Fortifying Marriage

About 35 years ago my Stake President gave a series of talks that became known as the ‘Hug Talk’. I first heard this message as a youth, where he shared that holding hands is the first step that leads to more physical contact. Later, as a newly married couple, we heard his address to adults a few times as he travelled through the stake. To the adults he shared a serious warning about infidelity and a warning to avoid situations that can lead to inappropriate relationships. He was also very clear that married adults should not be hugging members of the opposite sex that were not their spouses. The youth were much more accepting of this message. It was very surprising that there was some protest and complaints among the adult congregations, saying that a hug was innocent enough. It was such a relief that I would no longer have ward men trying to hug me. I think the greatest value of the ‘Hug Talk’ was that it sparked a lot of conversation. My husband and I discussed it in detail and decided that we would do whatever we could to avoid being alone with someone of the opposite sex. This was not always convenient, especially when that left me to drive home the babysitters, however, it has become a comforting precedent in our marriage.

Honoring the marital commitment is key for an enduring, happy family. There are several different ways to be unfaithful, some that may start out innocently and seem harmless at first, but they can develop into negative patterns that that have a significant impact on our relationships. It is easier to prevent infidelity than repair a broken relationship.

Therapist Dr. Shirley Glass (Glass 2003) shared that infidelity is more about boundaries than anything else.

With that in mind, there is a concept that it is important to put up walls to protect the family

Wise walls for preventing infidelity (Hawkins p64 & Broderick)

• Resist the desire to rescue an unhappy soul who pours his or her heart out to you.

• Don’t share the most painful things of your soul with an attractive alternative. This develops deep levels of intimacy.

• If a conversation makes light of marriage, respond with something positive about your own marriage.

• Discuss marital issues with your spouse. Work on the problems at home. If you do need to talk to someone else about your marriage, be sure he or she is a friend of the marriage.

 • Don’t have lunch or take work breaks with the same person all the time.

• Don’t have lunch alone with an old flame.

• If an old boyfriend or girlfriend is going to be at a class reunion, make sure you bring your spouse along.

• When you travel with a co-worker, meet only in public places.

• Don’t flirt with anyone other than your spouse.

• Don’t travel together with someone of the opposite sex when going to meetings for work, church, or in other circumstances.”

“As we construct appropriate boundaries, are fiercely loyal, control thoughts, and put our spouse first, it is unlikely our marriage will ever be traumatized by infidelity.” (Hawkins p65)

Resources

Broderick, C. (1991). One flesh, one heart. Salt Lake City: Shadow Mountain.

Glass, S. (2003). Not “just friends”: Protect your relationship from infidelity and heal the trauma of betrayal. New York: The Free Press.

Goddard, H. W. (2009). Drawing heaven into your marriage: Eternal doctrines that change relationships. Cedar Hills, UT: Joymap Publishing.

Hawkins A, Dollahite D, Draper T. Successful marriages and families. Provo, Utah: BYU Studies and School of Family Life, Brigham Young University, 2012.

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