Nope, I don't agree. I am profoundly grateful for rules. If there wasn't a speed limit I am certain I would have gone around many a turn in the road to find out too late (as my car and I were flying through the air) that I was going too fast.
I remember the rule that I wasn't allowed to touch the stove when I was a child. I recall disobeying that rule and realizing too late that it was a mistake. That rule was there for a reason. Go figure.
We love freedom. And freedom is wonderful. But, as hopefully I've illustrated, rules keep us safe.
My marriage is under constant attack. The world is changing rapidly and heading in a direction where the family is decreasing in importance. Often it is regarded more like a hobby and is considered a joke. I recently read (though I admit each time I see these types statistics there are different) that the average age a man gets married now is about 29 and for women it's 26.5.
The attacks aren't just limited to changing social "norms." In fact, I think the biggest threats to my marriage have nothing to do with them.
Time is a huge threat to the success and happiness of my marriage, more specifically the lack of time. I find myself being pulled in ten different directions all the time. If I'm not attending a church meeting then I'm being expected to stay late at work. Other days it's friends and family the need help and I'm called away. There's my responsibilities with community organizations of which I am a part. And the list goes on.
However, the biggest threat to my marriage is myself. My attitude and behavior could destroy my marriage faster and more effectively than anything else. Thankfully Cami and I realized this within the first six months of our marriage and we established some rules...to keep our marriage safe.
- Never say "divorce." The "d" word isn't welcome in our marriage. We never talk about getting divorced. We never threaten it in the heat of an argument or joke about it when we're playing around. Divorce is unacceptable, therefore, the notion is not even entertained.
- Never need to say "you'll just have to trust me." By the time you have to say this it's too late. You've put yourself in a position you shouldn't have. I'm not saying it will never happen, it still could. But never knowingly or intentionally put yourself in this situation and be on the lookout for things that could potentially push you into it.
- Don't talk to other people about problems our problems until we at least talk about it ourselves. When you talk to other people you are making private problems public. The problem is that when private matters become public the difficulty in resolving them increases dramatically. The other reason we don't talk to anyone else first is that often the other is unaware there's an issue and our mutual trust is undermined not to mention that when we talk about it together 99% of the time we are able to resolve it in 15 minutes or less.
- Don't spend time alone with the opposite sex. We had been married maybe four months and I gave a classmate a ride home from the library. We had been there working on a group project with other classmates and it was late so I offered her a ride home. There was no romantic interest on either side, I was only helping a friend, but it didn't appear that way. For those Christians out there the Apostle Paul taught us to avoid the appearance of evil (1 Thessalonians 5:22). Also, if you're never alone with someone of the opposite sex the possibility that a connection/attraction could form is zero.
I want to say one more thing about rule number 4. Recognizing that there are times in my professional career that I need to be alone with someone of the opposite gender (like conducting a performance evaluation with a female employee) I take precautions such as letting others know what we're doing, leaving my office door slightly open, and sitting a reasonable distance away (generally there's furniture between us as well).
So there you have it. You have the potential to destroy your own marriage. So set some rules with your spouse so that you don't go careening off the cliff because you didn't know there was a turn in the road there.
To read more about how rules strengthen relationships, and marriage especially, get a copy of my book, Uplifting Love: Secrets to Making a Good Marriage Great.
What rules do you have in your marriage?