It is something I have learned the hard way. However, I am thankful that I learned it before marriage, not during. Being close friends with the opposite sex is a dangerous game to play.
A relationship with the opposite sex can only go so far before it starts infringing on the covenant of your marriage. Now, let me be clear. And I am not saying that all your opposite sex relationships are bad. But what I am saying is, the unavoidable progression of relationships is something that is far to easily ignored, for how dangerous they can be. So it becomes a mess.
These situations can seem complicated, but they are actually quite simple to understand. No, I am not saying this is the say all end all on the debate. This article is about why and how they CAN ruin your marriage. Of course there are other situations that may vary. But the idea remains the same. Here is my experience with this type of situation: While I was in college in Santa Barbara, I had a good friend that was a girl.
Simultaneously, Audrey and I were in a long-distance relationship. Over time, my friendship with this girl evolved. You could say she was one of my best friends. Either closer together, or further apart.
While Audrey and I were weathering our long-distance relationship and growing further apart, I was hanging out with this girl almost every day, and we were inevitably growing closer together.
Audrey had asked me many times to stop hanging out with this girl as frequently as I was. There came a time where, despite my lack of understanding at the time, if I wanted a healthy relationship with Audrey, I had to say goodbye to my friend. Think about it this way, say you have a scale of 0 — percent.
The maximum effort you can give is percent. Your relationships, not just marriage, are constantly fluctuating. They are in a fluid state of giving and taking energy and effort. Every time you give to someone else the percentage on that scale changes in their favor. The more you give to someone else, the less you have for your wife or potential spouse. And once you are married, your wife is the most important relationship you have besides your relationship with the Lord. Your effort and energy should go to her first, always.
In my situation, it was basic math. Marriage requires percent effort. Hence the name of our blog, Beating50Percent. Ok, back to the story… If my relationship with my friend in Santa Barbara had progressed any further, I would have been choosing my friend, over Audrey. Although my deepest desire was to have a healthy relationship with Audrey that was progressing towards marriage, my strongest desire was to remain friends with this girl.
Sometimes our deepest desires are overridden by our strongest desires. But I was dating to marry, and if Audrey was going to be my wife, then I needed to learn an important lesson. Actions speak louder than words. We tend to only see where we ourselves stand.
Not only wrong, but detrimental. Your spouse should be your best friend. In my opinion, this viewpoint is naive and selfish. When you find yourself torn between where you should spend your effort and energy, the answer is likely your spouse. They are your priority, and your energy and effort should first be devoted to them.
We must not be tempted to base our decisions on our current season. They need to be filtered through the standard we are choosing to uphold. To protect your standards, you must create some boundaries. Especially if one of us has respectfully asked the other not to. I want to ask you, why are you asking why? Is your questioning coming from a defensive heart?
Or is your heart completely yielded to your spouse, and ultimately the Lord? My goal is to make Audrey feel like she fulfills all my needs as a husband. Here is a classic example that we maybe have all seen or witnessed in action, and how it can become divisive.
Lets say the wife becomes friends with someone. And they become really good friends. Inevitably this would cause the husband to feel a little uneasy. So their relationship continues to digress and have more division, more complication, and more unexpected outcomes. And the point of the example above is to highlight the ignoring of your spouses feelings.
At the end of the day, they both think that their opposite-sex relationship has precedence over the way their spouse feels… Super obvious problem that I think we can all agree on. This is all because of a stubbornness to be the one to do the right thing. And nobody even saw it coming. How can a good thing, a friendship, ruin my marriage?! I think the proof is in the pudding. This is all a result of letting outside friendships get too close to their covenant marriage.
There is a quote that my house church uses often. You must be willing to turn the other cheek no matter how it might be received. Here are four takeaways. They are feeling it for a reason. Adhere to a standard not of your own. I was on the phone yesterday with my best friend Daniel. He mentioned something that struck me. Moderation in spending creates financial freedom…. Moderation in eating creates physical freedom… Moderation in friendships creates a healthy marriage…. Yes, your spouse has authority to tell you not to be friends with someone.
Emotional polygamy is a real thing. Most people consider polygamy to be morally wrong. And a lot of that is due to what we can observe from polygamous relationships. None of it looks fun, and they almost always end horribly. I think we can agree that as married men, we should not go holding hands with other women unless they are our wives.
Holding hands is a clear, obvious progression towards an emotional and physical relationship. But so is continually and constantly hanging out with someone of the opposite-sex…. Culture tells us to gauge our relationships by their physical status, which I think is extremely naive. Be willing to fight for your deepest desires so that they become your strongest. Hold yourself, and your marriage, to a standard not of your own.
Your marriage is your priority, so inevitably other relationships will and should change.