Strategy #7: Accountability
Remember how I said that you and your beloved should write down your guidelines for physical affection? Those guidelines are your promise to each other. You are accountable to those guidelines. The minute either one of you begins to compromise on one of your resolutions, the compromiser must gently but firmly be reminded of your guidelines.
Don’t allow little slip-ups to go by without calling them to attention. It’s frighteningly easy to fall back into old habits. I said that giving the perfect gift is a battle; it’s a daily battle, sometimes minute-by-minute battle. It demands constant vigilance.
There was a time in our engagement when a kiss went on a little longer than it should have, perhaps venturing into a “step 2” territory. I didn’t say anything to Chris at the time and he similarly said nothing to me. I reasoned it was only a fluke and decided to let it go (the fact that it was pleasurable made it easier to “just let it go”). The following kiss also went a little longer. Before we could slide into step 2 or 3 zones, Chris said, “We need to revisit our guidelines because we aren’t following them.” He held us accountable.
One thing we found particularly helpful was having a daily “chastity check.” At the end of our date or day spent together, before saying good night, we would do a mental review.
First, thoughts: did I spend time dwelling upon and imagining things of a sexual nature? We can’t control the thoughts that enter our mind, but we can certainly decide to entertain those thoughts or to dismiss them. The problem with entertaining sexual thoughts is that thoughts spurn desires and desires spurn actions. Keep your thoughts pure and you’ll find it’s a great deal easier to keep your actions pure, too.
The second chastity check: what about your words? Did you say something suggestive or something that you would be embarrassed to have your parents overhear?
Finally, what about your actions? Did you do something against your guidelines for physical affection?
By having a daily chastity check where we reviewed our thoughts, words, and actions, Chris and I helped prevent little slip-ups from becoming acquired habits and, eventually, big slip-ups.
Oftentimes though, even with the aid of a daily check, it’s just not enough to have each other. My Mom is an amazing person and, without her help and firm guidance, I don’t know if Chris and I would have had the strength to give each other the perfect gift. She held us accountable. At times, it really annoyed us; now, I can’t thank her enough for it.
I remember a time when Chris and I had just returned from chaperoning a trip to Washington, D.C. We returned to my family’s house around 2 AM and both went to sleep immediately (in separate rooms and separate beds, of course). My Mom insisted that, once my siblings and parents left for school and work that morning, I also leave the house until my Dad returned home an hour or so later. I was absolutely exhausted and assured her that nothing would happen. However, my Mom knew that Chris and I would be alone, in the house, and that was against our guidelines. Despite my claims that “nothing would happen,” there was still the possibility that something could happen. It was too big a risk; there was too much at stake. She insisted I leave and I had no choice but to do so. She held us accountable and we will be forever indebted to her for doing so.
(While we are on the topic, if you are a parent of a teenager or young adult, do you hold him or her accountable? Your child needs your support, guidance, and protection in order to give the perfect gift. Don’t be fooled by the idea, “He is an adult now; he can make his own decisions,” or, “She moved out, so it’s not my business.” If he were about to jump off a bridge, what would you do? You would try to stop him, of course, and direct him to safety. Your child’s future and happiness—both in this world and in the next—are at stake here. He or she may be annoyed, angry, and/or resentful for your involvement. But love is willing what is best for your loved one…even when you meet opposition. So become involved, sacrifice even if it hurts. He or she needs you, especially when there are so many other voices out there with opposing messages. Give him or her the loving assistance needed to give the perfect gift.)
Back to you and your beloved! So you need to decide: what third party will hold you accountable? If it’s not a parent, perhaps you can enlist a close friend or spiritual adviser. Ask him or her to check-in regularly with you to see how you and your beloved are doing with regard to your physical affection. Don’t try to do it alone.