As a young girl, I grew up in a neighborhood that was primarily boys. So, I played football, kickball, basketball and baseball with the guys. Throughout high school and college, I always felt comfortable around guys. They were like big brothers to me. I remember one incident when I was going on a date in college. The guy came and picked me up from my dorm. As we were driving off-campus, my “brothers” surrounded the car and made sure that my date knew that I was to return to campus in the same condition that I left it. I remember feeling cared for and protected by their actions. As a result, I continued to foster and build these friendships until I met my husband.
I saw nothing wrong with having opposite-sex friendships after marriage because to me they were purely platonic. However, my husband had concerns. After a discussion with him, I took a closer look at my past interactions with my opposite-sex friends—even the ones that I felt were like “brothers” to me.
Questions to Ask
I had to ask myself some questions about the state of these relationships and how they impacted my marriage. I found questions from Dr. Todd Linaman, therapist and executive coach, that I chose to ask myself.
- Is my spouse aware of the closeness of this relationship?
- Do I compare my spouse to my opposite-sex friend?
- Has my spouse expressed concern about this friendship?
- Have I ever ignored or resisted my spouse’s request to modify or end this relationship?
- Is there a past romantic relationship or do you fantasize about a romantic relationship with your friend?
- Is there any attraction (sexual/physical) to my opposite-sex friend?
- Would I feel uncomfortable if my spouse had a similarly close friendship with someone of the opposite sex?
If the answer is yes or even maybe, I need to reevaluate my friendships by:
- Setting Appropriate Boundaries. I recognized that spending time with, sharing experiences, disclosing thoughts and feelings are ways to build intimacy. Prior to marriage, I may have shared my time and my experiences, as well as my thoughts and feelings, with my opposite-sex friends. Now, I realize that sharing like that should be primarily with my spouse.
- Being Open To How Your Spouse Sees Things. It’s important to be open to your spouse’s concerns. Yes, this has been a long-term friendship. However, you may be blinded to romantic overtures that your spouse sees. Take a moment and consider your spouse’s viewpoint. Even if you don’t agree with it, you should respect their feelings. Remember, they only want what is best for you and your relationship.
- Building A “Friendship” With My Spouse. It may be sad to lose a long-standing relationship. However, making and creating time to build a friendship with your spouse can help fill the void. Explore your hometown for adventure and experiences. Seek out new interests together. Share thoughts, goals, and dreams with your spouse.
At the beginning of our marriage, our friend groups changed. I have a great deal of respect for my husband because he never demanded that I give up my friendships. He only wanted me to do what was in the best interest of our marriage. I made some intentional choices when it came to opposite-sex friendships after marriage. Looking back, I would say I have no regrets.
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***