Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Relationship Guidelines

Good morning everyone! Monday we talked about the importance of setting boundaries in relationships, yesterday's post was about having boundaries in a talking relationship, or pre-relationship, and today we will be looking at some examples of boundaries within an actual relationship.

I want you to know that these guidelines are special. These are not examples I made up or found in a book, these are real guidelines from a real relationship. These are not old or outdated, these are actually from a couple who is still dating. A very special friend of mine graciously allowed me to use them for this post. In fact it was her boyfriend, who made this list for their relationship. For clarity's sake we will call my friend Jessica and her boyfriend Juan.

Before Juan and Jessica even began their relationship, Juan spent many months praying about it. He prayed about their boundaries, and about the relationship itself. Throughout these months he asked all sorts of spiritual advisers what sorts of boundaries should their relationship have. This included his pastor, father, mentors, close Christian friends, and elders in the church. He made note not to take every single bit of advice, but to prayerfully consider all of the recommendations. After praying about it, he typed up the following list and again showed it to his spiritual advisers.

So one day, Jessica and Juan were on a date and Juan decides to ask Jessica to be his girlfriend. He proposes the question, and with a big smile, she says yes! At that very moment, Juan turned around and pulled out 2 pieces of paper from his back pocket. Jessica had no idea what this guy was doing by the way. Juan unfolds the papers and hands one to Jessica and keeps the other for himself. He starts to go through each guideline one by one, explaining the importance of each. After he is finished he asked Jessica if she would agree to these rules and after careful thought, she said yes again.

THIS is how a guy should lead in a relationship. THIS is taking extra measures to glorify God and keep priorities straight. THIS is living a holy lifestyle.

Please note that Juan and Jessica did make mistakes and they have slipped up before, but they were always faithful to stick with the last rule, which was honestly answering the questions their disciplers asked them about their relationship. By being open and honest, they allowed help and guidance beyond their wisdom flow into their relationship. This is what helped them keep their integrity with all the other rules.

For help developing your own guidelines, here are Jessica and Juan's. (Remember the one speaking is Juan.)

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Goals for the Guidelines:

1) Make it easier on each other (Guard each others hearts)

2) How our relationship looks to other people

3) Not hindering our relationships with God

Guidelines:

Physical

1. No kissing

2. Hands to be kept above the waist and below the chest.

3. Any “holding hands” or “snuggling” or anything of that sort will be initiated by me.

Time

4. No one-on-one time after 12:00am

5. Starting off we will spend between 3-5 hours per week of alone time together. This includes talking on the phone.

Space

6. My room is off limits as far as one-on-one time, because I live alone. There really is no reason to go into my room at all. If we want to hang out we can just go to a study lounge or something. That goes for your room too if we are the only ones there.

7. All dates and hangout times will be in public places, not behind a closed door or sitting in a parked car.

How we relate to one another

8. In general we are not each others best friend. We need to have other friends of the same sex that we share everything with. If we have struggles, go to them first unless it is specifically dealing with our relationship and something we need to talk through.

9. In public, there is no need to be touching and sitting close to each other all the time. Of course we don’t need to ignore each other, but if we are all over each other, it makes it awkward for other people and we need to interact with other people as well.

10. Be completely honest and upfront about everything, within boundaries. Not like personal struggles necessarily, but mainly in our relationship.

11. Don’t share personal things about people we are meeting with. Only tell things they wouldn’t mind us telling

12. No praying with each other. Over a meal is okay, but no “couples prayer time.”

13. We also need to watch what we say. Unless I initiate it there will be no “I love you” talk. We can compliment each other and say we like each other. That is fine.

Accountability

14. Have at least two accountability partners specifically for this relationship and give them this guidelines list so they can ask us each one individually throughout a certain time period.

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I hope this helps you understand that boundaries are healthy and important, not outdated and destructive. Prayerfully consider these and other examples while making your own boundaries. Thanks for reading :)