Mar 302017 8 Responses

Mimic, Don’t Mock, Mike Pence

Politicians are used to mockery. In many ways, they probably deserve it. But the current dust-up concerning the Vice President reveals a great cultural ignorance which needs to be highlighted.

In a profile on the wife of the Vice President, it was revealed that many years ago, the now Vice President, refused to eat a meal alone with any woman who was not his wife. While the reporters were not able to verify if that is still the VP’s policy, the old policy created a firestorm in response. He was called old, chauvinist, and misogynistic. Websites and social media went crazy with false accusations saying Pence must not be able to look as women as anything but sexual objects or that he sees every woman as a sexual temptress. The response has been sad. (See: You Will Have an Affair If…)

This is not a time where the Vice President deserves to be mocked. It’s a moment he should be mimicked. While married couples do not have to copy the Pence’s specific rules, they should consider and establish general operating procedures to protect their marriage and honor their spouse.

To better understand proper boundaries in marriage, read section three of FPL.

That’s what’s missing in the response so far. While the Twitterverse is enraged about possible sexism, they are missing that what Pence is doing is honoring his wife and thereby all women. He is respecting his spouse and the vows they made to each other. He is valuing the dignity and humanity of others.

It’s a similar response I receive anytime I write about the importance of boundaries in relationships. The critics are loud. They don’t debate ideas, they attack my character and heart. They can be brutal. But what they can’t be is right. What they posses in passion, they lack in experience. They don’t sit every week with couples listening to how a marriage went wrong. They’ve never seen the heartache in a wife’s face as she learns her husband is having an affair. They’ve never had to tell the husband multiple times before he actually believes his wife is leaving him. They’ve never had to ask the couple to keep their voices down because the kids are sleeping in the next room.

I have. On a regular basis, I see the pain, heartache, and regret of individuals who failed to put proper boundaries in place to protect themselves and others. I watch the horror of betrayal played out before me. It’s interesting that in fifteen years of walking with couples through their toughest times, I’ve never had a single person say they regretted a boundary they put in their relationship. But, oh, the times I’ve had people call or message me to say, “I used to laugh at all those things you write about, but now I get it.”

People with boundaries in their relationships (and those that promote those boundaries) are living in the real world. They understand the dangers and they are taking steps to prevent heartache. Obviously rules alone cannot protect a marriage. If the only reason I haven’t had an affair is because of the rules in my life, that doesn’t speak well to my heart or my marriage. But common sense protocols which protect us, respect our spouse, and send a loud message to others are necessary if you want a healthy relationship. (See: Three Myths About Adultery)

We have them and live by them. They aren’t many, but there are some general practices we apply in order to protect ourselves, respect each other, and honor those we come in contact with.

  • I don’t eat alone with another woman except my wife or family member.
  • I don’t meet with a woman alone unless there is a window to the room.
  • We don’t talk negatively about one another to someone of the opposite sex.
  • We don’t message others in formats where our spouse does not have access to those messages.
  • We share all passwords.
  • We lay our phones facing upward so it doesn’t appear as though we are hiding things.
  • We freely share where we are, with whom we are, and what we are doing.
  • We turn first to one another with important information about ourselves and our lives.

I hope the Vice President’s old rules are still his present rules. What’s more important than his dining choices is the fact that he has thought through aspects of his life and made decisions of how he can protect himself and others. Without that thought, couples are sitting ducks. With a little thought, a couple can greatly increase their chances of creating a loving, lasting relationship.

You can rightly question many of the Vice President’s choices, but you should mimic his approach to marriage.

8 Responses to Mimic, Don’t Mock, Mike Pence
  1. BARBARA PALMER SESSIONS Reply

    I once had a supervisor who would keep a desk or several feet between himself & a female employee.I had never noticed because I had a tendency to do the same without thinking about it. As I watched him, I began to notice if she got too close, he would take a step back, When I felt that I knew him well enough, I asked him about it. he told me that since Texas Instruments (Dallas) had such a bad reputation for infidelity he wasn’t going to give his wife or anyone reason to suspect him. He was probably my favorite bosses. I had a lot of respect for him. We had a good relationship because we both believed that rules were made for a reason. I never had to worry about him trying to touch me inappropriately. This was in the mid-70’s when it wasn’t uncommon for a woman to be expected to do anything for a raise or promotion.

  2. Pamela Henrickson Reply

    While I agree with your point, such a rule makes it impossible for women to work with Mr. Pence. If no woman can ever have a working lunch with him, women will be denied access to a powerful person to whom men do have access. This is going back to the days of male-only colleges and country clubs to make sure that women cannot advance. If Mr. Pence refuses to eat with women not his wife, then he needs to make it a policy not to conduct business during meals, which is a very hard rule to hold to, but more power to him if he can do it.

    • Kevin A. Thompson Reply

      That’s a very fair critique Pamela. I actually think as VP, this rule will be easier and fairer to live by. He could simply ask his Secret Service detail to step into the room or leave the door open. What we do at our church is just make sure every door has a window.

  3. Kathryn Groening Reply

    As someone pointed out on another blog, there was a time when it was said that if a woman had to have a one-on-one lunch with a man in order to get ahead, that was clear sexism and harassment.
    .

  4. Yvonne Lindow Reply

    I believe that hedges are so good for a marriage. When you muddy the waters by putting work over your marriage, it gets to be a slippery slope. Pastors I know abide by this rule even when counseling a woman – door open, he calls his wife before and after, etc. I volunteer for an organization that helps couples who struggle with sexual purity. One of our rules is if you’re in the office and happen to be alone with, say the boss, we both text our spouses before and after the time we are alone. It is not impossible to keep hedges – just takes forethought and being intentional about your choices.

  5. Yossi Reply

    I think it’s kind of like the situation with colon polyps — the vast majority of polyps will not become cancerous, but when cancer does occur it almost always starts as a polyp (and thus when they do colonoscopies they remove all polyps they find). The vast majority of isolated meetings a married person has with someone of the opposite sex will not lead to an affair, but when affairs do occur they almost always start from such isolated meetings.

  6. Jessica Reply

    My mother taught me that no matter the reason, it was never appropriate to invite another man into your home without your husband present. This was not because of any trust issue; it was because doing so was inviting doubt where it was not necessary. For them (and now, for my ‘us’) boundaries weren’t there to forbid one another, they were there to reinforce the bond of the marriage. It’s not necessary to impose on your spouse, only yourself.

    I’ve always told husband he could go in my purse or my phone whenever (we share passwords), but for nineteen years now, he has never been able to cross that boundary. It’s something our kids find amusing (dad bringing it to me, saying “You know I can’t do it”). And I have never felt the need to verify his word. If that much doubt existed in our relationship, ‘proof’ alone couldn’t silence it.

    Respect yourself, respect your spouse.

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