Heys @outdoor7or24, thanks for being brave enough to open up on this topic.
It is definitely very sensitive (especially being a male as well, from a conservative Asian culture to make matters worse, haha). As I read through your sharing, I am starting to realise how complex the situation is. If it is okay, I would like to break it down into a few key areas so that it becomes easier to explore this topic.
To set the stage on where I am coming from first. I come from a Chinese background (where traditions are fading away since my parent’s generation). I am also from Singapore, where some people say it’s like the boundary between where East meets West. Also, I would be sharing more from a male POV, maybe a female can also share her thoughts on this same aspect, from a female perspective.
<< What Is Marriage? >>
Before defining the boundaries in marriages, I think it is crucial to understand where your wife is coming from first. That is because behind every belief / question / statement, is a person who has latched on to certain values or understanding which unfortunately results them in having this POV. Therefore it is key to understand more about her definition of marriage is. I’d encourage you to focus on trying to understand the “why” behind she feels marriage is this or that way, rather than the “what” that constitutes a marriage, and you may gradually get to see why she differs in views on how to handle this matter.
On the other hand, it is also good for you to open up to share your own views on what marriage is, and where you are coming from. With this common understanding of where you both stand, you can then work towards finding a common ground in which both of you can agree on.
<< Boundaries in Marriages >>
As a heterosexual man, I’d have to admit that I am attracted to pretty women. Therefore, knowing that I will have the tendency to fail (especially if I am not a perfect being), the question would be, “Why would I put myself in a position where there would be a chance (no matter how small) of something happening?” That is like saying that, “There is a 0.001% chance that I will get burnt if I keep swiping my hand over the fire, but since the chance is so low, let’s give it a try." Worse still, is that after trying, if nothing happens, it builds our confidence that the probability seems lower than what we expect, and we tend to try it again. Until I suddenly picked the short straw and get burnt. I should just eliminate the possibility and make it an impossibility - “How can I cheat on my partner, when I have never gone overseas 1:1 with that person?”
So Potiphar left everything he had in Joseph’s care; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate. Now Joseph was well-built and handsome, and after a while his master’s wife took notice of Joseph and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he refused. “With me in charge,” he told her, “my master does not concern himself with anything in the house; everything he owns he has entrusted to my care. No one is greater in this house than I am. My master has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her. One day he went into the house to attend to his duties, and none of the household servants was inside. She caught him by his cloak and said, “Come to bed with me!” But he left his cloak in her hand and ran out of the house. (Genesis 39:6-12)
Potiphar’s wife would’ve definitely been one of the choice picks of the city, and Joseph definitely felt that he reached a point where, any longer and he might’ve given in to it. As a result, he knew that the best way was to get out of that situation, and he didn’t just left, but ran away from this temptation.
Furthermore, if I love my spouse dearly, and this is a concern that my spouse has, why would I put my spouse through such mental turmoil of worrying that I may cheat on her? Her mental state of mind is more important for me than just a trip overseas. Maybe perhaps she just wants to travel more, but you are unable to because of your current commitments? Maybe both of you can agree to a middle ground of having a yearly trip at least? I’m not sure quite about how both of you settle your arrangements in this area though.
<< Traveling Overseas Opens Doors to the Heart >>
Being overseas, is something that I find to be very scary in some aspects. That is because the feeling of distance from home, just makes you feel more free and open (and this applies even to a staycation as well). However, being more free and open also means that you are more vulnerable as well in your sharing.This is also why retreats tend to get people to loosen up and open up about some things they feel about work, or friends, etc.
I am sure everyone has their portion of heartfelt sharings in which they felt safe enough to be vulnerable in what was shared. And whenever you share heartfelt matters, bonds are forged - because you feel accepted that people are willing to understand you, and not judge you despite all the flaws you are revealing to them.
One thing can lead to another - feelings of acceptance can lead to feelings of safety. Feelings of safety can lead to feelings of desire. Feelings of desire can lead to feelings of lust.
Sin is a very cruel thing, because it brings about condemnation, and when you are over the cliff, that is when you will be thinking, “Since I have sinned, what difference does it make to sin more?”
<< Traveling Overseas w/ Others >>
Firstly, let me share Ravi Zacharias’ stance on sexuality:
I think it is so powerful, because it properly brings together the grace and the truth of God into a single answer to address this sensitive area.
And I have never come across anyone who does it with so much love from the person as Ravi Zacharias has done.
Therefore, with that as the foundation, and knowing that sexual preferences can be changed back, especially with the power of God, I’d lean more not to travel 1:1 with someone of the opposite gender. And yes, this is regardless of my travel partner’s sexual preferences, for the same reasons that I mentioned in the previous 2 sections.
However, this is not to say that going overseas is an impossibility. Can there be alternative arrangements made? Let’s say, to have a 3rd friend accompany for the trip, rather than it being just 2 people, if you are unable to make it. The 3rd person will definitely help to provide a certain level of accountability to the whole situation.
As for having opposite sex friends stay over, it will really depend on your family. Personally, I don’t think it is an issue if they are staying in a different room, but I would also want to consider my spouse’s opinion, because we are now married (and are one). The suggestion is not to consider it to be a “my way or your way” kind of situation, but to try to find a middle ground in which you both can settle on. Even if someone will need to give in, a good method I’d always like to use would be to suggest, “How about for this time around, we do this. We can review after it happens, or we can try your method the next time.” This way, you can try out what works or what doesn’t work and gradually adjust to it, rather than just jumping straight in to rule something out or not.
<< Context is Crucial >>
Lastly, it is important to note that whatever views I shared above are just guidelines. One very important thing I have learnt about relationships is that there is no formula (unfortunately). Therefore, you may need to tailor and adjust some of it to be better fit into your country’s culture, societal norms, and even to include both yours and your spouse’s personal preferences.
Remember that we are all work in progress. Every marriage have different issues, and not every issue is meant to be resolved overnight.
Take some time to talk it out, and in the meantime, establish that closeness and relationship so that you both can accept the differences, and enjoy the common points.
Not sure if this helps shed some light on this matter, and I do apologise for it being lengthy, because of the complex nature of this topic.
Stay blessed, and if it is not too private, do share how it turns out.