Planting Hedges


Jerry B. Jenkins shares how he protects his marriage by "planting hedges."

I have rather prudish rules that make me look old-fashioned and that I used to be embarrassed to speak of — except to my wife, to whom they are a gift of love. They are intended to protect my eyes, my heart, my hands, and therefore my marriage. I direct the rules toward appearances and find that if you take care of how things look, you take care of how they are.

I say these rules will appear prudish because my mentioning them when necessary has elicited squints, scowls, and not-so-hidden smiles of condescension. And in outlining them here, I risk implying that without following my list, I would be plunged into all manner of affairs.

I don’t believe that. And in enforcing my own rules I don’t mean to insult the many virtuous women who might otherwise have very legitimate reasons to meet or dine with me without the slightest temptation to have designs on me. 

Dianna is not the jealous type, nor has she ever demanded such assurances from me. She does, however, appreciate my rules.

Here then are the hedges I plant around myself to protect me, my wife, my family, my employer and employees, my church, and, supremely, the reputation of Christ:

  • Whenever I need to meet or dine or travel with an unrelated woman, I make it a party of three. Should an unavoidable last-minute complication make this impossible, my wife hears it from me first.
  • I am careful about touching. Although I might shake hands or squeeze an arm or shoulder in greeting, I embrace only dear friends or relatives, and only in front of others.
  • I avoid flirtation or suggestive conversation, even in jest.
  • I remind my wife often in writing and orally that I remember my wedding vows: “Keeping you only unto me for as long as we both shall live …”
  • When our boys were still at home, I did no writing or office work until they went to bed. That gave me lots of time with the family and for my wife and me to continue to court and date.
  • I frequently tell our love story, to anyone who will listen.

I share these not to boast but to admit that even at my age I’m fleeing youthful lusts, and in the hope that there will be some benefit to you.

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