The Friends We Keep: She Says
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.
AshleighSlater.com and MarriageTogether.com
For more practical ways to cultivate and strengthen unity in your marriage, check out my book, Team Us: Marriage Together.
I couldn’t agree more !!!
Thank you for the reminder to safe guard our marriages !
It’s so much easier in our day and age to become “comfy” sometimes ” too comfy ” with the opposite gender . Workplace , Facebook , even church settings because of ministry .
Awesome Post !
Leticia from King Maker blog
Thanks for your kind words, Leticia!
Such a great post. So very wise!
I just bought your book yesterday, and read it as long as I could last night. I love it!! Unfortunately, I can’t get my husband to participate in reading your book with me. I’m hoping that if my attitudes change, and my prayers are heard, it will open up his mind and heart to work with me. He is a very proud man that doesn’t feel the problems could be coming from how he views marriage. With how we met, I truly believe we were meant to be together. We just have some serious cultural differences that keep showing its ugly head as we enter into our 17th year together.
Nancy, I’m so glad to hear that you are enjoying “Team Us.” Thank you for taking the time to share that with me. It really is encouraging. I’m praying that God will help you and your husband as you struggle with these differences and in the process draw the two of you closer and closer together.
This is one thing I can honestly say I dont agree with. My best friend (besides my Husband of course) is a male. I have known him for 15 years, and we just clicked. He has seen me at my best and my worst. He stood up with me at my wedding, my sons godfather, and he is of no threat to my marriage at all. He is like the brother I never had, and I am like the sister he never had. My husband trusts him just as much as I do. So to say that once you are married you should no longer have close relationships with the opposite sex bothers me, cause cutting him down to a casual friend would be like cutting down a brother to cousin status.
Jess, thanks for taking the time to share your story and your thoughts with me.
Jess-It looks as though you have included your husband in with your friendship with your best friend of many years. it looks to be totally above board. I see that as no problem. Could be if you were sharing information with that friend that should be shared only with your hubby ( other than “let’s throw my husband a surprise birthday party!”). It looks healthy to me.
Does your hubby ever hang out with your other friend, just as guys? That might not be a bad idea either!
I totally agree with you. What if your husband is a pastor and thinks it is “okay” for him to text other women and other women to text him as a pastor and friend for encouragement?? I have a difficult time with this issue.
I definitely agree! My perspective is of that of a single person too. They’re are some close friendships with a couple females that I’ve had, that once they even started becoming serious with a person they were dating (and that eventually led to marriage) I purposefully took a couple steps back. There was one in particular that I remember a couple times letting her know that she can’t just call me anymore like she used to, to talk through serious issues unless her fiance was in on the conversation. I let her know, that he was now the one that she needs to go to, and if they need help working through things etc, that they need to do it together.
Marriage is such an important relationship and it needs to be protected and nourished.
James, I think it’s great that as a friend you are being thoughtful when it comes to your friends’ new marriages.
Thank you for the great article! I’m single but it’s great advice for down the road if I am married. Even as a single woman I have to guard myself concerning who I open up to and confide in. Thanks again.
Thanks for your kind comments!
I just LOVE the reference to Anne with an ‘e’ !
Annette, yes, I had to work that in there somehow! 🙂
After my husband and I were both left for others, when we remarried each other, we decided we would never be alone with the opposite sex, unless it was our own family member, not to include brother in law, sister in law, etc. That doesn’t mean he can’t have a conversation in a public hallway with someone of the opposite sex. You know, a place where anyone could hear/see what was going on. Or the same for me. We understood how the other person felt, meaning I understood how my husband felt and he understood how I felt because we both had the same experience regarding our former spouses and the way we were left. When we gave our marriage to God, we knew we promised God and our spouse we would never do the same behaviors that the former spouses did to us in order to leave for someone else. Just passed 13th year of remarriage. God has blessed us. And I am thankful for a man who understands and is such a blessing to me.
I couldn’t agree more. My wife of 18 years told me this long ago and she was right. When you lean on someone of the opposite sex, feelings develop, at least with one of you. Think about it…how many times in your single life did you have someone confess their feelings for you when all you wanted and thought you had was friendship?
Great article. You’re 100% correct Ashleigh. If anyone has a friend of the opposite sex, and you are both straight, there will always be potential for an emotional affair if you are discussing your personal life with that friend, especially if it’s about your relationship with your spouse. Before you know it, you can be in an emotional affair. Very often, it’s hard to see those coming. Emotional affairs are a bullet train ride to a full blown affair. It is unwise to believe that you or your friend are the exception to the laws of emotional or physical attraction. If you care about your spouse and marriage, safeguard it. Be smart, don’t be sorry.
I totally agree, but how does a couple go from it being ok because we are just dating exclusively to … It’s not ok now because we are married? Seems that many people say if he/she is doing something when you are dating then don’t expect anything to be different after the “I do’s”… Any advise?
I loved this. I can tell you and your husband have a truly godly marriage. It’s very inspiring. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and words of encouragement.
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