Friends of the Opposite Gender

Whoa now, don't throw a shoe at me just yet :)  I'm sure there are many spouses in this world with friends of the opposite gender ... there's nothing wrong with that.  I'm not telling you that you can't have friends of the opposite gender....no no.  Not at ALL!

But, let's start with the facts:

Fact 1: Men are attracted to women
Fact 2: Women are attracted to men

Well now -- glad we've established that.  We of course know that in our world, some women are also attracted to other women and some men are also attracted to other men.  But from the Christian marriage standpoint (one man and one woman), let's begin to talk about the reasons we should be very careful in opposite gender friendships.

Ex: My husband has many 'guy' friends that I've become close to over the years.  Close to in an appropriate way.  I do not hang out with them unless my husband is with me--never have, never will.  I don't call them or talk to them in private on a weekly/daily basis, even if I were to let my spouse know about it.  In other words, my husband and I have 'mutual' friends of the opposite gender.  But his male friends are his close friends, and my female friends are my close friends (we'll touch on this though in a moment).  We mutually spend time with friends of the opposite gender, but only if we're together.

I still haven't convinced you have I?

Here's some warning signs to look for with your friend of the opposite gender: 

1. Are you attracted to this friend for any reason? Physically, emotionally, etc. Or is this friend attracted to you?
2. Do you find yourself putting complete confidentiality in this friend when speaking of life, marriage or life situations? 
3. Do you tell your friend (or does your friend tell you) things that you (they) wouldn't otherwise first say to your (their) spouse?
4. Do you talk to your friend about your marriage and life situations?  Struggles, fights, concerns, finances, family etc.
5. Have you at any time been in a relationship with this person that was clearly more than a friendship?
6. Would you be mad or uncomfortable if your spouse had the same relationship with a friend of the opposite gender?
7. Do you find yourself getting upset while reading these past 6  'points' and saying "well there's a reason for that..." or "I have a good excuse why!"...?

We often forget that there is a level of respect in our marriages that we should honor.  We also need to remember that in any moment *snap*.....just like that....we can find ourselves in situations that we weren't expecting to happen .  Look at the news, the world, maybe even a family member or best friend.  In an instant, no matter how strong we are and no matter who we are, we can be pulled into a sinful act with a friend of the opposite gender with out even realizing what is happening. 


In Jon Acuff's blog post "Awkward Opposite Sex Friendships", he asks a few questions, but also makes the below statements that really sum it up in a good way.


"...Because no one ever wakes up and says, 'Today I'm having an affair.' Affairs are slow burn decisions, with a wick a mile long made of little steps and little compromises."

"
And when you get married, at what point do you have to officially retire the silly sentence, 'I’ve just always gotten along better with the opposite sex, that’s how I’m wired?'"

The second quote really makes me giggle.  I can't tell you how many times I hear this from a spouse or about a spouse -- (or have even said it myself through out my life!).  But in all actuality, it's silly.  Of course women get along with men better and men get along with women better .... before they're married.  Maybe it's because you grew up with a bunch of siblings of the opposite gender.  Maybe it's because you always saw your mom or dad have friends of the opposite gender. 
My thoughts?  Our 'single life' attitudes remain with us even after marriage.  Many times, spouses forget that even small things that might seem innocent....aren't.  Such as flirting, innocently touching or nudging the person while in conversation, innocently 'tickling' or 'playing' -- all of these things and more are things that we practiced extensively while single or dating.  If they have made it over that marriage boundary with someone other than your spouse.  Step back!!  Because you're on a very slippery road there my friend.  



Opposite gender friend feelings are weird -- 9 out of 10 times one friend has feelings for the other....even if the other doesn't know about it.  Think about it -- how many times have you had feelings for someone and they didn't have them back?  Has someone had feelings for you and you yourself haven't had them in return?  How many times have you had a friend/co-worker etc, come to you and say "I really thought she liked me....turns out, she didn't".  Or, have had a friend say "wow, I really didn't realize he had the hots for me".  One prime situation that I have heard countless couples that are close to me experience is the 'girl' friend of their boyfriend/fiance/spouse.  In every single situation (in exception of one..out of like, 15?), the 'opposite gender' relationship ends because the 'girl' truly did have more feelings for her opposite gender friend but never wanted to mention it (or did mention it and the relationship ended).  I've seen it happen, though differently, with men having feelings for their women friends.  You have the option to act on it, or walk away from the relationship.  Maybe both. 


"Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate." [Mark 10:9]


Do you remember that your marriage with your spouse is a covenant?  Did you know that not only does this mean the extreme -- divorce, adultery, murder etc -- but it also means the little things.  You allow yourself to become "separated" from your spouse if you allow yourself to find comfort and contentment in any other relationship.  If you don't tell things to your spouse that you say to others...there's an issue.  If you do things with a friend of the opposite gender because your spouse doesn't enjoy those things.....there's a problem.  If you don't enjoy happy moments with your spouse as much as you do with your best friend...your opposite gender friend...there's a problem. 

If you find that these things don't fit the description of your friendship with your friend of the opposite gender, great!  But, do you know if they (opposite gender friend) have these feelings for you?  Do they enjoy sharing happy moments with you first?  Do they tell you things before they tell their spouse?  Do they confide in you about their marriage, life, etc?  If so, maybe it's time to address these issues.  You have to keep in mind at all times that just because YOU are not feeling this way towards your friend....they may very well feel this way towards you.  In fact, it is our Christian duty to deter any type of friend from doing these things.  But especially friends of the opposite gender.  It's simple to walk away or say "I really don't feel comfortable talking to you about this".  Sometimes your friend might feel the same way and say "thank you for the reminder".  Other times they may say "but I just feel like I can talk to you about this easier than I can talk to my husband/wife".  Insert Red Flag here!

I must say, though, that it is healthy to have a good Christian friend that you can talk to (of the same gender).  A shoulder to cry on.  An ear to talk into.  Arms to give you a nice big hug when you need it.  There are just somethings I, personally, believe that 'girl friends' can help with easier than a husband (I'm sure that you men don't feel the same way about your guy friends HA!).  However, whatever you say to that friend shouldn't be kept from your spouse -- no matter who they are or what gender they are...


In all relationships, I urge you to pray faithfully about your attitude and the words that come out of your mouth.  Be cautious at all times of your hearts state.  Be cautious of the emotions and body language that you output and the emotions and body language of your friend(s).  And remember that RESPECT is the main key for a healthy marriage.  Even if your husband/wife tells you that they don't mind you having a friend of the opposite gender, it doesn't mean that they feel completely comfortable with it.  I also urge you, if your spouse has a friend of the opposite gender that you are uncomfortable with, to ask your spouse "would you cut off this relationship if I asked you to", and receive their reaction.  Most spouses would say "sure".  Other spouses would say "no, I'd have to have a good reason, I was friends with them before you ever came along".  Or they may come back with "why are you so insecure"?  The correct answer would be "yes, if I knew that our relationship made you uncomfortable, I would try to address it...and if necessary, end it". 

Your marriage relationship should be your first priority after your relationship with God.  Anything that hinders that should be addressed.  If fixable, great.  But if not, then step away from whatever is hindering your marriage.  I believe that it is completely possible for men to have women friends and women to have men friends....but not best friends.  Not friends that you spend alone time with.  Not friends that will eventually be detrimental to your marriage in some way or another.  

Please feel free to discuss!


 

2 comments

  1. Bridgette Raes Style

    I like this post very much.Thankes for sharing such a beautiful information.

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  2. How does this apply to Facebook or other social media? If spouse is new-found friends with one of opposite sex and this isn't a mutually know individual, how is that ok? All likes/comments/ messages that may be taking place are not known to me. How can a couple establish healthy boundaries when there's one who feels it's not appropriate and the other feels it's not a problem but rather a lack of trust and insecurities causing discord

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