Q: I’ve always had friends of the opposite sex. Now that I’m married, I’m finding it harder to manage these close friendships, and feel that I may have even crossed the line. What do you suggest I do from here?
A: It started innocently. The two of you just connected. You had a lot in common, and before you knew it, you started looking forward to more encounters with your “friend”–and that’s all he/she is in your eyes…at least, for now.
That’s what you tell yourself in your heart of hearts. You don’t want to hurt your spouse, but this “friend” is such a good listener and makes you feel loved…desired…respected…wanted. Things you haven’t felt with your spouse in a long time, but you’ve never really talked about it.
You started spending more and more time with this person and even went to lunch a few times. And, you tell yourself it’s okay because, after all, you are JUST FRIENDS, right? But, you find yourself sharing more personal stories than you had intended and locking eyes longer than you wanted. During your encounters, time tends to stand still, and every day you find yourself thinking about this person more and more.
And, before you know it, you realize that some major boundaries have been crossed, and you are afraid to tell your spouse about it.
Does any of this sound familiar, Friend? If so, please know that you are not alone.
There’s nothing wrong with finding a kindred spirit in another person. In fact, it’s awesome–but, it’s a slippery, nosedive of a slope when this close friendship is with someone of the opposite sex who is not your spouse or family member. This may sound harsh and even ridiculous to you. I mean, we’re all adults, right? We should be able to control ourselves and be “friends” with whoever we want…right?
Well, not exactly.
Would you be okay with your spouse having this same kind of “friendship”? Same conversations? Same encounters? Same attraction?
I know you love your spouse and would never hurt him/her on purpose. But, Friend, please hear me–being close friends with someone of the opposite sex isn’t good for your marriage AT ALL. As one who works with struggling married couples on a daily basis, it breaks my heart to see these “friendships” wounding marriages time and time again.
Close friendships with those of the opposite sex open up your heart and marriage to a world of hurt, and here’s why:
- Your frequent conversations with this friend are like cords of a rope–each one making the connection stronger and more intimate.
- Your longing for more interactions is evidence of your desire to know this person more, and this is dangerous territory.
- As a man and woman, it is only natural for this connection to continue to progress to a physical, sexual relationship over time, unless you are intentional about putting boundaries in place and creating distance between you and your friend.
- The excitement and allure of this new friendship is intoxicating and is harder to let go the longer it carries on.
I don’t tell you all of this to make you feel bad; I tell you these truths to warn you and keep you from doing something that could devastate your marriage. If you have a “friend” like this, then please do whatever it takes to put some distance between you, create healthy boundaries, and fight for your marriage. Go home and connect with your spouse—NOT this friend.
If you recognize that you are in pretty deep with this friend of the opposite sex and possibly have romantic feelings for him/her, then you need to confess this romantic affair to your spouse and seek Christian marriage counseling immediately.
This may be very difficult, and it will be hard for your spouse to process. But, it’s better to confess this now then to engage in a full blown sexual affair later. The two of you can get through this when you decide to fight for each other and do what is necessary to rebuild trust. Don’t let this opposite sex friend distract you from your commitment to your spouse. Your marriage is worth fighting for. Let this be a wake up call.
It’s not too late, Friend.
Ashley Willis is a wife and mom of four rambunctious boys. She and her husband, Dave, are the founders of the Facebook Marriage Page and are the co-founders of StrongerMarriages.com. Ashley and Dave have a passion for encouraging and equipping married couples, and she does so through her blog, AshleyWillis.org, Facebook Author Page, books, and live speaking events all over the country. Ashley and Dave recently released their books, 7 Days to a Stronger Marriage, his and hers devotionals designed to bring couples closer than ever before through daily readings, Scripture, conversations and a fun daily activity. When they’re not doing marriage ministry, Ashley and Dave are most likely wrestling with their four energetic boys and quite possibly taking one of them to the ER–yet again.