Take a moment to think about your close friends. Close meaning, the friends you confide in one-on-one. Those individuals you have coffee with and who keep you accountable. The people you invest quality and quantity time in just the two of you. Do they…
Respect the opposite sex?
Build up your marriage and not just you?
If you answered, yes. Great! These are all areas I explore in a friendship inventory I discuss in my book Team Us: Marriage Together. This inventory is one way I’ve learned to distinguish the more casual friends from the close. Because the truth is, even as adults, we are influenced by those we allow to “speak into” our lives regularly. Peer pressure has no expiration date. Because of this, we do need to be careful to surround ourselves with influencers who will cheer us on in our marriages and direct us toward our spouse.
But I have one more question for you. Are these close buddies male or female? If you’re a husband, my hope is that you said, “male.” And if you’re a wife like me, I hope you answered “female.”
It’s not that I hold to a men-and-women-can’t-just-be friends philosophy. I have male friends. My husband Ted has female friends. I think it’s okay for you to also. So I’m certainly not anti-opposite sex friendships. That is if – and it’s a big if – once you’re married, these opposite-sex friends fall more closely under the label casual.
What do I mean by casual? Do I mean you awkwardly pass each other with a quick wave or nod. That there’s absolutely no depth to your interactions?
Not at all.
Have conversations. Have depth. Don’t be afraid to answer the question, “How’s it going?” with “Not so great.” By casual, I mean don’t make opposite-sex friends the ones you’re regularly and consistently confiding in one-on-one. Don’t schedule coffee dates and have accountability sessions. Don’t invest quality and quantity time just the two of you. Don’t bear your unguarded heart to them.
Yep, it may be a controversial view to some, but when it comes to those friends Anne with an “e” would call bosom friends – you know a kindred spirit you turn to for emotional support and guidance – I believe that as marrieds, there’s wisdom in keeping them same-sex.
And let me clarify a bit here. I am not saying that you and your spouse can’t be “kindred spirits” with another couple. That the four of you can’t confide in each other. That you can’t have coffee and keep each other accountable. Or invest quality and quantity time into each other’s lives. Ted and I have had and continue to have friendships with other couples that we value deeply. As a couple, we consider them close friends. But … I’m not meeting separately with the husband or confiding solely to him. Or vice versa with Ted and the other wife. We still exercise discretion and have boundaries in place to not only protect our marriage, but theirs as well.
So the next time you step back to examine your close friendships, I encourage you to ask yourself the three … no, four questions I posed at the beginning of this post … including whether those bosom buddies of yours share the same set of chromosomes as you.
And don’t miss tomorrow as my husband Ted shares his thoughts on this subject of opposite-sex friends within marriage. Just a word of caution: people normally either love or hate what Ted has to say. He’s kinda polarizing like that. Me? I love what he has to say. Usually.
For more practical ways to cultivate and strengthen unity in your marriage, check out my book, Team Us: Marriage Together.