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Dave came home one evening after standing duty. “You’ll never guess who stopped by with dinner tonight–Rachel. And she brought T.J., too.” Surprised, I paused to listen. “You know, I’ve seen her a lot lately. Last week, she asked if I would spend some time with T.J. cause he misses his dad so much. When I got there, he was in bed for the night and she was dressed to kill. Rachel asked if I wanted to watch a movie with her, but I said you were waiting for me and hustled out of there. It’s been uncomfortable.”
I wasn’t surprised. The woman I had known as “friend” was lonely, unhappy, and looking for love. In her desperation, she didn’t mind betraying our friendship if a relationship with Dave might be a possibility.
A few years later, I found myself in a similar situation. Ben’s elementary school teacher seemed fond of my little boy–and of flirting. As a room mother, I spent regular time in the classroom and endured his winks and familiarity because they were inherent to his personality. Mr. Leonard began confiding in me, “Tina and I are having trouble. The girls won’t talk to me and I don’t know what to do.” I felt sorry for Mr. Leonard and appreciated the attention he gave my little boy, but knew that he was more than professionally interested when, during a couple’s dinner, he said, “Tina won’t be coming to the party. She doesn’t want to meet you because I told her you are everything beautiful and I’m attracted to you.” I stammered something incoherent and, red-faced, hurried to my husband’s side.
Thankfully, Dave and I had invested enough time and attention in our relationship that neither of us were tempted to take advantage of these situations. But lengthy deployments, grad school, and emotional ups and downs have all created deficits in our marriage at certain times. If Tina or Mr. Leonard had approached us during our more vulnerable moments, would the outcome have been any different? While I like to think we would still make the right and honorable choice, both of us are human and–sometimes–are less than honorable.
To protect our marriage and one another, Dave and I set up certain boundaries as a safeguard. They are to:
1.  Avoid building friendships with anyone of the opposite sex. We don’t meet childhood friends for coffee, join colleagues for lunch, or engage in activities unless the other is present.
2. Give each other access to all Facebook and e-mail accounts.
3. Be transparent with each other when emotional needs aren’t being met and make our relationship a priority.

Recommended book:

His Needs, Her Needs:  Building an Affair-Proof Marriage by Willard F. Harley, Jr.

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