As people marry later in life, many are bringing long-term opposite-sex friendships into their marriage relationship. While the friendships were great during singlehood, in marriage, these relationships may prove problematic.
“I think it is okay for married people to have opposite-sex friends,” says Lisa Stewart. “However, I believe out of respect for your spouse that even if you were close friends before the marriage, there ought to be strong boundaries around that relationship.
“For example, I would not be comfortable with my husband meeting a woman for coffee on a regular basis to talk about what is going on in his life. That is a conversation he ought to be having with me.”
“It is possible for married people to have healthy opposite-sex friendships,” says Dr. Todd E. Linaman, founder of Relational Advantage. “However, special consideration must be given to a number of factors that, if ignored, can potentially threaten your marriage.”
If you are wondering whether or not a close friendship with someone of the opposite-sex poses a threat to your marriage, Linaman has a list of 20 questions for you to answer. Some of those questions include:
“If you answered ‘yes’ to one or more of the questions above, your opposite-sex friendship may be a real threat to the quality of your marriage,” Linaman says. “It may even be in the best interest of your marriage to either significantly limit or actually end your close friendship.”
An informal survey showed that both married men and women were uncomfortable with their spouse having close friendships with the opposite sex. Not all opposite-sex friendships are dangerous, but it is important to err on the side of caution. It is good to confer with your spouse about the nature of your friendship on a regular basis. If not kept in check, a totally innocent relationship could end up causing unnecessary harm to your marriage.
“I think it is okay to have friendships with the opposite sex, but I don’t share with other women what I haven’t shared with my wife,” says Will Honeycutt. “I think sometimes it is healthy to get input from another female, but on a regular basis I should not be sharing intimate issues with a woman who is not my wife.”
Here are some tips from Linaman for managing opposite-sex friendships so they do not threaten the marriage relationship:
While opposite-sex friendships do have the potential to create problems in a marriage, these friendships can enhance your relationship with your spouse if appropriate boundaries are in place.