Have you “friended” an old flame on Facebook without telling your spouse?
Once you marry, is it OK to have close friends of the opposite sex?
If asked to choose between going out with your friends or staying home with your spouse, which would you prefer?
Do you discuss details about your marriage relationship with your parents?
How you answer these questions can have a dramatic impact on your current or future marriage relationship.
Most people are excited about spending the rest of their life with the one they love. However, the journey gets complicated when one person wants to do something or believes they have a right to do something and their spouse doesn’t share that same viewpoint. While the questions would be great discussion topics before you marry, it's probably safe to say that most couples don’t talk about these issues until they hit them square in the face.
“Social media, friends of the opposite sex and in-laws are part of life,” says Dr. David Banks, relationship coach. “How you handle them can either enhance your marriage relationship or hurt it, which is why boundaries are important. Most people think of boundaries in marriage as bondage. In reality they are the key to keeping your marriage healthy. Think of a four-way stop or a railroad crossing signal. These are in place to protect you from danger.”
Dr. Banks encourages couples to talk about these issues and to put a plan in place that builds up their marriage.
“A hot topic for couples is the role that in-laws will play in their marriage so they don’t inadvertently become outlaws,” Banks says. “Some in-laws want to hover and be super-involved in the newlyweds’ lives. This is not appropriate. You can be supportive without interfering with the couple as they learn how to make their relationship work. Couples have to learn how to crawl before they can walk.”
Other topics you might want to discuss include:
- How to decline an invitation from the in-laws. Never throw your mate under the bus by saying, "We’re not coming because my wife/husband doesn’t want to come over to your house." Create ground rules that will help you build a healthy relationship with your in-laws. Just because Sunday dinner at your parents' house has been a ritual for years does not mean you have to keep doing that after you marry.
- The importance of working together as a team. The goal is not what is best for you, but what is best for the team. Is "friending" an old flame really worth the tension it can create in your relationship?
- How will you be intentional about taking care of your relationship? Avoid talking outside your relationship about things you haven’t talked about together. Discussing marital issues with an opposite-sex co-worker or friend can endanger the health of your marriage.
- When facing a decision, ask yourself, "Will this be helpful to my marriage?" If the answer is no, don’t do it.
These may be topics you didn’t discuss prior to marriage. However, there is no better time than the present to do something that will help you tighten the knot.
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