"Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life." -Proverbs 4:23
Boundaries become increasingly important as a relationship continues--in particular, boundaries with all members of the opposite gender change most of all.
For Courtney and I, this has honestly been an aspect of our relationship and marriage that we have handled well but carefully. Honesty is the key. Growing up, I was always the guy who had a lot of female friends but with a close group of guys that I relied upon. Courtney came from the opposite, similar background, relying on a small group of close girls while hanging out with guys predominantly. This made it all the more important for us to discuss boundaries.
Guarding your heart "with all vigilance" means one thing when your single and another when you're in a relationship, and changes even more as the relationship deepens and progresses. When you're single, there's the ever-present possibility of someone earning a spot in your heart. And as obvious as it sounds, entering a relationship gives someone in particular access to your heart in a way that no one else is allowed access--and that in varying degrees as the relationship deepens.
As that relationship deepens, it is important to guard your heart more and more carefully. Being in a relationship means that you have chosen to give one person particular access to your heart. As the relationship deepens, that access deepens. Getting married is the point where that access is unfettered and unrestricted.
Before Courtney and I started dating, one of my best friends and I were extremely close. But even then, we recognized that there was an element of our relationship that would change when either of us entered into a relationship. We cared and still care for each other strongly. And while she and I both felt some sadness when that change occurred, we both recognized it as a good and necessary change.
But how do you make sure your heart is guarded once in a relationship? As I mentioned before, honesty--complete honesty--is the key. For Courtney and I, we are purposeful in guarding our hearts--or perhaps better put, our heart. We both talk about it before we hang out with friends that are of the opposite gender. We make a point of acknowledging to each other when we feel the need to be careful around our own friends and when we feel like the other needs to be extra careful. We are honestly accountable with each other and are actively honest. Neither of us hang out alone with members of the opposite gender unless it is in a public place. And most of all, we recognize that boundaries often change and continue to change as we feel the need to guard our hearts in different ways.
(For my wife's take click here)