It is important for you to be cautious and alert for temptation in your friendships with the opposite sex and to maintain a margin of distance that will help you resist those temptations and guard your marriage. Here are several practical tips:
- Dismiss and replace tempting thoughts. Don’t allow any unwholesome thoughts to make a home in your mind. If those thoughts enter your mind, it’s time to look away or leave the room. If you can’t leave, shift your focus away from that person by thinking of your spouse. Start praying for your spouse and your kids. And pray for the other person’s family. Pray for his or her relationship with God. Wrong thoughts don’t easily coexist with sincere prayer.
- Don’t gaze too long into the windows of the soul. Eye contact in a conversation is good. But if you catch a look that is too intense, too engaging, or makes you uncomfortable, avert your eyes and resist that gaze. A deep gaze can stir something in one or both of you, something you don’t want stirred up. Save that eye contact for one person: your spouse.
- Don’t go out of your way to see or meet someone. Don’t take a different hallway back to your office just to encounter that attractive new employee. Don’t select a seat in church because it is near that person who loves to talk to you after the service. Don’t linger after a meeting hoping to be noticed by that certain person. You get the idea. And don’t meet with a tempting person privately, even if the purpose is legitimate. Invite your spouse to come along, meeting with a larger group, or meeting in a public place where you are never alone.
- Be careful with physical touch. You may like to shake your friends’ hands or even sometimes give them a hug, and you may be very affectionate with your family. But no matter how affectionate you are at home, you need a different standard with members of the opposite sex, even persons you know well and greatly respect. Here’s a helpful question to ask yourself: If your spouse, your children, your mother and Jesus were in the room watching you give that hug or pat, would they heartily approve? If not, don’t do it.
- Keep conversation general. Many, many affairs are started or fueled when a man and woman who are not married to each other talk about their personal lives. Talk about the weather, your work, the team, the new pastor, the news, and the like. But if the other person starts sharing something of a personal nature – even if disguising it as a “prayer request” – redirect or terminate the conversation.
- When all else fails, run for your moral life. If for some reason you find yourself in a compromising situation with someone of the opposite sex, immediately and physically remove yourself from that situation. You don’t have to explain or apologize. And don’t let the other person convince you it’s no big deal. Never try to negotiate with the devil. Do what Joseph in the Old Testament did when Potipher’s wife attempted to seduce him—drop everything and run.