Boundaries With the Opposite Sex – Part Two

Listen On Itunes

Today, we are entering into the second half of our topic, “Boundaries and Relationships With the Opposite Sex.” If you didn’t listen to last week’s episode, listen to it right now before jumping into today’s podcast!
 
“I want to encourage everyone out there, that maybe their spouses aren’t at this place yet, and remind everyone that it’s a growing process. We didn’t just show up to our marriage with this way of being and understand it fully and walk in it perfectly. We are walking this out day by day.” Jennifer Smith
 
We pray that today’s podcast would start a healthy conversation between you and your spouse and that your hearts would be submitted to God and protecting your marriage from the enemy. If your heart is already for this, we encourage you to walk out what you desire your spouse to step out and fervently pray for their heart.
 

READ TRANSCRIPT

Aaron Smith:
Hey, we’re Aaron and Jennifer Smith with Marriage After God.

Jennifer Smith:
Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

Aaron Smith:
And today we’re going to be talking about our relationships with the opposite sex, part two. Welcome to the Marriage After God podcast where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after.

Jennifer Smith:
I’m Jennifer, also known as unveiled wife.

Aaron Smith:
And I’m Aaron, also known as husband illusion.

Jennifer Smith:
We have been married for over a decade.

Aaron Smith:
And so far, we have four young children.

Jennifer Smith:
We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media.

Aaron Smith:
With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day.

Jennifer Smith:
We believe that Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one, full of life …

Aaron Smith:
Love.

Jennifer Smith:

And power.

Aaron Smith:
That can only be found by chasing after God.

Jennifer Smith:
Together.

Aaron Smith:
Thank you for joining us in this journey as we chase boldly after God’s will for our life together.

Jennifer Smith:
This is Marriage After God. Hey guys, thanks for joining us on this awesome week of the Marriage After God podcast. This is part two of a small series that we ended up doing because we just had so much to share on this topic about our friendships with the opposite sex. And so, if you didn’t catch that first half, we want to encourage you to pause and go listen to that right now. If you already listened to it last week, and you’re joining us for this second part, we just hope that you really enjoy it and that you just consider all the things that we bring up and the questions that we answer from you.

Aaron Smith:
Yes. So, we’re about to enter into the second half of our topic on boundaries in relationships with the opposite sex. Enjoy.

Jennifer Smith:
I would say this, I don’t feel like I’m missing out by not having a best friend that’s a guy or having relationships with the opposite sex in that way and-

Aaron Smith:
Well, I’ll ask you, do you have enough energy to deal with another guy’s issues?

Jennifer Smith:
No, that’s funny. But I will say this, that-

Aaron Smith:
I have enough issues as it is for you to deal with.

Jennifer Smith:
Right. I just want to touch on the fact that we still engage with the opposite sex. But here’s how we do it. And this has been-

Aaron Smith:
I close my eyes, I put my hands over my ears, I run away and screaming. No, that’s not what I do.

Jennifer Smith:
No. But I was going to say we’ve built these habits over the years and it gives us the freedom to know where we stand in our marriage and with other relationships. We have conversations at church or the store or when friends are coming over for dinner. So Aaron, let’s talk about some of our boundaries and what we’ve created over the years to help protect your marriage.

Aaron Smith:
We definitely, to the best of our abilities and what we can control, try not to be in privacy ever with the opposite side.

Jennifer Smith:
Not a house, a car. Yeah.

Aaron Smith:
Like, so if I’m standing in the grocery line and the girl behind me says, “Oh, your kids are cute.” I’m going to say, “Oh, thank you.” I talk to her. Like I’m in public, I’m not going to flirt with her, which some guys naturally struggle with a flirtatious spirit, and should pray about that if they are saying fun jokes to get them to laugh at them and drawing them in with emotional words or anything like that. That needs to be addressed, but that’s not what I do. It’s gentle, cordial, loving, courteous, but not deep, not relational in more than they’re a stranger and I’m like, I’m being nice.

Jennifer Smith:
Right. So what happens when our friends are over and there’s a deep conversation happening. What’s like our go-to?

Aaron Smith:
Well, it’s usually both of us together. We’re both communicating back and forth. And so, in those situations, sometimes I’m going to be talking to the woman, the wife and the husband back and forth, but you’re going to be doing the same. But even then, I try and be, if I’m going to be like exhorting, I usually am very careful how I would do that to a woman much different than how I would do it to the husband.

Jennifer Smith:

So you’ll either draw me into the conversation or direct that person to me. And so, there’s this engagement between you and me where we just know. Or sometimes I’ll see you talking to someone and all come up, at church or whatever, and I’ll come up and stand next to you just for that.

Aaron Smith:
To participate.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. Support, participation, presence, and vice versa. When it comes to text messages or emails or social media, anything like that, will CC each other on it so that we’re all seeing the conversation, we’re seeing what’s happening.

Aaron Smith:
Yeah. First of all, if we have tons of friends, married friends, I almost never text the wife. If I am, it’s going to-

Jennifer Smith:
You’ll ask me to.

Aaron Smith:
Yeah. I’ll ask Jennifer to. I’m like, “Hey, can you text so and so and let them know?” And if I do, it’s with her and her husband. And that’s one of the things that we do. Something, and this may be extreme to some, but recently we had another one of those awkward conversations. There was people I was following, I was following some ladies, not like risky, like just friends, people that we know. And I was following these girls in my accounts and you were asking me about them and I kind of was at the point, I was like, “Why am I even …” Like all the women that I was following, you follow and you get the updates from them. And I don’t need those updates.

Aaron Smith:
And so I came to the conclusion of my life, I literally went through all of my Facebook and all of my Instagram and unfollowed every single woman I know minus some family. Like I have some, of course I have some like cousins and stuff that I follow, that’s it. Like I get friend requests every single day from wives that follow us on Instagram, on our public pages. But on my personal pages, I don’t follow any of them because to be honest, I have no … You can’t give me a reason why I should. Not one valuable, important reason. If I’m friends with them and their husband, I follow their husband and they don’t post nearly as much as the their wives do, but that’s a good thing.

Aaron Smith:
Just that’s something I do. I don’t have any … That was something that the Lord convicted me on. Again, is there anything in my life that God doesn’t have access to? And I felt I don’t need to. There’s not a single reason that I need to follow any of those. So, I don’t see people’s posts, I don’t see them posting about their emotional stuff they’ll be going through or intimate details about their life or any of that stuff. I don’t see it, any of it.

Jennifer Smith:
Another thing that I wanted to bring up quickly is just the aspect of babysitters, especially for families that they have kids and there’s that exchange of like communication. I’m the one who will reach out and communicate with our babysitters, and as much as possible, try and be home for when they get there. I think there’s maybe been twice that I wasn’t available.

Aaron Smith:
And I leave.

Jennifer Smith:
And you leave right away.

Aaron Smith:
Yeah, I go.

Jennifer Smith:
So, just making sure that, because these are young girls that are babysitting for us and just making sure that you feel comfortable and we set that boundary. So, is there anything else that you can think of as far as what we’ve kind of set?

Aaron Smith:
Question later, but when there’s these situations with people outside of our relational circles that … So like when I go to the doctors, which is rare. I hate going to the doctors, but when I go, and it’s a female doctor, they often come in, they shut the door and it’s just us. And it’s super uncomfortable but something that I’ve gotten in the practice of doing, I literally ask them every single time, and this is where I was going to tell you the funny stories where they kind of like get shocked and weirded out. So the nurses in there, getting all my information, I’m like, “Hey, can you just open the door?” Which is like, “What?” I’m like, “Yeah, can you open the door?” And she’s like, “Why?” I’m like, “It’s something I do. I try not to be in a room with the girl alone and I think the door will just help me.” And she’s like, “Okay.” I’m like, “Open the door.” And then like walk out.

Aaron Smith:
And the doctor came in and shut the door and I’m like, “Hey, can you …” I had to do it again. I’m like, “Hey, can you open the door?” And she’s like, “Why?” I’m like, “I don’t like to be in a room alone with a girl.” And so you know what it does is-

Jennifer Smith:
I feel like the media would blast you for that.

Aaron Smith:
They would. Well, they make it out to be like, I’m some sort of like … I need to be protected or I need to be like I’m …

Jennifer Smith:
You’re one in a million babe.

Aaron Smith:
And I’m just saying like, I want to just be able to say like, “No, I don’t care the door is open. You’re going to talk to me. I’m not going to hide anything, but I don’t feel comfortable in the room alone.” And it’s something that we do for as many situations as we possibly can.

Jennifer Smith:
Okay. Now I feel really bad because as you’re talking, I’m realizing that I don’t like the chiropractor and I’ve never gone. I went once when I was pregnant with Wyatt, I think, but that was to a female. And then this last time I got recommended to a male and I didn’t know how the practice was set up or anything like that. And so I’m waiting in the waiting room and I don’t know why, but I assumed, because I couldn’t see how big the place was, that there was more people there, and it was just him and I. And I’m just realizing that right now. It was a short-

Aaron Smith:
Think about it next time.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah, it was a short little thing. And I ended up not even using that practice, but, sorry.

Aaron Smith:
So another thing I think of, we’ve in the past enjoyed going and getting massages. And I personally don’t like a man massaging me so I would always have a female. And it was … No, I don’t think we’ve ever had a couple’s …. Oh, we’ve had a couple’s massage one time.

Jennifer Smith:
Oh yeah. For our honeymoon.

Aaron Smith:
That was for our honeymoon, long time ago. That’s a funny story. But I got convicted and I was like … And massages are like pretty intimate. Like I know that they’re not trying to be intimate, but like it is. Like I have a female massaging me and I got convicted. I was like, “First of all, I’m not going to have a man do it and now I don’t want a woman doing it.” So when’s the last time I’ve gone to get a massage?

Jennifer Smith:
When you said you sometimes get a massage, I was thinking, you never do.

Aaron Smith:
No, we used to and it’s been years because I just decided not to and everyone’s going to ask you to do it.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah, we didn’t even talk about that one. I didn’t know that was the thing.

Aaron Smith:
No. Well, I just thought to myself, I was like, “It’s not worth it. I don’t need to.” It’ll save me money, that’s a good thing.

Jennifer Smith:
I was going to say we should book a couple’s massage then.

Aaron Smith:
I’ve mentioned it a couple of times because I would totally do that. Like you’d be with me in the room. So, there’s things that … And if you’re listening and you’re thinking like, “Man, you have all these rules.” It’s not rules, it’s a way of thinking that my wife and I have decided we’re going to just-

Jennifer Smith:
It’s honor.

Aaron Smith:
We’re going to honor each other. Yeah. We just talked about this in the beginning of the-

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah, it’s beautiful.

Aaron Smith:
… episode. And what happens is when you think that way, it just starts trickling into like lots of little decisions.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. And it’s not like this strict rule that you are burdened by. It becomes your habit and nature. Like it just is what we do. Something I was going to mention earlier is that by living this way, I have gained even more respect and honor for you as my husband and leading us in this way. And I just want to encourage all the spouses out there who maybe their spouse isn’t at this place yet, and just remind everyone that it’s a growing process, that we didn’t just show up to our marriage with this way of being and understand it fully and walk in it perfectly.

Aaron Smith:
Right.

Jennifer Smith:
We’re walking this out day by day.

Aaron Smith:
Well, and I would encourage the spouse that does think this way, to make sure that they’re walking the way they would desire their spouse to walk.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. And be praying for them.

Aaron Smith:
Yeah. And be praying for them.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah.

Aaron Smith:
Because it’s hard. Like if you don’t want your husband being a certain way, but you have your own relationships that you’re totally fine with because you know that they’re on the up and up and you think, “Well, no, mine’s different.” Like if you think that way, you’ll never influence your spouse.

Jennifer Smith:
Right. So, talking about influencing your spouse, one of the ways that we have grown in all of this is by talking about it. When situations or scenarios come up that make us feel uncomfortable, we talk about it. We get on the same page about how to approach it. So we don’t just end the conversation with, I feel this way, period. It’s a, okay now what and how do we navigate this and be unified in it?

Aaron Smith:
Yeah, and a note on those conversations, is if we come in with suspicions and pre-determined motives like, “Oh, you were doing this because of this, or-

Jennifer Smith:
Or I’ve totally been flared up by jealousy and irrational thoughts that made me believe something about you that wasn’t true, and I’ve responded that way.

Aaron Smith:
And so I think to make this a free flowing conversation that we’re both saying we’re going to continue to talk about these things as they come up, to know that we’re on the same page about talking about them and learning and figuring it out as we go, rather than allowing those jealousies and misinterpretations and motive casting and trying to build a narrative that may not exist. And so that we can healthily and openly objectively talk about them. And say, “What are we doing? What is this? Do you think this was a wise decision? Do you think … What kind of image does this show to outsiders?” Because again, this is all going back to we’re light and salt. We have a ministry as a couple. Our marriage represents the gospel. So, are we tainting that in any way by doing these things?

Jennifer Smith:
That’s all really, really good. So earlier, I mentioned how I’ve gained respect for you and for our marriage because of this and the way that we’re living it out. And so I just want to encourage those listening that when you and your spouse do the same-

Aaron Smith:
Hey Marriage After God family. Jennifer and I have been parents for over six years now. And we have our fifth child on the way, but that by no means makes us experts. I don’t know about you, but there are many days where I literally feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. But the one thing I am sure of is that it is my wife’s and my responsibility to raise our kids to know God and his word, especially in the world we live in today. That is why it is so important that we reach out for help from other godly Christian parents when we need it. And sometimes we may just need some friendly reminders and encouragement.

Aaron Smith:
With that being said, we want to introduce you to our good friends, Isaac and Angie Tolpin from the Courageous Parenting Podcast. They’re offering our listeners a completely free parenting workshop where you will learn six keys to equipping covenant Christian kids for an uncertain world. Isaac and Angie Tolpin have eight kids ranging from young adult to toddler and have been married for over 20 years, and they’ve been our close personal friends for over five years. Please take a moment today and register for their free workshop. We know you’ll be blessed by it now. Please enjoy the rest of this episode uninterrupted.

Jennifer Smith:
So when you respond to a situation with the opposite sex, when you adhere to those boundaries that you previously talked about, it builds and forms trust. And trust is huge in marriage.

Aaron Smith:
Yeah. And security it. So the more we think this way and just desire purity and desire honor. And that we’re like, that my goal is to make sure that my wife never has a doubt in her mind about my faithfulness to her, that she … Not even about my faithfulness, but that she’s also knows that I’m being wise in protecting my-

Jennifer Smith:
Do the same thing.

Aaron Smith:
People outside harm. Someone coming onto me, someone taking advantage of a situation, someone saying something about me that’s not true. So like these are … That’s the other side of it. Are we walking in dangerous situations, emotionally, relationally? So I polled my audience a couple weeks ago.

Jennifer Smith:
They’re not just your audience.

Aaron Smith:
I polled our audience about questions that they might have around this topic. So I thought I would go through several of these questions and we’ll just throw out quick answers on them. Some of them we probably already answered on our-

Jennifer Smith:
Hopefully good answers.

Aaron Smith:
… discourse. But yeah, so the first one, how do I navigate close friendships with brothers and sisters in the body of Christ of the opposite sex? So I guess my first answer to this, and I believe it’s in a Timothy, and it talks about how we’re to treat men as brothers, women as sisters in all purity. And so, the way we deal with brothers and sisters in the body of Christ is we make sure that we are not putting them in an improper situation. We desire their owner.

Aaron Smith:
Just because I’m seeing, just because she’s single doesn’t mean that we should now be alone and have this image. No, I can still totally respect her honor and be like, “Hey, like let me get … You need prayer right now? Oh, I’m going to be praying for you but this sister over here, she would love to pray for you and bring you over. And like, let’s pray together. Like let’s …”

Aaron Smith:
Like showing them that I honor their purity and that I honor their character, and that the way people look at them and that there’s not going to be any inkling of anything weird. And then I’m not going to accidentally emotionally draw them in because that could totally happen. But just honoring our brothers and sisters as brothers and sisters.

Jennifer Smith:
And this isn’t just for singles, this is for anybody, right?

Aaron Smith:
Right, yeah.

Jennifer Smith:
So I would tack onto that. As you’re evaluating how to treat these relationships with the opposite sex, it’s not just about how you’re talking to them, which I would include like, are you course joking? Are you trying-

Aaron Smith:
Saying things that are inappropriate.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. Are you saying things to try and get a certain response out of someone or are you looking for that emotional connection. But also physical, are you touching their arm in a specific way that makes you feel good or wants to make them feel good that you know you shouldn’t be doing. Are you walking behind them and massaging their shoulders two times, letting them know your presence when you shouldn’t be doing that.

Aaron Smith:
And this goes for both men and women.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah.

Aaron Smith:
Because-

Jennifer Smith:
Those are the things that come to mind.

Aaron Smith:
… some people just naturally are touchy, but we need to be aware of that and say, “Well, I am naturally touching you and that’s something that’s good for my spouse and for other women-

Jennifer Smith:
It’s a privilege for your spouse.

Aaron Smith:
Or other men. It’s privilege. And this is what I was going to get to, is that, are we teaching our brothers and sisters in Christ who are not our spouse how to honor our spouse, how to honor us? And are we showing them honor and say, “Hey, I really appreciate this. I think I would love it if my spouse, my wife was here with this conversation.” Or showing them that there’s a deep respect that I require from them toward my spouse and vice versa.

Jennifer Smith:
Okay. The next one is how do I make boundaries and tell opposite sex nope?

Aaron Smith:
To be honest …

Jennifer Smith:
Go bold or go home.

Aaron Smith:
Well, I think we get afraid sometimes of like hurting people’s feelings, but I think there’s a way with grace and peace and patience and gentleness to tell somebody like, “Hey, I just really think this is inappropriate.”

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. And be understanding, like explain to them why you believe that.

Aaron Smith:
And you know what, if they get their feelings hurt, you just trust the Holy Spirit to work in them. And you say, “Hey, I’m sorry. I’m not intending to hurt your feelings. I just, this is what I feel and this is what I think is right. This would be honorable, and I don’t want my wife to think that I’m doing anything inappropriate or your spouse to think that anything inappropriate is happening.” So I think just saying it with grace, with mercy, with understanding.

Jennifer Smith:
Now, I will say this, I think it’s harder to say something when the boundary is unclear. So the more you yourself and your spouse understand what the boundaries are, and unless you’re willing to make them, then it’s always going to be hard to say something because you’ll be struggling the whole time with whether it’s appropriate or not instead of just knowing. So, that shows you just the importance of communicating with your spouse and being on the same page.

Aaron Smith:
And let’s be careful not to mask inappropriate behavior with ministry. Like, “Oh, they needed prayer in that moment or I was just trying to counsel them and …” These things can be very dangerous and there’s nothing wrong with trusting that the Holy Spirit may not need to use you in that situation.

Jennifer Smith:
So, this is interesting. Somebody ended up Instagram messaging me because you polled the audience and she wanted to come to me with the question, which I thought was honorable. It was awesome, but she was wondering about if you’re in leadership in a church and it requires, say the worshipping team or something like that, and you’re required … You have people under you that are of the opposite sex and you’re required to meet with them. How would you approach that?

Aaron Smith:
Again, with visibility.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah.

Aaron Smith:
If that was your job, you do it publicly.

Jennifer Smith:
Out in the open or we have a friend-

Aaron Smith:
In the middle of the-

Jennifer Smith:
… That would bring a family member.

Aaron Smith:
Yeah. You bring someone of the same sex into the conversation with you so that there’s multiple people there. And that again, shows respect to the person and to your spouse.

Jennifer Smith:
Okay, cool. We need to move on. So, at what point do you stop trying to help the opposite gender’s problems?

Aaron Smith:
So let’s imagine there’s a woman in our church that keeps coming to me for whatever reason, thinks that I might be able to help her. I spoke on something and she was just encouraged by it and keeps coming to me like, “Hey, but what about this? This situation’s come up.” Unless we think that we’re the only one capable of doing what God wants to do in that person’s life, which is usually the situation, “But I don’t help who’s going to help? If I don’t do this thing, am I going to not love her, am I not being Christian enough?”

Aaron Smith:
There are so many other things to be considering. Like are you the person to help her are or him? Would it not be the right thing to teach them, give them understanding and say, “Hey, I really want … Let’s figure this out. Let’s find someone that can help you with this. Let’s bring someone in this conversation that I think will relate to you, will understand you, and it’s a woman. And here’s my wife.” And I’m going to my wife and say, “Hey, I know you’re … In a minute, will you be able to come talk to this person who would love some prayer and they have some things that need encouraging.”

Jennifer Smith:
I think we need to be realistic on how emotional connectedness works. Because the moment someone comes to you with a problem or a concern or needs comfort because they’re just in an emotional state and they’re sad and they’re crying and-

Aaron Smith:
It’s valid and they need it.

Jennifer Smith:

And you’re the only person standing there and you want it, you have this desire to comfort them but you also know that you probably shouldn’t be, oh, it can happen so quickly, that emotional transaction in that it’s intimate. And so we need to be guarded. We need to be careful and we need to be strong enough to say, “I understand you and where you’re at right now and I want to guide you there.”

Aaron Smith:
And we have to remember that ultimately the Holy Spirit is the one that’s going to do the comforting. And so if they get offended and angry because you want to rightly like, “Hey, can we … Let’s find someone that can like be with you right now? And it can’t be me.” Then their heart is not in the right place in the first place. So again, these need to be worked out in prayer and in the spirit and in conversation with your spouse.

Aaron Smith:
Okay. So here’s another question. I think we kind of answered this. What about going to counseling or the doctor’s the opposite sex? Again, what I do is I ask them to keep the door open. Like I may not be able to be with other people in the room, but I can at least have the door open. And so when people know that they can hear and it’s visible and it’s less private.

Jennifer Smith:
I would add onto this that there may be situations where it happens and I would say when you’re dealing with a professional, I don’t know if you would agree with me on this, that there’s more-

Aaron Smith:
Spiritual discernment.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah.

Aaron Smith:
Because I’m just saying like, I don’t know if I would feel comfortable with you spinning. Like let’s say we were doing counseling.

Jennifer Smith:
Sure.

Aaron Smith:
If you were just spending hours with them, a guy counselor by yourself. That’s just me personally. So-

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. Good thing to talk about with your spouse.

Aaron Smith:
Discernment … Yeah.

Jennifer Smith:
Okay. So what about this question? What if your spouse does not have the same standards of boundaries or understanding that you do? Which we kind of already mentioned. My thing is you’ve got to have a heart of prayer for your spouse. You got to be so devoted to them that you plead for God to move in their hearts.

Aaron Smith:
And again, be willing to make sure you don’t have your own double standard. That you don’t like what they’re doing, but what you’re doing is totally fine because of this, this and this. Make sure you’re walking in the standard that you desire yourself so they see it.

Jennifer Smith:
When messaging opposite sex, would you always include spouse in the chat? Why?

Aaron Smith:
As much as I possibly can, I do. And speaking of chat, another thing I wanted to talk about from earlier when we talked about boundaries, we have our large social media platforms. Lots of women follow me, lots of men follow me. This isn’t the same as my personal accounts that I’ve removed women, I have lots of women, you have lots of men that follow you. And I get messages, private messages all the time from women and I don’t respond to them. All I’ll do at most is like a comment like, “Oh, thanks for mentioning it.”

Aaron Smith:
Because people say that … Like they’ll mention something about our books or something like that. But people ask for advice, I don’t give advice. I have an automated message that tells them to go talk to you. And to be honest, like I don’t even know them anyway. It’d be insane for me to think that I can give them accurate wisdom for their situation that I know nothing of. So I don’t even waste my time. I couldn’t possibly do that, even if I wanted to. But that’s another boundary that I said is I just don’t interact on any significant level with women 

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah, I remember this brings up a feeling that I have from the past where probably one of the reasons we have this boundary is because somebody messaged you on one of the social media platforms and it was really insignificant, almost like where do I go to get your books? And you gave them the link and then they followed up with another question and you answered that and then they followed up with another question. They were insignificant but continually got a little bit more in depth. And I think I was looking over your shoulder or something. I don’t remember how, or maybe you were showing it to me and I was just like, “I …”

Aaron Smith:
Yeah, what is this?

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah, what’s going on here?

Aaron Smith:
And you know what? It’s common.

Jennifer Smith:
It can happen so quickly.

Aaron Smith:
So I believe it’s Ravi Zacharias, tells a story of something that happened with him. He’s a pastor and a woman emailed with just some, needed some advice, all very, very innocent. Like, “Hey, this is going on with this, my marriage, or I just need some biblical wisdom.” And over months and months and months, kept emailing, kept emailing and then he noticed it started getting really emotional, like connected. And then she started sending him really inappropriate stuff and he was like, at that point he’s like, “I made a huge mistake from the beginning.”

Aaron Smith:
He had to go to his board, he had to get … He printed out all the emails, like try to get as much exposure and accountability as quickly as possible. But the point is I’m not interested, I don’t even want to be led down the rabbit trail. And for you, I see messages on your page. Sometimes it’s just a guy that says, “Hi.” And first of all, if anyone ever just message me, hi, guy or girl, I delete it. Like if I don’t know you and that’s how you start a message, all that tells me is you’re trying to bait me into something. Anyways. So yeah, I tend not to engage in any significant way with girls on social media.

Jennifer Smith:
Okay. Should you remain friends with exes on social media or otherwise when married?

Aaron Smith:
How would you feel babe if I was following … First of all, I don’t follow any women anymore, but if I was following my ex girlfriend, the only one I’ve ever had.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. I mean that’s a hard question because when you say remain friends with, it’s like, okay, are they on your friends list and you see a post from them every once in a while? Or are you like actively engaging in their life and being friends with them?

Aaron Smith:
On what level would you not care?

Jennifer Smith:
Good question.

Aaron Smith:
I guess … I mean, I guess it depends if you and your spouse don’t care that you have friends and family that you follow that are females.

Jennifer Smith:
I would say this, if you cared, I would definitely change what I was doing in order to accommodate your heart and what you care about and what you-

Aaron Smith:
If I cared that you were.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah.

Aaron Smith:
Yeah. Because you can have friends, exes, and the relationship was just … And that you’re just totally friends and there’s nothing weird about it. I don’t know. Again, a discernment and I think that should be prayed about. Are you thinking about that in your case, Jennifer?

Jennifer Smith:
What?

Aaron Smith:
Do you follow any exes?

Jennifer Smith:
I don’t know. I don’t think so, but I could go check. I don’t have that many.

Aaron Smith:
I know, that’s a bonus. Okay. Where are we at?

Jennifer Smith:
Should Christians have jobs where they work closely with the opposite sex and what if their spouse doesn’t like it?

Aaron Smith:
Those are two different … Okay. So, I would say it’s probably inevitable in some cases.

Jennifer Smith:
To work with someone, yeah, closely.

Aaron Smith:
And I would say-

Jennifer Smith:
Do your best to-

Aaron Smith:
Do whatever you can to-

Jennifer Smith:
Be transparent in that.

Aaron Smith:
… to be above water on all that and have accountability and make sure that you’re alone, as least as possible if you … To be honest, I don’t know if I would … I don’t know. That’s a hard one. I would … If you’re like alone often with some of the opposite sex, I’m probably thinking of like police officers.

Jennifer Smith:
You probably won’t like it.

Aaron Smith:
Like police officers have a partner.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. So I think that’s something for the spouses to discuss.

Aaron Smith:
Absolutely.

Jennifer Smith:
Because that second question is really important. What if your spouse doesn’t like it? I know that if you, like going back to the other question, if I was doing something that you didn’t like, I would heavily …

Aaron Smith:
It should heavily be considered and prayed about because it could potentially be … Yeah, I think, talk about it, pray about it, discern it. Should pastors meet women alone? I tend to lean on the Billy Graham rule. Like I don’t think … I just don’t see how that could … There’s so many capable women in the church that should be able to counsel and encourage and love and teach another woman.

Jennifer Smith:
That’s good answer. The first thing that came to my mind are all the headlines of pastors who have failed in this area of-

Aaron Smith:
It’s a huge thing. This is one of the ways that the enemy is taken down churches, is seemingly innocent situations that turn not so innocent. And so me personally, I’m not going to. So I wouldn’t encourage any other pastors to. Like I said, there’s plenty of capable, talented, wise women that can sit down with a woman and-

Jennifer Smith:
Or someone just to be in the same room.

Aaron Smith:
Or you bring people into the room that can be there. Yeah.

Jennifer Smith:
All right, last question. Is it okay for someone to pray for the opposite sex in person?

Aaron Smith:
Like I would imagine like an intimate prayer. I have my hands on you, I’m praying for you.

Jennifer Smith:
Right.

Aaron Smith:
Again, there’s … I don’t want to just make a blanket.

Jennifer Smith:
Let’s just tell them what we do.

Aaron Smith:
What we do is as much as possible, I’m going to say, “Let me go get someone to pray with us.” And I’ll go grab my wife, if you’re around or I’ll grab another woman to do it. It’s rare that I’m in a situation where I’m not with you, where someone wants prayer. But I would just try and make sure that … Prayer is a super intimate thing. You’re literally interceding for someone in the throne room of God, in the spirit. Like it’s an intimate thing.

Jennifer Smith:
Well first, it’s they’re communicating their heart to you about whatever the matter is.

Aaron Smith:
Which is another intimate thing.

Jennifer Smith:
And then you’re going on their behalf, which means there’s an agreeance there that this thing needs to be prayed for.

Aaron Smith:
So again, I think if the norm is that there’s always accountability, if the norm is that there’s always another person present, if that’s the norm, there’s going to be situations I would imagine that are out of the norm. But those should be the exceptions to the rule, not the rule.

Jennifer Smith:
And if you’ve built that trust up over the years, it’s going to … I don’t know.

Aaron Smith:
Well, because you never know. Like there might be a situation where you’re out in public and just the Holy Spirit brings someone to you and-

Jennifer Smith:
Oh sure.

Aaron Smith:
Like … So I can’t just throw it all out, but I think if our initial position is protection, is boundary, then those situations will be much more rare and pure, if that makes sense.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah. I would also say like in all of these questions and all of these scenarios and all of the things that could possibly happen in our lives, and even having boundaries or not having boundaries in marriage, like are we listening to the Holy Spirit? Are we actually letting him lead us and guide us or are we just operating on our own, in our own ways?

Aaron Smith:
And being whimsical.

Jennifer Smith:
Yeah.

Aaron Smith:
And just going with the flow and … Yeah.

Jennifer Smith:
Because we are going to be put in situations and what my encouragement and my challenge for us and for everyone listening is, even in the smallest of moments, are we listening to the Holy Spirit? Because he will guide us and he will let us know if we should be there or not, if we should do that or not.

Aaron Smith:
And the Holy Spirit is not going to ask us to do something wrong. And so we got to know how to walk in wisdom and understanding and discernment. The Bible tells us to practice our discernment so that we can be expert discerners, testing every situation. That’s what the Bible encourages us to be and do, as believers. So that we’re not just like, “I had no idea. What? I just got caught off guard, I didn’t even see it coming.” Well, we should. We should see it coming. We should discern, “Wow, this person looks like they’re hurting, but it seems like they’re trying to emotionally connect with me in a way that I don’t feel comfortable with. I’m going to go ask for help on this.” So those are the kinds of things I’m thinking about.

Aaron Smith:
So as we close, I mentioned earlier, this is a long episode, but I mentioned much earlier in this episode how I was going to give you a couple of questions to ask yourself. So we talked about just generally boundaries with the opposite sex outside of your marriage, but then in that is if there are any of you listening that do have really close friends, people that you go, like your husband and you go spend time with another woman, most people would be like, “What?” But this happens. They have a close good friend and they go spend time with this person alone and they talk to them and they share things with them and they’re your best friends. And vice versa, you have women that have best friend that are men that are not their husbands. And so that is you. I have some questions for you to ask yourself and your spouse.

Jennifer Smith:
Also, real quick, I want to interject with some justifications because sometimes we hear something, but I want to take it a little bit further. If you’re right now thinking justification or excuses for these relationships such as, “I’ve known him my whole life, they’re like family, they’re my best friend.”

Aaron Smith:
I knew them longer than my husband.

Jennifer Smith:
Do all of those things trump the fact that you should be considering what Aaron’s going to say or no? Because I think it’s important to just evaluate it too.

Aaron Smith:
These are actually questions that you should ask your spouse, and if you’re not willing to ask your spouse these questions, then you should ask yourself what relationship you have with your spouse. Are you honoring your marriage? Are you honoring them? Do you respect them? Do you actually care what they feel and think? Do you want them to know that you love them? Do you … Like these are things that come up if you can’t ask these questions.

Aaron Smith:
So if this is your situation, here’s two questions I want you to consider prayerfully asking your spouse. First one, how does my relationship with so-and-so make you feel? That’s a big question. Have you ever thought of it? Have you ever even asked it? They probably have never said anything to you and you’re probably thinking they totally fine with it, and it’s possible that internally they are having a huge problem with it. Maybe they feel inadequate, maybe they feel left out, maybe they feel like, “Well, what does he have that I don’t?” These are all the legitimate things that your spouse probably feels. Second question, would you like our relationship to be different?

Jennifer Smith:
Our relationship as in the marriage or our relationship as in the friendship?

Aaron Smith:
The friendship. You’re asking your spouse, would you like this relationship with this other person to be different with me? Because it could be, don’t cut it off, but it needs to change. And so, that’s my challenge to anyone who’s in that situation. And all that being said, we’d like to end in prayer. We hope that this encouraged you, we hope this gives you something to talk about, that the heart would not be, “Here’s the new rules that we’re going to run.” The heart is, “How can we represent Christ better? How can we protect our marriage? How can we strengthen our marriage? How can we build more unity, more friendship, more love, more compassion and gentleness and tenderness and power because of all of these things? So that we can accomplish that which God has for us to accomplish.” So Jennifer, would you pray us out?

Jennifer Smith:
Dear Lord, thank you for today. Thank you for the Marriage After God podcast and the opportunity to share your truth. Thank you for all the men and women who tune in and are positively impacted by the messages you encourage us to share. We pray for our marriages. We pray protection from the enemy and we pray and ask that you would continue to mature us. We pray we would consider our relationships with the opposite sex and that we would be thoughtful in discerning with them. I pray that we would deeply consider our spouses heart on this matter and that we would yield our opinions and desires to you and to your will, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Aaron Smith:
Amen. Thanks for joining us on this week’s episode and we look forward to having you next week. Don’t forget to leave a review. Get that free download and see you next time.

Aaron Smith:
Did you enjoy today’s show? If you did, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a review on iTunes. Also, if you’re interested, you can find many more encouraging stories and resources at marriageaftergod.com and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.

Like this article?

Share on facebook
Share on Facebook
Share on twitter
Share on Twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on Linkdin
Share on pinterest
Share on Pinterest

Leave a comment

The Ultimate Marriage Growth Bundle Now on Sale