One of the things my husband and I do a lot of is talking. Our conversations range from world hunger to fashion trends, from childhood memories to going back to complete a discussion that got heated a month ago. It was when James became a truck driver my junior year of college that our communication life changed. Our long distance relationship depended on long phone conversations in order to make us feel closer to one another. Ever since then, it hasn’t mattered whether I was in school, working or at home, we talk all day almost every day. Even when he’s driving locally and I see him in the evenings, we talk up until the moment I pick him up from his truck. There are many topics that we discuss, but I’ll start by sharing this one. The question was, when you’re married, should you be allowed to have friends of the opposite sex?
I thought I was going to be able to provide you with two sets of answers, one from me and one from James, but thankfully we saw eye-to-eye on each scenario. The scenarios were as follows:
- What if your spouse had a best friend of the opposite sex prior to your marriage?
- Can you or your spouse gain new friends of the opposite sex (i.e. coworkers, church, school)?
- If you or your spouse has close/good friends of the opposite sex, but doesn’t talk to them on the regular, should they be cut off?
- Should you or your spouse go out with friends of the opposite sex without your spouse being present?
What if your spouse had a best friend of the opposite sex prior to your marriage?
This scenario is pretty tricky. I think I can speak for all women when I say that the idea of our man having a female best friend doesn’t bring us the slightest amount of joy. Our guard immediately goes up because we can’t imagine another woman being close to our husbands other than the women in his family (i.e. mother, sister, grandmother). You fear that the two are closer than friends, and you feel uncomfortable with him/her sharing personal information with them before you. You ultimately want to be your spouse’s very best friend. Some women will run the moment the man mentions having a female best friend, while others will stick around and do their best to befriend the woman. For the most part, I would guess the same goes for a man regarding his lady having a male best friend as well. James and I believe that if your spouse has a best friend of the opposite sex, he/she is not new to you. You should have met this man/woman when you started getting serious in the dating phase. While you’re boyfriend and girlfriend, you’re getting to know this friend and everyone (spouse, best friend and yourself) is making an effort to build comfort in the relationship/friendship. That means creating boundaries. For example, it is no longer acceptable to just go out to eat or hang with your friend of the opposite sex without first letting your significant other know. This will eliminate any insecurities of cheating and secrecy. Once you’re engaged, your spouse’s best friend doesn’t need to be your best friend, but he/she should definitely be your friend also. You all should be able to hang out together without any hesitation, and the need to hang out separately without you is not necessary. At this point, you are able to truly make the decision on whether you can deal with this friendship. If you just can’t get along with your spouse’s friend, it is his/her responsibility to end that friendship in order to move forward with your relationship. Once you’re married, you have accepted that this friendship is okay with the both of you and there is no confusion, disrespect or jealousy surrounding the friendship.
Can your spouse gain new friends of the opposite sex (i.e. coworkers, church, school)?
Depending on your personality, it is inevitable to avoid gaining new friends when you’re at work. It is important to be intentional about new friends being both you and your spouse’s friend. Once you’re married, there’s no such thing as a person of the opposite sex being only your friend or only your spouse’s friend. If you or your spouse don’t have any interest in gaining a new friend, it’s both your responsibility to make each other comfortable and confident in your being friends with that individual. How do you do that? By respecting your spouse and his/her feelings toward that friendship. If they are uncomfortable with the type of conversation you’re having with that person, shut it down. Honestly, that goes for any friendship, but I can definitely understand putting up a fight for one who has been around long-term versus a new friend gained through work. For James and I it’s about comfort, respect, confidence, communication, and reassurance.
If your spouse has close/good friends of the opposite sex, but doesn’t talk to them on the regular, should they be cut off?
In our opinion, if you don’t speak to your friends of the opposite sex on a daily basis, there’s no need to end the friendship or acquaintance-ship. We agreed that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having an adult conversation to catch up with one another. For example “Hey! How are you? How’s the family?” or “Hey, I know that it’s been a little while, but I value your opinion and need your advice on something.” The friends that do need to be cut off are those who contact you with “Hey stranger” or “Hey big head.” I repeat, it’s crucial that you keep boundaries in place. You shouldn’t text anyone of the opposite sex after a certain time. It’s up to you and your spouse to set the time.
Should you or your spouse go out with friends of the opposite sex without your spouse being present?
If your spouse is not aware, the answer is absolutely not. Doing that shows a lack of respect and can make your significant other insecure and no longer trust you. We’ve all heard the saying, “trust is easy to lose, but hard to gain back.” If you value your spouse and your friend, you will always let your spouse know when you are meeting with them.
When evaluating your friendship(s) with anyone of the opposite sex, take yourself out of your shoes, and look from the view of your spouse. If they took a look at your text message thread, what would they see? Does your spouse know the password to your phone? Are you comfortable with leaving your phone around them? Do your friend(s) make an effort to include your spouse in your plans? There are several questions you can ask yourself, but let’s be honest, as an adult you know right from wrong when in a mature relationship. I’m not one to judge because I am far from perfect, but I’ve noticed that people make excuses to stay in their single ways when being in a marriage. When being married, your way of thinking and actions have to do a full 360. You can not operate in singleness when married, and if you do your marriage is deemed to fail. I’ve also noticed that some people think that when you get married you lose yourself or your identity. False. Your spouse becomes a part of your identity. When getting married, you are gaining a new part of YOU. Change your perspective and look at your spouse as an addition to your identity and not a source of subtraction. All in all, it’s about finding what works best for you and your spouse. If you two are on the same page, then what everyone else thinks doesn’t matter.