadership look like. 

  • Valerie Norris

    You’re so right! You have to establish boundaries and protect your marriage. You have to treat your spouse as a LOVED ONE. No taking them for granted. We want the long-term relationship where together we attend our grandchildren’s weddings and people say, “They’ve been together for nearly 60 years! How did they do it?”

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Good thoughts, Valerie!  I don’t want to take my wife for granted, so I make time for her–to listen, to talk with her, to go on dates.  Long-term relationships don’t happen without work.

  • Anonymous

    Love what you are saying!  I just posted a blog the other day on how one pastor is saying that facebook is at fault for poor marriages.  I just think that what you share here is exactly what men need to be doing to protect their marriages.

    • http://twitter.com/B_Schebs B_Schebs

      Marriages failed and people cheated before Facebook.  they just get caught more know be cause they post the evidence.

  • http://Busyness.com Dr. Brad Semp

    Hi Michael – there is absolutely a spiritual battle going on around us.  Each one of us is engaged unwillingly amidst the battle for good & evil in this fallen world.  Adultery is a huge issue and there are countless other temptations and challenges that arise.  In each area of temptation, our challenge is to condition our environment (as you have made some great suggestions) and intentionally design and engage in IDEAL Action™ that allows us to fulfill our intentions.  Thanks for sharing on this subject!

  • http://www.L33.me Lee Graham

    Date night every week!

    • http://twitter.com/B_Schebs B_Schebs

      My Wife and I do this too. 

    • Joe Lalonde

      Lee, that’s a great idea. While we don’t get to it once a week, we do it at least twice a  month. We’ve found our local theater offers a discount movie night. We try to hit that as our regular date night.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connie-Walsh-Brown/1224074283 Connie Walsh Brown

      Years ago when  our budget was tight, our “date night each week” was a hour or two on Saturday morning. The Jr. Higher could watch the younger ones for an hour or so while we talked over breakfast. 

  • Anonymous

    There is nothing legalistic about setting those boundaries for yourself to protect your marriage. Legalism only comes when a person takes his or her standards and applies them as a litmus test for judging others.

    Great post. God bless!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for that clarification. It is very helpful.

  • Marty

    Amen! As a pstor, there is nothing more devastating. I’m on vacation right now with my family…amazed at the precious gift they are and more in love with my wife than ever.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Good for you. This kind of leading is a “living sermon.” It probably has more impact than all your sermons!

    • Lawless Unlimited

      My wife and I from broken marriages to now a blessed maariage, so what we do personally is not take each other for granted daily, realizing each day is such a precious gift to be with one another. Loyalty is so rare these days.
      We acknowledge the small stuff with gratitude, thanks, honor & love. Because we know that pain, we now teach and train others at our church as Marriage Coaches.
      We are currently studying the Love & Respect Series. The Husband/Wife relationship is the foundation for the family, which is so under attack. Our battle cry is reclaiming God’s Garden of Eden one marriage at a time.

  • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

    Michael, thank you for this post.  It’s a great reminder.  As a part of my life-planning sessions earlier this year, I made it a goal to spend intentional time investing in my relationship with my wife (we had been getting away from that, and letting life just happen to us–kids, work, etc), and I have already begun to see the good fruit of those times.

  • http://eileenknowles.blogspot.com eileen

    Great advice.  Although, I like  all of it.  The ones that I really like are “speaking often and lovingly of my wife” (or husband) and #3  to think through the choices you are making.  Just  pausing long enough to refocus our thoughts on the consequences of our choices can make a big difference in altering our decisions.

  • http://twitter.com/Juanbg Juan

    Great post Mike, I always read your morning blog.
    Keep it up :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Juan.

  • Agatha Nolen

    Awesome words! I am twice divorced but would like to re-marry someday. I need to practice these relationship skills as well as look for them in the guys that I date. I’m printing this post as principles to practice when you are nurturing a courtship or married. I agree with the commenter on praying outloud for each other. That is a vital part: inviting each other to join you in your relationship with God. Thanks for putting it in plain English.

  • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

    Powerful post, Mike. My pastor always tells us that what you appreciate…appreciates. Similar to your point of investing in your wife and speaking of her often, the more you choose to show appreciation even when you don’t feel it, the more your appreciation will grow. I’ve found this to be so true and such life saver.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I agree. There is a sense in which we first create the reality with our words. We speak it into existence. (I don’t mean this is some sort of cheesy, name-it-and-claim-it way.) I think this reflects the way God created reality.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I love the word picture!

    • http://www.facebook.com/Neraks Karen Y. Harper

      I LOVE THIS “what you appreciate…appreciates” it just rings true in so many instances. I’m keeping this one close!!

  • Mgredler

    Your post has some good guidelines.  One of the things that helped us, was to read and apply insights from two of Dr. Harley’s books – His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage, and Love Busters.  What is most important, is putting knowledge and wisdom into practice, applying it, and letting actions speak louder than words.  The path I pick leads me to a location, even when I haven’t put thought into where I’m starting from or where that path is going to take me.  And it is easy to pick the wrong path, not recognizing it as such until its too late, and you’ve wound up somewhere you’d rather not be.  (Another great book – The Principle of the Path, Andy Stanley)

    I see people who are deaf and blind to wisdom, when it is shouting in their ears and flashing in their eyes.  I see people who read, attend seminars, bring home workbooks, sit the in the pews and nod, but then set it aside rather than apply it.  I pray not to slothfully be one of those.

    I have shared it before, but here is a post from my blog on love, from this past Valentine’s, sharing a video of something special for a 7th anniversary in 1983.  Apart from the video, note that after all these years, I recognize it is still effort to maintain a good marriage.  You either work to move forwards, or you drift backwards, apart, or even to boredom.

    http://markgredler.wordpress.com/2011/02/18/the-key-and-the-secret-to-good-love/

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have found Dr. Harley’s books and Andy Stanley’s book helpful, too. Emerson Eggerichs’ Love and Respect is also excellent.

      • Joe Lalonde

        Michael, Love and Respect was a great book for my wife and I to read before we got married. I also think it’s one that should be re-read ever so often to re-enforce the teachings in it.

    • http://profiles.google.com/espinosa.joey Joey Espinosa

      Another great book is “What Did You Expect??”  Tripp helps to get to the heart of the issue — that we fail to love our spouse because we fail to worship God. No book led to harder, and better, conversations in our marriage.

      • Elizabeth

        Tripp’s DVD series “What Did You Expect???” is also excellent and a little different from the book.

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      We used Harley’s book in our pre-marital counseling, and have returned to it regularly for the last 17 years!

    • http://davidsantistevan.com David Santistevan

      I think my favorite book on marriage has to be “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas. Extremely real and biblical. A must read!

  • http://www.SammyA.com Kadebiyi

    Michael, thanks for this post. Incredible. I have a question… while setting those boundaries, is it normal to still be scared of adultery? 

    I’d never cheat on my wife but as a pastor, I always have a fear in my heart, not because I’m tempted but because of what is at stake. It just freaks me out. Is this normal? 

    • http://www.SammyA.com Kadebiyi

      But to answer your question, I actually wrote a letter last week about your 3rd point. I sat down and considered what is at stake if i failed my marriage. 

      I wrote a hypothetical apology letter to my wife, my daughter and all the students in our ministry for cheating on my wife. Its the hardest thing I’ve ever written. 

      No sexual pleasure would EVER be worth all that. 

      Here it is if anyone is interested. 

      http://www.sammyadebiyi.com/blogs/sammy-adebiyi/four-five-sex-part-5-hardest-post-ive-ever-written

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        This is indeed sobering. What I like about this is that it is outcome-based. When I am counseling someone, I often say, “Let’s fast forward what your life will look like in five years if you don’t change your behavior.“

      • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

        Great idea!  I may have to “steal” that one…

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think a healthy level of fear is good. However, I think our dominant drive should be love. I think it should be similar to our relationship with God. Fear of God is good, but love of God is better. They are related and both present, but our love guide our fear. Make sense?

  • Aaron Foster

    Michael, I have a huge amount of respect for you, love the post and completely agree with most of what you say. There’s one slight flaw when you say, “Adultery is not normal” when in fact over 50% of people engage in adultery. 2-3% of all children are the results of affairs. 

    It’s a sad world, but unfortunately I think adultery is more common now than not. Which, think about it, the average person spends 10-14 hours per day with their co-workers (many that are of the opposite sex) and maybe 2-3 hours a day with their spouse. That’s one of those problems that we as a society need to figure out. As long as those disproportions happen, there will continue to be adultery happening at a staggering rate. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Aaron, I don’t disagree that it is normal in the sense that it is common. But if you lived on an island with cannibals, would you say that their behavior is normal? I am defining normal as how God originally created things.

      I don’t think we are probably disagreeing; it’s just how we are defining the same word that is different.

  • http://chrisvonada.com chris vonada

    Good one Michael!!

    I would suggest reading, re-reading and living “The Love Dare,” a book that belongs right next to the married couple’s Bible.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I loved that book!

    • Karl Mealor

      “Five Love Languages” = greatness, as well.

      • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

        Karl, “Five Love Languages” was a great book. It shaped the way that I
        relate to my wife.

        • Karl Mealor

          It does give amazing insight.  We may work through some of his similar works with our daughters this summer.

  • Nrkmsfnp

    Excellent post Michael. As a wife I am dismayed with Arnold’s choice(s). I hope most men have your thoughts about their marriage. My husband and I work – yes it takes work- to have a great relationship.  I choose to have a legacy of respect and responsibility. 

  • http://geoffreywebb.wordpress.com/ Geoff Webb

    I gaze at my wife. I bask in the beauty of who she is. I linger on every beautiful thing she says or does. I give myself over to my enjoyment of her.

    And I make sure she knows I do it.

    She’s not perfect and this practice doesn’t exempt me from tough love at times, but just as God steers his eyes through my sin to see his son, so I strive to look upon my spotless bride. It’s a discipline I’ve found it powerfully liberating. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Beautiful. I love your example, Geoff!

    • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

      I try to do this as well.  But the problem is that sometimes I take Heather for granted, and she sees the worst in me.  How do you stop that?

  • Mikerapp

    We have developed a “language” within our marriage.  We use the words; significant & security. We understand that our ultimate significance & security come from Christ, but on this earth in the areas of: conversation, recreation, emotional, sexual, financial, conversational, and spiritual — I want to be the most significant person to my wife in all these areas, and she finds her security on all of these areas in me.  When we don’t…we have a language to discuss the issue.  i.e. “You’ve been so busy with ________ lately, that we’ve not really talked and therefore I’ve feeling very insignificant both conversationally and emotionally.”

    • Msujedi

      I agree that, of all humans, our spouse needs to be the most significant person to us and in whom we find our greatest security.  I also like the conversation starter that you use to address feelings of insignificance or insecurity.

      However, we can’t expect our spouse to fill all of our needs in all of these areas…it sets him/her up for failure.  Surrounding every healthy marriage must be healthy same-gender Christian relationships for the husband and wife.  It is a network of accountability and encouragement.   

      Of course, sexual intimacy is exclusive to the marriage.  With other things, each couple needs to allocate time for both common interests and divergent interests.  Wife-pilates, Husband-softball, etc.  Such activities not only fulfill individual needs, but also provides ministry opportunities.  Coming full circle:  when one feels like the current life pattern is not in proper balance…then it’s time for your conversation starter.

  • http://calumhenderson.com/ Calum Henderson

    Very helpful Michael.

    My wife and I got married almost 1 year ago and we both want to invest as much as we can into our marriage for the glory of God. One thing that we do is to never be alone at all with a member of the opposite sex. Prayer for each other and with each other as well as dedicated time for each other each week also are part of what we do. All with complete love and joy.

    It’s always sad to see people fall into adultery, especially those in upstanding positions or those who are Christians. 

    Thanks for your thoughts.

  • http://www.kristyblogs.com/ Kristy K

    I’ve seen situations like this play out in marriages around me and the biggest reason always seems to be entitlement… “he or she didn’t make me happy, so I found someone who did” or ” my marriage to her (or him) was too much work, and with the other person, it’s easier.”

    I can feel the spiritual battle going on over Christian marriages. We have some of those same hedges in place. Because I’m a stay-at-home mom, I feel like I have to be extra vigilant about my online relationships.

    Great post!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Entitlement is such a huge issue in our culture. I remember talking to a famous Christian leader who had fallen into adultery. I asked him, point-blank, why he did it. He said that he began to think he was special, because of all the pressure he was under. He believed that faithfulness was God’s norm for most men, but God understood his special needs. 

      Thankfully, by the time I got to him, he realized how warped his thinking had been. But I have sense seen that it is pretty common—at least a version of it.

  • http://www.paulbevans.com Paul B Evans

    Michael,

    Great post as usual. It’s amazing how simple it is to forge a strong relationship with our spouse.

    Simple loving words.

    Simple loving actions.

    Marla and I just celebrated 17 years. And our marriage is stronger today than ever. But only because we’ve been intentional and applied actions like you mention above.

    We regularly relive favorite memories and retrace our highlights. We also talk about the rough patches, what made them that way and what we’ve learned since.

    Marriage isn’t hard, it just requires some work. :)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Amen to your last sentence. It’s a whole lot easier than the alternative. Arnold, for example, is paying a huge price for his infidelity—and he’s just begun.

      • Kjreusser

        I actually think marriage is hard b/c many times I have to stop myself from reacting one way (selfishly) and do what would be best for our marriage (control my tongue, apologize, make cookies). I’ve told my kids it is hard so they don’t think a long-lasting marriage as ours (31 yrs) is to be taken for granted. They see us argue but w/in boundaries — no hitting, cursing, throwing accusations. Hopefully they will see we believe all of the hard work is worth it.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Marriage is like a garden. The work itself isn’t difficult, but there are
      weeds that spring up that need to constantly be pulled out, and watering
      needs to be done constantly.

  • http://www.justusbarkers.com Matt B.

    Great article – I am definitely one that follows the rule to never be alone with any woman other than my wife as NOBODY is above temptation. I remember reading once that Billy Graham had that rule and it just made too much sense.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Billy Graham was my original inspiration for this.

      • Anonymous

        That is our rule as well. Eliminate as much temptation as possible seems like a very wise investment in a marriage.

    • http://twitter.com/B_Schebs B_Schebs

      How do you accomadate this at work?  For instance I work in an office where my Manager is a women, and we occasionally have to have one-on-one confidential meetings.  These usually take place in her office with the door shut and blinds open.  How would you handle situations like this?

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I leave the door cracked, but not completely shut.

        • RonLane

          That is how I handle the situation as well.

      • http://www.justusbarkers.com Matt B.

        I would request that the door remain part way open. Even back in my military days when I had to do counseling sessions with members of the opposite sex, I would either do it with the door open (still being discrete in conversation), or request that another female be present.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Yes, this rule just makes too much sense to NOT do it.

    • http://www.cheriblogs.info Cheri Gregory

      Online communication is another realm to consider. 

      My husband and I are coming up on our 23rd anniversary (on 9/11!)  and we’ve been teaching at the same school for most of our married life. Where we are right now, I have many more male colleagues than in the past. 

      When we first arrived, a male teacher might e-mail me a supportive comment after a staff meeting, complimenting me on a point I made during discussion, and before I know it, we’d be engaged in an extended private conversation that we probably wouldn’t have “in real life”…or at least not without others being involved or at least present. 

      I found myself enjoying the e-mail attention just a little too much and hitting “reply”  just a little too often. So I  started BCCing my husband on e-mails between me and any male co-workers, as a way to bring him in as a bystander to all conversations…as if we were all mingling and chatting after staff meeting. This keeps me well within professional conventions — respond and then let the conversation drop — and keeps me from falling into social networking “banter.”

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I totally agree. This is a good practice.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    I agree that qualities such as monogamy and fidelity are desirable, but I’m not so sure we were “made” for them. Consider this line spoken by the nun in John Huston’s African Queen

    Nature, Mr Allnut, is what we are put in this world to rise above.

    The fact that infidelity is—and to my knowledge always has been—rampant, especially among males, may well suggest that we were indeed made with a built-in roving eye, and it makes sense from an evolutionary (yes, I really did say that!) perspective. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have the option to live in a manner that constitutes an improvement over how we were made. Drives me crazy whenever someone invokes the so-called “natural order” as a justification for anything. It’s natural, alright—so what? As if there weren’t any better options. 

    As to your assertion that we live in a fallen world—“fallen” compared to what period in history exactly? We constantly hear that “we’ve lost our sense of this” and “we’ve lost our sense of that,” but when did humanity, in the aggregate, ever possess the moral high ground it has allegedly lost over the years? During the times of slavery and segregation? The Middle Ages? Ancient Athens? Licentiousness and dissipation all over the place. And our modern world has fallen? From where? 

    Regarding those specific boundaries you’ve set for yourself, you’ve curiously omitted being alone in a room with someone of the opposite sex, which is where the type of transgression in question is most apt to occur. Ever read I Know You Are Lying by Mark McClish? (I’m not saying you are lying, but this book deals with the art of statement analysis, written by a former CIA interrogator. Fascinating read. Your list of boundaries, as written, would instantly set off an investigator’s spidey senses.)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      When I am referring to what is natural and what is fallen, I have in mind the classical Christian worldview that begins in the Genesis account of man in the garden before he sinned and then his state after he sinned (i.e., fallen).

      In terms of being alone in a room, I have often had to be in a room alone with a woman—fellow employees, etc.—but I always leave the door open or, at least, cracked.

      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

        You said we lived in a fallen world, one that was increasingly indifferent to sexual sin. So I take it you’re saying that after the initial fall, the world has kept on falling.  

        At the same time, you  say that nothing will destroy our influence and legacy faster than an affair. But if the world is indifferent to sexual sin, then by what mechanism exactly will an affair destroy our influence and our legacy? 

        Guys like Thomas Jefferson, JFK, and even MLK had affairs, yet their legacies survived just fine. So I’m not sure I understand how our world is “increasingly” indifferent to that stuff, given that public figures these days don’t seem to get away with what they used to get away with.

        • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

          There will be a time in the future when people won’t care if politicians
          have affairs (and that will be a sad day). In fact, there are many people
          that were ambivalent to President Clinton having an affair in the White
          House. Yet, politicians’ careers are often destroyed by affairs (see
          Senator Ensign and Governor Spitzer), and their legacy (especially with
          their families) are ruined.

          It’s perfectly appropriate to say that adultery will destroy your influence
          and legacy, while saying that the world is becoming more indifferent to
          sexual sin.

          • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

            Some people care if politicians have affairs, and some people don’t. It’s always been like that. Different people care about different things. I simply fail to see how the fact that one career after another is being wiped out in consequence of adultery as evidence that the world is becoming more indifferent to sexual sin. Compared to when? 

            And of course it will be a sad day when people won’t care about politicians’ sexual escapades anymore, because it means that everyone will have bigger problems. Worrying about other people’s private lives is the luxury of those with roofs over their heads, food in the fridge, money in the bank, and no grenades going off around them. 

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Our legacy is primarily with our own children. If I gain the esteem of the world and lose the respect of my family, I have lost everything.

          • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

            Yeah, it’s a privacy matter that primarily affects the parties involved. I just don’t see any elevated levels of societal indifference. In fact, given the rise of social media, it seems that people these days care more than ever about their elected leaders’ personal behavior. 

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connie-Walsh-Brown/1224074283 Connie Walsh Brown

          You ask an interesting question: “But if the world is indifferent to sexual sin, then by what mechanism
          exactly will an affair destroy our influence and our legacy?”

          Do you really want to know? A good response could fill a book. One I’m not fully qualified to write, but I’d like to share some thoughts.

          First, one small clarification: Michael Hyatt stated that the world is “increasingly indifferent” to sexual sin. It is fair to say that standards and expectations of sexual conduct have been fluctuating over time. Some practices are more acceptable socially and legally than they once were. Consider the changes in TV from married couples using twin beds to the torrid love scenes now broadcast, or the social practices that required  certain women to wear a scarlet A, or the changes going on now in the military’s Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policies. Some of those changes reveal an increasing indifference to sexual activities that Founding Fathers would have labeled and condemned as sin.

          Even with those societal changes, not everyone admires certain sexual standards. While some people believe sexual conduct is relative, others believe God provides wise and stable guidelines for our good as defined by the Bible. So, there are those who do not have an indifferent position on sexual issues.

          Although sexual expectations and morals have changed in many areas of our society, leaders still seem to be held by a higher standard than a less influential person. So what is the “mechanism” that can destroy a leader’s influence and legacy? Lost trust for promises broken. Lost admiration.

          Sure someone like Benjamin Franklin with all his infidelities still has a historical influence and legacy, but it is a different influence and legacy than Michael Hyatt’s. Those who desire to live by high moral standards can change their sphere of influence and legacy from the what-could-have-been to something stained, stunted or even destroyed. A marital infidelity still has that power to change, stunt or even destroy not only the marriage relationship, but other areas of influence.

          These are a few thoughts…

          • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

            Acceptance does not equal indifference. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connie-Walsh-Brown/1224074283 Connie Walsh Brown

            I believe both acceptance and indifference exist. It isn’t either / or.

  • http://successbeginstoday.org/wordpress John Richardson

    Great tenets to live by, Michael. For me , two things made a huge difference in our marriage. One was doing a bible study through Harley’s His Needs, Her Needs. This book really opened my eyes to the differences between men and women. The other was going through a Family Life Conference early in our marriage. I learned some important lessons over those three conference days, especially how to communicate better with my wife. I also learned that words like stupid, wrong, and idiot do not belong in my vocabulary at home. Thanks for a great post!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I really profited from Dr. Harley’s work, too. In fact, back in the day when I was a literary agent, I used to represent him.

  • http://www.lifebeyondsport.com Stephanie

    All I can say is a hearty, Amen!

    Though I am not married, it’s my desire to help honor and protect the marriages of men with whom I work. For example, driving alone to lunch with a married male business associate makes me uncomfortable, so I avoid that now.

    I have some mental guidelines about how I want to conduct myself in these situations, but your post reminds me that I need to write them down, call them boundaries and stick to them, no matter how “old-fashioned” I may seem. 

    • http://twitter.com/conservagirl Susan

      Stephanie, you are courageous to live by standards, and  I would only hope that other younger single (or married) women would live by your example.  Wouldn’t it be great if there were an association of younger women who honor and protect the marriages of the men they work with by following some simple guidelines?  Maybe you could start it! 

  • JTMFK

    Yes all good stuff. And no particular friendships with females who are not your wife!

  • J. White

    Your message resonates with me this morning as I’ve been recently considering a leadership role in male counseling.  Not to isolate your male readers as the only sex capable of straying from their partner, but I just can’t help but wonder how much better the world might be if we got back to the biblical notion of a male lead household, in which the father is held accountable for jointly rearing his children with the love and support of his wife.  Loyalty is a huge component of a successful marriage and wonderful legacy to leave to our children.  If we as men can lead this nation back into a culture of  monogamy, we can yield a power against this new indifference to sexual sin, and in the words of Tim Clinton, “Turn it Around!”  Thanks for the motivation! 

  • http://philgerbyshak.com Phil Gerbyshak

    For me, I schedule time to connect with my wife. I get up earlier than I need to each day and spend time first thing in the morning connecting with my wife. It sets the tone for the whole day and makes sure I focus on her.

    I also have date nights where we do things together. Last week was a baseball game (went 14 innings). Yesterday was an evening of holding hands at the mall and shopping for new fragrances. This weekend will be watching the car race and our little “game within the game” of all the nicknames for drivers we have.

    Making this intentional time protects our marriage by putting each other first in our lives, every day, every week. 

  • Karl Mealor

    Thanks for sharing this, and for doing so with bluntness.  My wife and I have worked with young people for years.  I can’t even count the number of times we’ve had to help some of them deal with heartache that resulted from dad not keeping his pants zipped up.

    “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”

  • http://LookingForPurpose.com Dylan Dodson

    Thanks for the insights, I’m getting married in 4 days, and I will be doing/have been doing many of the things you mentioned.

    • Karl Mealor

      Congratulations, Dylan!  Best wishes!

    • http://twitter.com/B_Schebs B_Schebs

      Congrats!!!!

  • Shuber

    In a society that “seems” to be indifferent to sexual promiscuity of married people,  it is obvious that it is NOT. Hollywood and the media snub their noses at monogomy yet take the opportunity to humiliate one of their hero’s. The impact that this affair has on the influence and legacy of Arnold is proof enough that society truly  DOES NOTview sexual promiscuity of a married person to be acceptable.  Just a thought…….why do we watch and support television that promotes something that we really don’t believe in?

  • Elizabeth

    Years ago, 1981, Mickey (Michael) & Becki Moore wrote the words and music to the song, “Love Song for Number Two.” It became a No. 1 hit on the Christian charts. Before my husband and I were married, he introduced me to this song. In an instant, it changed my perspective on marriage, love and my relationship with Christ. My number one love was to be God, worshipping his son, Jesus Christ, and my number two love, my husband. With this perspective, I have been able to recognize and depend on God to be the fulfiller of all my needs, I am to love God will all my heart, soul, mind and strength first. I also realized that my husband is to do the same. I am not my husband’s number one! Jesus Christ is. What comfort there is in this! He knows he is not my number one love, and he gains great comfort in this. I have been free to seek God in all things and seeing Him work through my husband to fulfill our needs, my needs and our family’s. So, each day I seek God first, the giver of my husband and the author of my faith. I put all concerns, dreams, hopes and desires in His hands. My husband cannot do this, but God knows what I need through Him, and He knows what my husband needs through me. I have MARVELLED at what God has done through me to love my husband in ways I could never imagined… because I put God first “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 Finally, I seek to put my husband’s needs first every day. Because God promises to meet all my needs, I can then freely focus on my husband to do my best to meet all his needs. I am by no means perfect at this great task, but allowing him to be human in all ways, allows God to be God. It is amazing how as I focus on my husband first, rather than myself, I find much joy in our relationship. I know where I fall short, God will fill in the gap. Endless love flows from the person of love, Jesus Christ.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elizabethfhg Elizabeth Corbett

    Years ago, 1981, Mickey (Michael) & Becki Moore wrote the words and music to the song, “Love Song for Number Two.” It became a No. 1 hit on the Christian charts. Before my husband and I were married, he introduced me to this song. In an instant, it changed my perspective on marriage, love and my relationship with Christ. My number one love was to be God, worshipping his son, Jesus
    Christ, and my number two love, my husband. With this perspective, I have been able to recognize and depend on God to be the fulfiller of all my needs, I am to love God will all my heart, soul, mind and strength first. I also realized that my husband is to do the same. I am not my husband’s number one! Jesus Christ is. What comfort there is in this! He knows he is not my number one love, and he gains great comfort in this. I have been free to seek God in all things and seeing Him work through my husband to fulfill our needs, my needs and our family’s. So, each day I seek God first, the giver of my husband and the author of my faith. I put all concerns, dreams, hopes and desires in His hands. My husband cannot do this, but God knows what I need through Him, and He knows what my husband needs through me. I have MARVELLED at what God has done through me to love my husband in ways I could never imagined… because I put God first “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19 Finally, I seek to put my husband’s needs first every day. Because God promises to meet all my needs, I can then freely focus on my husband to do my best to meet all his needs. I am by no means perfect at this great task, but allowing him to be human in all ways, allows God to be God. It is amazing how as I focus on my husband first, rather than myself, I find much joy in our relationship. I know where I fall short, God will fill in the gap. Endless love flows from the person of love, Jesus Christ.     

  • Anonymous

    Let me begin by saying that anything anyone wants to do to protect their marriage is between themselves and God. That said, I challenge the notion that a transforming person who is discerning the leading of the Holy Spirit in their lives and actively pursuing God in a way that is moving them toward genuine Holiness will need so much extrinsic help/motivation to make decisions that should be flowing from within. I think this is especially true of removing ourselves from any temptation. I am a recovering drug and alcohol abuser who has been clean for more than 15 years. When I was first sober I was forced to limit my access to people, places and things that would make me want to drink or use. I didn’t go to weddings or bars or places where people drank. I changed friendships and made all kinds of new rules for myself because I had not yet been transformed from the inside out. Recovery language calls it being “spiritually fit” and if I was not “spiritually fit” I needed human workarounds to make up the difference. As I became a different woman from the inside out, things changed. And now, 15 years of diligent work on myself that happens every single day makes it that I can go anywhere and do anything–freedom in transformation. On given days or in given moments I can see that my thinking is not where it should be. On those days I return to my old crutches to be sure I stay on track. Otherwise I come and go as the Lord leads me. All to say, rules like this are great…in recovery and stepping out on our spouses…but they do not protect us from temptation. In fact, thinking they do can be as dangerous as having no rules at all. That’s why people who are “doing all the right things” and still do the wrong thing are always completely shocked about it.

  • http://profiles.google.com/sequoiajoy Connie Brown

    Here are ten things that help to keep our marriage healthy. (I’ll speak mostly for me.)
    1. I’m growing in my faith relationship in the goodness, provision and love of God. This is foundational for growing who I am and what I bring to the relationship.
    2. I’m practicing faith, trust and love in my husband and our marriage.
    3. I’m committed to my husband and our relationship. We’ve made a public commitment during the marriage ceremony 30+ years ago. I’ve restated that commitment to him privately at different times through the years.
    4. We practice good communication skills.
    5. We cultivate respect for each other in attitudes, choice of words, and big and little actions.
    6. We practice asking for and giving each other forgiveness. No one is perfect and this is essential relationship maintenance.
    7. We spend time together as we can. We find activities we enjoy together.
    8. We give each other space to be unique. For example, he likes sci-fi and all things technical. I like different books and movies. We don’t ridicule or restrict one another in the areas or things we don’t share in common.
    9. I’m living on the growing edge. Sometimes the growing edge was a diet, finishing college or mastering a new stage of parenting. The growing edge keeps me just a bit different from yesterday and from getting stale or bitter.
    10. I remember. I remember that even though I do all the good things I know to do my marriage is not completely protected. And I remember that God has promised to never leave me or forsake me. So, I remember to love, appreciate and enjoy my husband in my words and actions, as I have opportunity, one day at a time.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      This is a great list, Connie. Thank you for sharing it.

      • http://profiles.google.com/sequoiajoy Connie Brown

        Thanks for writing this thoughtful post and for your godly example and leadership in so many areas of life.

  • http://www.lincolnparks.com Lincoln Parks

    It takes commitment and praying for one another as you stated Michael. I pray for my wife @janiceparks everyday, and need to incorporate praying with her at night more often. I have taken some great notes here.  I notice that speaking more in public about my wife helps the most, and letting everyone know your love for her. That is the #1 repellant for me.

  • Anonymous

    My husband and I have had the agreement not to be alone with members of the opposite sex for years. Not only have we thought it to be a good hedge against temptation, it also eliminated any appearance of evil.

    • http://twitter.com/conservagirl Susan

      Or chance of being sued for harrassment.

  • Laurie

    I always enjoy your posts, but felt the need to comment today for different reasons.  I scrolled down through MANY other comments, and finally gave up in my search to find one where a reader has agreed that Arnold’s “indiscretion” is wrong, but that he is still a man first–a human being who, like the rest of us, makes mistakes.  Just because this man is in the public eye, wealthy, powerful, does not necessarily mean that he is somehow removed from sin.  It’s easy to judge him.  How many of you have walked in his shoes?  I agree that we must handle our marriages with care, but when situations like Arnold’s are discovered, I feel it’s how we view our response to it that also matters.  I think it would be very sad to assume that he has lost his value and legacy for the rest of his life because of this. 

    As a woman who has been through marriage issues, I’d like to think that perhaps I am now a little less judgemental, and a little more understanding. 

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Laurie, I agree. Powerful and visible people are merely people, too. They
      sin, just like the rest of us. Their sins are just more visible than
      others’ sins are. How do we react to someone who has this same sin, but is
      closer to our lives? With compassion and help. If a member of my church
      were to have an affair, we would come around him and offer help, counseling,
      encouragement to their family, and accountability for the future.

      It’s easy to judge those who sin visibly, and ignore those whose sins are
      hidden.

      When a person like Arnold sins like this, there are huge consequences,
      though. His political career is likely over (not that it wasn’t, anyway)
      because he would have to rebuild trust with a LOT of people to be
      re-elected. His family life is having consequences, obviously. There are
      families that would work through something like this, and others that
      won’t. When a pastor falls into the sin of adultery, his ministry could be
      over for a very long time… that’s just a consequence of public sin in that
      realm.

      I think it IS possible to repair relationships after adultery, and even to
      leave a healthy legacy, but it’s better to put into place the hedges that
      Michael is suggesting, so it doesn’t happen in the first place.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Laurie, as I said, I am not his judge. Nor is Arnold the point of the post. If I were speaking to him, I would have a much different message. God is a God of mercy and grace.

  • parabl

    Excellent tips. I liked the comment on how your grandchildren will think of you. Thanks foe tour honesty & boldness!

  • Curtis Matoga

    Great blog. 

    I just told my wife how hot she looked yesterday when we took the family out for Victoria Day (Canada) steak dinner. 

    I am glad to be on the same team as you building a legacy of faithfulness in marriage.

    Curtis Matoga
    Montreal

  • Sharon Lippincott

    Thank you for your post. The guidelines you give for a happy, enduring marriage will be a blessing for all who read and heed. Some of us make it, for better or worse, even without this level of wisdom by sheer cussed stubbornness — as in too stubborn to admit we made a mistake and give up — and not surprisingly we later realize there was no mistake. I say this after nearly fifty years of mostly and increasingly happy marriage to the same mate.

    I’d like to add that your guidelines and your thoughts about the governor are equally valid for those who, for various reasons, choose not to align themselves with traditional Christianity and those who believe that all is as it needs to be for some grand plan to work out. All religions, and all spiritual paths agree on universal principles such as: love and compassion are keys to a happy, fulfilling life; you reap what you sow; and we are all connected (one way or another). Of course I am not referring to those who worship the almighty dollar and power …. . 

  • Vern

    Michael… great post.  I have dedicated my
    life to investing in fathers and husbands… HeartForge.

     

    I have a deal that really works for ANY marriage.

     

    Most marriages have some questions… some things
    that are simply left unsaid… core heart issues, because the act of asking the
    question is just too much risk.  Or the subject is too sensitive, or there
    is too much anger around it.  The reason it’s NOT talked about is fear..
    but in the heat of some discussion some day, the fear is superseded by the
    anger in the moment, and the issue comes out at 100 miles an hour AT the other.

     

    So I have this idea I call “setting the
    table”.  In John and Stacy Eldredge’s book “Love and War”,
     they are driving home after a wedding which was a great time, and on the
    ride home, John brings up a sensitive topic, and Stacy asks him, why, after
    such a good time did he do THAT?  And John makes a great observation… he
    says, if we have a great time, it’s not time, and if we had a really lousy
    time, it’s certainly not time… there is NEVER a time.

     

    I agree.

     

    So here’s the deal.  If a couple reads the
    same book (well, usually the wife reads the book, and we guys try the osmosis
    method by setting it on the night stand for six months)… even if they both
    read the book, because our filters read what we want to see, they may as
    well have read different books.

     

    So setting the table.  The husband sets up four two-hour time blocks, where they’ve
    eaten, the kids are being taken care of… the whole deal.  He sets up an audio copy of “Love and
    Respect” or “Love and War”… and sits on the couch with his wife, and rubs here
    feet with hand lotion for two hours straight while they listen together.

     

    And as the recording plays, they can stop at any
    time and say “Honey, what he just said about men, that’s not true of me, I’m
    like…”  or “Honey, I’ve always
    wanted to tell you that, but I was afraid to hurt your feelings”  or “Honey, is that what you feel like
    with me?”

     

    And when there are tough questions, these answers
    are OK, and both parties have to live with them.  “I don’t know” or “I don’t want to talk about that right now”  or “I’m afraid to talk to you about
    that right now” or any other answer. You’ll find that being in the question together
    is just as important as getting the answer you’re looking for right now.

     

    And here’s the point of the foot rub.

     

    As men, we fidget, and our wives will think we
    checked out… but the foot rub keeps our hands busy.

     

    As men, we tend to “fix”… and for some reason,
    having feet to rub helps us to just be, and not fix.

     

    And the most important reason… if you do this
    well, you’ll broach the scariest questions of your life.  “Would you marry me if you knew how
    hard it’s been?”  “Are the kids
    really mine” “What would you do if I died?” “as I your first real love?”  “Do you have regrets?”

     

    These questions and questions like them are the
    mega questions that might be lurking in your mind, but they risk is just too
    high…  but the reality is that the
    fear that makes them unlikely to be asked actually toxifies a relationship
    slowly… and conversely, engaging in the question, even if the questions or
    issues are scary or hard, actually opens the door to intimacy.

     

    And in the middle of it all, if ou’re rubbing a
    way on feet with lotion… there is something that says “I will not hurt you, nor
    will I leave you”… it is an act of love that builds a moment of trust.

  • Robert Storey

    I agree totally.  The best way to beat temptation is to beat it before it gets to us and that’s why your post is right on.  

  • Vern

    I edited that post in Word… sorry about the spaces, they were an accident.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      No problem. Word is wonky that way. It is a good comment. Thanks for taking time to make it.

  • http://www.marydemuth.com Mary DeMuth

    I particularly want to affirm speaking well of your partner in public. To me, that’s the best deterrent.

    • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

      This is something I try to do, Mary. But there’s no doubt about my love by what I say in public about Michelle (my wife). Learned that from my mom. Never saw my dad and mom together (they divorced while I was young). But watching her tell me about how he treated her and what he said made me vow to never put my wife through that. Michelle seems to respond well to it. So I think she’d agree with you. 

  • Rohan Pinto

    InFedility is a disease…. repeated infedility should be deemed a crime !

    • Rohan Pinto

      I meant infidelity… (darn autocorrect)

  • http://profiles.google.com/gambill4 Beck Gambill

    Amen! Excellent post and excellent suggestions. One thought though, I don’t know much about Arnold, but is he operating from a position of being filled with the Holy Spirit. If not, then our expectations are different. He’s acting according to his sinful nature instead of God’s holy nature, just as we all did before Jesus’ righteousness became our own. Just a thought.

  • Anonymous

    First of all, great suggestions. What I do to protect my marriage is invest in it in several ways.
    1. I constantly flirt and play with my wife and chase her. I do not do this with any other woman. period.
    2. I pray and speak God’s Word over her each day and over our marriage.
    3. I avoid watching television shows that glamorize promiscuity and infidelity which can place the wrong images in my imagination.
    4. If we are having problems, I do not seek comfort or advice from other women, whether family or friends. I pray and seek guidiance on how to communicate with her and understand her feelings.
    5. I practice loving her unconditionally, not based on how she treats me at a given moment.

    I pray for the God’s healing presence will touch Maria’s heart and the heart of her children during this confusing, heartbreaking and stressful time.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      These are good thoughts!

  • http://www.geekforhim.com Matthew

    Thanks for sharing brother! I appreciate your heart for your wife.

  • http://www.christopherneiger.com/blog Chris Neiger

    I posted about this on my blog yesterday as well. Having been married for (only) almost five years, I’ve still got lots to learn but one thing I know is that a marriage has to be continually built up and defended. It can’t be neglected and you can’t assume that it will continue to grow and flourish without all the work.

    Your thoughts on boundaries are right on! We can’t fool ourselves into thinking we can walk a fine line without ever slipping over into the wrong side. 

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the thoughtful post about marriage Michael.  One of things that I do with my wife that really helps is to pray with her together both of us out loud before we go to bed.  I think that it is important because it lets us know intimate details about our fears, concerns, struggles, praises, happy thoughts and what is important to each of us.  Not to mention if we have had a disagreement (and we all do) it serves to help us get past it (hard to be mad when you just prayed together to God).  I also try to pay attention to the little things.  It is easy to get the big things right since it is usually what you talk about the most, but I have found that the little things help me out a lot.  For instance, my wife had talked about a fond memory she had that included getting some cotton candy and how wonderful it had tasted and I went to the store and found a little container of cotton candy and gave it to her just because.  I also recall my wife really wanting a particular book, I really tried hard to find it and was not able to, until it finally came on Amazon as a used book.  I got it for her, it was almost a year after she had talked about it, but she could hardly believe that I remembered that.  I use one of the ideas that David Allen talks about in the book Getting Things Done, it is the agenda piece, in my system I have a place for an agenda for my wife and there is where I keep all the things listed that she mentions.  At the same time, my wife is really passionate about our kids and I also notice the things that really jazz her up about them and when I can, I also do the same for the kids especially if it is something that she wish she had or could have shown her.  But it is not always so easy, I have also learned humility and sacrifice by being married.  You would not believe some of the Lifetime and Hallmark movies I have sat through in the name of love……but I would not trade it for the world….nor would I trade my wife for anything in the world.     

  • Angelabisignano

    Great post Michael. Thank you for writing it. Like you and Gail, my husband and I put boundaries in place when we got married; very much like yours. These boundaries have served our marriage well. Our marriage is still going strong after 21 years together. I often tell newly wed couples and pre-marrieds that this is an excellent strategy to help preserve and protect their marriage.

    I am still going to encourage you and Gail to do some public speaking together about marriage. I think we need to see leaders who are role models speaking about how to make a loving marriage last. Catalyst would be one possibility of a venue for this message.

    Wonderful points about the grandchildren. It speaks to legacy: What are you going to leave behind?

    Thanks again, Michael.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Angela. Gail and I are planning to do some speaking on marriage this coming fall. We are excited about doing it together.

      • Angelabisignano

        Great! I am so excited to hear. Keep us all posted and let us know where you will be speaking. 

  • Jeremy

    Thank-you, Michael, for an excellent post. I would propose one added (and obvious), guideline. As one who used to travel a good deal on business, I made it a rule (if I happened to be traveling with another) to never, ever, be alone with a colleague of the opposite sex in either her room or mine. This option might occasionally come up inasmuch as we might be planning for a meeting or presentation.  I made an exception to this just once when I had to review a presentation a colleague had prepared for the next day’s meeting. The review took all of three minutes and I left the door to the hallway wide open — I was chuckling to myself as I suspected she must have thought I was crazy, but I didn’t care!

    And also — we humans have a great capacity to “fool ourselves” and pretend our intentions are other than they truly are. I have found (personal note) that the continual praying of the Jesus Prayer tends to focus one’s mind and heart and not allow “room” for “fooling oneself” and pretending something other than what is really true.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Although, I didn’t express it here, I observe that rule, too.

  • http://twitter.com/KellyCombs Kelly Combs

    What an excellent post!  Our social norms not only do not honor marriage.  I have set these same boundaries in my own marriage, and while some people have called that “silly” or small minded, I don’t believe most people set out to have an affair.  It happens because of little behaviors that get bigger and bigger.  We have to watch out for the small things, like the innocent lunches with the opposite sex, the Facebook friendships, the dishonoring talk of our spouses. When we watch the little things, we don’t have to worry about the big things.  They will care for themselves.
     
    Thank you so much for opening this topic!!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It’s like Solomon said, “The little foxes spoil the vines” (Song of Solomon 2:15). Thanks.

  • Fromgtog

    Wow, this is an excellent article! As well as the comments. Being a widow is tough. Having loved and lost the love is tough. My husband and I were far from perfect. What I learned is that betrayal comes in all forms not just adultery. Despite the love and attempts to ‘protect’ the marriage, there were times that we failed miserable from ignorance, weaknesses, and stubborness. What hurts the most are not the mistakes, but the unwillingness to try harder, work harder, pray harder. For me, the ultimate betrayal is to give in, give up, walk away, and not standing on the values set in the very beginning.

  • Anonymous

    This by far has been my favorite post by you. My husband Gene & I are passionate about this very subject as our marriage has survived simultaneous adultery. By God’s grace our marriage survived & is truly strong. Not stronger, but strong. Obviously, it was never strong if we were both astray.

    Just last week I was involved in a FB discussion when the author posted a question on his status asking if it was okay to be on a plane and a stranger of the opposite sex asked you to have a drink during your overlay. Almost all of the answers leaned to NO, but there was a lady who argued that she had that right to get to know other people even if he is married and if she had to take extreme measures to protect her relationship, she didn’t want to be in it. I thought 2 things: how sad and that is the kind of woman that assists in ruining relationships. 

    After what we endured by choice, I will take whatever extreme measures it takes to first of all, please God and secondly, honor my husband. That means, when I email a male about something, his wife gets cc’d and if he’s not married, my husband is the joint recipient of my email. If you’re a male and unless I’m related to you…shake my hand, don’t hug me. Innocent or not, our bodies don’t need to be pressed up against one another. Seems silly to some, but just going off of my history, I don’t ever want a wife to question my motives. 

    I know what boundaries I have had to set and they are set in stone as I will not ever again risk everything for NOTHING. Satan is sneaky though, so I have to have God’s Word as my weapon for our flesh is weak.Right now we are walking with our friends whose marriage of 14 years and 2 kids is on the rocks due to his affair and a baby with the other woman, also his co-worker. Two days after their marriage unfolded in our living room, Arnold took over the media. Our neighbors marriage woes won’t ever make the front page of the LA Times, but it has overturned her world just like Maria’s has been. Kids are hurt, she is beyond angry and hurt and he is filled with shame. And we have a God that sees them and wants to be the One invited into their chord. We sent him your post and encouraged him to begin embedding your advice into his marriage TODAY. Gene and I are living proof that anything with God is possible. My neighbor is a beautiful woman, inside and out and it made tears fall listening to her Sunday say how unworthy she feels. The selfish choice of adultery hurts sometimes beyond repair and it’s not just your spouse who gets hurt. Yes, it messes with your partners self worth and trust, but if there are kids involved you single handedly walk them into the world of not feeling like they’re enough, distrust and anger. No matter what, male or female, you don’t deserve to satisfy your flesh outside of the bond you are in and not one minute of self fulfilling passion is worth spitting on the vows that have been taken. This is why preventative measures are so important! Don’t sit in the seat of  “That won’t happen to me” because more than likely you’ll by sitting in the seat of “how did this happen to me”.  Be wise, not paranoid, seek Christ before and during your marriage, not after and be faithful today, tomorrow and always. I thank God for a second chance of being faithful to one another, but I wish I had chosen faithfulness instead.  Thank you for this bold post Michael and thank you for loving Gail and Gail alone.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks for your thoughtful comment. Excellent. I also always copy my wife when I email a single woman other than for a strictly work-related issue. Thanks again.

  • Anonymous

    Great post!  A friend posted it on Facebook and I followed it to your blog.  Now I plan on checking back often!

  • http://www.patriciaraybon.com Patricia Raybon

    What am I doing? Fighting for my  marriage. Reminding my husband why he matters–and why it means everything that he, following God, stays in charge of our household. Then I remind him what a great job he’s doing. I could go on. But your point, that our marriages are worth our investment–not just for us and our families, but for society and culture–is timely and appreciated. Thank you.

  • Pspengler2

    I follow the items you listed and have for a very long time.
    I add to your part on speaking about my wife a lot, and always talking about the good I see in her.
    Never share anything personal to a female, as it can be use as a weapon in the wrong hands.
    My wife and I are the couples counseler at are church, so we hear and this alot.
    If I can share one thing.
    Invest in your wife, speak often, she can not read your mind.
    Work hard on staying close, and always put God in the middle of your realationship.

  • Grace

    Great post!

    My husband and I were married nearly 30 years ago. On our wedding night, we began a routine that continues through today, so long as we’re both home. Before falling asleep, he holds me in his arms and we pray together. There’s no way we can hold anger or keep secrets. I think this is one of the most important things we’ve done to protect our marriage.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      We do the same. It’s an excellent practice.

  • Bwenman

    My husband and  I have been married for 23 years.  We have been through difficult times and this what we learned that has helped our marriage to flourish. 
    In addition to much of what has already been said, I would add this:1.   Selfishness causes a lot of marital pains.  People who commit adultery ultimately put their own desires in front of those they love, not only their spouse, but their children.  True love and respect comes from putting others needs and desires before your own.  We stopped thinking about what we wanted individually and thought about the life we wanted to create together.  It made a huge difference and we both have the life we want now.2.  Admiration:  I absolutely admire my husband.  I am proud of him and I am amazed by him and I believe he feels the same about me.  Do I like him all of the time? No, but I respect him and love him always!3. Love is a what we “do”.  We love each other.  We do loving things for each other and we work at it!  Sometimes I don’t feel like putting the things that he wants done, before what I want done, but I know that he appreciates that and feels loved when I do that.  He often puts my needs before his and I often put his needs before mine!  It works! 

  • Kirk Weisler

    Love your strategies for avoiding but I think there may be more accurate reasons for “How could GOV Arnold do this?”  And anyone else who engages in such behavior.

    It’s not a blood flow issue or even that they don’t know better… it’s that they don’t understand better.   They do no really know who they are…or for what purpose they were created or in whose image.

    God seems to care an awful lot about how we go out of this world, and how we come into it.  The Bible clearly illustrates that sexual sins are next to murder in seriousness.  

     Most don’t know and have never been taught the difference between a commitment and a covenant.  Even most traditional Christian faiths marry with these words… “Until Death Do ye part” as if God created the family unit as a part time idea.  Marriage doesn not fill a part time role in God’s eternal plans.  Remember Peters teaching that “Neither is the man without the woman or the woman without the man” .  This was not a  doctrine for mortality bur one for eternity.

    Family relationships, like the one with we have with our Heavenly Father were meant to be forever and he has prepared a way and a promise through his Son that we indeed can be families forever.  Immortality is living forever… all recieve this gift regardless of choices made, the very vilest of sinners will be resurrected. It’s what happens after the resurrection that should interest us most.   Because if we qualify ourselves for eternal life by covenating to follow Christ and strive to keep his commandments and live his gospel…then we have a great promise that we can live in the Kingdom of God… where we will continue to enjoy with our family relationships.  

    Once we know of the possibilities and understand more of our own potential… then we can find an increased strength and desire to strive for promises eternal.  Of as Stephen Covey wisely said, “It’s easy to say no, when there is a deeper yes burning within.”

  • http://twitter.com/Rocky_Morris Rocky Morris

    I could not agree more. The longer I live, the less common, “common sense” seems to become.

  • elise

    Excellent post. One thing is for sure, my husband and I are very intentional in our marriage. Things don’t just happen. We make it a point to walk together, which leads to talk and prayer. It isn’t always a walk in the park, sometimes the tougher, more stressful discussions make our walks a little more like trudging through bramble, but we’re communicating and we’re undistracted for a time. We have been open to outside counsel, when that need arose/arises. When the kids were younger, we had an ongoing date night with a babysitter set up in advance, so we could pull ourselves away from the myriad demands and again, focus on one another. And, being very honest here, we make sure we are intimate, even if we are exhausted and don’t feel like it at first.  This keeps our embers burning!
    One final thought, more than 25 years ago, when we were preparing for our marriage, we attended a marriage prep weekend. It was excellent…and we now serve as a couple on a team that runs these weekends. We share our marriage story with all its bumps, bruises, and triumphs. And this rekindles our love for one another. We are also reminded of one of the principles that we teach:
    Love is a decision! (Having an affair or not having an affair is a decision too.)

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Amen, love IS a decision. Once you understand that, a lot comes into focus.

    • Wendy

      Love is a Decision by Gary Smalley is an excellent book and had a positive impact on my life several years ago. I have given it as a gift to several people.

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Agreed!  My wife is the first person I talk to about anything.  And when I’m out in public without her, I try to make sure I mention her in conversation, and always in a positive light!

    Thanks for some great insights and reminders today!

  • Pingback: Sex and the Single Person | Q & A with Pastor Mark Haines()

  • http://profiles.google.com/dennis.l.preston Dennis Preston

    Great reminder & post Michael.
     
    A couple things come to mind. We just watched again our weddinng video (VHS haha) & it was  a great reminder and very renewing.
     
    Second, we heard someone say an unguarded strength is a double weakness, in context of a couple who were thought to have an ideal marriage. He ended up committing adultery, though he and his wife have long since reconciled and are doing very well. With that, my wife & I have discussed many times that we are not beyond the reach of that happening to us. It helps keep us humble, knowing the potential exists for it, not that we’re looking for it.
     
    Third, I find the Biblical admonition “treat…younger women as sisters” to be helpful. I have many sisters but only one wife.

    I really like the “legacy” aspect mentioned, it takes it out of the immediate here and now, and puts it in a more rational context.

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    I agree with you, Michael. We’ll all have to give account for our choices. I also know people who have committed adultery or fallen to this temptation. At the risk of sounding “religious” there are those who repent as well. We shall know a tree by it’s fruit.

    I find it refreshing those who have repented and fallen on their face for forgiveness. Even though they will have to live with the consequences of that sin, isn’t it awesome that when they do come before Judgment, there will be no recollection of that sin from the Judge?

    I have the same anger swell up in me when I see the world portray adulterous behavior in a heroic fashion. It’s sad. It’s wrong. And it’s destructive. I believe we, as men, have to stand up and be what we’ve been called to. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly either.

    Our world is being attacked on many fronts. But the foundation is a strong, Christian family. That family’s cornerstone is rest on the leadership in the home. Guess where that leadership starts.

    I had the opportunity to preview a movie that will be coming out in September. It’s called “Courageous”. GREAT movie with even a better message. I would encourage all Christian families to see this movie. But more than that, take the message to heart.

    If you’re interested in seeing a screening of the movie, maybe you’re in this area: http://courageousthemovie.com/screenings/  (I guess it’s okay for me to post that link.)  :) 

    Blessings.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have heard many good things about the movie, Courageous. I am looking forward to seeing it.

      • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

        Kinda sounded like I was making a commercial for the movie. Didn’t intend for that to be the case. But the movie is definitely going to begin a movement – in my opinion.  …and a needed movement. Maybe we can mail a copy to Arnold!  :)  

  • Tk Beyond

    Great blog! Integrity… that’s what I pray for often when praying for myself, the men I disciple/mentor, our leaders within the church & various levels of government.
    Really good, basic, sensible stuff. Boundaries are not legalism. Thanks brother!

  • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

    I agree with where you set your boundaries. A common friend, a young woman, stopped to see my wife when Ellen wasn’t home. We sat on the front porch and talked but she knew I would not invite her into the house. No temptation in that situation but I wanted to protect both our reputations as well as keep even the hint of adulterous thought far away.

    One bit of wisdom our friend shared that I’d pass on. If you want to compliment a woman who isn’t your wife, tell her, “Oh, my wife would love your hair.” You compliment the one while reenforcing this thought: “I’m happily married.” And I am.

    Thanks for using a current event to highlight an important truth about loyalty and fidelity in marriage. Does that path ever payoff big as the years pass and true commitment settles into deep friendship.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love your insight about compliments. Excellent advice.

  • Derek Johnson

    Great article.  I often use the last tip – talking about my wife.  Plus, I know there is a God helping me to be faithful to the one He gave me.

  • Missjudi65

    I invest in my relationship with God; I pray for my heart to become one with His, and for my will to become aligned with His.  I pray for my spouse specifically; we share our prayer request with one another daily, and even when we are unable to pray together, we are praying collectively. 

  • Daguirrem

    Thank You Michael. As always, deep and thoughtful matter in a very practical way to cope with.
    Desires -food, sex, recognition, etc.- will be always before Us: anytime anywhere of our lives: Those deep wishes will always be inside us because they are appetites that were created good but distorted by sin. Energy to push us to do good in the begining and now against God’s will and against ourselves. But we retain the power to say NO to those drives when they try to lead us to what does not agree neither builds aligned to God’s love. Escuchar
    Leer fonéticamenteDiccionario
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    Diccionario

  • Judy Nelson

    Sometimes it is very difficult to do your job with excellence without going to eat or travel with someone of the opposite sex alone. People do their jobs over lunch and travel. Most of us don’t have the funds to invite someone else to eat/travel with us when we need to do our jobs with members of the opposite sex. It can be unreasonable to expect this of someone with whom we work. Being public (eating where you know people) or sitting apart on airplanes can help. I think it’s the secrecy that is the danger–cherishing secret thoughts, meeting in secret, etc. Also, REST is vital. When we are tired, we are more likely to indulge the flesh in all unworthy habits. Good stuff. Thanks for initiating the conversation.

  • Mark Peterson

    “Apparently, he has fathered at least one child out-of-wedlock. There are likely more.”  With all due respect, until you know there are more, that is only an inflammatory comment that’s better left unsaid.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You might be right.

    • Anonymous

      Totally agreed!

    • Anonymous

      Totally agreed!

  • http://www.dailyreflectionsforsingleparents.blogspot.com/ Scoti Springfield Domeij

    Thank you for this wonderful, wise post. My heart smiles
    every time you affirm your wife. I hope this post stops some people dead in
    their tracks who are choosing to betray God and their spouses. Every time
    someone tells me their “Christian” spouse committed adultery, the first
    question I always ask, “How’s their health?” I’ve never had one person tell me
    “Good.” The answer is always “Bad.”

     

    When my minister husband’s adultery propelled me into single
    parenthood with a three year old and nine month old, one of my biggest
    surprises and horrors? Married “Christian” men who came onto me. Their behavior
    further traumatized me. I couldn’t believe they were so stupid to think that I
    would hurt their wives the way I was devastated. If they were willing to betray
    and disrespect their wives in the most intimate way, why did they think I would
    trust them? Dolts. Complete idiots. I thank God for my smart, godly mother who
    instilled moral values and the fear of God in me. But an even bigger surprise?
    Ministries/ministers, who claimed to care about preserving families, failed to
    protect my family when I requested that we confront aggressive, inappropriate
    behavior to save those marriages. Instead, they betrayed and abandoned me to what?
    “Save face.” Are donor dollars really more important than integrity?

     

    Sadly, one of my school-aged sons felt angered witnessing
    the inappropriate behavior by two of these men. He told me that “ministries”
    are just “businesses.” If a ministry cannot pass down their values to
    employees/attendees children, what is the point of their “ministries?” When the
    State of California informed me that they could not enforce court-ordered child
    support due to separation of church and state, I laud my pastor who called my former/remarried
    husband’s pastor/employer. The church’s tagline? The Church with a Heart. His
    pastor replied, “That’s his personal business. We don’t want to get involved.” And it was okay with that pastor that I worked 2-3 jobs to support my sons? How
    many “Christian” leaders fig leaves of cowardice does his response sadly
    reveal? How are those who empower these behaviors any different than the French
    who ignored Strauss-Kahn’s alleged deplorable sexual history? And we wonder WHY
    our faith has so little impact on the morality of our culture?

  • Scott M.

    Thank you for this!  It is always good to remind one another of the committment we have made to God and our spouses.  Considering the stakes? I cannot imagine how I could look my 3 boys in the eye ever again if I were to do this to their mom.  Good thing I never will!  The best defense is having  plan to fight against it.

  • http://www.walterwillis.net Walter

    My pastor

  • http://www.facebook.com/ctpotts Chris Potts

    Timely…the message this past weekend at the church I attend was about marriage and the pitfalls of marriage: when you’re “Living in the Land Between” (based off a book by Jeff Manion).  I can’t agree with your comments more!  

  • http://www.walterwillis.net Walter

    My pastor won’t even ride in an elevator with a woman alone – too much chance a hotel surveillance camera could pick him up walking off with her if they are both going to the same floor. If the elevator stops and a woman alone gets on, he gets off if he is the only other person on. “Give no appearance of evil”. Good post Michael.

  • JustCallMeBradley

    Wasn’t able to read all 144 posts, so grace if this is a repeat:

    I challenge you to reconsider your phraseology about what Gov. Schwarzenegger did. Consider no longer using the phrase “fathered children [out of wedlock]”. What he did in those instances has nothing to do with being a father. Choose instead phrases that more accurately describe his actions, like “sired children” or “impregnated women” or several others that don’t diminish fatherhood.

    Thanks for a great post that has sparked great discussion!

    • Anonymous

      But the child still has a father, doesn’t he?  And the father is still Schwarzenegger, isn’t he?  Fatherhood and love can overcome all sin.  

  • http://www.nikao.ws Vince

    I’m a pastor and it can be hard to switch off and just be with my family. I have a few non-negotiables that help the bes tof which is the commitment to be at the table for dinner with my family no less than 5 nights per week.

  • http://www.powerfeedback.com/ Scott Gingold

    I applaud your post and agree with 99% of it. The one sticking point for me is; (I will not go out to eat alone with someone of the opposite sex.) In my life I am very fortunate that my wife is with me almost always, including business situations. There are times however where this is not possible or client confidentiality requires that she can not attend. My wife always knows where I am, and the person I am dining/meeting with very clearly understands that I am very happily (28-1/2 years) married. 

    I have no idea what propelled Arnold to do what he did and to dishonor his marriage and family in the way that he did. Based on my own experience with other celebrities, my guess, and its just a guess, is that the hunger for power and control that gave him a false sense of superiority and invincibility. I pray for this family, and most especially the children.

  • Anonymous

    The greatest threat to marriage today is gay marriage.  How is gay marriage harming your marriage?

  • Tommy Burgess

    Great thoughts Michael. I would also add that we should also protect our minds. Don’t fill the mind with thoughts of being with someone other than your wife.  Don’t fill the mind with music, television shows, books, and/or movies that glorify adultery.  Philippians 4:8 says it well:  “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
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    • bethanyplanton

      I think this is a great addition.  What we take in will eventually come out. 

  • Bill

    (1) Marriage is the cause of divorce. One cannot exist without the other  (2) If you have to protect your marriage, you’re already in trouble. (3) If you get in the mode of protecting, it leads to obsession and distrust which will end your marriage anyway. (4) Be in the world and not of the world. When you sign a marriage contract, you create a contract between you, your lover and the government (which gives them the authority to interfere in your relationship). The way we marry is of the world.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Bill, I disagree with all four of your points. (1) Marriage is NOT the
      CAUSE of divorce, even though there has to be a marriage in order for their
      to be a divorce. That’s like saying that babies are the cause of sex.
      That’s a logical fallacy. (2) Just because you protect what’s valuable to
      you doesn’t mean that you’re in trouble. Just because you put locks on your
      doors doesn’t mean that you’re MORE susceptible to break-ins. Again,
      logical fallacy. (3) Protection does NOT lead to distrust. In fact,
      setting up boundaries within marriage can lead to MORE trust within a
      marriage. (4) Your statement assumes that government is bad or evil. This
      is an untrue statement. Governments have been instituted by God. The Bible
      tells us to be subject to the government. And, just because the government
      recognizes marriage doesn’t mean that marriage, in the way that we practice
      it, is wrong or incorrect.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connie-Walsh-Brown/1224074283 Connie Walsh Brown

      Bill, you seem to have a sad concept of marriage as doomed to failure. It sounds like you’ve seen or experienced marriages that haven’t worked.

      Have you considered that signing or not signing a marriage contract — neither action ensures that the relationship will last or predicts that a relationship will fail. Commitment and decisions to love are important.

      When you write “that the way we marry is of the world” I wonder what you believe God intends for marriage? What would it look like? What do you base your beliefs on?

      If you’re thinking Adam and Eve never signed a marriage contract so people today don’t have to either. I don’t believe the Bible teaches that position. Consider Jesus who attended a wedding and never denounced it. Jesus also allowed authorities to have a say in the timing of his death. Jesus considered God to be in control of authorities and society, even when days were exceedingly hard and they killed him. Jesus revealed his faith in “being in the world but not of it” by submitting to God first and then others, including authorities, out of trust that God’s ways were best lived out that way. 

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Bill–at least you stirred up a few controversial thoughts. I’m not sure where you’re coming from or going with your statements. I sure don’t need to lay out responses to your 4 points because Robert addresses each point with remarks I would agree with. Connie offers sound advice as well. I would only add as a husband nearing my 28th wedding anniversary that a good marriage has a high price in time, commitment, and fidelity but reaps wonderful benefits as love, trust, and a lifelong friendship deepen. I find great pleasure in being with my wife. I’d be foolish to destroy my marriage through betrayal and adultery is nothing less than that. But men (I’m sure women have as well) have been foolish in this area for centuries. I’d be wise to listen to sound counsel. And plenty of people have offered that here today.–Tom

  • Anonymous

    “Get the behind me Satan” is probably the best advice here. Avoid situations where weakness can provoke you to act when you normally wouldn’t. Also, remember that EVERY ADULTERER believes they won’t get caught.  Behave as if you ARE in the presence  of your wife.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Even though I am single, I believe that we need to maintain our sexual purity (both pre-marital and post marital). God intends our body to be a holy temple. We should not pollute it by our immoral act. Bible speaks about ‘sexual immorality’ several times in the New Testament.  The paganism of this new world tempts us to compromise from the God’s standards in many circumstances. It is our responsibility to discern good and evil and make right choices.
     
    I am equally perturbed by the recent behavior of Dominic Strauss Khan (Immediate Past IMF Director) with a hotel waitress some days back.

    Another great shocker was the extra-marital episode of Tiger Woods (Professional Golfer) some months back.

    I feel it is important that we finish well (and not only start well).

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Good thoughts! We should treat our bodies as God’s temple, which is to say,
      to act in purity.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1475012135 Terri Naylor-Porta

    Hi Michael, How do I protect my marriage…stay on the offensive. Ask God how to reach out and tenderly bless my man. Sometimes his response surprises me, but our marriage gets stronger and stronger, I enjoy giving and he does this back. We are so into each other, I feel like I have blinders on and I’ve known him for 16 years. Doubts and worries about what the world’s standards are introduce problems and puts me on the defense. We always stay one step ahead of the adversary when we walk in God’s love. Thanks for the blog, great topic sir. :)
    Terri Porta 

  • Ken & Ruth

    Every great failure is a moral failure. – Fred Smith
    To affair proof our marriage, there must be a “Third Party”. His Name is Jesus.
    He is the third cord in our marriage and a 3 fold cord is not easily broken.

  • bethanyplanton

    I am so glad that there are leaders like you, Michael, willing to take a stand against the norm and speak out against  adultery. As long as there are people speaking out against it, Satan will never get a complete foothold. 

  • Anonymous

    This post is absolutely spot on.

  • Lewisnclarkhomes

    Michael,  Well said for such a brief response to the front page news.

    I think men in general realize that marriage infidelity is not a normal way of life.  Most guys think this way and therefore believe no opportunity will ever come their way.  They think flirting and eating a lunch out with some other women doesn’t likely lead to these flings.   So they do not prepare.

    I personally tell my friends that most of us will have 2-5 opportunities to have flings and affairs in our lives.  So we need to practice working thru scenarios in how we escape (flee), quickly, not stand around and have a verbal tennis match w/her.   That is how you lose.     We need to try and imagine, and work at visualizing what the faces of our family  look like when they hear of your own infidelity.    You need to realize too that it comes so fast at you,  from a direction you could never predict, and you have to be Clint Eastwood.  You have to practice snap decisions with perfect accuracy.  

    Too many guys know how to serve a great tennis serve, throw a great pass, deliver the perfect curve ball, close the big sale,  but get run over in life by the *Available Women Locomotive*. 

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      I tend to ride the no-woman-would-come-on-to-me train of thought. But I know that’s foolish thinking. I appreciate your sounding a wake up call in the light of Michael’s earlier advice.

      Many of us, and I’ve ridden this train too often in the past, imagine an adulterous liaison and contemplate the pleasure of someone other than our spouse. A good practice I’ve followed is to continue the scene on to the aftermath–the pleasure’s over, the discovery of the truth, the humiliation, the emptiness, the tears of the betrayed, the begging for forgiveness. Thank God for his mercy in not allowing the illicit pleasure in the first place.

      Thanks for the reminder to be proactive rather than reactive in dealing with temptation.

  • http://www.frymonkeys.com Alan Kay

    I very much like your ‘actions’. Every couple should take the same approach – make the contract you have a conscious act of caring for each other’s needs. 
    Two points:
    1. It goes both ways; both spouses need to think, ‘What am I doing to enrich the contract we have between us?’     
    2. The third parties involved who enter into relationships with people who are already married might want to consider their accountability. They are not always innocent bystanders – they put their needs first and avoid the issue of unintended consequences.  
    What ‘actions’ towards accountability should they take?

  • http://twitter.com/IsmaelBurciaga Ismael Burciaga

    Thank you for writing this article.

  • Kenlinwed

    My husband and I were married and in ministry for 35 great, fun and friendship-filled years until he passed away from cancer.  As a young seminary student, he learned a lot from my father (also a pastor) about protecting our marriage. He had a huge picture of me and the kids in his office so people instantly knew he was a family man. He was vocal about telling people he would never be alone in the church (or anywhere) with a woman – so if someone came over to church to do something and he was there, she should make herself known and he would leave.

    Another thing both my father and my husband did that is not always understood by others in ministry  – although  both very open about it from the candidating process and from the pulpit.  They would not keep any confidences from their wives.  No one in our two churches had any problem with that and most of the time assumed I knew a lot more than I did (because we really had a lot more interesting things to discuss at the supper table than someone’s problems).  So I would know generally what was going on, but that was all. I didn’t really care about all the details.  However, my husband never had to say to me, “I can’t tell you what so and so told me.”  I trusted him 100%. He was open with the church about needing someone to talk to and that they could trust me.

    He also often mentioned me in a complimentary way from the pulpit – not so much to make me feel wonderful :), but so people knew he loved his wife.

    Even now, five years after his death, I hear from church people how much he protected both his family and church from any scandal. I say, good memories!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love your husband’s policy of know confidences. I don’t think there is anything I keep from Gail.

    • Karl Mealor

      That policy of no secrets is outstanding advice.  I’m sometimes told, “Don’t tell anyone this, including your wife.”  My standard response is, “if you don’t want her to know, don’t tell me.”  A good definition of intimacy is “no secrets”.

      • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

        This is great advice, Karl.

  • Anonymous

    I am convinced that no one waked up one day and says, “I’m going to jack up my life and marriage today!” Infidelity is a complex and varied in it’s rational and reasoning. And one reason don’t buy is the judgement that someone thinks they’re “special or entitled”… actually, I think it’s quite the opposite. People who cheat are more likely to be struggling emotionally. They may be stressed, full of anxiety, or depressed. And ultimately, adultery is a form of self-sabotage. If not addressed, the cycle of destruction will continue and multiple offenses occur.

    Guilt, shame, self-hate… all of them are contributing factors to cheating on your spouse. Does it excuses it – absolutely not. However, it makes a lot more sense once you begin to understand the bigger picture of how/why someone would ever find themselves in this position.

    Even more sad is the number of ministers that also struggle with staying faithful… driving this may also be the fact that over 50% of Christian leaders struggle with porn – more guilt and shame.

    I was one of these. My first marriage was destroyed at the work of my own hand… and other appendages. I was working insane hours, struggling with my own self-worth issues, and thoroughly addicted to porn as my coping mechanism.

    As we look in to the facts of this news cycle, let’s take into account a few issues:
      •Through 1996-97 he released FOUR films, busy schedule.
      •In 1997, Arnold Schwarzenegger had a heart valve replaced.
      • Also in 1997, he paid $38 million for his own Gulf Stream Jet

    Just looking on the outside, there’s some interesting things going on in Arnold’s life during the time his “love-child” was conceived. Again, not to excuse, but to understand.

    Is it possible that this guy was struggling with his own mortality?

    I say all this because we’re all really good as Monday morning quarterbacks picking apart someone else’s failings. Especially with a couple so famous, wealthy and powerful. We’re often, not very good at offering grace. Maybe this is a great time to pray for Arnold and Maria in the midst of a really and publicly yucky situation.

    People cheat because they’re hurting, not because they’re bad people. Don’t judge the book by it’s cover, as the saying goes. It could be emotional wounds, low self worth, or even a crummy relationship. But what people of great influence really need is NOT our criticism, but rather, we should have been available earlier in the process as a place of safety, trust, and a non-judgmental listening ear. That should be all of our goal. Be available. Be real. Be transparent.

    As for me and my wife, we have a 16 yo, 2 yo, and a 1yo. As the husband, I lost my job in 09′ and now serve my family as a Stay-at-home dad. Life is REALLY hectic. Here’s what we do:
        • Filters on all of our computers
        • Annual list of the top 5 things that make us feel loved/unloved with each other.
        • Lot’s of open and vulnerable discussion
        • Date nights as often as we can afford (about once a month)
        • Verbal and physical affection
        • As much laughter as we can muster.
        • Prayer, for sure. But we don’t ever allow prayer to take the place of action.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I understand your reaction to me singling Arnold out. My point was not so much about him as it was us. What can we do to keep from landing in a similar spot? Thanks.

      • Anonymous

        Mike, I think you’re right on. If not but for the grace of God, there go I… I shared all of that with the same intention, though with lots of typos. When we understand the emotional and psychological sides behind the issue, it’s much easier to recognize our own. If we get too stressed, depressed, or down on ourselves, we become just as vulnerable – Christians or not. All the more validity to God’s insistence that we must RENEW our minds… And some great friends, accountability, and counseling go a very long way. My two cents. And for the record, I’m really passionate about these issues in case you hadn’t noticed. :) Appreciate you, always.

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      Angus–I appreciate your looking out a different window and giving us all another perspective. My thoughts ran toward David who certainly messed up his life and his future with an adulterous affair (Bathsheba). I’d hate to be in the public’s eye like him or Schwarzenegger. Along with offering us another view, you were transparent with your own life and struggles. Then you ended on a helpful note with some very practical advice. I especially like your annual top 5 list. Having my wife Ellen answer that question would bring insight. Answering that question myself would be challenging–not because my wife doesn’t demonstrate her love for me but the answer involves the simple task of reflection. And sometimes I don’t do that very well.–Tom

      • Anonymous

        Hey Tom, thanks for the kind words. The top 5 is something my wife came up with while we were dating. Now, we make our lists at our anniversary dinner, usually on the back of a card envelope we exchanged… One year, on a bar napkin.

        Pressing in and articulating the real issues of our Top Fives causes great reflection and even greater intimacy. If not for this exercise, I would have not stopped sarcastic jabs or realized that her encouragement of my dreams were so powerful. We’ve really opened up so deep wounds inadvertently in our mere six years together, but through this excersice, healed hearts and gained immense respect for one another.

        Take the challenge bro!

        • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

          I just read your reply to Mike as well as yours to me. Some issues just resonate with us and this one resonates with me as well. That’s why I like the practical tools you put in the marital toolbox. We’ll see about the specific “challenge” of borrowing from your practices.

          Closing in on 28 years now, I’ve learned marriage can be like cycling. There’s this rhythm you get into where you’re in the right gear for the conditions (uphill, flat country, downhill–which really doesn’t involve much effort–also marriage never seems like a downhill run). Ellen and I have learned to hit the right gear at the right time together. We’re so much in tandem. All the more reason to invest and to protect the investment.

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  • Isawit2

    What if your in a sexless marriage?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Get help. In the meantime, chose to remain faithful. Celibacy never killed anyone.

    • Karl Mealor

      Many times this issue has medical causes.  A medical physical might help.  Praying for you.

    • Anonymous

      There can be many issues involved. Stay positive and hopeful. It could be as easy as some simple testosterone/estrogen treatments. Just don’t allow it to continue without talking about it in a respectful way, possibly seeking a counselor. Most of all, don’t pressure or manipulate. Try and INSPIRE romance with no expectations. Read the 5 love languages and try to hone in on your partner’s needs more than your own.

  • Wendy

    My advice…get over yourself!  Harsh, maybe, but it was true for me over thirty years ago and it was the scoundrel that caused my first marriage to end.  I was very self-centered and it was always about me…what about MY needs, MY wants, MY expectations??  Me, me, me…not a tasty ingredient for any successful relationship. God forgives (thank you, Lord!) and and has beautifully blessed my second marriage. In this wonderful relationship, I have learned to sail the seven C’s…

    1. Commitment
    2. Consideration
    3. Communication
    4. Cooperation
    5. Complimentary
    6. Collaboration

    And the foundation of them all…

    7. CHRIST-centered!

     

    • http://www.tnealtarver.wordpress.com TNeal

      At first, you sounded harsh (hard to “sound” anything in print) in your assessment but I appreciate where you were coming from (your own personal experience) and where you were going. Sailing the seven C’s is both creative and informative. Well said, er, written.

  • Anonymous

    I think I get on peoples’ nerves by talking about my wife so much. I agree, the best adultery repellent known to mankind. I try to affirm my wife and her gifts/dreams as well. By doing so, she knows that I’m not only invested in our relationship, but invested in her. Good stuff Michael.

  • Gordon A Paul

    This is old hat – – – it has been since adam and eve – – – if people would live
    by the ten commandments you people would be out of business trying to
    help the uneven class. 92% of the world are the uneven class.

  • KK

    My husband and I have been reading (and doing the recommended excersizes in) the book “Intimacy” by Dr. Doug Weiss.  It is an investment of time, emotional intimacy, & sharing…. I believe it’s worth it!

  • Karl Mealor

    I’ve been listening to Andy Stanley’s current series on “The New Rules for Love, Sex, and Dating” at http://www.northpoint.org/messages.  He speaks mainly to singles, but many of the concepts also could be used to strengthen marriages.

  • http://twitter.com/obihaive Joseph Sanchez

    We recently attended a “Love and Respect” Conference. That was pretty cool. We also try to have a few minutes every night to talk and pray after the kids have gone to bed. These have been helpful to us along with putting strict guidelines on what we watch on tv and internet access when my wife isn’t home. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Gail and I attended a “Love and Respect” Conference and loved it. I also had the guys in my Mentoring Group read the book. Super helpful.

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  • Happy!

    Another good thing is prayer. I know everyone thinks of the cheesy, “Couples that pray together, stay together,” but it is so true. It’s a repellant to Satan and invites God to unite us in every way. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I totally agree. Part of the reason this works is because you can’t pray together if you are angry with one another. It quickly forces you to confront unresolved conflict and deal with it.

  • Idapeppafranca

    Well, the whole post is a bit fluffy. It is one of the oldest theme. 

  • Dan Brennan

    I really do think we need to grow beyond two-tiered sexuality–where sex is at the center of all relationships. The first tier, the romantic couple tier. The second tier, when we draw such boundaries of never eating with another woman, etc. don’t we end up with a sexuality no different than the world’s, sexualizing the opposite sex?  While some Christians may need boundaries to protect them from sexual compulsiveness, the Bible does present Jesus as meeting women with no one else around. I’m afraid Michael, that you encourage leaders to present only two stories when it comes to me and women: 1) The romantic story. 2) The danger story–all members of the opposite sex have to see each other as dangerous, being unable to learn and grow in our relationships with each other. I would say Jesus leads us by example to a third story: chaste love between men and women who don’t sexualize each other. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Interesting perspective. Of course, the meeting with the Samaritan woman was in a public place, although no one else was likely around. Do you have other examples? I would really like to think more about this. Thanks.

      • Dan Brennan

        Michael, I believe a profound example, is Mary Magdalene in John 20 at a pivotal point in redemptive history. Jesus met with her in a garden, alone. He knew her. She had been traveling with him for at least a couple of years by the time of his death. I go into great depth into this relationship and meeting in my book, *Sacred Unions, Sacred Passions: Engaging the Mystery of Friendship Between Men and Women.* Yes, a shameless self-plug. As an evangelical for thirty years, all I heard was that romantic story and the danger story.  I really do think we evangelicals ought to be concerned about honoring our marriages. I am with you there. But I think if we consider the relational depth of Jesus’ engagement with women in a culture that had no place for male-female friendship, it is something that at least leads us to a third story–chaste love between men and women–even for those who are married but not to each other.  I would suggest brother, that if all we do, is to present two stories–i.e. the romantic story, and the danger story, we make ourselves vulnerable to the very thing we want to avoid: sex outside biblical boundaries.  

        Yes, it is important to be self-aware. But sex is not, as Eugene Peterson says, contagious. There is a rich history of men and women in close friendships without sex ever getting in the way in Christian history. And many of these examples refer to Jesus’ relationship with Mary Magdalene, and others.

        • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

          Relationships, to me, all lie on a continuum of intimacy. Strangers are on
          one end, and lovers on the other. Acquaintences are toward the stranger end
          of the continuum, and friendships somewhere in the middle. There’s not two
          tiers of relationships with women. You can have relationships on any part
          of the continuum. There are also steps between friendship and full-blown
          physical affairs, and that’s where the problems lie.

          As husbands, we want to not only keep ourselves from getting involved in a
          physical affair with a woman, but also emotional affairs. I don’t know
          that, once one is married, you should be investing too much time in
          “friendships” with other women, unless with extreme caution (I may be wrong
          here, but that’s just my gut reaction).

          As leaders, there not only the possibility of a physical or emotional
          affair, but also the appearance of a physical or emotional affair, which
          leads a lot of leaders (esp. Christian leaders) to set up the boundaries
          described here.

          This is a fascinating discussion, Dan. Thanks for bringing it up.

          • Dan Brennan

            Robert, you point to another angle to sexuality, friendship, and marriage. Are Christian leaders accomodating to culture when they are afraid of “appearance” between men and women?  Jesus himself loved (I don’t think it was a love devoid of emotional depth) Mary in John 11. On the other hand, Mary Magdalene’s deep weeping after Jesus died in John conveys a very deep emotional depth to a *man* (i.e. Jesus).  I think the Gospels provide a rich path for emotional depth between men and women (including leaders) which is not to be identified as impure emotional attachment. But, I would suggest as long as leaders promote only two stories (romantic story/danger story) they have no place to encourage encourage emotional depth in relationships with the opposite sex beyond romance–exactly what secular ethos does.  I also think that we need to be aware of how much emotional depth is good, bonding, and beautiful between biological brothers and sisters during Jesus’ time. For, the metaphor brothers and sisters does not point to a fearful avoidance with men and women who are not our biological sibling. Indeed, it points to great emotional depth. A third story in evangelical communities would differentiate between emotional adultery and healthy emotional depth.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connie-Walsh-Brown/1224074283 Connie Walsh Brown

            This is all very true.

          • Jenroach

            I also want to highly recomend Dan’s book “Sacred Unions Sacred Passions”.  Really important book on this topic.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            I definitely want to read this. It’s on my list!

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connie-Walsh-Brown/1224074283 Connie Walsh Brown

            This book is on my list now. Thanks.

        • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

          Thanks, Dan. Really good input. As I pointed out a few moments ago to another commenter, I think we also have to consider the context. Jesus was also single. I think we can definitely present the chaste story, but I would argue that it should be in the context of community—something we practice here. This is something you also see in the history of Christian monasticism where communities of nuns were served sacramentally by both celibate and married priests.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connie-Walsh-Brown/1224074283 Connie Walsh Brown

      I agree that Christ modeled a non-sexual way of caring for women that
      doesn’t seem as rigid a rule as some Christian leaders teach. Consider
      the time Jesus spoke with Mary before Lazarus was raised. It isn’t clear
      how close others were in the vicinity or how private their conversation
      was.

      Consider also when Mary talked with Jesus after his resurrection before
      he ascended, it seems that they were alone. (At least I don’t know of
      anyone who witnessed or collaborated that story.) During their time
      together Jesus communicated boundaries, asking her not to touch him
      because he hadn’t yet gone to his father. Sounds like a good practice.

      Of course, men who allow alone situations risk being accused, even if
      they’re innocent. Joseph is a good example of suffering through that
      scenario and yet God brought something good even from that.

      • Dan Brennan

        Connie, what is even more illuminating, is that Jesus met Mary alone in a garden. See my comment. There are only two other times a man and woman are alone in a “garden” in Biblical history prior to this: Eden in Genesis, and the Song of Solomon. 
        There is a rich history (both “negative” and positive)  on interpreting Jesus’ comment to Mary.  However we interpret Jesus’ response on the touch, we know from other examples, Jesus welcomed touch from other women (like Luke 7). 

        • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connie-Walsh-Brown/1224074283 Connie Walsh Brown

          Woah. That garden imagery is cool. Good point. Poignant. Only sinless Jesus, maybe, and the few and brave others can survive and surmount the temptations available in such situations, garden or otherwise. Wow!

          God’s stated desire is that Christians love one another deeply. I think it’s sad that few Christians can or feel free to model a brother/sister, parent/child way between the sexes. Conventions approve too much surface, not deep, living.

          Yes, you’re right about Jesus welcoming touch from other women, but that was in public. Safer. Wiser, even by today’s standards.

          I agree there is room for different interpretations for Jesus requesting not to be touched by Mary prior to ascending. I’ve heard some in sermons and Bible classes. Today I connected it with boundaries and mentioned that. That is one way to interpret it. The important point is that Jesus modeled a deep love for male and female disciples that rocked his social settings and still challenges us today, I think, to love one another with a pure heart. I really like your observations.

          • Dan Brennan

            Connie, about surviving temptations in a “garden.” The curious thing here (I believe this is where we are so soaked into the danger story we fail to see the reality from a different angle) is that most evangelical men and women would not think twice about an adult biological brother and sister spending time alone together. Throughout history, there is much documented evidence where adult brothers and sisters have spent time together and even lived with each other. So, why are we evangelicals so timid to embrace the metaphor of brothers and sisters within our community? Certainly we need wisdom. But I believe such wisdom within a third story (that honors sexual purity and fidelity within marriage as well as acknowledging the power of lust–the other story) would not embrace a universal standard of sexualizing all relationships.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connie-Walsh-Brown/1224074283 Connie Walsh Brown

            Yes, I believe God’s Word supports these points you make.

            You ask, “Why are we evangelicals so timid to embrace the metaphor of brothers and sisters within our community?”

            I think we let fear direct us, or we site lack of good modeling in chaste relationships between the sexes, or we listen to the abundant teaching that reinforces caution to an extreme. There are also real desires to obey and honor God sacrificially.

            I wonder how evangelicals can properly balance in all purity the admonition to “love one another deeply (I Peter 1:22)” and “to forsake all others.” Theoretically I believe it can be done and can glorify God. But it seems like an “extreme sport” that’s for the few, at least from my limited perspective  and experience in the community.

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        Just to add to the conversation, I think we have to take into account that in addition to being God—the Samaritan woman and Mary’s Creator—He was also single. I don’t think the issue is gender so much as it is the covenantal context. I was addressing married men.

        • Dan Brennan

          Michael, good point for consideration. But Jesus also by his model and leadership, engaged women as sisters–which by all accounts according to that culture (and many cultures) included deep emotional depth, trust, close affection, etc. even if their siblings were married ( Mark 3:35, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother”).   

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            You are making me think, Dan. This is a great conversation. Thanks.

            I am not opposed to this at all—within the context of community. I have several female friends myself.

            I wonder if we need to nuance this a bit more. It seems like we really have three possible relationships to consider:

            – A married person to a married person of the opposite sex
            – A married person to a single person of the opposite sex
            – A single person to a single person of the opposite sex

            I think the “rules of engagement” might be different for each. When I became married, I entered into a covenant with my wife that was exclusive, “forsaking all others.” I guess the question is whether this only pertains to sexual expression or involves more than that.

          • Anonymous

            Different “rules of engagement”?  If your focus is being Christ-like then all relationships and situations should be handled with respect and honor for others and yourself, then these should be a non-issue.

            This is a great conversation and is one that warrants some thought and discussion.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            I don’t disagree with the mutual respect, but just think of singles. They are free to date one another. I don’t think that option is open to married folks, so I think there is a difference.

          • Anonymous

            If you are focusing on being Christ-like, your rules of engagement would be the same at first no matter.  Once two single people have decided to date, then it could/would be different.  But even dating should not be that much different than if you are truly trying to honor him.

          • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

            We know Christ was tempted; why do we assume that he didn’t need or have
            boundaries in his relationships with women, even his close female friends
            (ex: Mary)? In a dating relationship, to be Christ-like is to refrain from
            an immoral relationship. Setting boundaries within the dating relationship,
            I think, would be a normal, Christ-like thing to do.

            The same goes for a marriage relationship. If we are called to eschew
            sexual immorality (“But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual
            immorality, or of any kind of impurity”), then there is a difference in the
            “rules of engagement” between a married man and either a single woman or
            another man’s wife. I would think that if you are focusing on being
            Christ-like, then you will set for yourself Christ-like boundaries.

          • Anonymous

            I’m not assuming that he didn’t have boundaries or that we need boundaries.  Contrary I believe that as humans, we do need them.  What I’m saying is that if you treat  all members of the opposite sex with the respect, honor and Godly (Agape) love, it shouldn’t matter if they or you are single or married.  There should be no issue with sexual immorality or impurity.

            We all have temptation and if a persons way to handle this is to set the boundary to not have meals alone with members of the opposite sex, then I have no problem with their decision and even respect that they made that decision.

            My question to all of this discussion meant that I can’t have a meal with a female friend because I enjoy her company and conversation?  I don’t think so, if my heart and mind is pure with God.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connie-Walsh-Brown/1224074283 Connie Walsh Brown

            As I think about this line of discussion it is beginning to sound a bit like the dilemma early Christians had about eating meat offered to idols (I Cor. 8). Some Christians couldn’t do it with a clear conscience.  Other Christians could eat the meat without fear of dishonoring God, their testimony, or their own spiritual and physical cleanness. Paul decided to refrain out of love and concern for  weaker brothers who might follow his example and violate their consciences.

            As in that situation, I think godly Christians could choose different boundaries in their friendships with a member of the opposite sex and both could be living in God’s grace. And some may choose to live a more restricted life out of love, not fear, for others.

          • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

            You’re right. I was misunderstanding you. If your mind and heart are pure,
            then that would be OK for you.

          • Dan Brennan

            Michael, I would say this where we need to honor the primacy of our spouse as a married person. However, “forsaking all others” has never meant a spouse must not have any deep, meaningful relationships–including their own adult siblings.  Throughout history,good, healthy, adult sibling relationships have involved good affection, deep trust, vulnerability, etc. even after one has been married (both liberal and conservative scholars point out how this was true in Christ’s own day). This depth between brothers and sisters has continued on, even as the vow “forsaking all others” has been incorporated into the wedding vows. We would believe it is unhealthy to not trust an adult brother and  sister (who are married) to go out for a meal, canoe trip, or a walk in the park. This would be unhealthy if we couldn’t trust an adult brother, a married man to be alone with his adult sister. 
            This is exactly how Christ treated women in engagement with them as sisters–not as sexual temptations to be avoided or distanced from. Read women who love Christ, and one of the primary reasons they see beauty in him is the way he engages women–he doesn’t treat the women he interacts with as if they are one step away from a Prov. 7 adulterous woman. He does not sexualize women into danger stories. What does this mean for us as men and women in our culture today? Certainly we need to be aware of ourselves, our vulnerabilities, our primary commitments to our spouses. But I suggest we need to be cautious about shoe-horn boundaries with leaders, or one-size-fits all boundaries for leaders. What is needed is that we truly walk by a mature faith, not by formulaic boundaries. 

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            I agree with your last point. This is why I shared my boundaries as descriptive of what I am doing rather than prescriptive for what others should be doing.

            I think you are suggesting that I am only providing two options: distrust and no meaningful relationship (which I am not advocating) or marriage. I also believe there is a third option. It is friendship but with the recognition that men and women are wonderfully different. However, this side of heaven, we have to be mindful of the dynamic that sexual attraction plays. We don’t have to be controlled by it, but we have to recognize it for what it is.

            By the way, I went to buy your book on Amazon and discovered that it was not available via Kindle. I hope you can make it available in that format in the near future. I am really intrigued by what I read.

            Also, I was curious about your bio but couldn’t find anything—not even on your blog profile. Could you point me to your bio? I would like to learn more about your background. Are you married? Single? I think this would help me understand the context of your comments.

            I appreciate your participation in this conversation. Thanks.

          • Dan Brennan

            Great. The third option allows for deep freedom, maturity, and trust to flourish. I agree with you about the need for prudence when sexual attraction is present. But attraction is not lust or lead to objectify our friend or our spouse leading into some kind of triangle or affair. It does require an awareness of our hearts, our primary love and devotion to our spouse, our commitment to our friend. 

            I’m 52, married for 29 years to my wonderful wife, Sheila who wrote the foreword to my book. She is my best friend. I have friendships with men but also have nurtured several close friendships with women in recent years. One of my friends, a single woman has been one of my closest friends and we’ve known each other for nine years. She lives in the area. We connect with each other daily, pray with and for each other daily over the phone. We do things together like close same gender friends do things together–grab lunch, or dinner, regularly, go for walks, go canoeing, etc. I’m close friends with a married woman who does not live in the area. But we do have a close friendship. I also have another good friendship with another single woman.  My wife knows all them all very deeply, and trusts them all very deeply with me.  I’m an evangelical; been an evangelical for thirty years. I’m in the process of beginning my second book on love between men and women. 

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            Thanks, Dan. That context helps.

  • James

    I am one who slipped into the slow fade that eventually led to adultery. I made choices over several years that effectively disintegrated my character. I made myself feel entitled. When I faced obstacles in my marriage I withdrew into mental and spiritual seclusion. I did not follow the rules you so wisely listed in your post. I brought death to my marriage. God, however redeems even things such as this, and He is actively restoring our marriage over time. 

    The only thing that I would add to safeguards to marriage is for men and women to maintain community with people of their own sex who are trustworthy and safe as iron sharpens iron (Proverbs 27:17). Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:16) also speaks directly as a safeguard to the escalation of sin that causes the downward spiral that I took through the decisions that I made.

  • Bret Snyder

    Great post and blog for today’s world – in an environment that settles for mediocrity and does not set good examples, the word and power of people like yourself and this message is important to all.  Committment rests in goals/vision/purpose/intention and we must teach the next generation that their committment (to their marriages and others) is paramount for their health and that of the following generation…and it is often more painful to keep to the committments and high roads.  Just remember that “pain is weakness leaving”.  Gratitude to you!

  • http://www.twitter.com/johncade John Cade

    Great post, Michael. Thanks for sharing your wisdom with us young ones!

  • http://twitter.com/jonstolpe Jon Stolpe

    The things listed above are pretty good.  I would add that it’s important to have a same sex friend or two who can ask you the tough questions and who know the true condition of your heart.  My guess is that many fall prey to the temptations of adultery, because no one really knows them enough to speak truth into their lives.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Excellent point. Friendships for men are especially important, though often neglected.

  • http://www.dailyreflectionsforsingleparents.blogspot.com/ Scoti Springfield Domeij

    Does anyone else have media adultery fatigue? Elliott
    Spitzer. Tiger Woods. Ahhhhnold. Who will it be next week? I feel sick knowing
    the devastation and humiliation their families feel. As a single woman, I’ve
    built a strong (de)fence to help other’s marriages. My nonnegotiable rules
    include:

    I allow no man, single or married, in my home without other
    adults present. I’ll extend hospitality no closer to my home’s front door than
    the bottom step, preferably in the middle of my driveway. If he has anything to
    communicate he can say it in the sight of God, man, the neighbors, and the
    neighborhood dogs and cats.

    I don’t allow volunteer married or single handymen to fix
    something without another adult present. Trusty wife may have faith in her godly husband, but that isn’t the point. The appearance of evil and avoiding any possibility
    of temptation or a proposition is the point.

    Regarding couple friendships, I stay close to the wife,
    never the husband. If a husband tries to get close to me, I distance myself
    from their friendship. And if they divorce, I make my dating rule clear: I’ll never
    date my girlfriend’s former husband, no matter the circumstances leading to the
    divorce.

    When a whiny man complains about his wife to me, I tell him,
    “You need to talk to your wife, not me.” Or, “This conversation makes me
    uncomfortable, I’m not the appropriate person to talk to about your marital
    dissatisfaction. Perhaps you should talk to a counselor.” When a man pulls the “we’re
    just friends” card, I know that boundary buster is unsafe and will do
    everything in my power to avoid him.

    When a married or single man makes demeaning comments about
    his wife or ex, I assume he nurses unresolved anger and avoid him like the
    plague.

    When a married man flirts with me (so-o-o ew), I’m the most
    polite ice queen you will ever meet.

    I won’t eat a meal or meet in a public place alone with a married
    man.

    When I meet alone with a married man in the church office or business environment, the door must remain open.

    Dr. Glenn D. Wilson of the Long Institute of Psychiatry
    designed a five-minute, online multiple-choice test to assess the likelihood of
    entering into an affair. To log on, take the test at http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/surveys/adultery/

    • Dan Brennan

      Scoti, while I appreciate your boundaries, what you are saying here, conveys only two stories: the romantic story and the danger story. I would humbly suggest that you find much more than these two stories as Jesus relates to women in the Gospels. 

  • http://www.barbaraparentini.com Barbara Parentini

    Mike, thanks for your honest, heartfelt post. I’ve long admired you for the open affection and love you express for Gail. Love and marriage are two of my special interests as a writer.
     
    I adore my husband. One morning last July, I awakened before dawn. I lay there listening to his breathing, and gazed at his profile through the semi-darkness. Love stirred inspiration, and God transformed feelings into words. These tender thoughts awakened me morning after morning as I wrote a gift book called BRIDES. I owe this testament of love to my husband. He has taught me much about love and loyalty.
     
    I protect my marriage with prayer–I pray for him each day, and we pray together. I tell him often that I love him, and let him know I appreciate and admire him, even in the little things. (Women sometimes overlook a man’s need for admiration.) We also have an understanding not to place ourselves in difficult situations, as you’ve mentioned in your post. I’m truly grateful for him.
     
    You’re right. The world can use a little more old-fashioned common sense. Continued blessings on your marriage.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Barbara, for this beautiful, heartfelt comment. It inspires me!

  • Kay Wilson

    Michael , this is so well written and I am sure Gail appreciates you.  Word to everyone from a wise man.  Thank you and God Bless you both as a great example to COI

  • Nancy

    As a woman in full-time pastoral ministry, I find it unrealistic for me to avoid lunch meetings with men, and still play the vital role of pastor to everyone in my congregation.  I do make sure that my appointments with men are on my public calendar, and I let my husband know as well, so that he is not caught off-guard by a comment from a mutual acquaintance who was eating at the same restaurant and then may bump into him at a later time. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Nancy, just something to consider … Jesus sent his disciples out in pairs. I wonder if there is a wisdom in that even transcends this particular discussion.

    • Dan Brennan

      Nancy, I think this is a trust issue. A trust issue between you and your husband, and a trust issue between you and the men you meet.  My wife knows my female friends, deeply. This trust developed over time (didn’t happen overnight).  A good and true friend, same gender or cross-gender, promotes the well-being of the marriage and the relationship. The church needs a model of male-female trust in discipleship where trust is deepened in relationships with the opposite sex. 

  • http://twitter.com/JoeRRosales Joe R Rosales

    Great insight. We just celebrated our 19th wedding anv. yesterday (5-23). We  do pray for each other that is a must. I will add that we celebrate our special days, such us; anv, valentines,
    b-days, dates and so on. Is an expression of enjoying each other.  

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  • Liz

    I make it a habit never to speak negatively of my husband in public, no matter how frustrated I am with him at the time. I don’t want outsiders to have reason to believe we are unhappy or looking for a way out!

  • http://twitter.com/CoachTheresaIF Theresa Ip Froehlich

    People who engage in infidelity are filling a need in an illegitimate way – power, ego strokes, or whatever it might be. Schwarzenegger was covering up in order to get elected as governor.

    My husband and I are very much aware of the importance of setting clear boundaries with the opposite gender. We value our marriage too much to put it at risk.

  • Hiheel16

    My husband and I have been married for 21 years,  we made an agreement when we said our vows that we ment them!  It hasn’t always been easy, but we made some ground rules to live by, one is we never dance with anyone but each other,  we don’t share personal things about each other with anyone of the opposite sex,  and we don’t go out with (“the guys”/”the girls”) we both agree that it just isn’t healthy for a relationship.   My husband isn’t a Christian unfortunatly but he still has very good moral values, I am a christian and continue to keep God first in my life and have 3 teenage daughters that serve God with all there hearts as well.   

  • Anonymous

    Michael, this is a great topic to discuss.  I like the boundaries that you talk about having.  I find myself doing some of these too.  Maybe not with a conscious effort as you have but I mostly follow this.

    I like the suggestion about considering what is at stake.  Thinking about what you would want your children to say about you is a great thing to do.  By setting the example is the best way to do this.

    The one thing that I struggle with is about eating with someone of the opposite sex.  You say alone, as in only two people or even out at a restaurant?  I don’t see a personal issue with having lunch with female friends in a public setting.

    I cannot control what others may think of me, but I can set the example for my kids that they can have close friends of both sexes.  It’s not about the sex of the person you are sharing a meal with, it is the self control and respect that you show that person.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Yes, this is worth pondering. Dan Brennan is making me think about this very point. You can search through the comments above (I know there are a lot) and see the discussion we are having.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connie-Walsh-Brown/1224074283 Connie Walsh Brown

      I really like that you believe it would be good to model having close friends with both sexes. Cool. I think you’re right. It is all about self-control and respect, for God’s ways, ourselves and for others.

      Dan Brennan’s comments on sacred friendships may resonate with you and make sense. They do for me — very thought provoking.

      • Anonymous

        I have been reading the other discussions on this topic.  This has been a great discussion.

  • Lenglish

    I have questions about the specifics of boundaries. I agree with the principle. I know of times that my personal boundaries have helped me as a single person and now as a married person. 

    But if I chose to never be alone with a person of the opposite sex, I would have problems in my chosen profession and, I feel, in life in general.As woman journalist, I have been in predominately male settings. I often traveled with men to sporting events. It was more enjoyable and felt less fearful to have another person on long trips. It was cheaper having someone split the cost. And the man was going anyway. There were no single females going. And my job commitments were not conducive to traveling with the families of the athletes. I now work in the newsroom, so it isn’t as much of an issue. But I wouldn’t want a door open when having a private conversation with bosses. Too many nosy reporters around!Also, I know of people who had affairs while on family trips. One that I wish I didn’t know about happened at DisneyWorld.I’m also concerned about the message those rules send. How far do we take it? Men and women can’t be friends? My best friends have been guys and I think I’m the better for it.Men can’t mentor women? That would greatly reduce the amount of job opportunities for women. I grew up in the newspaper business and my role models were men, because until my generation, there weren’t women for us to emulate. Men and women can’t behave around each other, especially if they are Christians? Really? 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I absolutely believe we can be friends. However, I think we have to consider the context and the boundaries. The specific rules aren’t as important as protecting what is valuable: the marriage. We don’t need another form of legalism. What we need is principle-based relationships that are respectful and loving. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/plantedinchrist Brandon Weldy

    My wife and I celebrated 2 years together yesterday! I cannot believe that we have entered into our third year as a married couple! I truly believe that we were set up for success. Before our marriage we did some premarital counseling with a professor and his wife from our school. The series is called “A Biblical Portrait of Marriage.” This series is broken down into 12 sections where things like our roles, finances, sex, loyalty, and in-laws, among a few other things were discussed. After coming out of this counseling we felt as though we were actually ready for marriage.
    We have certainly set boundaries like the ones you mentioned in your blog. It is just too easy to fall into temptation when you allow yourselves downtime with someone of the opposite sex who is not your wife. 
    My wife and I talk everyday! Since I go off to work and she stays at home with our son (two very different workdays) we have at least 40 hours every week that we are not together. But we have decided we want to be as much a part of each other’s lives as possible. For us that means sharing about our days, and often going into much detail. This allows for us to keep the line of communication open as well as include the other into our days and allow for no secrecy. 
    I also work for a small congregation on the weekends as the Youth Minister. Something that we have decided is to have my wife work with the young ladies and I work with the young men. If I do need to have a discussion with one of the girls then my wife is there and vis versa. This keeps us from temptation as well as maintaining our reputation. 
    I have really been blessed to be with such an amazing woman for these two years and I want to share the rest of my life with her and that means doing whatever it takes to maintain purity, in all areas of our lives. 

  • Colin

    This is such a great post!!! It really amazes me to think that marriages in the church have just as high of a divorce rate as those outside the church.  

    My wife is a stay-at-home mom and yes, we have had to sacrifice on income and discretionary income, BUT God has provided for us and I also feel God will reward this in due time.  I work to support the family and one thing I dont do is NEVER EVER talk bad about my spouse.  I keep my conversations at work about work and my faith.  Another tool for us internally is a marriage focus group at our church on Wednesday nights.  This has been very beneficial to learn things about each other we never realized through some AMAZING DVD Study Kits.  

    One of the best ways to keep that marriage safeguarded is to do the same things you did when you dated her….SO MEN….CONTINUE DATING YOUR WIFE!

    I am only 30, soon to be 31 and my wife and I were lucky enough to make our wedding date the same as our “boyfriend/girlfriend date”…..May 14th.  So we have been together for 11 years and married 5.  God has blessed me!

    I want my kids to know I love my wife and want my daughter, Bella, 4 and my son, Maddox, almost 1, to one day say, “My Mom and Dad weren’t like most couples.  They stayed married and just love each other so much and kept God at the center”. 

    Great Post Michael!

  • http://OneStepForwardToday.com Bryan Patrick

    Mike,

    Remembering what’s at stake is a big point for me. When a tempting photo or opportunity presents itself I always ask, “Is the fleeting thrill of a moment worth losing the love of a lifetime?” No one could ever love me like my wife, Amy. No one.

    All of your points are right on. Thank you for leading out in sharing these reminders.

    – Bryan

  • Kevin

    Great post Michael! Excellent insight into how to protect a (well, your) marriage. There is a tendency for men who travel alot (athletes, politicians, sales, etc) to engage in very risky behavior while away from home. A sinful second life is not uncommon in these ranks of traveling men. It is heart breaking when marriages end when this second life is discovered. Thanks for what you write and i love reading your tweets! Kevin

  • Barbara

    “We were made for monogamy and fidelity.”  Amen. 

    Your segue into ‘leadership’ prompts me to wonder if you are thinking of other politicians – ?

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this line:”But I want to go on the record and say this: adultery is not normal.”
    I can’t tell you how often I have seen the influence of the culture seep in and penetrate the thinking of people so much so that they think unfaithfulness is normal. In marriage we should expect faithfulness.
    May many follow your example on this topic!

  • Jason MacRae

    Great post! I especially adhere to your point about speaking of your wife. This is a habit I have developed wherever I am. I love bragging and speaking highly of her! Another way my wife and I have kept our “fire” is how we’ve never stopped dating/courting each other. We have weekly date nights. We treat these nights as if we were Freshmen in college. This is the first time I have posted a comment on one of your blogs. Thank you for the work you put into your post!

  • Clinton

    Great post. Thanks

  • Paul_l_voss

    I take the following steps- 1. I have no friends of the opposite sex. I feel there is no reason for me to have female friends. 2. I won’t go out to lunch or dinner alone with a female, even if they work for me.

  • Susan Crook

    Boundaries, Friday-night-hot-dates, laugh a lot, listen intently (even if it’s about his HVAC business), pray individually and pray together daily, and choose NOT to get offended!

  • Nora Zarate Hodges

    I agree that it is important to work on our marriage.  Yes, it’s work but it is so worth it.  There is so much to lose if you don’t and so much to gain if you do.  

  • http://www.SusanCrook.com Susan Crook

    Boundaries, Friday-night-hot-dates, laugh a lot, listen intently (even if it’s about his HVAC business), pray individually and pray together daily, and choose NOT to get offended!

  • Kalyebara

    Michael,

    Thank you for this post. I started following you about two weeks ago through a friend. This is great ministry, God richly bless you.

    I have been married close to five years now. I have three men including my bestman (one of them introduced me to you), that I meet with regularly to pray and to talk about life and our marriage relationships. In that way we keep ourselves accountable to each other and challenge each other about staying faithful.

    I have also said to my self  that the best wedding gift I want to give my 18 months old daughter on her wedding day is “I have been faithful to your mom, please go and do likewise.” I am aware, just like you said, that “adultery isn’t enevitable” and so I pray alot, asking God to help me in this area where I could easily be so vulnarable.

    I have taken to heart and will share your old fashioned common sense with my three brothers.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like what you said about the gift you want to give to your daughter. Beautiful!

  • Kalyebara

    Michael,

    Thank you for this post. I started following you about two weeks ago through a friend. This is great ministry, God richly bless you.

    I have been married close to five years now. I have three men including my bestman (one of them introduced me to you), that I meet with regularly to pray and to talk about life and our marriage relationships. In that way we keep ourselves accountable to each other and challenge each other about staying faithful.

    I have also said to my self  that the best wedding gift I want to give my 18 months old daughter on her wedding day is “I have been faithful to your mom, please go and do likewise.” I am aware, just like you said, that “adultery isn’t enevitable” and so I pray alot, asking God to help me in this area where I could easily be so vulnarable.

    I have taken to heart and will share your old fashioned common sense with my three brothers.

  • Hgtvmom

    I live in Tennessee and I am currently struggling to deal with the effects of my husband’s affair.  We will be married for 24 years this June.  He spent our last anniversay out drinking until 3am.  We have dealt with his alcoholism our entire marriage and he still thinks he can handle it all himself without help.  Our children are suffering greatly and he does not even seem to notice.  My son and I just spent time crying together once again tonight due to all we are dealing with now.  My daughter told me recently in a counseling session that early last summer her friends were telling her that her dad was cheating.  My husband had sent her a text saying he was renting a room from a 64 year old lady that traveled alot. She never believed his text.  We are divorcing over all of this.  The kids and I are in so much pain and he does not seem to notice.  Words cannot explain what his affair has done to us.  I cannot even begin to explain the pain I am dealing with.  This is the worst thing I have ever dealt with.  This is NOT the life I ever wanted for my children at all.  My husband says we are divorcing because I did not pick up his dry cleaning enough or kept the house clean enough!  This is how he is justifying his affair.  My husband is a christian but is so deceived.  I used to be able to trust him him completely. Now he lies to me about nearly everything.  We have to sell our home now, I have to find a way to pull myself together enough to go find a job, and I am the only one that sees the pain our children are in.  Where is God in all of this?  My children need for Him to show up for us now.  My stress level has been so high that my hair is falling out in alarming rates.  The doctors have no answers for me about my hair.  All he seems to care about is this woman.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I am so sorry. I am praying for you now. I know this is devastating. Don’t lose heart. God will work it to your good and His glory in time. I know it seems impossible now, but it will. If you can, pick up a copy of the devotional, Jesus Calling. I think it will speak to you right where you are.

  • hurting wife/mom

    I am currently trying to deal with the horrible effects of my husband’s affair on myself and my children. No one can truely understand the pain I am dealing with presently.  This June we will be married for 24 years, however, he is currently living with his girlfriend. On our last anniversary he stayed out until 3am. This woman claims to be a “strong Christian”. My son and I just spent some time crying once again about what we are dealing with.  I never wanted this for my children.  Never. I would never do this to them.  I love them too much to put this kind of pain on them.  My daughter told me in a recent counseling sesssion that her friends began telling her early last summer that her dad was cheating on me.  Her dad also sent her a text telling her that he was renting a room from a 64 year old woman that traveled alot. She never believed him at all. Our home is for sale and we are divorcing.  My husband feels the kids will just adjust to everything. We are Christians.  How can he be so deceived!!  I would never want anyone to live through what we are dealing with now.  I cannot even begin to describe the depths of pain we are in.  My husband is so deceived.  Adultery does this to him.  All he thinks about is himself.  How can he change so much and turn on us?

  • Guest

    I think 2d, speaking longingly about your wife, is especially important.

    Infidelity is about sex, and yet you avoid discussing  on your blog direct sex issues you (may) have with your wife — the intense intimacy of marriage is diluted by open discussion of it.

    It is good to focus on finding out how to please your mate; especially for men to really please their wives so that the wives are eager for sex.

    Exercising to remain physically attractive is good.

    Finally, when I see a cute/ sexy women, I have the habit of fantasizing about my wife, instead.  This might help.

  • http://www.remcojanssen.com/ Remco Janssen

    What if you have a business meeting – lunch – with a woman? And have to share a lone elevator together? Sometimes, for me, it is unavoidable.

  • http://www.danieldecker.net Daniel Decker

    Wow. Amazingly powerful, needed and true. I try to live my relationship with my wife in the way you described above. I used to think it was silly to put some of the “old fashioned” barriers in place but the older I get, the more wise I realize that is. Sin is sneaky and looks for cracks in the armor. I want remove as many cracks as I can.  My wife and my life are too important to jeopardize it all for a thrill.

    What burns me most on stuff like is how many people SAY the same thing you are saying but then we find out years later that they had been living a lie and being unfaithful all along. (Not saying you are, of course but saying I hope we can also help others who are making the wrong choice not contribute to the hypocrisy).

  • http://twitter.com/kevinmwall Kevin M Wall

    Michael-
    Thanks for another great post. I laughed to myself when I read your 3rd tactic for proteting your marriage. Whevener I find myself in a situation where I feel that a person of the opposite sex is “coming onto me” the first thing I often bring up is my eife and I almost always overemphasize the fact that I am a married man. I bring attention to my wedding ring, either by tapping it, twirling it on my finger or making intentional gesture with my left hand. Most of these I have done so often that they are now embeded in my self conscious. I wholeheartedly agree that they are a FANTASTIC infidelity repellant!
    On your other points, I find it difficult to bring into practice for myself but also agree that they should be done. I am a financial professional and often in dealing with sensitive issues I am meeting with the opposite sex behind closed doors (for confidentiality reasons), and occasionaly for a meal. I do have practices in place, having my assistant enter at predetermined times to share paperwork or to be a general “timer” to keep me on schedule. As far as meeting for meals is concerned I always choose a busy place where the illusion of intimacy can be avoided (I am a fan of the local diner!) Not the best solution, but given the alternative I am cognizant of the risks. If anyone has any other ideas of how I can better protect myself and mt marriage I would be more than pleased to hear them and put them into practice.
    Thanks again!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I think the main thing, Kevin is to be intentional. That’s why I didn’t share a list of universal rules that everyone should observe. The most important thing is to think it through, discuss it with your spouse, and be thoughtful.

      By the way, I am always surprised when I meet a man who won’t wear a wedding ring. That is always a “red flag” for me.

  • http://twitter.com/CheapLoveCarrie Carrie Starr

    Your “rules” are so basic and yet vitally important.  It is so easy to make excuses and break them, not thinking through the long-term consequences. Thanks for this reminder of the importance of boundaries and protecting what is most dear to us.

  • http://twitter.com/CheapLoveCarrie Carrie Starr

    Your rules are so simple and yet powerful.  It’s too easy to make excuses and break my own similar rules without giving full consideration to the consequences.  Thank you for this reminder to guard what is most dear to me.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jean.zook Jean Benkendorf Zook

    Amen – We are involved with Family Life Ministries and would encourage you to encourage your church to do the Art Of Marriage video conference  http://www.artofmarriage.net.  This resource will do exactly what you are saying by engaging the attendees to invests in their marriage and most importantly to leave a solid legacy for future generations that is pleasing and honoring to God.  “We are all someone’s ancestors!” How will they remember you?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Love that quote: “we are all someone’s ancestors.”

  • Kristin Orton

    I greatly respect your commitment to your wife and your marriage, and I can tell from this and other posts how important that is in your life.  I also agree that setting boundaries is a healthy way to help keep your own behavior in check, and temptation away.  However, one of the boundaries you listed “I will not go out to eat alone with someone of the opposite sex”, has been sitting uneasy with me the last day, and I’ve been trying to think about why.

    As I think about my role as a professional woman I am concerned that by setting up this boundary to protect your marriage, you could be inadvertently setting up a work environment that is discriminating against your women employees.  Many women in the working world feel that they are not given the same opportunities as their male colleagues.  They also feel like they aren’t included in the social aspect of business, such as lunches, golf outings, happy hour, etc.  I am concerned that male leaders will set boundaries, such as not socializing with women colleagues, that will lead to unintentional affects.  I think socialization with colleagues is one way that you get to know a person’s true character and values.  If a male leader only socializes individually with male employees and not female employees they will naturally get to know the character of their male employees better than their female employees, and as a result be more likely to promote the male when a position becomes available.  I get concerned that male leaders will, with good intentions for their own marriages, continue to perpetuate the “good old boys” mentality that is so prevalent in the working world.  I know that if the leaders I work for treated me differently than my male colleagues I’m not sure that’s a company I would want to work for.  In almost every industry I know of, there is concern that among the top leaders there are few women represented.  I worry that setting these types of boundaries on your behavior as a leader could continue to make women feel that they are not equals and not valued in the workplace.  

    I think I can say as a regular reader of your blog that this is not your intention or your heart, so I wanted to give my thoughts as something to think about.  I’m not sure what the solution would be, because adultery is a very serious issue that we need to deal with.  I also think we have to be careful that by focusing on the issue of adultery we aren’t contributing to another problem of inequality.  I’m curious if this is something you have thought about and have handled differently in your own company.  Perhaps my concerns are unfounded, but I thought it was an issue worth mentioning.    

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Kristin, thanks for your thoughtful words. I think this is worth mentioning. I appreciate the opportunity to clarify.

      As you may know, I have five daughters. As a result, I feel very comfortable around women and have numerous female friends. I am not advocating that men avoid socializing with women—only doing so in private. Whenever I am at conferences, I almost always eat with a small group of men and women. It might be as few as three or as many as eight. It is almost always a mixed group.

      I do think you raise an important point, and all leaders need to think it through. Sometimes even our good intentions can have unintentional consequences. Thanks again.

      • Dbrennanj

        Michael, I continue to appreciate your spirit…seeking wisdom, honoring one’s spouse. I am deeply curious ( I don’t know the ages of your daughters–anyone of them adults, yet?) if you would advocate the same guidelines for fathers of adult daughters. In my research and experience, there is this huge gap among some evangelicals with the opposite sex when it comes to family and “family” within the Body of Christ. You can see why I am curious and why I think evangelicals need to think more deeply about sexual formation in their communities.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Thanks for the great post Michael. It’s always good to be reminded of what business needs to be taken care of. I really liked the last paragraph of this post. Leaders do need to lead in their personal life as well as their professional life. I’ve had friends and family say “I don’t care what so and so does in their personal life. It’s what they do in their professional life or elected office that counts”. To me, if they don’t have an upstanding personal life, how can they have an upstanding professional life?

  • Kristina

    Michael,

    I so appreciated this post. 
    My husband and I are both thirty years old and maintain the same
    boundaries you listed above.  Oftentimes,
    the response of friends, co-workers, and even church members is misunderstanding.  First, they seem to believe that he and I
    could never be the kind of people who would do such a thing.  They fail to recognize that we are people,
    and people do such things.  Second, as
    you alluded to, others seem to think we are entirely too legalistic.  This is nonsensical to me.  We ensure that our money is in FDIC secured
    accounts, our jewels are in fire-proof safes, our homes are insured, and our
    children don’t play too closely to the street. 
    We are vigilant to protect what is most valuable to us.  The same principle applies to my marriage.

    From a woman’s perspective, there are two other boundaries
    that I would suggest –

    Obviously as women we should be careful in our choice of
    dress, but the heart of this is even more important.  As a married woman, I should desire and
    delight in the attention of my husband alone. 
    If I begin to desire (or delight in) the attention of other men, it will
    manifest itself in attention-drawing clothes. 
    If I choose to walk down this road, I will find a multitude of eager men
    willing to give me more than just the attention I desire.  Guarding our hearts in this area is crucial.

    Second, as women (and as a man, I’m sure) we should maintain
    careful emotional boundaries with members of the opposite sex.  I may never go to lunch alone with a man
    other than my husband, but if I have a particularly engaging conversation with
    a male co-worker in the break room, there is a very real possibility that an
    emotional connection could be made.  This
    can be dangerous.  Again, I must protect my
    heart and mind with all diligence.

    Thank you so much for your post.  Your and Gail’s example is a gift, and your
    legacy will reach far beyond your grandchildren.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for sharing this and being HONEST. It’s amazing to me how even Christians want to blur the lines of being faithful. Don’t allow yourself to be put into tempting situations. That is one of our jobs as a spouse.  I’ve heard so many useless excuses in marriages for why cheating happened or why going to lunch or traveling alone with someone of the opposite gender  is okay or required by the job. One pastor recently said that God’s standards were too high for us to achieve when it came to lust and affairs. Um what?

    Blessings,
    Mel
    Please feel free to stop by: Trailing After God

    • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

      Melinda

      I certainly respect your view, however, I’d  like to add some thoughts:

      Going out to lunch with a person who is a member of the opposite sex is not a rough equivalent to cheating on a spouse. If I have lunch in a public place with a female friend or co-worker, I really don’t view that as cheating. Especially since my wife is usually aware when I am having lunch with another person (male or female). I really don’t feel that having lunch is a useless excuse.

      I don’t feel that God’s standards are too high to achieve, I do feel that many of the rules that we create are counter productive. We are to have boundaries in our life.  You may set yours where they are comfortable for you. I have set mine (along with my wife) to where they are comfortable and work for us.

      • Anonymous

        Steve, we can agree to disagree on this. What you and your wife agree on is not what my husband and I have agreed upon. We have decided that it is best for us to not put ourselves into those positions to start. Affairs don’t usually just happen, they develop over time spent together. We have chosen to protect our marriage from that temptation. Neither of us see any reason either of us needs to go out alone with someone of the opposite sex. After 17 1/2 years together, this works for us. Most people don’t think they will be the ones who will have an affair and yet, it sometimes happens. So we are proactive in protecting our marriage. And I don’t believe that I stated that going to lunch with someone was the same as having an affair or even eluded to that thought. 

        If you and your wife are okay with you spending one on one time alone with another woman, then that’s your business.

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    You’re not old fashioned. I follow those same rules. I just don’t feel comfortable having lunch with a male friend minus my husband or car pooling with the opposite sex unless I am forced to due to circumstances. I believe in investing in my marriage and working to keep the spark in it. Like a stick we take from a campfire, if we don’t continue to feed it fuel and oxygen the flame will die and the glowing red ember will fade until you don’t remember why you married him in the first place. That’s a place our marriage will never know because I love my husband…dearly.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connie-Walsh-Brown/1224074283 Connie Walsh Brown

      Nikole, I’m glad you love your husband dearly and want to invest in your marriage.

      Can I speak to you as I would my married daughter? While you work on your marriage, I’d like to encourage you to rest in the truth that love that can go the distance is more than a flickering feeling, it is a decision. Commitment and the decision to love can sustain a marriage through years of fluctuating flames when hardships, money or job challenges and busy lives may distract us from keeping a romantic flame strong. Know that God’s love in a Christian marriage never dies, even if it a flame between a husband and wife may be ebb or temporarily die. God’s love still shines, as a candle during a dark time, and can reignite fun and strong sparks in a marriage.

      I went into marriage terrified it wouldn’t work since my mother had gone through two painful divorces. But after more than 35 years of marriage, I’ve found that ultimately, it has not been our willpower or feelings that have kept our marriage viable. What’s important has been God’s love released within our hearts. As we have each committed ourselves to God and to one another, regardless of feelings or outcomes, Love himself fans the flames of love — for Him, each other and others — that can endure.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/chris.reed.az Chris Reed

    Great post. I blogged along a similar train of thought. http://closethegaps.blogspot.com/
    Thanks for the reminder that we all must work on our marriages, auto-pilot never works.

  • http://twitter.com/ChristianRay Christian Ray Flores

    I am with you Mike. What a waste of God given resources! Breaks my heart. May we never take the gift of marriage for granted. 

  • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

    Michael,
    My thoughts on building character instead of creating rules:

    http://thelambspower.blogspot.com/2011/05/building-character.html

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Steve. Good post. I certainly agree that character must be primary.

      However, by pitting character against rules, I think you create a false dichotomy—one that is not found in the Bible.

      Even Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him” (John 14:21).

      The Apostle John echoed the same principle when he said, “Now he who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us (1 John 3:23-24).

      Certainly, you don’t think they discounted the importance of character do you?

      The problem comes in when rules become an end in themselves. This leads to “religion”—in the worst sense of the world.

      • Dbrennanj

        Fascinating response from Steve and then Michael. I would suggest this is one of the paths the conversation takes when only 2 stories ( romantic & danger) are present in community. Part of Steve’s response I suggest, is due to a heavy emphasis upon negative rules towards our feme neighbors and sisters with third story of love present. Where is the third story? This does set oneself for objectifying our female neighbor and sister.

        • Dbrennanj

          Sorry for the typos. I unintentionally hit send. Yes, on this conversation there is going to be a deep conversation between law and love–just like other areas. But I would respectfully say Michael, that with no rooted, grounded third story of love for our female neighbors (love our neighbors as ourselves is not sex-segregated) and our sisters, we form–we model–we lead those men we influence into immediate objectification of anyone we’re not on a romantic path with.

          • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

            Your working hard to shoehorn everyone’s comments, including mine, into your paradigm. However, I think it is much more nuanced than that.

          • Dbrennanj

            Perhaps, Michael. But as far as I know, ( correct me if I am wrong) you’ve given no nuanced path for men and women leaders to trust each other to be alone as friends or leaders.

      • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

        Maybe I didn’t phrase this as well as I thought…

        What informs your rules? Michael’s rules are a variation of what Billy Graham used to practice. It’s easy to adopt what may be very popular rules.However,those rules may not deal with the specific issues that we may face on a daily basis. Character is an important factor in this process. What really needs to be discussed is how you develop your boundaries and guidelines.

        • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

          The rules can be different for each person (as evidenced by the comments to
          the post). Each person sets their own boundaries when it comes to
          interacting with the opposite sex when married. If there are some rules
          that work well for a majority of people (because a lot of people struggle
          with the same temptations), then so be it. Popularity doesn’t necessary
          mean that the boundaries are bad examples. In fact, the popularity of those
          boundaries may be BECAUSE they work for a wide variety of people.

          How do you set your rules? If you know yourself, and your own
          susceptibilities (and the susceptibilities of your spouse), you set
          boundaries that will minimize temptations for you and for your spouse. If
          you know that you might struggle with a woman alone in a room together, then
          you might set a boundary based upon that.

          • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

            Boundaries can also vary by relationship. There may be some women that I am more aware of possible issues than others. One size fits all rules is not always the best. That’s why we need to understand the basis on which we create our rules.

          • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

            Agreed. There are some relationships that are safer than others.

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Connie-Walsh-Brown/1224074283 Connie Walsh Brown

      Although faith and works, internals and externals do work in tandem in a
      Spirit-controlled heart, I believe there may be legitimate times when
      godly pure love (internals) breaks a boundary guideline (externals) set
      up with good intentions. Jesus regularly let the Spirit guide him across
      boundaries and conventions others found wise or spiritual for their
      time. I write this in the context of Titus 1:15, I Peter 1:22, and I
      Cor. 8.

  • http://www.adonislenzy.com Adonis Lenzy

    Michael,
    Great Post. I totally agree.  My wife and I established guidelines before we ever said the words, “I do”.  It was important for us to take the time and set expectations and safe guards to ensure a healthy marriage.

  • http://www.fitnessnowstephanie.com Stephanie Hodges

    I agree that speaking well of your spouse (in your mind and to others) is one of the greatest things you can do to protect your marriage. Men and women both need to avoid the trap of complaining about their spouse or making stereotypical jokes about men vs. women and husbands vs wives when hanging out with their friends. I also like the point about sounding boundaries. It’s not old-fashioned, it’s smart.

  • http://sevensentences.com Geoff Talbot

    Really great points Michael… Nothing protect love like love…

  • bethanyplanton

    I ran across this quote while working in Evernote today.  I think it completely applies to the writing of this post. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
    p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 15.0px 0.0px; line-height: 46.0px; font: 16.0px Times}
    p.p2 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 16.0px Times}

    -Martin Luther King

  • Lovell0971

    We go on a date every week. I try to ask questions about my husbands work and schooling and leave the family drama at home. We make time for each other.

  • Annonymous

    I have similar “rules” as a wife and recently declined a friend request from an old boyfriend on Facebook stating that I needed to honor my husband and marriage, etc. However, will you have a follow-up post on picking up the pieces from the effects of an affair?  As an adult, I found out that my father had some moral struggles when I was younger. Even though I was unaware of it in my younger years, the news was still devastating emotionally for me as an adult. It is true when you say, “nothing can destroy influence and legacy faster than an affair.” My ideal of a spiritual legacy was crushed.

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  • http://marlataviano.com Marla Taviano

    Thank you so much for this. It’s super-timely for me as I’m working on a book about sex for husbands (companion to my book for wives, Is That All He Thinks About?). 130 husbands have filled out surveys so far, and porn/sexual purity has come to the forefront of our blog discussion this past week.

    Your actions and boundaries are GREAT. Bless you for using your platform to encourage/convict us to protect our marriages.

    p.s. I’d love permission to quote you in my book.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      You are welcome to quote me!

      • http://marlataviano.com Marla Taviano

        Just now seeing this. Thanks so much, Michael. I’ve decided to go the e-book route with this one (Harvest House published the women’s version) and would love to send you a free copy. Hoping to release it at the beginning of next month.

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  • Kjreusser

    Michael, my sister who is religious made fun of me when I said years ago that I would not spend time alone w/ someone of the opposite sex– dining in a restaurant, working on a project, doing a church project. Too many sad stories are out there when people began innocently and then found they had forsaken their marital vows.  We may be old-fashioned– so be it. My husband and I have been married 31 years, raised 3 great kids and can’t wait to see each other every night after work. I’ve turned down job opps, hobbies, career, and times with friends b/c I knew they would interfere w/ my marriage. Nothing is worse losing my husband for.

  • http://www.feelbetternow.com.au Liz S

    My husband and I were discussing your post this morning on our morning walk.  We’ve had similar safe guards, especially when he was a minister.  My husband raised the point that he also kept to the safe guards because it kept him safe from false accusations of inappropriate behaviour.  We’ve known a number of innocent fellow ministers who were falsely accused but were told to leave anyhow.  There’s always a lingering suspicion when there’s been an accusation, making it hard to get another job.

    Secondly we need to put off any appearance of evil.  Your actions may be innocent but appear suspicious.  Reputation an integrity are precious commodities.

    Neither of us have friends of the opposite sex. Sure we both know lots of people, and we’re friendly, but I don’t share problems or secrets with men, as this is a form of intimacy reserved for girlfriends or my husband.  

    We don’t discuss our relationship with others.  Sharing a “problem” about your husband with another man is an inappropriate form of intimacy. Sharing it with girlfriends is not likely to be helpful.   If we’ve got a problem, we share it with each other first.  (We didn’t always d this.)  It’s usually solved a lot quicker with less heat.

    The best thing we’ve done recently is to go and have a chat with a counsellor.  We wish we’d done it sooner rather than waiting 25 years.  It helped us grow as a couple and gave us insights.  We thought we were pretty happy before, but now with some growth, we’re happier than we could have imagined.  Who knew there was more. :-)  We take business advice and have business coaching, why wouldn’t we have relationship coaching.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Liz, I totally agree with you about putting off the appearance of evil.
      This necessary, especially in leadership positions.

  • Sheri

    Beautiful.  Following you now.  I have always had those ‘Rules” you mentioned.  In fact I often repeat them to my children (Teens).  It’s okay to have friends of the opposite sex but once you are married the rules of the game change significantly.  If only everyone would realize that.  

    The real problems come when we stop relying on God and instead rely on ourselves and our spouses for our sense of worth.  Because no one will ever make us feel worthy of anything.  Only our faith can do that.  And the less rely on Him the less we feel worthwhile.  (Okay I KNOW what I am trying to say but I am certainly not speaking clearly!)

  • Melissa – Mel’s World

    Love this!

    Michael, I am so glad you went on record saying this…//adultery is not normal. It certainly isn’t inevitable. It is not
    the way God created us. We were made for monogamy and fidelity. //My husband and I just celebrated our 18th anniversary yesterday…it has not always been easy, but I can honestly say that he is my best friend and biggest champion.
    We also were blessed with incredible mentors, starting with our parents, both sets of our parents are still married, and the leadership of our church when we went into ministry. The thing our church leadership suggested was to have very specific boundaries about our interactions with the opposite sex, which is a lot like your bullet points under number 2. It has proven to be a big blessing for both of us!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to speak the truth in love…I totally appreciate that!

     

     

  • Cory Zurcher

    My wife and I talk about everything when it comes to our relationship and our relationships with others.  My wife knows who I am with and where I am going all the time and I know the same about her. Facebook has added a layer of complexity to our knowledge of one anothers relationships she knows all of my friends and wants to know who wants to “friend” me and I do the same.  We try to build hedges of protection around our marriage each day; I would never go into a friends house if he wasn’t home even if his wife invites me in and says “he will be back in 5 minutes”.  You can never let your guard down you never know when the roaring lion will try to devour you.

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  • Tbraschler

    Love this topic. Claudia and I have been married for 25 years.  I suddenly realized that I was leading our marriage and family, and no one on my family, including my wife, had a clue where I was headed, or the vision held for our marriage.  I had not only never communicated it, I had as well never asked each of my kids and my wife about their insight into God’s vision for them.

    Instead of truly knowing uniquely how to invest my life in my family, I was simply blindly hoping that my decisions were worth following.  That all changed.

    Taking time to ask my wife, “If God had his way with you as a woman, as a wife and mother, what would your life look like?  And how can I give my life to help you become that person?” 

    Same conversation with each of our kids.  WOW!  Propelled our home into the future 10-fold as I began leading based on a well-defined vision for each of us, rather than leading based on my assumptions and interpretations.  Highly recommend it!!

  • Anonymous

    I have a friend who is going through a divorce that was getting text messages from someone about his wive doing improper things.  She claims that it was innocent talking with someone work.  It reminded me the importance of perception.  You can never be to careful about how others interpret the things you do.  Better to be safe than sorry.

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Absolutely. We need to avoid even the APPEARANCE of wrongdoing.

      • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

        Robert,
        The correct translation of the verse is “Avoid evil when it appears” Tell me, you see a man and a woman at a table in a restaurant, it is obvious that they know each other. Unless you know them personally, how do you determine whether they are man and wife, a couple having an affair, business associates, or father and daughter?

        Now tell me why is it your business?

        • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

          When I say, “We,” I mean those who value their reputation. People talk
          about people that they know (gossip), even when it’s NOT their business, so
          those who value their reputation will guard themselves.

    • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

      Wait, some nosey body texts that a woman going through a divorce was doing improper things? Can you say gossip? Can you say “Bearing False Witness?” Was it truly the texter’s business to convey that message? They are getting a divorce, if she speaks with another guy, it is none of her soon to be ex-husband’s business. Get a grip! My wife and I work for the same organization. If anyone approached her (or conversely me) with that type of bogus info, they’d get laughed into next year. You cannot possibly go through life worrying about what someone will think. If you are not doing anything wrong, there’s no perception issue, is there?

      • Anonymous

        Preception is very slippery slope.  I have a friend of mine who was assigned a mentee at work that was a female.  Despite the fact that he held all of their meetings in the open so as to not give the perception that something inappropriate was going on rumors still persisted that he was having an affiar.  So in my opinion if you value your reputation, then you need to guard yourself againts negative perceptions even if they are wrong.  This is one of the reason that I will not be in a group by myself of 2 women or less.  This way I guard perception that I am doing something wrong even if I don’t.  If someone comes to me from a ministry standpoint that is a female, I refer them to once of the female minsiters on staff at church.  The point of Michael’s post was what are we doing to guard our marriage for me protecting my reputation from negative perceptions is a way to gaurd my marriage.

        • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

          Perception is one of the things that we can LEAST control. I find it most interesting that Christians worry so much about what the world thinks of us. Christ seemed to act without worry when it came to what other people thought.

          I believe that the best that we can do is act in an honest, upright manner. I do not worry what other people think as long as I am not sinning.  I cannot be concerned with what other people *may* think.  I can only concern myself with my actions.

          Certainly, your friend was a victim of gossip from people who probably didn’t know him and weren’t aware of what he was doing. At best, they were ignorant, at worst malicious.  It’s unfortunate that problems like this happen, however, if he was acting as he was supposed to act then he is blameless.

          When we act with an eye towards protecting our reputation instead of doing what we know is right and what we know is sinless, we may wind up not doing God’s will. My reputation is in God’s hands anyway.

  • Anonymous

    Being in ministry for more than a decade I can attest to the vital importance of protecting your marriage, your spouse and yourself! I love your practical ideas and was amazed that I use most of the same practices. I especially appreciate the idea of speaking often of your wife. It’s incredible how quickly someone’s tone changes when you bring up your spouse and take admiringly and lovingly about them. It drips a little Jesus into the conversation.

    • Anonymous

      Very good point.

  • http://michaeldundas.com/ Michael Dundas

    Hi Michael,

    This is a topic that while I agree with ‘setting boundaries’, your specific boundaries do not fit everyone.
    I am happily married for 15 years.   Like most marriages we have our ups and downs, but overall it is good and we are happy. 

    That being said, all my life my close friends have been female.  I relate to females better, I understand them better, I enjoy my time with them more.  Not to say I don’t have male friends, I do.  My best friend is a guy, and I have a few guy friends — but I find it easier to relate and hang out with females as a general rule. 

    My wife (Anna) gets that.  It is how I met her, we were friends first and it grew.   Anna knows most if not all of my female and male friends and in some cases is friends with them as well.  There are some that she is not, but that is okay.   When we started dating, I actually had that conversation with her.  My friends are important to me and most are female, always has been this way.  I needed her to understand that and accept it.  She did.  If Anna started having concerns about my female friends I would be devastated.  She trusts me, and that to me is important.  Hanging out with a male or female should be no different in my mind.  If a guy has to avoid females, being alone with them, or whatever because they might be ‘tempted’, then you already have a problem in my books.  If your spouse can not trust you to be alone with someone of the opposite sex, then you already have a problem in your marriage. 

    Where I believe someone should be worried is if their spouses behaviour pattern changes.  For example if you base behaviour is to hang out with girls, and you suddenly start hanging out with guys or a few guys, then you have to wonder why the change.  Same is true with a males.

    At the end of the day, if you trust your spouse you trust your spouse – if you don’t then you don’t. Trust shouldn’t be dependent on who you are with.

    -mike.

     

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The key thing is not the guidelines per se, but being intentional about protecting your marriage. These are what work for me; your mileage may vary.

      By the way, I have five daughters. When I was CEO of Thomas Nelson, three of my five direct reports were female. So I am very comfortable with women, too.

      • http://michaeldundas.com/ Michael Dundas

        Thank you for clarifying.  I have spent most of my married life, having people that don’t know me constantly ‘questioning’ or giving me a look, or comment if I am with another women that isn’t my wife — basically judging (and incorrectly), so I am admittedly oversensitive to this topic.

        People are often quick to judge in these situations, and without knowing the individuals, the circumstances I think it is wrong to do so. 

        That being said, from my perspective as long as you and your spouse trust each other, and ensure your marriage as your intentional focus, that is what matters. 

        -mike

    • Dan Brennan

      Michael, I was so blessed to read this. Your story is going to be more common as this century rolls along. I couldn’t help but think of the response Gina DalFanzo’s response over on Christianity Today’s blog for evangelical women, Her.menuetics. The very fact that she could say that evangelical women are not going to disappear in the workforce is how much evidence we’ve come in a hundred years (no evangelical woman could have confidently said that back in 1911).  I think we’re going to come up with different language in affirming the necessity of pouring distinctive love and friendship into our marriage while we enter into close friendships with the opposite sex.  The “bunker” mentality is going to evolve into something different. 

  • http://michaeldundas.com/ Michael Dundas

    Depends on your definition of ‘value’.

    If someone that I respect has an issue, I will listen, and if reasonable maybe change my behaviour. If I don’t value them, then I don’t really care what they think, especially if they are being unreasonable.

    -mike

  • Anonymous

    It might sound harsh but no TV in the bedroom. We reserve that space in our home for “other” things. Date nights, and trips alone are huge to making us stay connected.
    We are friends first. We genuinely enjoy being with one another. Keep it spicy, no one wants the same thing every day.

  • http://www.cathrynhasek.com Cathryn Hasek

    I find a lot of stories on the internet about how Facebook is becoming a problem for marriages.  People are seeking out “old flames” and getting themselves into trouble over igniting memories.

    If you are on Facebook, be careful of what you post and what your fingers want to search for.  It’s not worth ruining your life…

    Cathryn

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Amen to that. If people would just invest this same energy into their marriages, they could create something beautiful!

  • Anonymous

    Our office has a policy that we will not meet after hours (or before hours) with clients of the opposite sex unless another staff member is present and can see in the conference room. 

    Not only does it protect the firm, our respective spouses see it as a sign of commitment. Which I fully endorse. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It is wonderful to have the support of your company on this.

  • Brenda Benedict

    Well-stated.  After 41 years of marriage, I agree with each point.  After hearing about John Edward’s behavior, there must be some force that causes people to not connect their beliefs with their behavior.  For some it may be a sense of entitlement, or the lessening of inhibitions due to alcohol, or an departmentalization of their lives whether they don’t feel guilt, but there is something that allows someone to risk all-their legacy- for ‘pleasure’ in the moment.

  • http://waynewrz.wordpress.com/ Wayne W.

    One thing that I have started doing is being intentional about strengthening my marriage. For years I read youth ministry and other books like it was nobody’s business, recently I’ve read through 3 or 4 books on marriage because that is an area that takes work and study as well. 

  • Guest

    I’m sure every couple has their rules and boundaries but this does seem controversial and extreme to me that you will not have lunches with the opposite sex.  Does this include business lunches?   Where’s the equal opportunity?  If you do not have business lunches with men either, then fine. But if so, you are putting women at a disadvantage in business and not giving them the opportunity to network with leaders/bosses/colleagues with the no lunch rule. Women already face the old boys club in business and this seems to keep that going.

    Or is this no lunch rule because there are no skills on how to gracefully handle an unwanted advance? Women have these skills, men should too.  Or is it that men have no control over their own temptations?  I just don’t get the no lunch rule especially in this day in age.

    Business lunches can be just that, business whether you are married, single, male or female. That’s what professionals do.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I have five daughters. Three are married and accomplished professionals. Three of my five last direct reports were female. I don’t think there has been a lack of opportunity. I think some women use that as an excuse for why their careers don’t advance.

      I would rather err on the side of caution and protect what is valuable rather than be naive and put those I love at risk. But these are my rules. You may have different ones. I am simply encouraging people to be intentional and thoughtful.

  • Deborah J. Thompson

    If we don’t protect our marriages, who will? My husband has given me a beautiful gift almost every day of our 19 years of marriage–he writes me a short note and leaves it on the bathroom mirror. He is often inspired by reading his daily devotion, or by something going on in our lives at the moment. He keeps a pad of post-a-notes in his drawer and composes a short message. If he is traveling, he sends me an email with “Note on the Mirror” as the subject line. They are only a few lines, but he says that it helps him to focus on what is important to him. And it makes me feel loved, valued and appreciated. 

    I wrote about this “Little Thing” on my website if anyone is interested: http://www.inspiredreflections.info/Inspired_Reflections/Reflections_on_Love_and_Relationships/Entries/2009/1/5_Little_Things-Deborah_J._Thompson.htmlThank you, Michael for having the courage of your convictions. Peace be with you,DeborahContributing Writer for Crosswalk.com and “The Fish”http://www.facebook.com/DailyInspiredReflectionshttp://www.twitter.com/InspireReflecthttp://www.inspiredreflections.info

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I love this. You are blessed!

  • Deborah J. Thompson

    Sorry, the spacing seemed to mess up on my post. I’m not sure how to fix it!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      The spacing looks fine to me. Thanks.

  • Shannan Parker

    YES,
    YES, YES, YES, YES!!!!! And a million more times, YES!!! I am about to
    write a blog about this very thing. I’m tired of Christians telling me
    my standards are “too high.” How about becoming people of integrity?
    It is possible to choose right. – 1 cor. 10:13 In Christ alone I find
    my strength.  THANK YOU for being so bold! ~Shannan Parker

  • Dan Brennan

    Michael, if you are interested, I posted a response on my blog: http://danbrennan.typepad.com/my_weblog/2011/06/marriage-vocation-and-discipleship-between-the-sexes.html

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Dan. That was a very thoughtful piece. I think you and I probably agree on much more than we disagree. I especially affirm what you had to say about the purpose of marriage and how that has become distorted. I also appreciate your respectful tone and willingness to dialog. Warm regards.

      • Dan Brennan

        Thanks Michael. Blessings, bro.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      By the way, I just twittered the link to your post. I would have referenced you, but I couldn’t find you on Twitter. Thanks.

  • http://www.facebook.com/OfficialGregoryBlake Gregory Blake

    Michael,

    I
    like your affair-proofing list, but I’d like to reframe it if you will allow me.

    At
    its core, I believe affair-proofing a marriage has less to do with specific actions,
    boundaries and rules and more to do with how each spouse makes the other “feel.”

    If you look at
    your list, it is obvious that your actions & rules are designed to make
    Gail (and you) feel secure, loved, valued, empowered, and special within your
    relationship. You are meeting each other’s needs for secure attachment in a way
    that works for both of you.

    That said, I believe there are problems with rules
    based affair-proofing, not the least of which is the tendency for some to use rules
    to control their spouse, ironically creating
    the environment for an affair.

    Let me give you an example from my life. If my
    wife insisted that I “not go out to eat alone with someone of the opposite sex”
    it would be soul crushing for me. You see, almost all of my best friends are,
    and have always been, women. Whether it’s a meeting for coffee or a trip to a
    chick flick, I frequently spend time with my girl-type friends. She knew that
    about me when we got married and honors that quirk in my life. In so doing, she
    makes me feel special, trusted and
    loved. And in making sure she knows that she is the MOST important woman in my
    life… the one I selected from among all my available female friends to be the one… she also feels special. She
    always gets my firsts and bests.

    Similarly, if you never travelled alone with
    a member of the opposite sex, but you insisted on going on a business trip at a
    time when Gail needed you, you would be planting the seeds for a divorce by making
    her feel less important than your company. (Obviously, this is hypothetical. I
    know you wouldn’t do that!) The rule is less important than the intent.

    I’ve always said
    that affairs don’t happen because the other person is richer, more powerful or
    more beautiful. I believe that affairs happen because of how the “other” person
    makes them feel. As such, I go out of my way to make sure my lovely wife feels
    secure, important and loved at home. It’s worked for 28 years so far. 

    Sincerely,

    Gregory Blake

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      Thanks, Gregory. If rules become the defining characteristic of a relationship, that relationship will be in trouble. It’s kind of like rules in sports: they let you know when you are out of bounds, but they aren’t the purpose of the game. We almost never talk about these “guidelines” (my preferred word), because what is most important is the quality of our love, laughter, and connection.

      I think the main thing is for couples to be intentional and do what works for them in protecting their marriage. Thanks for your comment.

  • Frankzapra

    Wrong. Human males are definitely NOT hardwired for fidelity. That’s merely wishful thinking with a side of naivety. 

    • Dan Brennan

      If I understand you correctly, you are saying sexual desire within men cannot be reigned in, channeled, for good, deep, beautiful, committed relationships because they are not hardwired for such. I wonder though, how this plays out in close relationships between father-daughter, brother-sister. The fact that sex within family relationships is possible is addressed in the Old Testament. So, I am wondering, if good family relationships are able to nurture good, close, deep relationships between siblings or father-daughter (obviously these are complex relationships and some are not close) that grows into adult relationships, then this is a beautiful thing and models for non-romantic nearness. 

    • Jay

      Frankzapra, I could not disagree with you more! I am a redeemed adulterer. I made the same kind of statements in your comment while I was living in the pit of separation from God. My sin (and the root of your statement) is a direct result of the Fall. It is a lie from the pit of Hell. I was imprisoned in that morasse for years, and only the purifying blood of Jesus can deliver us from it.

    • http://www.lambpower.net Steve D

      Are you saying that we are hardwired to commit adultery? If so, why isn’t adultery the norm?

      • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

        I have to disagree here, too. If God hardwired us for adultery, then He is the Author of sin. But this is not how God made man originally. Adultery and every other sin is a result of the fall and can be redeemed in Christ. Every sin is a distortion of God’s original design. Thanks.

        • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

          Michael, I agree. While we are not hardwired for adultery/sin, we are
          INCLINED toward sin in our sinful nature (which is the result of the fall).

  • Anonymous

    Killer post. We need more direct challenges like this in our lives. My wife and make sure we are in check by speaking each other’s love language, being honest about everything and laughing a lot.

  • elb tag

    when it’s your one and only.

  • May Van De Wark

    This is excellent advice, not only for Christians, but for anyone who wants their marriage to last.  My husband and I will reach 50 years  together in September, and it has not been easy nor smooth sailing, but with God’s help, we have (almost) made it!!  I guarantee that this is the best way.  Second marriages after divorce have many pitfalls, and tear kids apart inside.  Praying for all those out there who need to hear this!
    Mrs. May Van De Wark

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Congratulations on 50 years! I’m hoping (and planning) that my wife and I
      can make it that far.

  • Stephanie

    I read your post when you originally published it, but have yet to comment. My husband and I follow very similar guidelines – and we have a vibrant marriage. I know that others sometimes think that these practices are unrealistic, old-fashioned, or extreme…but we choose to abide by them because we want to actively protect our marriage. In doing so, we experience FREEDOM – the freedom to love, to live joyfully together, and to avoid unnecessary temptations.

  • Mcason

    Great post!  To think “it will never happen to us” is of course a dangerous mindset and one I avoid thinking when I hear of stories like Arnold’s.  Truth is it can happen and I must be on guard and protect my marriage.  Not paranoid, mind you, but cautious following many of the same guidelines you outlined in your post.  Common sense as you put it.  Truth is we’ve watched marriages of some of our friends crumble and they didn’t seem to fit the mold of something like “that” happening.  But it did.  I find in my life I’m given many  examples of what not to do.  I would do well to take heed.

  • Steve Miles

    almost 44 years of committed fidelity. So thankful for God’s help in this area of my life. I give him the glory for my obediance. Steve Miles

  • Kathrynwarmstrong

    Amen! This is a great post, and I’m glad a friend passed it on to me. Bless you!

  • Kathrynwarmstrong

    This post really struck a cord
    with me. There are plenty of things that women can do to protect their
    marriages also. Here’s just one of them (from a devotional I’ve been
    struggling to write for about 15 years):
    224.
    Beautiful and Fenced, or Beautiful and Free?

    4:13 “An
    orchard of pomegranates…” The pomegranate was the showiest and most to be
    desired of all fruits, and the garden showcased a whole orchard of
    pomegranates. In Israel during Solomon’s day, there were no “apples” as we know
    them today…none of those huge, crimson delights that are such a perennial
    favorite across America and Europe. But, in Israel there were pomegranates, and
    I think it’s fair for us to imagine that the emphasis is on color, beauty,
    fragrance and fruitfulness, all of which are so powerfully attractive!

        Is there
    anything more appealing in the fall than an orchard loaded with rosy fruits
    beckoning along the roadside? I learned a powerful lesson once. There is a
    stretch of interstate highway between my family’s home and my parents (who live
    several hundred miles north), and many a time I’ve traveled that road. It is a
    divided highway, and in the median between the lanes, there are scattered here
    and there trees and shrubs. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve traveled that
    road without noticing any of the trees in particular, until one golden autumn
    day when I happened to drive by and noticed the most beautiful apple tree,
    loaded with scarlet apples. I had just
    had breakfast and was not the least bit hungry, but I had the most amazing urge
    to stop and pick some apples—just because they were there, free for the
    picking, and looked so appealing!

           In that instant,
    I understood how a man might feel when he sees a beautiful woman who is
    unprotected. I have often admired orchards of fruit along the roadsides in
    Michigan, but I have never felt such an urge to stop and pick the fruit,
    because most orchards are fenced and obviously private property. But, the
    singular apple tree, on public property, sent a different message: “I’m
    beautiful, free, and might be delicious. Come and try me!” I wonder, what
    message am I (and all women) sending to the men in the world around us?

  • Octavian Gabor

    I read this post late (I recently discovered your blog), and there was something that really bothered me. Do not get me wrong–everything sounds beautiful, and I think I should engage more in the actions you describe here. But to some extent the emphasis on the _I_ puzzles me. On the one hand, it is _I_ indeed who is fully and most of all responsible for my marriage–of course, it is good for both spouses to think the same thing :). On the other hand, the focus on what _I_ should do makes me fear that I fool myself and that I open the door to be laughed at by demons. Do I have the power to fight temptations alone? Can _I_ avoid becoming a casualty? Of course there is work _I_ need to do, but I never do it alone. I’ve heard you talking beautifully about synergy, and for some reason I missed it here.

    It feels to me that we cannot become “angry” when we witness episodes of adultery. Perhaps sad at the most–another nail was put into the cross. But how many times don’t we nail Him again and again? And what do we know about the fights that others have? If we are angry, we are perhaps judgmental. If we are sad, we, sinners ourselves, still fighting every day not to stray away from the way back to God, suffer with them and we embrace them.

    Perhaps what I can do is, in humility, to open the door to the One that would not leave me to fight alone. I’ve heard of an icon which depicts Jesus knocking at the door. But the peculiar thing about it is that there is no door knob on Jesus’ side. We need to open the door. What I am trying to say is that indeed the problems begin with _I_. I surround myself with mirrors, with furniture, in my own little room, to the point where I no longer know where the door of the room is, I no longer hear that there is someone knocking. I can get to the point where I surround myself with rules, and I transform them in my own gods because I see MY actions as the source of the good in my life. I am afraid that if I believe that _I_ can save my marriage (or anything else for that matter), I am one step away from being able to lose it.

  • http://twitter.com/jerburroughs Jeremy Burroughs

    Great post Michael! Thank you for sharing. I totally agree with you. We must lead in our marriage before we can lead anywhere else. Thanks again!

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  • http://blog.rumorsofglory.com/ Lucille Zimmerman

    Thanks for your bold words Michael. 

    As a counselor, I firmly believe affairs are about something that is missing in the marriage, and will still be missing in this new relationship when partners come back from Infatuation-land. 

    Affairs aren’t real. They are an illusion…the other person seems to fill a whole or a wound, but a fling will never really solve the problem. People must do their own work to heal their own wounds, with God and a good counselor. Secrecy is the fuel that makes affairs feels so wonderful. Less than 5% of affair marriages ever work out. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      That is an astonishing statistic! Wow. Thanks for sharing.

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  • Jessica

    hey Michael Hyatt!

    you are mimicking the guidelines of one of your idols…Andy Stanley.  he has lived by and broadcast to many a congregation the above self-imposed rules

    you make it sound like these strategies have emanated from within you.  do give credit to where it is rightfully due.

    perjury isn’t an attractive “legacy”…

    • Jessica

      ooops

      plagiarism isn’t an attractive “legacy”…

  • dre

    Hi I know this post was a while ago, but I really like it and have a question regarding the  “I will not travel alone with someone of the opposite sex.”   
    Does this include getting rides to work related events and such even if its a 5 minute drive, for example? 
    Thanks

  • Lisa Cour

    So nice to hear someone speaking out and being frank.  With the media such as it is, I think we start to feel like those behaviors are “normal” and far-reaching.

    Good to hear the other side.

  • http://twitter.com/PastorDoyleB Doyle Blankenship

    I agree 100% Michael. One of my favorite bits of advice that Solomon gave: “drink from your own well.”

  • http://twitter.com/mavisbeyer Mavis Beyer

    I agree with you 100%.  The boundaries you set for yourself are ones that my husband and I adhere to also.  The boundaries are for us and at the same time keep nasty rumors from spreading.  Thanks for taking a stand that Adultery is not normal.

  • Royce Phillips

    I take the following actions to protect our marriage everyday, and ESPECIALLY when I am traveling:

    I call my wife early & often so she is aware of where I am, who I am with, & and what I am doing.

    If possible, I FaceTime or Skype my wife & family at night when I return to my hotel. This is great because we get to look in to each other’s eyes.

    I have plenty of pictures of my wife and kids with me at all times and readily talk about my love for them.

    I also send my wife cards during my travels so they arrive while I’m gone.

    I love my wife with everything I have, & I want to honor our commitment to each other

  • Musicallen

    Fabulous! Jonathan and I have the same boundaries in our marriage, in terms of “opposite sex” engagement, and we have never regretted it! If the “fence” is kept in good repair, it is ever so much more difficult to break it down.

  • http://www.beyondthesinnersprayer.wordpress.com/ Barb

    If I’m ever attracted to someone (which is extremely rare), I do two things:

    1. I ask a friend to hold me accountable, not just to my actions, but to my thoughts about the person I’m attracted to.

    2. Instead of imagining how fun the first step in a relationship would be, I imagine how devastating the last step in the relationship would be (i.e. how an affair would affect my kids, my spouse, my church, my community, and my ministry – and I spend some time thinking of the details of what this would really be like).

    After spending a few minutes on #2, all feelings of attraction disappear. The truth sets me free from my attraction!

  • http://www.thevisionnavigator.com/ Carolyn

    I have to protect my dignity because of being married to a man who has chosen to live a life of infidelity. It definitely has impacted me negatively, I am at risk of loosing my home that I have invested my pension in and it tore at the core of me being a women of God. What man has broken God can fix, so I am physically, mentally and emotionally getting better.  I appreciate the strength that Arnold’s wife displayed while I know she was hurting deeply.   This post is so encouraging because I am inspired to hear a Man of God speak from his heart about the love for his wife and how important the marriage is to him.  I know that there is someone out there that could appreciate having a Women of God. I stay hopeful. Thank you for the Post this morning, I needed it.

  • Daniel Henderson

    After seeing the devastation of a moral failure, as I followed a predecessor who committed adultery, I was motivated to think of as many reasons as possible as to why we should avoid that path.  I hope it will be a good reminder for us all.  Feel free to pass it on to others.
     
     
     40 Reasons Why I Do Not Want To Commit Adultery
    By: Dr. Daniel D. Henderson
     
    1. I would violate my relationship with my Savior and Lord Jesus Christ who has loved, cared and died for me. This action would disregard the selfless and cruel death He suffered in order to give me power over this sin.
     
    2. I would bring public shame and unnecessary disrepute to His most holy and precious name, which I have been privileged to represent.
     
    3. I would have to face someday my gracious Savior, eye to eye at His judgment seat, giving an account for willfully squandering His abundant provision of purifying grace. At that moment of eternal consequences I would inevitably witness the results of my own disregard for the rewards of faithfulness and obedience He so desired to give to me.
     
    4. I would choose to submit myself to a destructive process of self-deception and the dulling of my conscience, causing a lack of confidence in my future ability to walk in obedience and faith.
     
    5. I would inflict unimaginable pain on my wife, my best friend, and my faithful and sacrificial partner in ministry and life—and would have to stare into her tear-filled eyes to explain this conscious violation of my vows and describe the stupidity of my behavior.
     
    6. I would permanently damage my wife’s ability to trust me or believe my word. I would lose her respect in the future, giving her constant cause for suspicion and question.
     
    7. If my pattern of deception were to continue, or if she were unable to forgive me, I would lose her as my wife and would be left to face ongoing regret, loneliness and pain.
     
    8. In this case, I would permanently ruin my wife’s future fulfillment causing her to face the remainder of her life feeling the struggle of rejection and dealing with the complications of single parenting or remarriage.
     
    9. I would violate the love and trust of my precious children. In essence, I would be telling them, “Your mother is not a worthy person. Your father is a liar and a cheat. Honor is not as important as pleasure. My own selfish satisfaction is more important than loving my children”.
     
    10. By destroying my own example and credibility with my children, I would lose future opportunities to influence them toward loving obedience and holiness and would plant within them a potential long-term resentment and bitterness toward the Lord and the ministry.
     
    11. I would bring continual shame to my children every time they had to explain why their father was no longer in ministry—or why he was no longer together with their mother.
     
    12. I would create destructive and continually tempting mental memories that would cultivate unhealthy lust and negatively affect future intimacy with my wife.
     
    13. I would squander all of the money, time, effort and pain that have gone into my preparation for and development in the pastoral ministry.
     
    14. I would seriously disappoint those godly leaders who have faithfully invested themselves in me (e.g. professors, pastors, mentors and relatives).
     
    15. I would bring shame to the college and seminary from which I graduated, tarnishing their reputation and squandering their investment in my theological education and character development.
     
    16. I would deeply wound and embarrass my parents whose loving instruction, sacrificial investment and current delight in the positive course of my life would be horribly violated.
     
    17. I would significantly damage the solid ministry foundation and tarnish the wholesome legacy of my faithful predecessors of my current ministry.
     
    18. I would bring long-term disrepute to the positive reputation of my church in the community, hindering future ministry to people in this area.
     
    19. I would undermine the credibility and effort of other Christian ministries and leaders in my city, adding to the climate of mistrust that continues to expand with each story of moral failure.
     
    20. I would violate the precious trusting relationship with the my leadership board causing difficulty for them into the future as they seek to lead the congregation and causing a potential spirit of mistrust on their part toward future senior pastors at this church.
     
    21. I would destroy my credibility and relationship with staff members who have faithfully supported me and responded to my leadership. A revelation of duplicity at this level would wound them deeply and would hinder even their own leadership among the flock.
     
    22. I would bring underserved difficulty and pain to my ministry successor and his family, as they would be forced to reap what I have sown in their attempt to salvage the church and clean up the mess I would have made.
     
    23. I would deeply wound all those who have been saved, disciple, equipped, counseled and prayed for under my ministry, causing disappointment and disillusionment for some.
     
    24. I would create possible disillusionment in the hearts of young men preparing for ministry as they wonder about the credibility of my leadership and the viability of authentic pastoral ministry.
     
    25. If this should become newsworthy at a statewide or national scale, I would exacerbate the growing climate of mistrust toward Christianity at an even broader level.
     
    26. I would squander my witness to various unsaved friends, acquaintances and neighbors to whom I have witnessed over the years, perhaps driving them farther away from accepting Christ.
     
    27. I would be thoughtlessly and carelessly throwing away the impact of the prayers of thousands of people who over the years have wholeheartedly supported me on their knees.
     
    28. I would be heaping significant guilt and pain on the other woman, for the rest of her life.
     
    29. I would potentially contribute to the dismantling of her marriage, family and network of trusting friends.
     
    30. I would run the risk of the complications of a pregnancy resulting from the extramarital sexual activity.
     
    31. I would run the risk of physical consequences in the form of sexually transmitted diseases.
     
    32. I would suffer the consequences of losing a job and creating serious practical strain on my family financially and socially.
     
    33. I would experience the trauma of a career change, having violated the qualifications for pastoral office.
     
    34. I would join the ranks of those whom I have previously despised and whose actions have deeply grieved me because of their violation of calling and trust through moral scandal.
     
    35. I would live with personal life-long embarrassment and shame, as I would encounter regular reminders of my foolish and destructive choices.
     
    36. I would be required to invest a significant amount of time and money in the process of recovery, as many hours of counseling and years of rebuilding would be required.
     
    37. I would take myself out of the running for multiplied opportunities in the future that could have come my way, had I remained faithful.
     
    38. I would run the risk of being permanently “shelved” in my usefulness to God and His kingdom, knowing that the overwhelming shame and personal regret could cause me to completely give up my service for Christ.
     
    39. I would cause a countless number of people to doubt the validity of the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit and the power of Christ as they might ask, “If it didn’t work for him, can it really work for me”?
     
    40. I would bring delight to Satan and his demons as these enemies of my soul and opponents of Christ would exult in their victory over one of God’s called servants.
     
    (Some of these concepts were originally conceived by Randy Alcorn in Leadership Journal.)
     

    • http://www.beyondthesinnersprayer.wordpress.com/ Barb

      Love these – you wouldn’t have to read through too many of these to lose your attraction for a person you’re not married to!

  • Jennifer Sienes

    My husband and I make our marriage a priority. We pray together daily, hold each other accountable and schedule regular date nights and weekends away together. Of utmost importance is staying in the Word on a daily basis–this keeps us both accountable to God, who guides our decisions and tempers our impulses.

  • Brasscastlearts

    Touche!  The idea of investment of oneself in the marriage relationship may have the most powerful, direct effect. Most of my friends are men, and they respect the strength of my marriage to my husband. I have no problem being alone with them, whatever the reason.

    But on those rare occasions when I have been tempted (before I became a Christian),  I have always placed this temptation on a scale with my marriage, and this is what I find: Yes, this guy could be a lot of fun, and the sex would probably be great. But, because I am often attracted to intense individuals, in two weeks, we’d probably be at each other’s throats. I’ve invested too much in my commitment to my husband to throw that away for a two-week fling.

    Since my husband and I came to Christ, our relationship is stronger than ever, as we walk the same path. I thank God every day, now, that He put my husband in my path 35 years ago.

  • JR

    Never do in the moment the things that would threaten what you wanted forever. 

    I tell my kids this all the time.

  • Mike Sohm

    Excellent, helpful, and practical exhortation to remain focused and vigilant.

  • Rene Akoto

    Well ,what can I say than drop my marriage in the hands of God. What is it that men want that they can,t zip up ,or women that they can,t cross their legs. It is simple lack of the fear of God, which is the being of all wisdom .Jehovah help us to set a good example to our children who look up to us as their mentor.let keep the love, care, sharing oneness together to help bind, hold the family and marriage together.

  • Jeff

    Another key factor in avoiding these moral failures is to have accountability partners in your life and to understand our ultimate responsibility before God. We address these in our book, The Solution for Marriages: Mentoring a New Generation (Murphy & Dettman) and via free resources available on our web site http://thesolutionformarriages.com/resources-downloads.html #MentoringWorks

  • JV

    I have been in a relationship with a wonderful young man of God for over two years now. Though not married, I was crushed when he confessed to me recently that his heart had been with someone else for the past month. She isn’t a follower of Christ, she was just a mere confidant for my boyfriend, and the “friendship” they had that I had long been uncomfortable about slowly turned into something a little bit more all because I chose to trust them. Though the infidelity did not become physical and was only emotional, I was still betrayed. 

    We are now going through a process of healing, and are praying that God will one day bring us back together if at all His will. But let me tell you now: this post is nothing but the truth when it comes to not only marriages but relationships also. Satan is constantly attacking the good things that come from God and, believe it or not, temptation is just around the corner. 

    Don’t ever be afraid to take the steps to protect what God has blessed you with. Invest in them–emotionally, physically, financially, personally, and most importantly spiritually (A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Praying for your boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse every day keeps your eyes on Jesus), earnestly follow the boundaries that will protect your relationship, and consider the impact that a moment of temptation can bring onto your future. Thank you, Michael, for sharing this with all of us.

  • Katie

    I love the words, “When we are loyal, we reflect the faithfulness of the Creator.”

    Really beautiful.

  • messymarriage

    I love the line, “If we can’t lead ourselves, we are not qualified to lead others.” So true and so great a responsibility!

  • anonymous

    I am an army wife. We lived on a military post while my husband was on his last deployment and any time I required a man for some task (usually to change a lightbulb in my enormously tall ceilings following a knee injury) I would always ask their wife, not them, and keep my window shades open and (weather permitting) front door open as well. In addition, they always brough one or more of their children over for those few minutes. I will not even fall victim to the talk that can run rampant on a military base! My husband and I do not have a perfect marraige and I am shamed to admit to infedility on my part when we were dating as teens, but when we married I told him it was forever and should there be a divorce it would be completely his decision and his doing. We celebrate 10 years in November, I think we’re doing pretty good.  :)

  • http://blog.travishinkle.com/ Travis Hinkle

    Great post, Michael! I definitely agree, fidelity in marriage is of the utmost importance. If marriage is a shadow of our relationship with Christ, then how can we think of it casually? God calls us to be faithful and to love our wives as Christ loves the church, willing to die for her. Marriage is one of the best examples of His love we can show.

  • Tom Wartick

    I make sure that the first words out of my mouth every day and before I go to bed for the day are words that tell my wife how blessed by God I am to have her as my wife. This if it doesn’t assure her reminds me and keeps me focused.While periodically (once in 6 months) I may have a night out with a buddy of mine from high school to share whats going on in our lives as husbands and fathers. I’ve made it a priority to surround myself who may not be as vocal about their love of their wives as I am but would none the less we hold ourselves accountable to each other and to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Marriage truly does take 3 for certain 1 man 1 woman and Jesus.

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  • John

    It may sound drastic, but I desire drastic, fierce loyaly to my God, my wife, my children and my friends. So I have asked God to kill me rather than ever allow me to be unfaithful to my wife. Yes, I said it. And I say it! I pray it, allowed. Lord if I ever am headed irreversibly toward adultery, please take my life first.
    This help me immeasurably to remember the stakes, when I am being tempted. Lord, help me to be watchful, wary of my adversary, so I don’t take even the first glance.

  • http://christopherbattles.net/ Christopher Battles

    Thank you much Michael for writing this.
    As someone who is not married yet I love hearing things like these.  It is something for me to keep in mind now and also realize that it does happen when people are not careful.  
    I think of Billy Graham who stayed in a different hotel than his fellow female workers so as to not have the appearance of evil.

    K, bye 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Julie-Swihart/100003908965783 Julie Swihart

    Thanks for the great post! This info is so vital to our influence.

  • John King

    I never close the door in my office with someone of the opposite gender.  As a pastor, all it takes is one false accusation, and for that reason I want to live as someone who is above reproach.

  • http://twitter.com/conservagirl Susan

    Another important thing to address is staying clear of alcoholic beverages when away from home or out with the work crowd.  Alcohol clouds thought and diminishes inhibitions.  

  • Daniel

    Perhaps you could have written this article stating “A well known american politician…” and then continued. What he did was wrong, and we all should aim to do is improve on it with God at the centre. Your points are good too,  I just want to put it out there that criticism and not support creeps into our lives far too easily, mine included. And criticism is definitely not something I want in my marriage.

  • Sol

    Great advice, people like you are a shining example of what is right in our world today.  It’s a shame more of our “role models” end up being failures at the end of the day.

    I like the idea of boundaries.  Too many adults (not to mention children) have the attitude that “it could never happen to me”.  Unfortunately, this leads to problems down the road when people are not careful.God bless,Solwww.holylandprayers.com

  • Nnaraghi1

    I have been married for 25 years and have a very good marriage.  However, I think that marriage takes work and should be regarded as a very serious commitment.  I think communication is the key to a healthy marriage keeping us engaged in each other’s world at all time.  Marriage should be the focal point in our decision making and not to be taken for granted.

  • http://www.employee-rights-atty.com Frank Pray, Employment Lawyer

    How did God design us?  Were we designed for fidelity to one spouse for life?  This is an important question because we will behave according to our design.  Design implies an intention.  Did God intend for us to be in marital relationship, faithful to just one spouse?  

    Marriage is suffering badly in our culture, and children are suffering as a result.  One very positive outcome of fidelity in marriage is stability and partnership in raising healthy children.  Men and women are suffering greatly too from divorce, economically and emotionally.  Many divorced people live years in loneliness and bitterness, and struggle to love and trust again.  

    God also designed us for sexual pleasure and to procreate.  He designed us also with the ability to reason, and to exercise freedom of will.  So we have these raw energies built into our DNA, and we also have this advanced intelligence and ability to decide among many alternatives.  Faithfulness in marriage is more than just a rule, or a vow.  It appears to be part of God’s Kingdom will for his children.  They honor Him and one another by the devotion, sacrifice, and yes, deep investment, required for a successful marriage.  

    ” . . .thy Kingdom, come, thy will be done, in marriage, as it is in heaven.”  

  • Crhodes

    We have male and female only Facebook accounts. Not foolproof but a good addition to our other boundaries.

  • Santanivya

    I am single but am deeply concerned about the soft porn books that are circulating so freely among those at my job. It seems like it is considered just entertainment that is trivial but I fear it will have the same effect it does in men, discontent and desire for more than what marriage can give. Bosses have a big impact by what they read and discuss. Marriage needs protection and is worth protecting.

  • Derek C

    Thank you for posting this piece.  It is a good reminder and encouragement.

    One, small quibble…  While not condoning Schwarzenegger’s actions, the statement, “… he has fathered at least one child out-of-wedlock. There are likely more.” might be overstated.  A cursory google search doesn’t raise any flags, either.  As a comment regarding Schwarzenegger, it is conjecture and seems unnecessary.  With all due respect, it is not gracious and suggests more than can be factually proved.

    I recognize you might not want this comment to show up so I respect your decision if you decline to post it.  I do appreciate your work and am grateful for what you post.

    By His Grace,
    Derek C

  • http://www.facebook.com/johnny.fritsche John Fritsche

    We read books about improving our marriage together and discuss how we feel throughout the reading. This helps us to be able to communicate clearly because we are both improving our understanding of each other’s needs.
    The best books we have found so far are: Marriage Insurance, Wild at heart, Captivating, and the 5 love languages.

  • ddddeb

    I wish I could take credit for these 3 simple words, but they belong to DR. Laura.  In the context of a healthy marriage she suggests we put into action the Three A’s: 

    Appreciation
    Affection
    and Attention

    When I pour these into my DH, I get the same back from him.

  • http://twitter.com/dtashobya Davis Tashobya

    Hi Micheal,I recently got married just after I turned 25 and this for me is a real nugget of gold and I must  say thank you.Keep them coming,I have years of learning ahead of me and I plan on being the best husband I can be to my equally young wife.

  • http://twitter.com/dangerdubs David Wells

    What I love about marriage posts like this is that they also have applications for all of our relationships. We should speak well of others by speaking the truth in love, not just our spouses.

  • http://DesignerRobRusso.com/ Designer Rob Russo

    So good, Michael. Thank you for all that you do!

  • http://Thefieldgeneral.com/ Chris Coussens

    Wonderful post. Especially the part about self-boundaries. That is absolutely critical.

  • Hweiss

    Put your marriage first, before your kids…it truly is the best gift you can give them. 

  • http://www.Godsgracefulness.com/ Janice

    Wow. This is good!! Seems like you got a lot of reaction for this post! love it! Thank you Michael. 

  • http://www.shannonmilholland.blogspot.com Shannon Milholland

    My hubby and I have similar boundaries in place in our marriage. So thankful for you and Gail and your stand for marriage. Scott and I are standing with  you!

  • Kevin Daughtry

    Such a timely post for us. Thank you sir!

  • http://www.facebook.com/budgetmindedorganics Laura Black Caprioni

    I listen to my husband enthusiastically.  I listen to him because I care about what he is saying.  I listen to him because what he is saying is obviously important to him and important enough for him to want to share it with me.   I listen to him because I want to be his very best friend and confidante.  I listen to him because I love him.

  • Frisbeebear

    Wonderful article, really enjoyed it! One way that my husband and I protect our (incredible!) marriage is by doing everything possible to be attractive to each other, and making sure to fulfill each other’s need for intimacy even when one isn’t feeling as “frisky” as the other. As a woman, I find it incredibly sad to see many of my friends “let themselves go” physically and expect their husbands to stay faithful despite ignoring their sexual needs. Especially when there are so many flirtatious women in the workplace now who would gladly take their place. 
    It takes creativity to find the time to exercise, shower, and put on some makeup and a cute outfit every day, especially since we have three kiddos under the age of 4. :) But my husband comes FIRST. 
    Thanks again for the article!

  • Marilyn

    Your post was thought-provoking.

    After finishing college, I worked as an analyst for a
    consulting firm. I frequently traveled with my male boss. He needed me by his
    side at client presentations. He was the one with the deep understanding of the
    project, but I was the one with the detailed grasp of the 1,001 sensitivity
    analyses that supported our final conclusions.

    He was a man of honor. He signaled that in a variety of
    ways. We took separate flights and stayed in separate hotels. (That, of course,
    was only possible because our travels were from one large city to another.) We
    ate breakfast together in advance of client presentations, but if dinner wasn’t
    with the client we dined alone.

    I guess my point is that the issue is more general – the importance
    of setting appropriate boundaries. I’m glad my boss didn’t have your
    boundaries. A woman would never have been hired for the job if he did.

    I don’t feel any different now that I’m married. My husband
    is a prof who regularly works one-on-one with both male and female students. That’s
    the nature of mentoring. I can’t think of an occasion when he has traveled
    alone to a conference with a female student, but I could see it happening. He also
    occasionally has lunch alone with a woman, just as I occasionally have lunch
    alone with a male colleague when a project deadline looms. These things are the norm in our business. However, unlike some of our
    colleagues, neither of us would go to the bar alone with a colleague or student
    of the opposite sex. So perhaps the key issue is the importance of boundaries, rather than your particular boundaries?

    Your analogy to Billy Graham is a good one, but my take on
    it is slightly different. Christian public
    figures have a special responsibility to represent the Gospel well. You are a public evangelical figure. I applaud
    your rules not because I consider them to be appropriate boundaries, but
    because of the importance of public figures sending the signal that they are
    above reproach.
     

  • Kris

    Thank you for this post. In a recent conversation with one of my adult daughters I shared that I was unimpressed with a young man she knew because she had found “porn” on his computer. She told me that EVERY young man watches porn and that she did not think it likely that she could find, never mind date or marry a man who was not exposed to a lot of pornography.
    This does not seem like a good  set up for a faithful, loving marriage, does it?

  • Andy

    Michael, thank you so much for this post. I have been a Christian for almost five years now. Before coming to faith I cheated on several girlfriends. When I first came to faith I thought that would all change, but I ended up kissing a girl while I was in another relationship. I’ve spent the past 2.5 years being single and learning a lot from God about boundaries. I’m now in a relationship and pray to go that this time I will be faithful, as I know God has been faithful to me. Thak you for your wisdom!

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  • JMEV

    I’m only 18 years old and am far from having a marriage of my own, but I do have to say that this post is awesome. This is great practice for a godly dating relationship that could potentially lead to a marriage. Praise God for a great generation of Jesus-following adults that we can look up to. Thank you! :-)

  • http://JaredLatigo.com/ Jared Latigo

    Well said. I love the way you can tie just about any subject back to leadership. It really is an all encompassing part of our lives. 

  • Tracy Arbors

    I agree with you that marriage should be honored.  But two of your guidelines seem discriminatory towards professional woman — the ones about eating and traveling alone.   As a professional woman who’s working in male dominated industries, I would have been very lonely and left out of projects if my peers followed your advice.   I think it better advice to regard women as professionals and people!  We are not all out to break up you marriage, only to do our jobs and advance in our careers.  Sure they will be occasions when attaction comes into play, but be aware and use good sense in those cases. How do you handle it when one of your female direct reports needs to go with you to an out of town meeting?  Do you require her to stay behind?    

    • http://TillerFamily.org/ John Tiller

      Tracy, you make some great points!  Unfortunately there is no perfect answer.  

      You are absolutely correct that we should regard women as professional people.  You’re also correct that it would be crazy and inaccurate to say that all female professionals are out to break up marriages.  It’s not a gender issue, it’s a character issue.  It’s just as much a problem with men as it is with women.

      Whether a man or a woman, there may be times (though hopefully not many) when we have to make sacrifices in our professional relationships to preserve our marriage relationships.  

      I think the easiest way to solve the problems you mention above are to invite someone else along to the meal or simply travel separately.  That way the objective gets accomplished and the marriage gets honored. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      No, I just bring along someone else.

      By the way, my advice applies equally to women.

  • http://www.newdrugaddictionguide.com/ drug addiction treatments

    Before marriage, this kind of marital advice is more important to understand each other. 

  • Reid

    I found your article via a link on facebook and thought that it was very good, especially the suggestions section. Although I tend to look at behavior in terms of evolutionary adaptation rather than as a God given set of character traits, I agree that monogamy seems to be the default normal behavior of humans with serial monogamy being the most common male -female bonding pattern in hunter gatherer societies. That said, infidelity also seems to be a pretty normal behavior with people engaging in it when they think they can get away with it (see Jared Diamond’s The Third Chimpanzee for an excellent primer on this topic). Your article helps remind us of the rewards of fidelity and how we can stay on the strait and narrow.

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  • Ken

    By making sure when she wakes in the mornng and goes to sleep at night that she is loved and respected.  I have had two failed marriages.  In, the first, she made the mistake of having sex with another man…first time i forgave her but told her not to do it again.  She did 13 day later!  The second was an example of two people who started together but as we aged she chased away my family, friends and forbad me from having a dog in the house (which I had had since childhood) and insisted on only cats.  I could not live in a 90/10 house.  I divorced her.  My third, and last, shot at marraige is the one I should of found the first time!  Both of us tell, show and feel we love each other.  we work at it everyday to be sure there is no misunderstandings.

  • Pash4748

    pray and have a relationship with almighty God daily. Pray the Rosary daily if you are a Catholic, receive the Eucharist daily. Honor God and love Him First with all your heart and everything will be given to you. He is the Third person of this marriage union, please don’t ever forget.

  • Guest

    My husband and I spend time most mornings (we are still trying to get into a routine of EVERY morning) praying together and reading a daily devotional.

  • Laura Bennet

    Thank you. After the infidelity of two husbands in succession, God has given me another chance at marriage with a man who holds those same principles. I am so blessed by him and his true love for me. Having fun together reminds us how much we enjoy and love each other. I’m learning to let my husband lead our family as God intended.

  • Erica

    I loved reading this! I was a victim of adultery for many years while married to my ex-husband and if these things had been done that may not have been the case. After 13 years of being divorced I am now engaged to remarry and these things will certainly be taken to heart!

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  • Heavenforu2

    I’m also waiting on the Lord and my wife to “release my adult children & granddaughter” to grow up. Up to this day, my wife is still the mom but has not returned to be my wife.

  • Freakbtzt

    I appreciate your ‘boundaries’ and long for the day when, my own wife, can apppreciate and follow such boundaries. What has happened to us that we think it is ‘normal’ to work and play with our co-workers or others of the opposite sex, and not feel that our spouses should be ‘jealous’? Opportunity knocks, and knocks, and knocks. You can say what you want about ‘trust’ but if you feel that you are above temptation and that normal ‘hanging out’ with the opposite sex, without your spouse, is ok, is beyond me. I shall continue to swallow my ‘jealousy’, and my tears over, what I know will be, the inevitable. 

  • rachellenichols

    Love this post! The other day Lysa TerKeurst posted a status on Facebook. It was a prayer to women struggling in their marriages. Needless to say, I was grieved by the comments of women in hurting marriages. Many consoled by the words in the prayer while others have shared their “the end” stories. Thank you for sharing this wisdom that even after years of marriage it takes work to protect. And to protect, it takes choices. Thanks Michael! Will share!

  • MariMe4Eternity

    Always try to chat to my spouse about the people I meet, work with or come across…that way, any private thoughts don’t thrive! Yesterday, I was looking at this absolutely gorgeous lady whose husband once expressed an intetest in me (yes, while they were married)… I thought to myself… I wonder if he ever told her…considering the fact that I told my boyfriend (now husband) – it helped me get over whatever feelings may have been developing… It really helps to open up to your partner.

    MariMe4Eternity

  • Maccdl1

    Treat and recognize your wife as a hand maiden of The Lord
    This affects your prayer life

  • The_24sevenclub

    Just like you, I am always telling myself that I have a lot to loose, and make time to share with my wife. I have my social media apps on her phone so she can be a part of what I share and interact with each other.

  • Lkeefauv

    Thanks for sharing this.

  • Josh Vandgrift

    Michael, I would love to introduce you to a great christian man who has helped change my marriage drastically (and the marriage of many others). You two would hit it off well, and he’s only a few hours away.

  • Parimala Selvaraj

    The fact that this write-up brought out so many beautiful comments supporting marriage, makes this article / blog post such a success!  Thank you so much for sharing, it enlightened my perspective (cultural) somewhat… :)  O God please let Family Life in all it’s sacredness, multiply+increase…

  • Ed Underwood

    Never, never, never counsel women from our church…unless either my wife or my secretary is in my office.

  • http://www.ricardoequips.com/ Ricardo Butler

    Micheal, what you said here is soooo crucial and important, “I will speak often and lovingly of my wife. (This is the best adultery repellant known to man.)” This is one that I personally use all the time. I literally praise my wife before people and especially women all the time. Not in a prideful way, but to show that I am happily married. That was confirmation for me.

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  • Charlotte

    Thank you for this great advice and wonderful perspective of marriage from a Biblical point of view. This world is SO used to their normalcy which is engulfed in misery and conflict. They don’t realize what true peace can actually feel like if they would just follow God’s leadership in all things – including marriage.

  • Joey

    I wish my husband, a former pastor, would have heeded this advice. He has devasted our children with his decision to leave for another woman (a coworker 12 years his jr). God is a redeemer and restorer and will be glorified no matter the outcome. “The good that God intends for me is greater than the bad that is happening to me.” -Rick Warren. If the Spirit leads, please pray for my three beautiful kids.

  • Margaret

    Bravo!

  • Michelle Harper

    I’ve read this post several times and while I agree with the fundamental premise of it–I still think it is a little extreme. Boundaries are great but what about the possibility of friendship between a Christian man and woman? Is that not possible? I refer you to this post which basically summarizes how I feel about the issue: http://www.shewithunveiledface.com/2013/05/guest-post-can-christian-men-and-women.html

    In the working world it is next to impossible to avoid having lunch alone at times with members of the opposite sex. I think it is only an issue when the other person becomes the primary focus of energies that should go first and foremost to your partner. However, in no realistic world can one person be everything to another.

  • Aspergirl

    Infidelity is devastating…I just received my divorce decree last week. It was a horrendous divorce because I had to revisit and revisit the details through the year and 1/2 it went on. At first we separated with the intent of reconciling. I found him cheating with the same woman off and on during our separation time. Then another woman and then a third woman – that one I walked in on them…an image I can never rid from my mind. I loved (and still do) my husband deeply. We went to premarital counseling with our Pastor, were married in the church, went to church every Sunday — He accepted Christ as his savior and was even baptized. During the peak of the initial affair we were still going to church every Sunday and I had NO IDEA of his infidelity or hypocritical behavior. During this time he was having breakfast with the Pastor every Saturday morning. The evening I walked in on he and his mistress, he had breakfast with the Pastor that morning….I just DO NOT understand how this could happen & have blamed myself all this time (3 years later). I have blamed myself for not being a good enough wife and really abused myself over it. He contends that we can be friends but I know he is seeing someone now and it makes me ill to think of being around him. He was always a volatile man and treated my children (from another marriage) and me very poorly. He was not a provider but very much a taker. When he had a work accident, breaking his back after a fall, I went to every doctor’s appointment with him, as well as workman’s compensation hearing. I cared for him after his back surgery for a couple of years. I caught him looking for women on line then & it should have been a clue – I felt he was capable of doing many wrong things but never thought he’d cheat on me, especially after being such a giving, caring wife. In 2008 I became ill, including the long term loss of vision in one eye and cardiac surgery. He was never there for me and a few months into it was when he started his affair that I finally learned about. He says he thought I didn’t want to do anything with the rest of my life but “be sick”. (Even though I had a career in nursing for over 25 years and was planning on returning to work when my health returned.) He totally baled on me — even though we had turned our lives and marriage over to God. I don’t blame God, but this whole scenario blew apart my belief system, totally broke my heart, my spirit and my mind. I am just getting my feet back on the ground & sensing the return of God’s spirit in my life. I cannot, yet, rid my mind of the times I saw him with these other women (only the one time did I catch he & the third woman in bed – I saw the others in his dwelling). I think I have forgiven him but have a very hard time communicating or seeing him. We had been together for 15 years.

  • Steve Cox

    You where cracking hard on Arnold. I really do not think you guys realize the temptations that he faced! In his world as with most men in general its a step above a sneeze. I fell into a affair because i went along the lines that if she wants a house keeper so be it if she wants a cook so be it. If she does not have time for my needs might as well go over here. But make no mistake I still love my wife! Well as we all know the good lord will shine light on your sins. But thank GOD Arnold is a father to this child and she did not terminate the baby. How many of these women or men that have taken the high road have killed a baby? I too have fathered a child out of wed lock. My son is part of the whole family with my children that I have with my wife. Why should I be ashamed? Why? Should a put a scarlet letter on my head? What kind of example have I shown my children 3 boys and 1 girl? I showed them that when you make a mistake you man up! Take ownership! By the blessing of GOD himself my wife chose to stay with me! Would any of you GOD fearing woman stand by your man through a time like this? Most not as you see in society but our relationship is stronger now than it has ever been. My kids have seen a man that stood strong in the face of a really bad situation and now they see no matter how bad they think their situation is as long as you hold the course and do what is needed for all parties great things can come out of it! Would I recommend going through what I when through or my wife or my sons mom? No! But life is nothing more than a series of storms big or small and the people in my life come to me in the time of great storms. I can walk any one though storm as long as we hold the course and have the belief that GOD has chosen the strongest to walk through the worst kinds of storms. Its at these times like this reading and looking at the comments that I tell men in bad situations to stay from the holly of holly they will hit you with rocks. I will be there when no one else will be! Even your own dog wont like you! Sounds like the men that hung out with Jesus.

  • Nadine NevilleTurpin

    Love that you kept this simple. Because it is. We make it complicated. Legacy puts it all in perspective. Thanks, Michael.

  • Meaghan Morris

    My husband and I have been married for nearly 3 years. We immediately set boundaries to protect our marriage, and I don’t see anything old fashioned or legalistic about it. Marriage is a blessing from the Lord, but its one we have to work at constantly. Adultery doesn’t “just happen”, it happens when you keep expanding your boundaries and considering certain actions to be “okay” that really shouldn’t be. Besides physical boundaries, we also don’t share marital problems/issues with members of the opposite sex. We seek advice from those Christian friends around us, who pray with us and who are in healthy marriages and in a position to give advice. Our family members who are not in relationship with the Lord give well meaning advice, but it is clear that they do not have the same boundaries or values in place in their marriages. We both come from divorced parents, and we have seen first hand how a lack of protection in a marriage just seems to lead to devastation. Young, newly married couples need to realize what a gift this relationship is that God has given to us, and while it won’t ever be perfect (and sometimes it might even be EXTREMELY HARD), it is worth protecting over all things.

  • toy88

    I put everything, financial, cars, home and business on her name…it’s a bit radical, but if I Choose to not be faithfull I know the Consecuenses… I will loose everything, my Wife, My Kids and Broke.

  • http://www.aterriblehusband.com/about/ ATerribleHusband

    Awesome stuff, Michael. I’m consciously exploring all the little things I do poorly and writing openly about them to keep me thinking about ways to improve my marriage. I have a long way to go, but I love your suggestions and agree that while having an awesome marriage is tough, it’s way more “worth it” than it is “hard.”

  • Scrubbysue

    This.is.wonderful. I absolutely love the perspective that it comes from and the wisdom that is inlaid into it. So much sexual sin in this world. So much betrayal, hurt, lust, greed….often at the expense of a relationship. I hope to find that “one”. The one who holds me up as I him. The one that believes in Him and the relationship that is given as a blessing. Thank you for giving a voice to fidelity, loyalty and honesty. I pray that God will bless you and your family for many generations to come.

  • http://www.johnrmeese.com/p/about-me.html John Meese

    Still a great post, though not the first time I’ve read this. As my fiancé and I prepare for marriage, I’m grateful that we can have these conversations about boundaries now, in advance, to set ourselves up for success later on.

  • Dan Ryan

    Wonderful post-I agree with all of what you have suggested and have used many of these in the past-also, when one of the edicts you mention is violated I know what the temptation feels like

  • Daffney

    My first husband left me after 2 yrs after I found evidence of an affair in my car and confronted him. I couldn’t believe my ears when at his parent’s later his dad asked me, “Was he with another woman?” and when I said, “Yes.” he replied, “Oh, every man does it. It’s normal. You have to be not so religious.” Had I known how screwed up this family was I could have saved myself years of grief.

    Temptation can come easily, so it’s important to have a firm grip on values. A pastor I know had a similar affair-proofing list and added–never hug a woman with a full frontal hug–only a side hug. Once I went for prayer in an anointing room where 2 pastors were praying over who came. The pastor that prayed with with one hand on my shoulder. The mis-guided married youth pastor next to me, though, had a young single woman in a full frontal embrace the entire time he prayed for her–not a good strategy!

  • Jean

    This is kinda crude, but effective; a quote from comedian Jay Leno: “You’re cute, but you’re not worth half my stuff!”

    • Daniel Sparks

      I LOVE that!

  • Daniel Sparks

    Your should consider revising bullet point “I will not flirt with someone of the opposite sex.” to “I will not flirt with anyone who is not my wife” or “I will not flirt with anyone.” I love and respect you as a long-distance mentor, but I’m snarky at heart, so I stumbled over this point a little. I would hate for someone to use this as fodder to make fun of you. :-)

  • DadOutOfOptions

    I just stay out of shape, this way I haven’t the confidence to cheat on her! Haha, but in all seriousness, I want a solid relationship, but I have been tempted numerous times to wander off to someone else. I am very unhappy in our relationship, and yes she knows this. We married on a whim (not even knowing each other more than a month), and turns out we do not get along very well. We’ve struggled for five years now, with frequent arguments that have led to police being called numerous times (I call them when she gets up in my face and gets physical with me), me having to stay at a local hotel for weeks, because I don’t want our daughter to hear us arguing so I choose to leave (about a total of 5 weeks this year), etc, etc… It’s terrible. I’m back in a hotel this week actually, and I’m ready to end the marriage, but my heart aches at the thought of splitting up my family; this is the last thing I want for us; However, at this point I must do what is best for our Daughter, and sadly I believe that means divorce in this case.

  • Mark

    And, be pro active. Find a Marriage Encounter weekend, agme.org, or other resources. Take the time, use the time, enjoy your time. You said it, “Invest”.

  • David Lucas

    I am disappointed that my comments have been removed as they were on topic and not offensive – just a reasoned arguement.

  • Katie Graham

    No tv in bedroom & limited viewing of tv in the living room. We play cards nightly & talk. Married for 13 years now, marriage counseling for the whole year of 11-12. It’s amazing how even the most seemingly faithful can falter when life gets too busy & time is not fully given where it should be. The only thing I would add to the above list a good filter/accountability program on all media devices that all use in & out of the home. We need to protect our eyes in so many more ways these days.
    Excellent post. Thanks for sharing.

  • http://chrishinkley.net/ Chris Hinkley

    Great post. At a teacher I work with mostly women. I have these same rules. Although the thought it strange at first, they have come to respect them.

    I have also always had difficulty understanding those who get themselves in these situations for the simple idea of trust. How can one trust someone who is willing to participate in breaking the trust of another.

    Thanks for being willing to say it like it is.

  • Charles Johnston

    Great post Michael, as a man it can be challenging as many are weak in this area. If we live by the philosophy that the grass is greenest where is it watered, and if they will cheat with you they will cheat on you. Once I married my wife I gave my life to her and everyday I am thankful for that opportunity. If we align ourselves with like minded people and spend our time with other couples who share the same faithful values the temptations are not as great and are a lot easier to ignore.

  • AidaAida

    Michael – Thank you. The investment portion is crucial. I learned it too late. While our children are important, the spouses and they investment is even more so….because there are children. There is more to lose. The next time around I will focus on the relationship and keeping God close.

  • Gregory Blake

    Michael,

    I agree wholeheartedly with your objective to safeguard your marriage, but I want to prompt readers to think about the unintended consequences of the “never alone” rules. Knowing yourself, if that is what you need, good on you. But it needs to be pointed out that promoting these rules may be limiting career opportunities for our daughters.

    The awkwardness of male-female friendships has been implicated in perpetuating the “glass ceiling” for women. While it is common for a young male employee to be mentored by the “old boys club,” many male senior executives are reluctant to offer the same opportunity to members of the opposite sex for the reason of appearances. It isn’t the same going to lunch or for beers with a member of the opposite sex. And that is sad, especially given the implications for advancement. e.g. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/money/companies/management/2009-08-04-female-executives-male-mentors_N.htm

    Just food for thought.

    Sincerely,

    Gregory

  • Daniel Root

    Great post, Michael. I’m honestly disillusioned with politics largely because of “leaders” like Arnold. Perhaps to a fault – it’s bred a cynicism in me that is difficult to separate from discernment.

  • Kandace

    I didn’t protect my marriage and neither did the pastor I committed adultery with. I appreciate your preventative passion to help others avoid this sin. It really does go deep into family destruction and the consequences are vast.

    With that, if you are someone who has committed adultery, it’s not the unforgivable sin. It does not have to be fatal and there is hope in Christ through repentance and a life of honest assessment. True repentance involves godly sorrow and grieving over your sin against God and others. True repentance will lead you to have a heart of submission to the discilpine God brings to you. True repentance will cause you to eventually see that His consequences are His aaffirmation that He loves you. In time, healing will win out, restoration can be celebrated and a hatred of this sin will go ever before you. Hopefully you have been able to keep your family, but if not, and you have truly repented, know God still sees you as useful and valuable in His Kingdom.

    Shake off the shame and condemnation from the enemy and others and go low in humility. Never defend or justify your sin, agree with what God says about it and watch what He will do through your repentance and restoration. And let Him do it His way on His time frame.

    My marriage and family are restored and we enjoy beautiful fruit from receiving God’s mercy and trusting that even this is not too big for His blood to cover.

    Hate the sin of sexually immorality church. If you are in it, ask God for repentance and then trust that He can heal you and those you have wounded.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      This is a good word. Thanks.

      • Kandace

        Thanks for reading. There’s more where that came from. My adultery was publicly exposed and God convinced me that since others were talking about it, I might as well be too-with the hopes of helping people get out and stay out. Prayers appreciated. Not sure the church knows what to do with me at this point

      • Kandace

        Thanks for reading. There’s more where that came from. My adultery was publicly exposed and God convinced me that since others were talking about it, I might as well be too-with the hopes of helping people get out and stay out. Prayers appreciated. Not sure the church knows what to do with me at this point

  • Ed Choy

    Michael, just now reading this post. Wow, thank you! As a pastor I’m incredibly troubled by the kind of news we are now hearing so often about moral failure in leaders. THANK YOU for writing so eloquently and truthfully on the subject.

  • Katie

    The biggest defense that wasn’t mentioned is ‘putting God first in your life’. Making time with Him priority every. single. day. I know from experience that you can have a million excuses for actions like infidelity and they’re all just symptoms of the actual sickness: not living to glorify God every single day.

    Bounderies are really something that our society scoffs at too. Its sad!!

  • Liam

    My wife and I have been married ten years. I try to stick to the items in the list. Setting specific boundaries presents somewhat of a predicament. Sure, I don’t hang out with women unless my wife is present but I’m almost exclusively sexually attracted to guys. That means I don’t hang out with guy-friends, either. That’s supposing I had guy-friends other than relatives.

    On a lighter note, when chicks try to go beyond flirting with me, I say in my gay-voice, “listen honey, I got a wife and you’re not my type”.

  • Dirk Case

    Still Dating my wife after 35 years of marriage and loving it. We sit down every week and go over calendars and set specific days each week and weekends every month or two where we just do stuff together. We go to plays, go away for a weekend, out to dinner, walk in the park. It really does not matter what it is as long as we do it together.

  • gina

    As true believers, my husband (of 15 years) and I have a wonderful loving relationship. He has an attractive female associate (the past 2 years) that he frequently has to go to appointments with in the car. I feel uncomfortable with this recurring scenario but he insists that he is not tempted and does not need to take separate cars. I LOVE your stand on not being alone in a car. What other reasons can I present him with other than temptation (which he insists he is resistant to) to encourage him to make this commitment to me and to us?

  • Jason Coleman

    I CHOOSE to love my spouse every day and to make her feel as if she is the most important person in the world to me. We just celebrated 25 years of marriage