May: “Windows on the Inside, Walls on the Outside”
If you’ve been looking at modern homes lately, or even ogling the homes on HGTV, you’ve probably noticed a trend toward more open spaces indoors. The crew of the show always seems to be tearing out a wall or partition to “open up the space” for a dining area, an entertainment space, or whatever. Apparently we want more openness inside our homes. But I notice most of those homes still have pretty solid walls on the outside to protect them from the elements and other possible dangers.
The title of this article is a favorite expression of mine when talking with couples about how to preserve the integrity and safety of their marriage. It describes an image of your marriage as a house, with no walls – only windows – on the inside (i.e. total transparency between the two of you), but solid walls (boundaries you both agree to) on the outside.
Like the HGTV crew, we need to tear down any separations between a husband and wife that represent closely-held secrets, unexpressed longings or pent-up grievances. I truly believe that a healthy marriage is one in which spouses have joint bank accounts (for which there are a number of practical reasons as well), know each other’s computer passwords, and have access (if needed or desired) to phones, online accounts, etc. I’m not talking here about hiding a birthday present in the back closet. I’m talking about the trust factor involved in being totally open with your spouse. That’s why we need “windows on the inside.”
On the other hand, just as walls protect us from the weather and intruders, boundaries form an appropriate separation between your marriage and things like:
• Well-meaning (but sometimes intrusive) family and friends.
• Work, church, and social obligations that may infringe on family time.
• Culture and peer pressure (from pornography to keeping up with the Jones’).
• Technology (phones, computers, Facebook, etc.).
This doesn’t mean you are cut off completely from these people or activities, just that you establish some reasonable limits. Boundaries must be mutually agreed upon, and both of you should be committed to respecting them. When the two of you have agreed on a boundary, it protects you both from unnecessary and potentially destructive interference from the outside. It can also protect you in other ways, such as being pressured into something prematurely. (“I’m sorry, but I have to ask my wife/husband about that, because we’ve agreed not to spend that much without talking about it first.”)
With openness and communication on the inside, and protective barriers on the outside, your marriage will have a place where the two of you can develop and grow your relationship safely and pursue true intimacy.
Contributed by: Larry Compter, Executive Director
Above image courtesy of ddpavumba at FreeDigitalPhotos.net