To set boundaries in a romantic relationship
How do you think through this with your girlfriend?
In our culture, in today's Norway, most people believe that in order to get to know a potential spouse well enough, you should have lived together. Many people will tell you that at the very least, you have to know each other well, also physically; waiting to have sex seems absurd and unthinkable to them. The Bible thinks very differently about this matter.
What if the truth is that the physical actually gets in the way of you as a couple getting to know each other?
There wasn't much dating in Jesus' time. Nevertheless, we as Christians think that it is important to get to know a potential spouse well. That is very important. But what if it's not the physical intimacy that makes you feel safe with each other? What if the physical intimacy actually gets in the way of you as a couple getting to know each other?
By waiting to have sex and keeping the big, burning feelings back a bit, you have a unique opportunity to get to know the person you love. It is difficult, and you are forced to talk about limits and temptations - but through this, you get to know the other person on a much deeper level.
We also like to highlight that you will have a lot of time to chat and experience things together if you consciously are trying to do something else than cuddle when you are together.
What happens if you after a while, realize that nothing more will come of the relationship. It will, of course, always be difficult. But by having clear boundaries, one will still avoid being linked to the other in a way that makes it even more difficult to end the relationship. Perhaps it will also be easier to socialize later in life if you for some reason end up with someone else.
How to set boundaries in the relationship?
Tip 1 – The degree of commitment must match the degree of intimacy
God has created sex as something wonderful. It connects and provides deep intimacy. But all intimacy should come with commitment. You wouldn't give someone you didn't know or trust control of your finances or your life. All intimacy is vulnerable. It is therefore important that the degree of intimacy follows the degree of commitment and security.
Setting boundaries in relationships does not only apply to the physical aspects of the relationship. It takes wisdom and maturity to guard one's heart. As lovers, you don't have to share everything in your life with each other from day one, it is also important to build the emotional and spiritual parts of the relationship - one step at a time.
Tip 2 – Set firm boundaries
Often, it comes down to wishful thinking when it comes to setting boundaries. You may know how far you want to go, but once you are in a situation where the limits are challenged by yourself or your partner, it is easy to forget.
Talk together! Agree on boundaries together and help each other stick to them. Talking about these things is a strength and will make it easier to discuss sex and lust even after marriage.
Of course, it doesn't help to just talk about the limits, you also have to take clear measures to comply with them. It will be hard, and it will only get worse until you get closer to marriage. Figure things out together, and avoid situations that make things more difficult. By doing activities together, you have yet another golden opportunity to get to know each other better.
Tips 3 – How to honour God?
How far is too far?
God is not one to sit and watch and wait to rebuke you when you have stepped over the line.
God does not set limits because He wants to make it difficult for us. He wants the best for us and the best for our lover. He wants us to avoid uncertainty and heartbreak.
A good way to think about it is to keep the focus on how to honor God through your relationship. How can you get closer to Jesus together and understand little by little more why you set boundaries and what God's idea is for a good marriage.
You don't only have boundaries to prevent bad feelings if you break up, but also to have an even safer and better marriage if you actually end up together.
We know that it is difficult. There will be situations where you have been balancing on the edge for a long time or perhaps stepped completely over the limits.
There is always forgiveness. God forgives - forgive each other too!
But don't use the fact that it's already happened as an excuse to keep going. Talk about it, and use it as an opportunity to re-establish boundaries.
The text is used with permission from Itro.no