It seems like temptations are there wherever we go. How do we guard our relationship? Why should we even bother guarding our hearts? This day, lots of relationships end because of third party, it is the cause of many broken marriages and families. When your heart is guarded, your relationship is guarded. After all, a guarded heart is a strong heart. It can withstand even the greatest temptation.
Mark knows that I am definitely “one of the boys”. Yes, despite my girly habits and fashion sense, I like hanging out with the guys. They’re just so much fun to be with! Mark was never against this. When he introduced me to his friends, it seems like we clicked because I had no difficulties chilling with guys. We both enjoy our time with his friends and my guy friends.
However, I noticed that there are times that I feel very vulnerable. When problems arose and I feel like I couldn’t reach out to Mark, I used to open up to a certain guy friend. Girls, let us all confess. Even if we see a person as just a friend, when we open up our hearts to them, they get little pieces of it. It’s not like we’re falling in love with that friend just by talking to them about personal things. It’s that, we love the comfort they give us, we feel safe around them, they become our shoulder to cry on and we think that they are there to protect us. And somehow, those feelings are mistranslated into feelings like love, affection, or infatuation.
I know because I have been there. What we don’t get from our partners, we look for it from somebody else. It is hard to admit and some people are probably still in denial, but you know it. Even if you don’t want to, even if you don’t mean to; when another person gives you the love and attention that’s been missing, you entertain it. While some do not progress into third parties, some just live lingering feelings (again, not love. But you felt something). For others, they keep the “friendly” act of running to their “friend” for comfort. Before we know it, the relationship ends and she is out to date that “friend”. There is nothing wrong with this. Nothing is wrong with dating a friend. Nothing is wrong when you end a relationship because you found something better and someone more compatible with you; you are entitled to make this decision for yourself. What is wrong is when you cheat. Personally, this doesn’t work for us because we are married. We cannot break it off. We cannot send our hearts out there looking for something better. We are supposed to look for the best in each other. That’s why we got married in the first place; we knew we were best for each other. When it feels like something is lacking, we have to talk about it, improve ourselves and provide what is missing. We cannot end our relationship to date a friend. Well, we can. Everyone has a choice. But we’d rather not. We already are best friends.
But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matthew 5:28
Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death. James 1:15
Adultery starts from the heart. We protect our marriage by killing the desire before it grows into sin. We don’t play with temptations, we RUN AWAY FROM IT. Anyone who has ever played with temptation has always lost. I am a woman, and I admit that even women are easily tempted. The difference is, although we are not as easily tempted with sexual things, we are more easily tempted with love, affection, appreciation, attention. These are things that will get us hooked: feelings that are much deeper than just sexual imagination.
During the early stages of our relationship, I had a guy friend who I always run to whenever I felt I needed an advice about men. I would message or call him any time of the day. I looked at him as a friend and nothing more but I noticed that our frequent conversations are starting to plant misleading feelings in my heart. Slowly, I have started to feel safe around him. I felt like I am getting the attention that I thought was missing. By God’s grace, Mark and I watched an online talk about guarding relationships. I really felt the conviction to stop communicating with guys emotionally. I decided to talk to Mark if I ever feel like something is lacking and be completely honest with how I feel. And I am proud to say that he makes the effort to listen to everything I have to say and he really improves himself in being the best husband he could be to me. I did not cut all my ties from my friends but I decided not to open up to them emotionally anymore. Mark has always been my best friend but it is hard to treat him like one when we encounter problems. But whenever I do, I end up feeling the best. I stopped looking for the missing pieces somewhere else but I go directly to Mark and I find out “Hey, the missing pieces have been right here all along. I just needed to take a closer look”.
Another way that I guard our relationship is to let Mark know about any conversation I have with guys. It’s not like I tell him everything in detail and it definitely is not like reporting cases to the NBI. It’s just simple things like when a guy approaches me for advice; I would tell Mark “Honey, this guy is asking for my opinion. He’s not a friend but we have common friends. Would it be okay with you if we have a conversation about … ?” (We get lots of PM’s and new friends especially when we write something about our experiences. We’d love to make more!) Mark has always been supportive about it. I do not have to do these things but I know Mark appreciates it. It somehow takes away any doubt, jealousy or fear (if there’s any). I think the ways I have chosen in guarding our relationship have made Mark trust me even more.
Some people think that it is not necessary that I take these “safety measures”, but I know that I HAVE TO. I know that I am only human and I know that I am weak. I know that I cannot play with fire. My relationship with my husband is one of the most important things in my life. Mark is a treasure for me. These little ways create a BIG IMPACT in our relationship.
Mark plays a really important role in guarding my heart. I am grateful for having him in my life. He does his responsibilities as a husband. It really helps when he takes me out on dates, gives me compliments and gives me attention. When he does these things, it makes me feel like I am loved and appreciated; like I do not want to be anywhere else but beside him.
Temptations are everywhere. From my perspective, temptation is like a little voice inviting you to do wicked things. You notice someone and temptation will try to manipulate you. It will make you have fantasies about the person or will make you perform immoral actions. Temptations should never be played with because it can ruin relationships instantly. It is one of the biggest reasons for third parties in relationships.
So what can you do to fight temptations? Get rid of it while it’s still not controlling you. Don’t let it conquer you. I had difficulties fighting temptations when I was younger. Whenever I notice someone attractive, I look at her for a couple of times. I always thought it was normal for guys to do that but it isn’t. Temptation will always be out there but it is your reaction to it that matters. You can either entertain it or get going. But believe me; the choice is in your hands and not anyone else’s. Things were a little bit better when I was dating Treszka but it was still a challenge. Sometimes I look; sometimes I don’t (because I already find Treszka really beautiful). But everything started to change when I married Treszka. Marrying Treszka meant choosing her above anyone else. It meant that I am ready to say no to all the girls out there. It meant that I will desire no other girl than her. And since I’ve decided to marry Treszka, I will stand firm with my decision.
I decided to completely disconnect myself from temptation. So, I changed the way I see attractive people. I look at them as creations of God and not as symbols of sexuality. Whenever I see someone attractive, I tell Treszka “Look hon, she looks pretty.” And she replies with “Oh yeah. She does.” And she tells me whenever she sees a good looking guy, too. We somehow enjoy appreciating someone’s beauty (a guy or a girl) together without feeling insecure. It’s not admiring someone blatantly, it’s appreciating the good in a person without having to look at them in ways we aren’t supposed to. Well, we mostly take notice of outfits, hair and physique (like, if a guy has toned chest. Hahaha).
Guarding our hearts make a huge impact in our marriage. Since we both know that our hearts are guarded, it establishes trust even more. Guarding your heart is easy once you learn how to deal with temptations. There is no other way to win against it but to run away from it.
I have had some girl friends and there were times that I hang out with them alone. When I hang out with my girl friends, I look at them as guys (I mean, it’s as if I am with my guy friends, too). I want them to feel that I only look at them as friends and that is all I offer. I do not see anything wrong with it but sometimes, Treszka feels uncomfortable when I am alone with a girl. She makes a clear statement about it. “Honey, I don’t think it’s a good idea to be left alone with *name* there. I trust you but I don’t feel so comfortable about it.” So whenever situations like this happen, I usually bring a mutual friend. Treszka also keeps this habit also. That way, Treszka will feel much more secure. She ends up being friends with them, too. Introducing your girl/boy friend’s to your partner is really helpful because it reduces uneasiness and doubts. Who knows, they might end up being much closer friends than you guys are (that happens to us sometimes hahahaha).
Studies have shown that cheating usually occurs in work places or places that a person spends most of his time on (example: university). It makes sense. A person spends most of his time in these places, probably around 5-6 days in a week. Sometimes, we spend more time with our classmates and workmates than our own partners. That is why Treszka and I thought that taking precautions would help in making our relationship even stronger and healthier. This is something I want to do and not something I am ordered to do. Point is, the decision should not come from your partner. Rather, it should be your own will to change for the better.
Others might think that taking these measures is too much but it is much easier to guard your relationship than trying to fix the damage. As they say “prevention is better than cure”. Would you rather just stay away from temptations or would you rather see your life shattered in pieces just because you have been seduced? Temptation is not just a onetime thing because once you give in, it will have more control of you in the future. It starts with a look of lust and before you know it, the love of your life is gone.
Final notes (from the both of us):
- Dating and marriage are two different things. Although it shares common grounds, there are still big differences.
- High school students dating, college students dating, graduates dating are also different. In different stages of life, we also have different goals and responsibilities resulting to different perspectives in dating. For example, High School students would most likely not benefit from our ways of guarding a relationship because they’re in their stage of life where they are supposed to make new friends, explore and interact with lots of people.
- You are not supposed to shove this idea down your partner’s throat. If you make it a “rule” to draw the line, your partner will feel like he/she doesn’t have enough personal space to make decisions.
- Express your feelings lovingly. Believe me when I tell you that there are people out there who would deliver it this way: “You are so flirtatious, you @#$!@$!@$!@##. You are so selfish. You never consider my feelings. You just love being surrounded by other girls/guys, don’t you?” Does this sound crazy? Yes, because it is. And it happens in reality.
- Do not stop interacting with the opposite sex. If there’s a project you need to do, then do it together. Do it in a public place and grab another friend with you. Just draw the line. Make sure it is a clear line though. Not the type of line where you flirt a little and go home.
- There will be days that you will be left alone with someone. It’s best to let your partner know. For example, I (Treszka) remember hanging out with 3 guy friends and 2 of them suddenly had to leave. I can’t literally run away just because I am being left alone with a guy. That would be embarrassing (and hilarious hahaha). Instead, I text/call Mark and tell him where I am and who I am with. This doesn’t feel like reporting to me. If he would hear that I am at Mc Donalds alone with a guy from another person, that would raise suspicions. But, if he would hear it from me, it would make him feel a lot more comfortable. (This works for me too) This happened a few times. My gym buddy in Manila was a guy friend and we used to eat dinner together after hitting the gym. Mark would text my friend telling him to take care of me; they would exchange conversation and my friend would text Mark once he has dropped me home.
So, have you and your partner ever had troubles with guarding your relationship? Do you think there are better ways couples can guard their hearts? Talk to us about it. Message us on facebook or something. We definitely love hearing from you guys. 🙂
Disclaimer: These ideas were inspired by Edric and Joy Mendoza. They have always been an inspiration to us. They are not a perfect couple but they exert effort in making things work.
Treszka & Mark