Vice President Mike Pence generated some debate recently when he revealed that he does not have lunch with a woman unless his wife is present. He claims this is to protect their marriage and that is an honorable motive.
In the real world most people don't have the option of such a safeguard. Many of us, however, have handled the situation well without spousal chaperoning.
In the 21st century an ever-increasing number of women are serving in key business positions. Men and women work together regularly and some do business over lunch.
I became the advertising director at The Sioux City Journal in late 1981, when the number of women in sales, marketing and management was ballooning. As a 30-something father of two whose mother I loved with all my heart, I did find the first few times I dined alone with another woman to be a little awkward. The women I dined with, however, were bright and professional and I soon overcame my timidity.
In the 35 years that have followed I have enjoyed conducting business with women over lunch or dinner many times. Women are just as serious about their careers as men (often more so) and they are just as anxious to succeed. Most women have had to work harder to get where they are than their male colleagues.
Men who fear that being alone with a female business associate will lead them astray need to examine (a) their attitude toward women, (b) their commitment to their wives and (c) their level of maturity. The bottom line, boys: most women don't find you as irresistible as you think.
Dr. Gary Rosberg, co-founder of America's Family Coaches and the Cross Trainers men's ministries in Des Moines, encourages men to “guard your heart.” The admonition comes from Proverbs 4:23: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (NIV) This is good advice for men and women from all walks of life.
Some 20 years ago I was registered for a regional press convention in Chicago that began on a Sunday evening. Several days before the event a longtime industry associate called and asked when I planned to leave for the convention.
When told him I was heading out on Sunday morning he asked if I would pick up his wife in the Quad Cities and drive her to Chicago. He was registered for the same convention but also had Friday and Saturday meetings in Chicago and his wife didn't want to sit in a hotel room all that time.
I had not met my friend's wife before. He had been widowed a couple of years earlier and had only recently remarried. He was a great guy and had become a good friend.
“Sure; I'd be happy to give Eleanor a ride to Chicago,” I replied.
The next Sunday I stopped at a house in the Quad Cities, introduced myself to my friend's wife, loaded her bags in the trunk and headed east.
Eleanor was a fascinating travel companion. A brilliant woman with an international background she had been widowed while living on a Pacific Island.
Midway to Chicago we enjoyed lunch at a fast food restaurant.
Upon arrival at our downtown convention hotel, I pulled into the valet parking lane and we stepped into the registration line in the hotel lobby.
Across the room I could see a female member of our corporate staff watching Eleanor and me. She was acquainted with my wife and my presence in a hotel registration line with a different woman appeared to concern her.
She approached us with a smile said, “Hello, Arvid.”
I responded warmly.
Her smile disappeared. “So… CINDY decided NOT to come with you this year?”
I quickly introduced her to Eleanor and explained the circumstances. Her smile returned.
After checking-in Eleanor went to her and her husband's room and I went to mine.
That's the end of the story except for this: mature men and women who love their spouses and care about their marriages can work, travel and dine together without a chaperone and without immoral consequences.
Men and women who respect each other and guard their hearts will be just fine.