deviating a bit this month to share something important for those of
you on the journey toward publication. It’s a central truth folks don’t
warn you about: In the writing world you will meet people of the
You’d think I would’ve figured
that out! But I seriously hadn’t even thought of it. The only men I’d
consistently met in my early years of writing in obscurity were the UPS
man and my diapered son. Because of this, I hadn’t thought through
strategies in creating good boundaries when I happily jaunted off to
writing conferences. And my husband and I hadn’t discussed it either.
I bumbled my way through a
couple of uncomfortable situations before I realized how vitally
important it was for me to create better boundaries in this business.
Why? Because integrity is deeply important to me, and my marriage is
the greatest blessing of my life. I’ve been walking the publishing path
since 2003, but I’ve held my husband’s hand nearly two decades. Why
would I jeopardize that for fleeting compliments? With that in mind,
and the disclosure up-front that I haven’t perfectly navigated this,
here’s what I’ve learned:
1. Don’t get caught
off guard by the power of e-mail to form an emotional connection.
I really didn’t understand how powerful an e-mailed compliment could
be. If you sense someone of the opposite sex is consistently
complimenting you, pull back, waaaaay back. Stop interacting. Stop
relishing. And don’t keep it quiet. Forward the e-mail to your spouse,
or to an accountability partner. It may be uncomfortable to share the
e-mail with your spouse, but you’ll be surprised how free you’ll become
once you tell him or her. Recently, I shared an incident with my
husband that went something like this: “I met this man and had an
interesting talk. But he’s e-mailed me a few times, and I’m not sure of
his intentions. If he persists, I’ll tell you, but I wanted you to know
this.” Nipping e-mail emotional attachments in the bud will actually
strengthen your marriage. It’s when you cherish someone else’s words
and keep a part of your life secret that sin can abound. Secrecy is the
fertile soil where emotional affairs flourish.
cautious about spending one-on-one time with someone in the business,
even if it’s strictly for business. I don’t want to be
legalistic. I have several colleagues I think nothing about meeting
with. If I do, I let my husband know. I tell him when I have phone
meetings. A good friend of mine CCs his wife on correspondence with me,
and he talks with her about me. He lets me know she is praying for me
as well. I do the same. Ask yourself: Do I long to have this private
meeting? Am I scheduling my life around this phone call? Does my heart
leap when I see his/her e-mail in my inbox? Am I thinking of ways to
sneak time with this person? And beyond this, consider your calling.
You have a high calling as an author. In that you don’t want to have
even a hint of impropriety; therefore, if you’re meeting alone with
someone of the opposite sex, be sure it’s in public or bring a friend.
the home fires
burning. Our radar goes up when we’re not happy at home. But
why aren’t we happy? If you spend time building into your marriage,
seeking your spouse’s good, choosing selflessness, your fire will grow.
Want to know the best secret in maintaining integrity in this area?
you’re satisfied in your marriage, and then you talk about it
frequently. Praise your spouse publicly. I breathe a sigh of relief
when I meet a man in the business whose first few words are about how
he’s madly in love with his beautiful wife. That kind of praise erects
a high boundary wall.
4. Walk in the light.
If you’re keeping secrets, you know something is wrong. I know it may
hurt, but make a choice to tell your spouse and a very good friend. If
you struggle in this area, have a friend you trust pray for you and ask
you the hard questions that will help keep you accountable.
5. Go out in groups.
If you’re having fun with writers after a conference or gathering, opt
for large groups. Deliberately talk with all sorts of folks, not
pulling away to have a private talk.
6. Don’t be naïve.
You may think you don’t need boundaries because you’re involved in the Christian
publishing industry. Unfortunately, you still have to be on high alert.
Broken people are in our business (we are broken, too), seeking
significance and solace. And I hate to say this, but a few predators
are out there too, counting on your naïvety. It’s sad. I wish it
weren’t true, but it is. Go into your relationships with eyes wide
7. Decide with your
spouse on appropriate boundaries. This is a mutual exercise
for your spouse and you. In other words, these are boundaries both of
you will adhere to. Some might include: no car rides alone, quick
disclosure if you feel someone’s getting too close, accountability
partners, full access to both e-mail accounts at any time, the ability
to question any attachment.
Don’t let meeting people of the
opposite sex in this business deter you from interacting. Creating
appropriate boundaries now will ensure you keep those relationships
professional and courteous. Form a plan right now. And trust that God
will honor your desire to have integrity in your workaday world.