Friends or Foes?

I ask today that age-old question: can men and women truly be friends once they are married? Some people would respond yes, especially if they were close before they met their spouse. And while there is no doubt that men and women can be friends with non-spouses after marriage, the underlying question is whether doing so is healthy.

As a married man, I would agree that there are conversations, advice, feedback, and good times that I can be a part of with a woman that is not my spouse. Doing so may even be needed at times. Yet, when it continues, the end result is almost always trouble. For some, the trouble may come after six months and for others six years. But in the end, I believe few good things can come from it. What is more dangerous is when one partner in the marriage becomes close with a non-spouse while the marriage is in a low point (this is especially true for non-work/non-colleague relationships). And as someone who has now been married long enough to experience the highs and lows of marriage, I can attest that marriage is not always easy and a friend of the opposite sex to converse with is sometimes a welcomed relief. But like many who have gone before me, I must state to all to proceed with caution because, as mentioned above, little good can come from such a relationship.

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2 Responses

  1. Well, it depends on the relationship in your marriage. What aren’t you willing to tell your wife that you would tell another woman that’s just your friend? Of course, some women just don’t want to hear or tell certain things, because it’s too personal, either from you or from their own lives. That’s why I believe guys turn to converse with girls that they’re not involved in – but the reward from such behaviour is a level of intimacy that isn’t being formed with your own partner.

    I believe a man and woman can become friends, but the friendship becomes different when a relationship is formed due to trust and risk behaviors. It’s difficult to form trust when you tell your partner thoughts that you’d never act upon, and vice versa. Or behaviors that you hide that you don’t want her knowing (gambling, drinking, drug use, etc.).

    Probably the most important guide I would use in being friends with the opposite sex who’s not your wife or girlfriend is:
    1. Don’t be tempted by them, and definitely don’t have sex with them.
    2. If you’d rather spend time with that person rather than your partner, ask yourself why? Once you know the answer, confront the issue rather than ignore it. Then tell your spouse if it smells like trouble.

    Otherwise, you might end up in a relationship like I’ve had once. Where your partner spends more time doing everything BUT spending time with you. The situation was reversed, however, and in that case, you can’t reason it out for yourself, and it’s not healthy when your partner is having a better time hanging out with strangers, co-workers, and friends. It’s just bad form. Why even be in a relationship if that’s the case, you know?

  2. I find it far riskier to think that your spouse can take the place of good friendships of regardless of genders. My relationship would suffer if he was the only man in my life. I would say that I have more close male friends than female, in fact, and nothing negative has come of it. But, for 7 years, my partner has been my closest friend of all. I also encourage his friendships, male or female. Without that basic level of trust (in ourselves, each other, and our relationship) I don’t want to be with him or anyone else.

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