Marriage isn’t easy. If you’re married, that is not news to you. While being committed and bonded to someone can be the most satisfying human relationship, sometimes it takes grit and determination to get past the challenges brought on by stressors like money, sex, conflict, parenting, illness, exhaustion and even an opposite-sex friendship.
Sometimes the challenges are beyond your control or happen in spite of your best effort to maintain your marital satisfaction. But at other times, they are avoidable. One issue that troubles a lot of marriages is one partner having a close friend of the opposite sex. While many such friendships are positive, I have created a list of 20 questions you should ask yourself to make sure you haven’t crossed a line.
Opposite-Sex Friendship Questionnaire
|1. Is your spouse unaware of your opposite-sex friendship?||Y||N|
|2. Would you ever behave differently around your friend if your spouse were present?||Y||N|
|3. Would you feel uncomfortable if your spouse had the same quality of friendship with someone of the opposite sex?||Y||N|
|4. Do you prefer to spend time alone with your opposite-sex friend rather than in a group setting?||Y||N|
|5. Are you physically and/or emotionally attracted to your friend?||Y||N|
|6. Is your friend someone you would consider dating if you were single?||Y||N|
|7. Have you ever entertained romantic fantasies about your friend?||Y||N|
|8. Do you ever compare your spouse to your friend?||Y||N|
|9. Do you think about sharing important news with your friend before your spouse?||Y||N|
|10. Do you and your friend ever exchange highly personal details about your lives or complain about your marriages to each other?||Y||N|
|11. Do you often reference or talk about your friend with others?||Y||N|
|12. Has your spouse ever expressed concern about your friendship?||Y||N|
|13. Is your relationship with your friend ever a source of tension or conflict between you and your spouse?||Y||N|
|14. Have you ever ignored or minimized your spouse’s requests to end or modify the relationship with your friend?||Y||N|
|15. Have you ever deceived or misled your spouse about matters concerning your friendship?||Y||N|
|16. Has anyone other than your spouse ever cautioned you about your opposite-sex friendship||Y||N|
|17. Do you do things with your friend that your spouse is unwilling or uninterested in doing?||Y||N|
|18. Does your friend fulfill needs that you wish your spouse would meet?||Y||N|
|19. Do you have unexpressed or unresolved anger against your spouse?||Y||N|
|20. Does your marriage lack intimacy?||Y||N|
If you answered YES to one or more of these questions, your opposite-sex friendship may pose a threat to the quality of your marriage. Be completely honest with yourself and your spouse, and consider if the friendship may be creating a problem.
It is possible for married people to have healthy, appropriate opposite-sex friendships, however, it is important to be on the lookout for any of the issues listed above that may get in the way of your primary relationship with your spouse.
The best defense against sliding down the “slippery slope” of an opposite-sex friendship that crosses the line is to put your best efforts into creating a strong bond in your marriage. Work with your spouse to resolve issues that make you angry or resentful. Honor your spouse’s concerns about your friendships and be willing to give it up if it is causing discord in your marriage. Cultivate your friendship with your spouse by scheduling time together doing things you both enjoy. Express appreciation and affection. Think about the reasons you fell in love and treat your spouse the way you did when you were caught up in romance.
When you whole-heartedly make your marriage a priority, other relationships will stay within appropriate boundaries. If you are experiencing marital strife or confusion related to an opposite-sex friendship, I encourage you to seek out counsel from a wise friend who supports your marriage, a pastor or a professional counselor. Your marriage is worth it!
We are not asking for painful confessions in the comments, but if you have experience that will help others who are struggling with this issue, we will appreciate your input. We would also love to hear how you have protected your marriage when threats arose because of opposite-sex friends.
Live, Work & Relate Well!
Dr. Todd is a licensed psychologist, executive coach, published author, and national conference and seminar speaker. He has been a featured expert on national and local radio talk shows and television news programs.