A guardrails purpose is to keep cars that are drifting off the road from running off into a ditch or some other dangerous situation. This is a perfect illustration for some rules my husband and I have established in our marriage. These rules are meant to keep us on the right track and minimize the temptation our world plagues us with.
I want to emphasize that we didn’t come up with this list because we don’t trust each other but because we are humans. Temptation and sin are things we are drawn to. By establishing these “guardrails” for marriage, we dramatically reduce the risk of losing our way. Maintaining a serious relationship IS NOT EASY. Even if you love them with all your heart. Marriage isn’t easy because life isn’t easy. By setting up boundaries, you can keep your relationship much healthier!
Don’t be alone with the opposite sex
Vice President Mike Pence got a lot of criticism for establishing this guideline in his marriage from the press, however I wholeheartedly agree with him on this! My husband and I will refuse doing anything with friends of the opposite sex unless our partner is with us. I don’t go out alone with any male friends without him and he doesn’t go out with any female friends without me. This doesn’t mean we can’t control ourselves or that we don’t trust each other. But we know that a stronger relationship may begin to form if a lot of alone time is spent together. There is no reason I need a male best friend because that should be my husband. There is no reason to spend alone time with a male other than my husband because only sin can come from it.
We are not extremely strict with each other because we know life happens. Sometimes you will be a situations where you will have to be alone with the opposite sex. That’s okay! For example, when my husband was in the military, he was one of the only people in his work section with a car. Therefore, he was in charge of driving everyone (including women) to their various appointments. Those things are just unavoidable. The good news is there are guardrails that can be put up in those situations to avoid having a close relationship with the opposite sex!
Don’t talk about certain topics with the opposite sex
The most important thing you should never do with a man (or anyone else) is COMPLAIN about your husband. Asking for advice on what to do in a difficult situation with your husband from a trusted female is different than complaining. Don’t seek advice from a man either. Even if you think he may understand your husband and help convey to you what’s going on. No. Don’t do it. Those are intimate subjects. You should discuss relationship issues with the person you are in a relationship with!
This is a guardrail to put up when you are in one of those unavoidable circumstances I was talking about earlier. Sometimes it can be hard to explain to your opposite gendered friends that you can’t have certain conversations with them, especially if they are single. Be bold and confident. Ask God for bravery when encountered with these situations!
Don’t withhold your feelings
This is a common issue I have seen within marriages. You always hear that talking to one another is the key to marriage but I think it goes deeper than that. Each member of the relationship has to be honest about their feelings. This reminds me of when my preschoolers come up to me complaining that another preschooler is playing with a toy they want to play with.
“Did you tell them you wanted them to share and play with you?”
“Well then, how will they know?”
Your spouse has no idea how you feel if you don’t tell them. If you feel that something isn’t going well within your marriage, tell your hubby! When doing this though, try not to hurt the other person or belittle them. Be constructive! Taking art classes my whole life, you are taught how to be constructive with your criticisms. So if you have had no training in this department, let me break it down in relation to talking about your feelings.
- Acknowledge the things he has been doing right! Give him lots of praise, especially if you tend to forget to do it throughout the day or week.
- State the criticism without blame. If possible, explain it’s a “we” problem instead of a “you” problem. (ex. We haven’t been talking much, we are spending too much money, we haven’t been spending a lot of time together) Remember, you are a TEAM!
- Talk about how you think you have contributed to the problem and then explain how he has contributed to the problem.
- Find a solution together! Come up with a plan as a unit on what you can do to fix the situation.
- If it is strictly an issue with his behavior, ask for feedback on how you have been doing within the relationship. This may help him open up about his own feelings!
My final point on this topic is DON’T GET ANGRY. When he is opening up about how he feels, this is a good thing! He wants to have a healthy marriage and discuss how some things may not be going well. It isn’t an attack on you. This is something in our first year of marriage that took me a long time to figure out. Don’t make my mistakes! My husband didn’t like opening up to me about his feelings because I would cry. I would feel like a failure. Keep in mind that no woman is the perfect wife and no man is the perfect husband. Feel thankful that your husband talked to you about an issue because now you know about it and can fix it!
Never underestimate the power of prayer! You should pray about your marriage daily. This is the most important guardrail! This is the fool-proof way to keep your marriage on the road. God’s place is at the center of your marriage. Pray that you stay strong and closer than ever through the bumps and potholes. Pray that you find comfort within your husband’s presence, rather than stress. Ask for how you can improve your relationship with your spouse. And if your marriage is going great, give praise! Give thanks that God has kept you on track and away from sinful ditches. Allow the Lord to guide you!
If you have any guardrails that you have in your marriage that aren’t in this list, let me know in the comments! I would love to hear other ideas for boundaries to put up in marriage!
Peace be with you,