I've lived through the tragedy of seeing loved ones, respected leaders and close friends wreck their marriages through a single act of infidelity. Whenever I hear the tragically familiar story of another couple caught in the aftermath of adultery, it's a wakeup call for me. I want to do everything in my power to prevent infidelity, because I'm convinced that without the proper safeguards, it could happen to anybody.
I know that my marriage, my family, my ministry and my credibility as a advocate for stronger marriages could be instantly shot with one single act of infidelity. I refuse to allow that to happen, and I know I can't rely solely on my willpower or good intentions to affair-proof my marriage and you shouldn't either!
Below are Five Laws of Fidelity I've adopted to safeguard my marriage. These might seem drastic to you, but I don't think there can be any lengths too great when it comes to protecting a marriage. If you'll commit to these in your own marriage, you'll be instantly protecting your marriage, your reputation and your legacy from the scars adultery can cause.
These "Rules" are NOT motivated by a lack of trust in my marriage; they're motivated by a deep respect for my wife and for the sacredness of marriage.
1. I never meet alone with a woman other than my wife
I never meet up for coffee or lunch with any woman other than my wife (or my mom) unless it's a group setting. I'm never in public or in private alone with a woman. This policy protect me from temptation, it honors my wife, Ashley, AND it protects my reputation. Even in a counseling situation with a woman (which I try to avoid), I make sure to keep my door open. I don't want to create a scenario where whispers of improper conduct could even be entertained.
2. Whenever I send a text message to a woman, I copy my wife
There have been some work-related texts where I've overlooked this rule, but nearly every time I send a text message to a female other than my wife or my mom, I copy my wife on the message. This simultaneously keeps Ashley in the loop about everything I'm doing and it also sends the clear message to Ashley and everyone else in my life that we have a marriage with no secrets.
3. I share ALL my passwords
I don't have a password or a PIN that Ashley doesn't know. There are no hidden accounts, hidden emails, burner cell phones or anything else that would be off limits to my wife. Other than a few surprise birthday parties and gifts, we have a "Secret Free Guarantee." In marriage, secrets are as dangerous as lies.
4. I don't watch porn or sexually-explicit content
Porn is an act of mental infidelity. Even in R-rated movies or shows where there's a scene of gratuitous nudity or strong sexual content, I'll look away out of respect for my wife. I want to remain constantly vigilant of the fact that infidelity never starts in a bedroom; it always starts in the mind.
5. I give "side hugs."
This might seem cheesy, but it's also very important. Some people hug members of the opposite sex with full frontal assault that can border on an act of illegal groping. I never want physical touch to be misconstrued in any way, so even with close female friends, I try to stick with the side hug.
6. I don't engage in ongoing dialogues with women on social media
With the nature of what I do, I get hundreds of emails and Facebook messages per week. I do my best to respond, but whenever a female seems to want to engage in an ongoing dialogue, I cut it off out of respect for my wife. Many affairs start by crossing lines on social media. You and your spouse may need to create a social media set of "rules" and boundaries to protect each other and your marriage.
7. I make time together with my wife a priority
Affair-proofing your marriage isn't just about "defense" (eliminating unhealthy behaviors). It's also about being proactive when it comes to investing in your marriage. Ashley and I are always looking for ways to spend time together and invest in our relationship and creating resources to help other couples do the same. Don't let your marriage get stuck on autopilot, or else there's a good chance it will crash someday! Keep investing into your relationship with each other!
This article was originally published on Patheos. It has been republished here with permission.