A friend recently posted on Facebook: is it OK or not for a married person to have a friendship with a member of the opposite sex? I started writing a response to her post and then thought it would be far better to blog my thoughts, so here I go!
In short my answer is: it depends.
Are you ruthlessly honest?
A man very close to God once said that our heart is more deceitful than anything on earth. That is pretty sobering. You and I can deceive ourselves and not even know we are doing it. Why do you want or need a friend of the opposite sex when you already have someone of the opposite sex to hang out with? If the answer is because your spouse is no fun, hard to get along with, or someone with whom you don’t feel safe, then by all means don’t have a friendship with someone from the opposite sex. That would most assuredly open a door for an unhealthy relationship to begin. And if you do have a good relationship with your spouse, why would you want or need a friendship with another member of the opposite sex?
What do you mean by friend?
I have had several women that I would consider friends, and Zerrin has had several men she too would consider friends. But they are mutual friends of ours. Even when I have had opposite sex co-workers as friends, my wife was brought into that circle one way or another. Furthermore, those relationships are not friendships either of us pursue on our own. Why would we? Jesus once said, “wherever you treasure is, there the desires of your heart will be also.” Simply put, if I were to treasure, in any sense of the word, alone time with another woman, I run the risk of my heart not only being drawn towards her but away from my spouse, neither of which would be healthy.
Are you investing in the friendship with your spouse?
Nationally renowned marital researcher John Gottman says that the greatest indicator of a successful marriage is one in which the husband and wife are experiencing a friendship that continues to grow for life. Most of us enjoyed friendship with our spouse at the beginning of our relationship. Somewhere along the line however, other matters become more important. Our job, our home, our church, and our children become the focus. The connection we once enjoyed with our spouse begins to weaken. Annoyances become more apparent, conflicts more frequent, and the beauty of friendship is lost.
Rather than investing in an outside friendship, most of us need to spend much more time pouring in to the friendship with whom we share our home and bed. When we are honest, we have to admit sometimes that means we have to change. It will take work. It won’t be easy or always fun. We have to find a way to work through our differences and even forgive. Developing another “friendship” is far more tempting…and that’s the problem!
Question: Do you agree or disagree? What would you add to the question, is it OK to have a friendship with a member of the opposite sex when married? Join the conversation and let us know what you think! You can leave a comment by clicking here.