Monday, March 12, 2012

Marriage Mondays: 7 Neighbor Fences

Did you know there's more than one commandment about marriage? We all know the adultery one, but how about the "Love your neighbor as yourself" one? How do you love your married neighbor?

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.   Romans 13:9-10

Single or married, everyday we women live around people who are married. Some of our "neighbors" are married men = someone else's husband. Some of our neighbors are married women. I love this version (NIV) that says "Love does no harm to a neighbor." We can harm our neighbor if we aren't careful about our conduct. We can "steal" the affections and loyalty of a man for his wife, and we can rob others of the oneness they experience. If we're married, the neighbor that's closest to home (a.k.a. our husband) can be wronged by the disrespect and careless behavior of a wife who isn't watching how she walks around others. Husbands and wives are mixing in new ways, as more and more neighborhoods are sprinkled with stay-at-home dads who have entered the "Mom's world," and more women are walking the corridors of the workplace. "Loving your married neighbor" is tricky when genders do life together, side by side.

ABC news reports that more and more men are starting "to embrace the role of Mr. Mom" as a result of the recent economic roller coaster. The U.S. Census Bureau also agrees that the number of dads who have gone from being the primary breadwinner to the primary caregiver at home has grown. As men swap traditional places with their wives, they've also faced some of the isolation that stay-at-home moms have known. Dads have started turning up at "Parents' Day Out," library groups, play groups, and even ... Target! One mom shared with me that a stay-at-home neighbor dad reached out to her and her kids for play dates and companionship, but she was confused when the daytime friendship started to feel like something more than familiar girlfriend  bonding. Feelings of friendship can gradually change into feelings that are not truly loving or godly. She was starting to "love her neighbor" in a wrong way.

Now that more dads are in daytime/play group circulation, how can we love "neighbor man" and "neighbor lady" well? 

Whether we're in the office, at a play group, or posting a status on Facebook, God calls us to love our neighbors His way. Economy and work style don't change the standard. Use wisdom with your "neighbor" friends, whether they are a husband staying home or a wife over the fence.

7 Fences to Love Your Neighbor Well:
  1. keep daytime chats to public locations out in the open
  2. keep play dates and activities group events, instead of paired parent events
  3. keep your spouse informed about and involved in your daytime friendships
  4. keep your testimony and your family reputation in mind
  5. keep your spouse's trust your priority
  6. keep love for your neighbor the standard, whether it's purity towards a man or honor towards a woman
  7. keep your womanly friendships growing & engaged in accountability

As roles change, let's not fall asleep at the marriage wheel. With God's help, we can love our neighbor man and neighbor lady, whether it's in an office or across the sidewalk.

  • Have you or someone you know had to do a role switch as a result of the economy?
  • What boundaries work for you for the men in your work environment? (home OR office?)

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