my thoughts on staying faithful //

This is a post that I haven't ever written because it can be a bit...controversial. I don't want the drama but I also think that I have thoughts to share on this and so I am going to share them even if they aren't popular. 

Today, I want to talk about unfaithfulness. The dirty, ugly kind. The one where multiple hearts, minds and bodies are involved and everyone gets hurt in the end. There is nothing more heartbreaking that unfaithfulness. In the Bible, Jesus tells us not to divorce with one exception. Physical unfaithfulness. Cheating. 

4 Ways To Cultivate Faithfulness In Your Marriage //

To me, cheating isn't just sleeping with someone else. In my opinion, there can be emotional cheating, as well. It's all about your heart. Do you have eyes for someone else? Is your heart wrapped up in someone else? Physical cheating doesn't just happen. There's something going on underneath. 

Brandon and I are not naiive. We know that we live in a world that tries to tear marriages apart. We know that while we never could imagine cheating on each other, we know that life is crazy and you gotta stay humble. Never say "I would never do that". Instead, do everything in your power to make sure you never do that. 

Before we got married, Brandon and I started to talk about different practices to implement in our lives to protect ourselves and our marriage from unfaithfulness. Some of them may be too radical or conservative for you and that's okay. But I challenge you to think of how to cultivate faithfulness in your own relationship. 

we don't have friends of the opposite sex // 
When we started getting serious with dating, Brandon and I had a long, serious conversation where we both mutually agreed that we weren't going to have close friends of the opposite sex. By distancing ourselves from best friends of the opposite sex, we were protecting our relationship from several things.

It makes sure that we are emotionally faithful by making sure all of our emotions are reserved for the other person. It protects us from becoming entangled in a situation where, when things are tough in our relationship, "feelings" may evolve. I don't think it would ever happen, but why take the risk? It protects us from being in situations where people begin to wonder "Why is Annie hanging out with that guy? Is something going on between her and Brandon?" I believe in avoiding the appearance of any evil aka avoiding the appearance that anything fishy is going on here. 

This one was the hardest to implement in our lives. We both had very tough conversations with friends in our lives. Some people respected us and were very cool about it. Some people took it very, very poorly and friendships ended abruptly and awkwardly. It was a painful, rocky road at some points but at the end of the day, we feel we did the right thing to cultivate faithfulness and protect our relationship. 

we don't hang out with the opposite sex // 
This goes a bit with the last one, but we try, whenever possible, to not hang out with the opposite sex. We aren't talking about the times we have to- such as working with an opposite sex co-worker, and we aren't talking about little things- like hanging out with one of my friend's husbands at a party. We still have great friends who are of the opposite sex, but when one of Brandon's co-workers invited Brandon to happy hour with a group of mostly female co-workers, he invited me to tag along. Not only does it communicate to everyone in the world that we are a team and united, but it also communicates to me that I am the only girl in the world for him. I am able to be the bridge between him and female friends in his life and vice versa. Not only does it protect our relationship, but it allows us to be involved in each other's lives and make friends we wouldn't otherwise make! 

be careful little eyes what you see, be careful little ears what you hear // 
Your eyes are the window to the soul so what goes into your eyes goes into your soul. I truly believe this. Whatever you see and take into your spirit is going to affect your thoughts, words and actions. Because of this, we try to avoid anything like music or movies that is overtly sexual or glorifies cheating or unfaithfulness. We don't even want to entertain the thought that cheating is okay or normal. If we are watching a movie that gets a little too risque, we turn it off. And we've never regretted it. There's no movie we want to watch or song we want to hear bad enough to risk our relationship. 

we aren't friends with exes // 
Some people can do. We just don't allow it in our relationship. To this day, this still results in some awkward conversations but we just think that exes belong in the past. I don't need to co-exist with a person who used to know Brandon in a romantic way. It's just weird to me, but also, it prevents any questions in my head of comparison and it keeps his mind clear of anything from the past. Dragging exes into the future is risky business and I've always seen it get messy in the long run. 

Maybe these tips are too much for you and many people have told me that they could never do what we do. But it works for us and I would rather take extreme measures now to protect the most precious thing God has given me. I never want to look back and think, "If only I would have..." Faithfulness is something we vow on our wedding day, but how do we actively cultivate faithfulness in our relationships? 

What do you think about these tips? How do you cultivate faithfulness in your life and relationships?