From Ally: There are few people in the blogosphere I trust more to talk to you about relationships than Nicole Cottrell and her husband Jonathan. It never ceases to amaze me how highly these two speak of marriage. Needless to say they’re enjoying it. As I walk toward marriage myself I’m taking all the advice I can get and this is good stuff. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
I’m Nicole Cottrell. I’m trained in the fine art of button-pushing and use my skills daily on Modern Reject where I write about the intersection of faith and culture, as well as the unpopular stuff no one else likes to talk about. I’m a speaker, writer, discipler, and coffee fanatic. I am writing this article with my husband Jonathan today. Feel free to stalk me: www.modernreject.com twitter: @modernreject
When Ally asked us to write a post on our perspective about whether or not you should have friends of the opposite sex after you’re married, it was a rather simple answer for us. You shouldn’t. Period. End of story. Simple.
The reason we were able to answer this question so quickly is because that boundary was established before the beginning of our marriage. In fact, it was established during our engagement. In our minds, there is no gray area.
And let us just brag for a moment: our marriage is fabulous. Solid. The bomb sauce. The hubster ain’t callin’ up Sally to go to the movies with him or grab lunch—heck, he’s not even calling her. And wifey isn’t meeting up with her old friend Joe to go scour the sale racks. Now, that doesn’t mean we don’t have friends we love to mutually hang out with together as a couple. The key word there is: together. As in both of us are hanging out with them.
We know others differ from our perspective, but rather than debate our position, we thought it would be best to simply share five reasons why we draw such a line on the issue.
Uno: No temptation.
This is an obvious one. Not sure we have to divulge too much information other than to say, by setting clear boundaries on the issue, you’re not setting yourselves up for potential disaster—or even the temptation. We like Pastor Rick Warren’s position on the issue. He has ten commandments for Saddleback church staff (that also work great within the context of any marriage), eight of which (that’s 80%, yo!) are just on this issue alone. Things like: “Thou shalt not go to lunch alone with the opposite sex.” And: “Thou shalt not kiss any attender of the opposite sex or show affection that could be questioned.”
Here comes two: No comparisons.
When you’re not hanging out with the opposite sex alone, it’s really easy not to compare your spouse with someone else. There’s no “Billy does this” or “Jane does that.” You compare your spouse to God’s standards for husbands and wives rather than some random dude or chick with whom you’ve been kickin’ it.
The big three: No questions.
Especially if you have a sexual past or struggle with sexual temptation, then drawing clear boundary lines in your marriage on this issue will produce freedom. It sounds like a paradox—boundaries creating freedom—but isn’t that how God rolls?! When tempting situations that mimic your past are altogether avoided, you can enjoy your marriage with more peace, confidence, and security.
Four’s got more: No assumptions.
Christians know it with the all-too-churchy term: being above reproach (that means “above shame,” if you haven’t read up on your Christianese). While sometimes people are quick to get defensive with responses like, “Well you just don’t know the circumstances,” the whole point of being above shame means that no one will assume anything. Your coworker won’t be wondering why you’re having a cappuccino with your secretary…because you’re not having that cappuccino, buddy! All they’ll be assuming is that your marriage is a bedrock of fabulosity.
High five: Yes, others are watching.
It’s not just about outsiders’ assumptions. This about modeling Godly, responsible, and wise behavior in your marriage. ‘Cuz the truth is, someone is always watching, even when you don’t know it. In the future, it could be your very own children. Right now it could be friends, family members, other young couples, or even those who don’t follow Christ. Because Christ called husbands to love their wives as He loves the Church, and for wives to respect their husbands—living intentionally within the boundaries of not having opposite sex friendships is just another way for our marriages to model these commandments.
And we think that’s pretty worth it.
What are your thoughts on the issues? If you’re unmarried, does this sound spiffy or stifling? If you’re married, did your position on the issue change after getting hitched? What would you add to the list?