So, what do you do if you think your spouse’s friends are hurting your marriage?
It’s essential to proceed with great care. Your goal is to voice your concern in a way that’s respectful to your spouse. How you approach the subject can move you toward resolution or, in the opposite direction, toward conflict.
Proceeding with care means you need to ask yourself some crucial questions before talking with your spouse about it.
What exactly am I seeing, hearing, and experiencing that makes me feel this way?
- Can I name something specific which makes me think my spouse’s friends are bringing harm to our relationship?
- What are my spouse’s friends’ marriages like?
- Is this a new friend that concerns me?
Is what I’m seeing in my spouse’s friends hurting my spouse as a person?
- Have I seen this person have a negative impact on my spouse?
- Is it causing my spouse to be someone they aren’t?
- Do these friends care about my spouse’s well-being?
Is there something going on within me (rather than my spouse) causing these negative feelings to be triggered?
- What are my own friendships like? Is there anything lacking that may influence how I’m feeling about my spouse’s friends?
- Am I taking care of myself? Am I trying to be my best self in my marriage?
Is there something between my spouse and their friends going against what we stand for in our marriage?
- Do my spouse’s friends know how things work in our marriage?
- Do they openly support our marriage?
Having a good, productive conversation with your spouse means you will need to consider the answers to some of these questions. The hope is for you to approach your spouse calmly and respectfully with your thoughts and feelings. Can you come to a common understanding of what is causing your sentiments and agree on how to move forward?
★ Here’s how to do that.
Try to approach your spouse when neither of you is feeling stressed. It might help your spouse focus more on the conversation if you ask them to set aside a time to talk.
Be specific with your spouse about what you’ve observed that concerns you. Use “I” statements to own your own feelings. People usually respond better when they don’t feel like they are being accused and put on trial. Approach the conversation with a calm… paced… voice.
This is the message you want to communicate: I’m concerned for you and our marriage because… [Avoid making blanket accusing statements like, “Your friends are ruining our marriage by doing such-and-such.”] Be sure to let your spouse know your ultimate goal is for your marriage to be as healthy as it can, and you don’t want anything to stand in the way of that. Acknowledge you realize how important it is for your spouse to have friends—but friends that are for you and your marriage.
This is important: Allow your spouse to speak about this subject. Naturally, they might be on the defensive; that’s okay. Simply hear them out and calmly reinforce your primary concern.
The place you want to get to is the security that your marriage is no longer being threatened. So, you and your spouse need to come to an agreement as to how that can happen.
- Does a particular activity with friends need to be modified or stopped altogether?
- Maybe time with friends needs to be limited?
- Does my spouse need to have a conversation with their friends about what our marriage stands for?
- Does my spouse need to distance herself from one of her friends?
- Do I need to change something in my own mindset to help me feel better about my spouse’s friends?
- Do my spouse and I need to spend more time together?
Friends are important. But they should never cause a problem for your marriage.
Take time to ask yourself the important questions and plan a calm, conversational approach. If needed, seek professional help to determine a solution, preferably involving both you and your spouse. Remember, these conversations aren’t always easy, and it might not all be settled in your first talk. Hard conversations, handled well, are well worth having for a stronger marriage.
***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.***