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Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Do you think it is possible for a married person to be friends with someone of the opposite sex? I don't mean friends as in, say, I'm friendly to my co-workers because I work with them and they are nice people type of things. Or, catching up with my old high school friend in the middle of a grocery store thing. Or even, my husband and I both are friends with this person and hang out all together sometimes.

I mean, do you think it is okay for a husband or wife to have a friend of the opposite sex that they meet up with, chat with on the phone or computer, and talk with quite often...without their spouse?

It's a tricky situation, I think. When you're single, it's fairly easy to have friends of both sexes. But when you are married, are you supposed to drop the "opposite sex" friendships? Is there anything wrong with them?

We haven't really had to face this issue in our marriage. My husband left all his female friendships behind in one state when he moved to another soon after we met, and didn't cultivate any new ones. The friendships with my male friends dissolved when I got engaged. It was a bit of an awkward situation for all, I think. One friend was truthful when he told me "I don't feel right being close friends with someone who is about to get married, especially since our friendship involved me becoming closer to you because you were single." Hint, hint. It's true that often times one can think it is just a friendship while the other has hope for something else.

There was one male friendship that I kept up after I was married. After a few months it became strange and weird, and apparent to me that one really probably can't be friends with someone of the opposite sex while being married. That friendship broke up. My husband never demanded that I stop being friends with anyone...and never brought it up even, but I realized when I became uncomfortable with it that it had to go.

Here's the thing. I trust my husband completely; I don't trust other women. I'm a woman myself, of course, but I see how sneaky, conniving, back handed, hateful, and jealous women can be. Women like to always one-up another. Women are not simple creatures. It's clear, especially, in a statement that my husband's cousin told him "Just wait until you have a wedding ring on your finger...women will become much more interested in you." Women want what they can't have...and want to take what you have.

Are all women like this? Well, probably not. But even just a friendship can be a temptation. While I trust my husband, I wouldn't agree with placing him in a situation that can be a temptation (or vice versa...I trust myself but won't place myself in a tempting situation). Men and women are different. When women chat with their girlfriends it's about anything that is going on in our life at the moment, including marriage and sometimes even sex. Especially marriage troubles. Men like to joke about things and will occasionally gripe about something that their wife did. Do we really want our spouses telling a woman about something stupid we did, or have our husbands trying to comfort a woman who is going through a troubled spot in her marriage? Yeah, I didn't think so.

This is not to say that I think all male/female friendships have to end after a marriage, but rather, I think they have to evolve to include the new spouse too. I've read many "Dear Abby" letters where a spouse (usually the wife) is writing saying that she is uncomfortable with her husband's friendship with a woman but that the husband brushes her off by saying "We are just friends". A marriage ALWAYS comes first, before ANY friendship (whether the same or opposite sex). If a spouse is uncomfortable with something it is our duty to calm that fear, even if it means that a friendship breaks up. After all, our spouses are our best friends, right?

And shall I even go into the people who consider their ex's their friends and still hang out with them even after becoming involved in a new relationship? What's up with that? Actually, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this whole matter. Do you agree or disagree?


  1. My husband and I don't have seperate friends of the opposite sex. It isn't because we don't trust each other, but, for example, my husband wouldn't be comfortable with me sharing my innermost feelings, struggles, thoughts with another man, and for me it would be vice versa.

    I have seen marriages crumble because of the "oh, I can be friends with anyone I want!" mentality. One couple I know of were having some problems in their relationship, so they started going to marital counseling. While they were trying to work out their issues, a female co-worker of the husband found out that there was "trouble in paradise" and cozied right up to the husband, encouraging him to talk about his feelings. She was more than ready to be that listening ear. Needless to say, the husband suddenly wasn't as interested in saving his existing marriage..for how he could he be objective with a sympathetic, single lady friend on the side? No surprise there, that marriage never healed, and he ended up divorcing his wife and immediately getting into a relationship with the co-worker. Funny thing was, in talking to his wife, she said that she had always gotten a weird vibe from that woman since her husband had been working there. She was not surprised to learn who the woman her ex had left her for.
    So, while my husband and I are mutual friends with couples, there won't be any one on one friendships with members of the opposite sex. No matter how much you trust yous spouse, I believe that it is necessary to put up some walls, some boundaries to protect your marriage. Seeds of discontent can creep in without you even realizing it.

  2. I don't care what my husband does. I used to care and get jealous and it's not like I can control him anyway so I gave up. The more I dug in the more he tried to get away. When you feel like your spouse is going to do what they want regardless of what you say it causes a person (me) to distance myself emotionally. I am really good friends with my boss at work (man). Do I share too much -yes. Is it good for my marriage probably not. Kids can also get in the middle of a marriage. It's hard for me to put my dh/our marriage above their needs. They lovely all the time, he isn't.

  3. Ten years ago my husband was having some health problems. He was supervisor over several employees and one of them, a woman, he considered a friend - a work friend. Then as he was getting sicker and he was seeing a neurologist, this woman started to become a little too friendly. She was crossing a line. She encouraged him to confide in her and not me about how he was feeling.

    My husband was too sick to see that she was trying to get closer and closer to him. One evening she called our house and asked if he could come down to the office as she didn't like being alone. I was in the kitchen and I could hear the bulk of the conversation. Again, he didn't get what she was doing. His reply to her was a simple - then leave and go home as you don't need to work at night anyway. Then I noticed her driving by our house on a few occasions to see if he was home.

    So one day I went to his office and walked over to her desk and she smiled and said hello to me. I smiled back to her, held up my hand and pointed to my wedding ring and said "I just want to make sure that you understand that this is a wedding ring and you need to back off now."
    Her face got entirely red and she completely pulled back. In fact 18 months later she found another job.

    My husband had considered her a friend for many years. She was and still is married to a really nice guy but for some reason, she started going after my husband. I even had people in our community telling me that she had her eye on my husband. I knew that my husband was innocent, he was sick and depressed and she knew this and was taking advantage of that situation.

    Since this happened I would have to say that I would never encourage opposite sex friendships.
    BTW - We celebrated our 30th anniversary last year. Also, if you ever find yourself in the position I was in, your spouse is well worth fighting for.

  4. My husband hangs out with a group of coworkers during his lunch. Some men, some women. I don't mind. He and I have talked about keeping certain things off limit...like talking with someone else about something we wouldn't divulge with each other. Or spending one on one time with them outside of work/home. I think ultimately it is a personal decision for each couple.

  5. The key thing to remember in any interactions with those of the opposite sex is this: act as though your spouse were right there next to you. :)

  6. Why invite trouble and temptation? I do not have the kind of male friend you describe in your blog and neither does my husband. I have never had a lunch or coffee alone with a man since I'm been married and the once or twice my husband has, he has called me and told me why. This is not because we don't trust each other, isn't because we respect each other and hold each other accountable to any actions that might be wrong in someone eases eyes. What a great post and what a great way to get people talking. Thanks Elizabeth. :))))))

  7. I believe that men and women can be friends whether single or married. I had a male friend who I had gone to grade school with, who I ran into years later. We had many mutual friends, went to many of the same events, and started meeting as a group for coffee, and many of us went to the Shalom Center for prayer or discussion groups. Gradually over time, we saw less and less of each other as our families grew and we got busier at work, and at home. I don't see many of these people anymore. My male friend got remarried and moved out of town; I run into his sister (who also went to the same school) once in a while and she keeps me up to date on what is going on in his life.
    I do think that a married person (male or female) has to set boundaries with their friends; whether they are the same sex, or the opposite sex. Your spouse and children must come first. Whenever a friendship crosses that line, it becomes a problem. I have known people with same sex friends who got overly involved with each other, spent too much time together, and this caused resentment from family members who were being neglected. I do think some people form opposite sex friendships in order to make themselves feel better, and end up having an affair.
    I firmly believe it has much more to do with a person's intentions, and their conduct in opposite sex friendships. If there isn't a strong comittment to your spouse, it can definitely cause a problem in your marriage. You have to ask yourself, why am I a friend with this person? I also believe that opposite sex friends must be included in your relationship with your spouse, and it must be an "open" friendship so your spouse knows exactly what is going on.

  8. I've been with my husband for 8 years, but only married for a year. We went through a trial involving a male friend of mine about 4 years ago that resulted in our coming closer together as a couple. But it could have destroyed us. Since then, we've HAD to have a policy on opposite-sex friendships. It was part of our healing process and a way of protecting ourselves from future problems. (And we weren't even engaged at the time.)

    We read a couple of books, including one called Not "Just Friends", and also spent a lot of time with the concepts on MarriageBuilders.com. We ultimately decided that we would restrict our friendships to those people who are "friends of the relationship."

    By keeping our friendships to those who are "friends of our marriage" we have a pretty clear standard. And it gives us a starting point for discussing if either of us has a friend that the other feels uncomfortable about. (It's happened.) It's easy to have work or school friends develop into deeper friendships, but there comes a point when that friendship has to open up to the spouse. When I get to spend time with my husband's female co-workers I can assess for myself how they interact, and I have free rein to talk openly with him about any concerns I have, without being called "jealous" or "irrational" or anythign like that. He has the same right.

    The other BIG KEY that we've learned from our own trials is that it's a mistake to think "this could never happen to me." Everyone, but EVERYONE, has areas of weakness. For me, it's feeling liked as a person, feeling like someone that another person wants to spend time with to the exclusion of others. That props up my feelings of self-worth - I can work on that by developing meaningful female friendships/friends of our marriage; or I can fall into the trap of becoming close friends with a guy to the exclusion of my husband. For my husband, it's about ego and feeling smart and strong. It's not hard to see how in moments of trial in a marriage, these weaknesses can be exploited by others, even unintentionally. That's why the #1 priority for us is to be radically honest and keep an open dialogue about our relationships.

    Sorry for the long, long comment! (PS I found this through your MckMama blog frog post!)



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