Married with Friends of the Opposite Sex

If you are in an intimate, marital relationship, you need to be sensitive and appropriate when it comes to friends of the opposite sex because it’s a very complex and delicate situation. 

The most important issue you should be concerned about is the safety, comfort, and trust of your spouse.  Too many times on my program, I hear from people who care more about their friend than their spouse.  To me that’s a dead giveaway that the friendship line has been crossed, whether you’ve been naked with the person of the opposite gender or not.

I want to discuss some ways you and your spouse can be protective of each other, but still have friends of the opposite sex:

What does it look like?  If you are getting together for a drink with someone who is on the verge of leaving a relationship, lost their spouse, lost their boyfriend or girlfriend, or is known to fool around, it’s inappropriate.  Plain and simple.  You’re only fibbing if you say, “Well, I’m just trying to be helpful and solicitous.”   Especially if your spouse says they don’t want you to be helpful and solicitous to somebody in that situation and you argue that point, it means you’re interested.  Just have the person go see a counselor, a member of the clergy, or family.  Your marriage is always supposed to come first.

Be careful of that little “edgy” sexual tension.  If either one of you is feeling a little horny about the other, or if you’re touching, talking, or acting a little suggestive, seductive, or over-the-line cutesy toward each other, it needs to be over.  If your relationship with a friend in any way makes you question or stress about your boundaries and limitations (which every relationship does at some point), you could be led toward temptation, which will change everything in your universe forever.

You should always make sure you introduce all your friends to your spouse.  Have them over for dinner or a barbeque.  Have them be familiar with the family, and have everything be on the up-and-up and open.  Full disclosure makes it clear to everybody that it’s a friendship – solo time is where the problems start.

You need to socialize with others who are also in committed relationships.   People tend to hang with people who share their same values, more or less.  So, if couples are friendly with each other and everybody has clarity, then everyone is sharing the same values.  Your wife can go with your friend’s husband and do archery while you go do a mini-marathon with his wife.  As long as it’s all on the up-and-up and everybody is sharing the same values, that’s the important thing.

Be careful about using the words “sweetie” and “honey.”  “Sweetie” and “honey” should be saved for your spouse and should not be used on a friend.  Use the person’s name when talking to or about them, and save the lovey-dovey stuff for your spouse.

Give your partner power.  In addition to honesty and openness, you have to be willing to give your partner power.  If your spouse is really uncomfortable about a particular outside relationship, I recommend you honor that and make the appropriate adjustments.  However, if your spouse just freaks out at anybody with the opposite genitals, then that’s an insecurity that has to be dealt with, probably by a professional.

What it all boils down to is that all the choices you make have to be in the best interest of your marriage first.  Otherwise, you’re not being nice, and it’s all going to come back to bite you.