The head turn was unmistakable.
I was flying solo at a banquet event I was attending for work, squeezing my notebook and voice recorder onto the table between salad plates. I had already exchanged a few pleasantries with the man next to me and his wife on his other side, and we’d settled into silence as the guest speaker rose to give a keynote address.
But partway through the speech my attention wandered, and I glanced up to see an attractive young woman in heels and tumbling golden-blond hair crossing the room at the back. In the next instant, I realized I wasn’t the only one who had noticed. My tablemate was also looking up, and his head turned just enough to watch the woman as she walked to her seat.
It was a tiny, harmless glance. The man’s wife was sitting right next to him, and he hadn’t technically done anything wrong. It’s possible his wife noticed the glance, just like I did. It’s possible she wouldn’t care if she had seen it.
But the moment made me realize that I’ve never caught my husband turning his head to watch another woman go by, even though we live in a town full of lots of pretty people.
When I got home that evening, I told my husband about the moment I’d noticed and shared my observation about his own behavior. He nodded.
“I try really hard not to stare at other women,” he admitted. “I definitely notice people sometimes, but I do my best not to follow them with my eyes.”
I was impressed, and humbled.
After all, there are plenty of people out there who believe it’s okay to steal glances, or fantasize about other people, or even flirt. What’s the harm, right? No marriage vows are getting broken.
Still, my husband had decided not even to indulge in stolen glances out of respect for me and our marriage. It’s more than a token gesture, though: it’s also a guardrail. That’s a term I learned from speaker and pastor Andy Stanley, and the image works perfectly. It’s hard to constantly control where your eyes are looking and the thoughts you have, but aiming for that “guardrail” goal makes it easier to keep from crossing more dangerous lines.
I have a few “guardrail” rules of my own: I don’t text or chat excessively with male friends and I rarely spend one-on-one time with any guy who’s not my husband. If I’m feeling emotional or vulnerable, I seek out one of my girlfriends or my mom, not a man.
Maybe this seems excessive and unnecessary. And sure, I’d like to think I could stay true to my marriage in any scenario. But I’m sure there are more couples than you can count who believed they’d never cheat, then woke up one day, years down the road, wondering what had gone so wrong.
My husband and I both believe our marriage vows are worth making sacrifices for and doing things that seem unnecessary or inconvenient to preserve them. Our guardrail choices are gradually building more trust in our marriage. When distractions or temptations come our way, I hope these choices will allow us to keep our eyes firmly fixed on each other and our future – without even a wayward glance.