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.
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.