Accountability as a Couple
The “A” word has seemingly become a bad word in Christianity, it might be the most hated word in the Christian language. Have you guessed it? A is for accountability. Personally, my story was different. I came into Christianity later and loved the idea of something that made me healthier, called me out on my blind spots and had intentional depth and relationship.
“Accountability is not having someone to control you, that is not freedom. Accountability is having someone that you trust, who you can be real and raw with, someone that will love you through your messes and struggles and who will empower you to make great decisions.”
See, that sounds fun to me! What about you?
“Form your purpose by asking for counsel, then carry it out using all the help you can get.” Proverbs 20:18 MSG
When it comes to healthy boundaries in dating relationships, we can use all the help we can get. One of the challenges is that a large portion of the church is so scared about being legalistic that we’ve stopped being obedient. It’s really important that we realize these words of accountability, discipleship, discipline are really important aspects of our Christian walk. Hebrews talks about discipline to the point of blood, the Lord disciplines those He loves, and if you’re not disciplined you’re an illegitimate child and you’re not actually considered a true son or daughter. We need a mindset shift. Rather than feeling trapped by someone helicoptering over you and what you’re doing and shift our mindset-- this is somebody partnering with me to make sure I have the healthiest (future) marriage possible. A lot of the foundation of our marriages is built in our single life. We don’t realize the connections until we get into marriage. Accountability is saying I want to bring somebody into my life that has more wisdom and experience than me, that is going to help me walk out the commitment I’ve made to the Lord. Here are 4 C’s to accountability:
Communication is key in all relationships-- friendship, dating, marriage. Communication in light of accountability as a dating couple means creating a purity plan that you’re both comfortable with. How far is too far? What do you both agree on? If we don’t communicate on it and set up a plan-- those lines get very mushy when it’s late at night or you’re alone in a certain type of space. It may create awkward moments, but the more clarity you can bring helps make sure neither of you feel trapped in something. “Oh, I thought that’s what you wanted,” or “no, I only went that way because you were obviously leading us there…” So many mistakes happen in relationships when someone assumes the other partner thought something that they didn’t actually think. This type of communication helps us slow down and figure out what we’re committed to and be cautious of coming too close to the lines you set up. Open conversations help set up healthy expectations.
If you’re in a serious dating relationship, finding a married couple that you are inspired by is very helpful. If you have a married couple that you are connected to and could ask to help you both to give guidance, wisdom and accountability in your dating or preparing for marriage relationship that is best. A couple you can be totally honest with. Again, it’s important that we’re not so scared of being legalistic that we walk away from good habits. Sometimes, peers won’t feel comfortable speaking into it if they’re also struggling. Peers are trying to relate more than strengthen at times. You need to find a couple that is willing to strengthen you and pour into you. The key is someone you can trust, but that won’t allow you to make excuses when you’re in a weak place. It’s not just about sex prevention before marriage, it’s about building healthy relationship habits, communication skills, honoring each other, sharpening many areas as you develop your relationship.
If it’s not that serious yet and you’re not “preparing for marriage” then just use this “C” for couple as finding a couple of people that can help hold you accountable. It is important that you keep these accountability partners matched with the same gender. So for Cole and I, in our early dating years, we both had a person we went to with our concerns, failures, and victories. I had my friend, Sara, and he had his friend, Will. They weren’t a couple, but they were both godly friends that knew what our commitments looked like and we asked to keep us in check. They knew our values, could remind us of who we were, why the fight for purity was important to us, what we’re waiting for, what we’re saving-- in those moments when it gets difficult.
We need to find the righteous people who will tell us what we need to hear, not just what we want to hear. Accepting correction from someone is tough, but trust makes it possible.
“Take good counsel and accept correction that’s the way to live wisely and well.” Proverbs 19:20 MSG
Courage is the next key-- having the courage to be vulnerable, real, raw, transparent. It’s so easy after a mess-up to just say, “okay, I prayed about it. I’m good. I don’t actually need to talk to someone.” Having the courage to say we went too far. We crossed the line. I remember the moments were hard, but I needed to be able to say it like it was. Hearing myself repeat what I’d done served as a great reminder that is not what I want-- it’s below the standards of what I want to have saved for my one and only covenant marriage relationship. We have to remember: Having character is not weighing the possible consequences or outcomes of honesty, but walking in honesty no matter what. We cannot worry about the consequences of what we might lose when we confess. It’s much better to lose a position, a place or popularity-- than to lose your soul. The reality is the things that our soul is covering up or keeping hidden is really killing us. This is why it’s vital to have courage to have the conversations. We always shared when it was small, before it became something big. Those conversations guide us to be able to trust each other, too. Never weigh the consequences, have enough character to do what’s right because it’s right.
This last key is a Cole & Cait bonus, because this is what we needed. Curfew means, have a curfew. We had a self-imposed curfew. We personally needed this because nothing good happens when you’re alone at 2am, until you get married-- then lots of fun stuff happens at 2am. With our self-imposed curfew, we would text our friends when we were hanging out so and text them when we’d be home by.
If you’re reading this and thinking, man I’ve already messed up. We’re already dating and don’t have any healthy accountability. It’s never too late to start the communication, find a couple, have the courage to be honest and set a curfew.
*This content was taken from a conversation Cole and I had over on the Moral Revolution podcast. If you’d like to listen or share with a friend— you can find it in your Apple podcast, Spotify or Soundcloud.