Boundaries necessary to prevent costly and painful affairs
David and Marva Coombs
Many people give in to the temptation to look past their spouses and notice others who appear more interesting, more attractive, more responsive to their needs, more willing to listen, more empathic, more understanding and even more in need of their love. Most of us think this would never happen to us because of our determination to keep our marital vows.
However, the reality is that adultery happens too often and to those who believed it could not happen to them. And it is devastating to everyone involved. But there is an easy solution: people can establish boundaries that make it clear that they are not available for any inappropriate relationships. By doing so, they protect themselves from liaisons that may jeopardize their marriages. Here are some suggestions gleaned from my counseling practice that may help couples avoid being unfaithful to their spouses.
Dress modestly; avoid clothing and styles that are provocative and that say, “I’m available; I’m looking.” Dismiss inappropriate and lustful thoughts and avoid anything that feeds them.
Limit the amount of time spent alone with anyone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse: i.e. don’t share rides to work or to church; don’t go on errands or to lunch, lectures or social activities with persons of the opposite sex. Don’t share intimate details regarding your personal lives. Don’t give or receive personal compliments, personal gifts or special favors that may be mis-interpreted.
Men cross lines when they tell their lovely, attractive co-workers, “My wife doesn’t understand me. She’s not as sensitive to my needs as you are. She doesn’t take care of herself as well as you do.” Not only is this an unfair comparison to wives who may be stay-at-home moms, but it is an invitation that can lead to chaos and heart break.
Husbands also cross lines when they try to rescue female associates in trouble. Men can refer these women to helping agencies. They should never go to a woman’s home to help out or to fix a few things alone.
These situations may be reversed and apply to women as well to men.
Some greet people with hugs and kisses. Such greetings can be appropriate; however, some are too intimate and generate uncomfortable feelings. All of us must use caution and block any such greetings that seem to go to far.
All people like approval, validation and acceptance by others, but if this desire is too strong, it can lead insecure people to want everyone to think they are especially attractive. Those going through mid-life crises may be particularly vulnerable because they wonder if they are still desirable. Some flirt and make comments with sexual innuendoes yet believe they are impervious to any consequences. This is a mistake; there are always consequences.
Pride interferes with sound thinking. Whenever people think they are exceptions to the rules, they have crossed lines; they are in danger. Rules are simply boundaries that keep us safe. That bears repeating: rules (some known as commandments) are simply boundaries that keep us safe.
Those with their boundaries firmly in place are spared the pain, embarrassment, remorse and possibly divorce caused by infidelity.
Dr. Coombs is a professional marriage, family and individual counselor. Phone 435-705-3579 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit drcoombsmarriageandfamily.blogspot.com.