Why do we need boundaries in marriage? That’s a great question. To begin with, let’s define the word boundary. According to the dictionary, it’s “a line that marks the limits of an area.” So let’s apply that to marriage. If Nancy and I want to protect our marriage from an affair, we would put some boundaries in place that we both agree on. But we need to answer two questions:
- What are the boundaries?
- Where do we place them?
We could just have one boundary—that we both agree to not have an affair. That’s a good boundary, but does it really accomplish what we want it to? Most people don’t end up having an affair as a result of seeing a new attractive person one day and then deciding to jump into bed with them that same day. As we have talked about before, an affair is usually the result of a series of small or baby steps in the wrong direction.
We have learned that it does not do us a lot of good in our marriage to set the boundaries as close to the edge of the cliff as we can without falling over. We have decided to set them as far away from the edge as we possibly can. In doing so, we sometimes get strange looks when we share our boundaries. We don’t have meals or coffee alone with someone of the opposite sex. We don’t travel alone with someone of the opposite sex, or ride alone in a car with them, or talk intimately in any form or fashion with them. Don’t get me wrong. We both have friends of the opposite sex, but there are boundaries around what we do or say with them.
Let’s go back to the original question: Do you need boundaries in your marriage? You may not think you do. Maybe you have been married a few years or a lot of years and neither of you has crossed the line by having an affair. That is awesome, but every couple that comes into my office after an affair has said the same thing. For us, we want boundaries. We want the red flag to pop up with even the possibility of the first baby step. We want to agree on not ever taking that step. What about you? Where will you set the boundaries?