No one ever notices guardrails until they need them.
I completely understand if you think I’m overreacting. I understand if you think I’m a freak, and I get it if you think I don’t get it.
But again, no one ever notices guardrails until they need them (via Andy Stanley).
Because I want to be faithful to my wife and because I want to protect my marriage, I have set the following guardrails for my life.
- I won’t have lunch alone with any female of the opposite sex besides my wife.
- I won’t ride in a car alone with any female of the opposite sex besides my wife.
- If you’re a girl and you email me something personal, my wife will read it and I’ll copy her on the response. If you email me through my blog, she automatically gets a copy.
Guardrails are supposed to protect you from driving off a cliff, which is why you do not set them as close to the edge of disaster as possible.
You want to set boundaries so far off disaster that if you fail, the consequences are minimal (hence my extreme list above).
Saying I’m not going to kiss or go on a date with someone other than my spouse is a terrible boundary because if you fail the consequences are disastrous compared to, say, breaking one of my boundaries above.
Please don’t get me wrong—I’m not trying to be legalistic or force my specific boundaries on you. I don’t know what kind of guardrails you need to set for your life, but here’s what I do know …
Most affairs start with an innocent meal with the opposite sex.
Most affairs start with these small interactions we call “no big deal.”
Before you accuse me of something that’s not there, let me assure you I have plenty of healthy female relationships with lots of great female leaders and volunteers.
So while you will might argue these kinds of boundaries restrict having healthy relationships, I insist they actually help foster healthy, godly relationships with the women God has surrounded me with.
You know what the overwhelming response was from my female leaders when I told them I copy my wife on emails and won’t meet with them alone?
“Great idea. I love that you honor your wife that way, Sammy.”
The crazy thing is my female leaders not only respected these boundaries but several of them actually started voluntarily honoring them by copying my wife on emails they sent to me.
Sure, it’s inconvenient to drive separately to the same lunch appointment (this happened a month ago) because I don’t want to ride in a car alone with a girl, and, sure, it’s sometimes awkward to say, “Sorry I can’t have lunch with you alone,” but you know what?
You can tell me I’m extreme and I’ll give you that, but you know what you can’t tell me? You can’t tell me I’ll ever regret this. You can’t tell me 30 years from now I’ll look back and say …
“You know, I wish I had lunch with more females. I wish I didn’t miss out so much on life by deciding not to ride in cars with females.”
You can’t tell me that. You know why?
Because boundaries work.
One last thing: If you have a problem with these “extreme” boundaries, I’m guessing you don’t have a problem with your spouse or future spouse (maybe even kids) having extreme boundaries like this.
In fact, I’m pretty sure you want your spouse (or future spouse) to be this extreme.
Well, cowboy, why is that? Why the double standard?
I’ll tell you why. Because deep down, even though they are extreme, you know they work. Because you want extreme boundaries for others, but you’re just not sure you want them for you.
You can disagree with my conclusion, but, friends, that duplicity is something you have to wrestle with.
What is one specific boundary you need to set today to protect your current or future marriage?