(This is the continuation of a post about giving the perfect gift. You can find the previous strategies here and here.)
Strategy #5: Location, Location, Location
Someone going on a diet would be ill advised to spend a lot of time in a bakery. Similarly, don’t place yourself in circumstances where it will be hard to stick to your agreed-upon guidelines for physical affection. As may be deduced, living together would place you and your beloved in a state of tremendous temptation. If you have resolved to reserve the marital act for marriage, then the first step is to have separate residences. The added benefit of this is that it will make living together, as husband and wife, that much more exciting and beautiful, precisely because it will not be old hat.
But how does the strategy of location apply to a couple that isn’t living together? Here’s a succinct recommendation: don’t be alone. No matter how firm your resolve or how determined you are to follow your guidelines, when you and your beloved are alone with no one else around, you are immediately placing yourself in danger. It’s hard to keep your physical affection only to things that you would do in front of your parents, when there are no parents (or anyone else for that matter) in sight.
Chris and I were incredibly blessed in our relationship and engagement (though we didn’t fully appreciate it at the time). We lived in separate states until we were married, so when he visited me, he would stay with my family. We were hardly ever alone because there was always a family member nearby. In fact, my parents (God bless them) were very conscious about making sure there was someone nearby.
While we desired to have time, just the two of us, it was so fortunate we didn’t—because it would have been a problem for us. Guaranteed. How do I know this? Confession: sometimes we would park my car somewhere to have time alone. Most of the time we would just talk, but sometimes we would kiss and it was incredibly difficult to keep to our agreed-upon guidelines. Sometimes we didn’t.
Don’t overestimate your self-control or become too confident.
Once Chris and I were married, we could bask in each other’s private company as much as we wanted, with clear consciences and joyful hearts. But until you are married, don’t be alone together. Go to a coffee shop, a library, a park or playground, a college campus—places where you can still enjoy each other’s company, but where you won’t be tempted to become too physically affectionate.
Strategy #6: Train Your Will
Our desires don’t always follow reason. Massive shopping sprees, eating a gallon of ice cream—these are just two examples of desire getting out of control. We have to train our desires, reining them in and taming them like you would a wild horse. Desires are good, but if they are unleashed without any control, they will eventually hurt you.
So how do you train and control your physical desires?
Start small. If you want to have control over your physical affection, practice physical control in other, simpler ways. Specifically, practice little acts of self-denial. For example, perhaps you regularly have toast and butter with your breakfast. Try denying yourself the butter for a week. Maybe you love your morning cup of coffee. Don’t put in your usual two spoonfuls of sugar. If you really want to practice self-denial, take a cold shower.
This might sound crazy to you. But think about it: if you can have the self-control to deny yourself a small pleasure (hot shower, extra sugar, butter), you will build up your stamina and strength so when you are tempted with physical pleasure, your reason—not your body—will maintain control.
With practice, you will be able to deny yourself much more alluring physical pleasures for the greater good of your beloved. Remember? Love is sacrifice. Let these little acts of self-denial be your shield and armor so you’ll be strong enough to battle against physical temptations.