I’m a fan of Michael Hyatt. For those of you who haven’t come across him, he’s a business guy who believes that even though you’re in business, you have to have some balance in life in order to live authentically. So, even though he’s way more conservative than I am, I can hear what he’s saying. That is… up until he made a podcast on “4 Easy Steps to Affair-Proof Your Marriage” which you can watch here
Not that all the ideas he had were wrong, but the very first one he mentioned got under my skin and the more I thought about it, the more it itched and burned, so here I am writing a blog about it.
He said that early on in his marriage he made a point of never having lunch or dinner, or taking a business trip, with someone of the opposite sex unless there was a third party also present. Now that seems, well, almost chivalrous, right? How thoughtful he was to his spouse that he circumvented any possibility of temptation to stray.
But that line of thought reminded me of all the stories I’ve heard lately about girls in school who were sent home due to the way they were dressed. Instead of teaching boys how to manage their hormones, the schools were punishing the girls. Instead of instructing all the students on proper behavior and thoughts, the schools were making the girls their scapegoat. This is the reason that burkas were created, to keep the boys from being tempted by the girls - shifting the responsibility of one’s actions to an innocent party. (Historically, a scapegoat was when all the sins of the society were laden on a goat and it was sent to the wilderness to be destroyed, thus absolving the society from those sins.) Needless to say, this is the wrong way to go about creating equality. No, I take that back. Apparently it’s not needless,
to say. We need
to take responsibility for our thoughts and actions. We need
to perhaps be tempted and overcome that temptation. We need
to develop a moral muscle.
So let’s look a little further in this scenario. Everyone knows that a whole lot of business doesn’t take place in business surroundings – it takes place in a social setting. When you make a rule that you will not be alone with someone of the opposite sex in a social setting, you are limiting business, not only for yourself but for the unlike gender, and because you refuse to be alone with her, you are failing at anti- sex discrimination laws. According to EEOC, “Sex discrimination involves treating someone (an applicant or employee) unfavorably because of that person's sex.”
And then let’s look at some professions. I’m a massage therapist. I have naked people on my table all the time. Sure, they are covered by a sheet except for the portion of the body where I am working, but if I had a spouse who felt like Michael Hyatt, I would be unable to have male clients due to that whole temptation potential. And what about doctors and therapists? They wouldn’t be able to see anyone of the opposite sex. You can see where I’m going with this.
And what it distills down to is this: A rule like this says that men and women cannot be friends. The guy who was your best friend in collage? If he’s come to town and your husband can’t come to dinner with you, should you say, “sorry, my husband won’t understand” and deny yourself and your friend a wholesome reconnection from the past? Should you refrain from one relationship because of another? That’s like saying your can’t love your child because you also love your spouse.
Can you possibly have a platonic relationship? Can you pursue a friendship without all the hoopla of sexual tension? That is what adults do.
If you feel some sort of chemistry with someone, and it’s not in your agreement with your spouse to have sexual encounters with others, then of course, back off. That’s part of the agreement. But sexuality doesn’t overtake the whole world. What might you be missing just because someone has made this issue a scapegoat?
I want an egalitarian society. This cannot happen when we treat people differently just because of gender. Period.
Jan and I have been friends since 1979 when we worked together in Atlanta, a bond forged through joy and travail, supporting each other as life threw it's softballs our way. Even though I moved to North Carolina in 1988, our friendship has survived, taking up where we left off each time we get together.
A few of months ago Jan signed me up for a 5K Atlanta Track Club Women's Event, an event she's been attending for a number of years. Back when she and Scott (her husband of 24 years) got together, Jan started attending running events like the Peachtree Road Race, so this was all old hat to her. Me? Not so much. I'm your basic couch potato with visions of fitness that tend to remain visions instead of reality. But I said yes to the 5K event and started to walk at one of the local river parks to get into shape.
So I walked, wondering how far I was walking along this track, making at first two times around and then three. There was a time in January when I strained my ankle and stopped for a couple of weeks, and then in February when I caught a cold. But I went back to walking and knew that like the Nike commercial said, I needed to "just do it." As I walked, I remembered the story that Jan told me about one race she had been to that, after leaving, she saw a fundraiser auction nearby. She stopped and bid on a guitar, which she brought home with her. Scott still comments, "She left for a race, and came home with a guitar," shaking his head as he says this.
I'd made it to walking four times around the track without total exhaustion when it became time to attend the event late in March. My goal? Simply to finish the route.
Even thought the 5K didn't start until 8:00, we left the house at 5:45 in the morning so we'd be able to get into the free parking lot, otherwise it was a $20 fee - yikes! It was a brisk morning, in the 30's, and I was dressed in a sweater, hat, cowl, scarf and gloves. (I AM from North Carolina - I know how to do 30 degree weather!) This event being a woman's event, we were given pink tutus to wear, and we wore them proudly! When it came our time to start (we went in waves as there were almost 2000 people there), Jan took off running while I walked, mp3 player giving me the beat in my ears. I was impressed with how compassionate the volunteers and police were around the route. They offered encouragement as we huffed up the hills and smiles as they indicated where to turn. After Jan finished her run, she came back to me and walked with me as I finished the route. And I did. Finish, that is. I found out later there were even five people behind me. Based on the time it took me, I figure that the laps I'd done in preparation equaled about a half mile each, so I was already up to a two mile stretch. At the end of the race I was given a medal (Jan already had hers) and we got a "recovery box" with crackers, cheese, and a water bottle. They even gave us a necklace with a pendant made from recycled glass. I was happy, a little tired, and on top of the world. And it was only 9:15!
On our way back we stopped at an estate sale - it was Saturday, after all! On the porch were two rocking chairs. Jan had been wanting a rocking chair for her front porch. She asked, "Do you think this rocker will fit into my trunk?" I looked at the chair, thought about her Toyota Corolla, shook my head, and said, "I don't know, Jan..." She repeated, "Renee. Do you think this rocker will fit into my trunk?" "Yes," I said, "yes I think it will!" (I'll get the answer right eventually!) We got a few more items, checked on the chair - it was half off by that point, so she got it for $20 - and carried our loot back to the car. We put her back seats down, and started to load the chair. We tried it from the right hand side, the left hand side, right side up, upside down, from the back. No way to get it in the car unless we had it hanging out of the trunk with the lid tied down. So that's what we decided to do. But we had no rope or bungee cords. So we used a set of ear buds. Jan settled the chair in the trunk, anchoring it with other items there so it would not easily fall out, and we made our way back south on I-75 through the bumper-to-bumper Saturday morning traffic with no accident.
We were meeting the husbands at Cracker Barrel for breakfast, and after we sat down, Jan turned to Scott and said, "Well, Scott - it isn't a guitar..." and smiled.