Questions: Guiding Opposite-Sex Friendships in Marriage

sunset-652291_640If you have ever wondered whether or not your close opposite-sex friendship poses a potential threat to your marriage take a few moments to answer the questions below. Read each question and then quickly and honestly record the first answer that comes to mind.

1. Is your spouse unaware of your opposite-sex friendship? __Yes __No

2. Would you ever behave differently around your friend if your spouse were present? __Yes __No

3. Would you feel uncomfortable if your spouse had the same quality of friendship with someone of the opposite sex? __Yes __No

4. Do you prefer to spend time alone with your opposite-sex friend rather than in a group setting? __Yes __No

5. Are you physically and/or emotionally attracted to your friend? __Yes __No

6. Is your friend someone you would consider dating if you were single? __Yes __No

7. Have you ever entertained romantic fantasies about your friend? __Yes __No

8. Do you ever compare your spouse to your friend? __Yes __No

9. Do you think about sharing important news with your friend before your spouse? __Yes __No

10. Do you and your friend ever exchange highly personal details about your lives or complain about your marriages to each other? __Yes __No

11. Do you often reference or talk about your friend with others? __Yes __No

12. Has your spouse ever expressed concern about your friendship? __Yes __No

13. Is your relationship with your friend ever a source of tension or conflict between you and your spouse? __Yes __No

14. Have you ever ignored or minimized your spouse’s requests to end or modify the relationship with your friend? __Yes __No

15. Have you ever deceived or misled your spouse about matters concerning your friendship? __Yes __No

16. Has anyone other than your spouse ever cautioned you about your opposite-sex friendship? __Yes __No

17. Do you do things with your friend that your spouse is unwilling or uninterested in doing? __Yes __No

18. Does your friend fulfill needs that you wish your spouse would meet? __Yes __No

19. Do you have unexpressed or unresolved anger toward your spouse? __Yes __No

20. Does your marriage lack intimacy? __Yes __No

If you answered, “yes” to one or more of the questions above, your opposite-sex friendship poses a real threat to the quality of your marriage. It may be in the best interest of your marriage to either significantly limit or actually end your close friendship. Be completely honest with yourself and your spouse and pray that God will give you the wisdom, discernment and courage to do what is best!

It is possible for married people to have healthy opposite-sex friendships. However, special consideration must be given to a number of factors that, if ignored, can potentially serve to threaten your marriage and seriously compromise your relationship with God. If you desire to make or keep your marriage strong, here are some tips for managing opposite-sex friendships in your life.

• Make your relationship with Jesus Christ your number one priority in life.

• Develop and consistently nurture a “best friend” relationship with your spouse.

• Develop and consistently nurture close same-sex friendships.

• Make sure your spouse knows your friend and is completely comfortable with the type and level of interaction you have with them.

• Honor your spouse’s wishes concerning your friendship —even if it means ending it.

• Avoid establishing close friendships with opposite sex singles.

• Avoid close opposite-sex friendships if you are struggling in your marriage relationship.

• Address unmet needs and unresolved anger in your marriage in an open, honest and timely fashion.

• Demonstrate a God-honoring character in all your relationships.

Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.(Proverbs 4:23)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable —if anything is excellent or praiseworthy —think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble.(Proverbs 3:21-23)

The above questionnaire was written by Dr. Todd Linaman. This document was used by permission from:

Family Life Communications
PO Box 35300
Tucson, AZ 85740

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46 responses to “Questions: Guiding Opposite-Sex Friendships in Marriage

  1. (GHANA) I am in a dilemma and I need help. I have being having series of quarrels with my husband over his supposed girlfriends whom he considers first before me. I have always suspected him of having an affair with some of them but he always denies this. Not long ago, in november last year, I caught him and he confessed to me. He appologised and promised to be what I want him to be and also going to tell them to stop calling him since their call causes problems for him.

    My husband talked to me like his enemy, and called me derogatory names which hurt my heart so much and he would come the next minutes to tell me, “I love you.” Sometimes I ask whether he is aware of the injury he is inflicting on my heart.

    He hides a lot of things from me No communication. Our conversations turn to quarrels immediately when we start to talk. I am also going through a silent hatred from some of his relative and when I complain to him he fights with me on their behalf. Sometimes I feel insecure and defenseless so I try to defend by explaining and he would try to hit me.

    We live together with his sister and husband, and this makes me feel uncomfortable. The sister and husband make decisions concerning the house without involving us. For instance, my baby was eight months old when his sister ordered a sprayer to spray the house without informing me. The chemical entered my baby and she started to sneeze, cough and couldn’t breath. To my surprise my husband couldn’t say anything but rather got furious at me for talking about it.

    Her husband packed used clothes in one of our rooms, took the key to the door away without informing us. All that my husband could do was to get annoyed with me when I conplained.

    The recent one was when I told him I felt he was hiding something from me and he got annoyed and insulted me heavily. I then left the house to my grand pa’s because he nearly hit me. Now he apologises and asked that I pray for him because something tells him to hurt or say painful words to me.

    I told my grand dad I would not marry again but I’ve realized I love my husband. What should I do since he is also not ready for us to leave his sister’s house?

  2. (USA)  I have single female friend whom I think is taking it too much for granted on how she behaves with my husband. Last night my husband and I went to the local dinner dance. She was tending the entrance for tickets. We walked in and she told my husband how handsome he is. Later when she walked by our table and made a point to touch my husband on his shoulder.

    After the dinner and people started dancing she came up to our table and asked my husband for a dance before my husband had a chance to dance with me. Was it right for me to say, if my husband wants to dance he’ll dance with me? On another occasion she was a guest at my home for a few days. She is a nurse. I found her in my bedroom massaging my husband’s shoulder and placing a heating pad on him. I didn’t say anything to her. However, I felt she was over stepping her boundaries.

    1. Oh yea, this woman is definitely overstepping her boundaries and is not too subtle in how she is stepping into yours. You did right by saying what you did. You also should never have her be a “guest” in your home. It’s pretty obvious that she wants to be more than a “guest” to your husband. Beware! A “friend” doesn’t do those kinds of things unless she wants to go to a new level of “friendship” with someone, and that someone is obviously your husband.

      Be wise in tending to your marriage –making sure YOU’RE the one who is doing the massaging, and making sure she isn’t given the opportunity to do any “tending” of her own. Be wise and be aware of what’s going on here. She is no friend of yours.

  3. (USA) I posted this in a different thread, but I feel it’s more fitting here. I have been married to my husband for three years. I told him to leave our home as he refuses to change his ways. He was texting a girl and I asked him if I could see the messages and he refused, and this while a minor incident was the last straw in a long past. He insists on talking to women constantly. He texts all day and night. It has become a pattern with him and we get into arguments when I object to him talking to certain women that I don’t know or in some cases that I do know when I feel that his communication level is crossing the line (ex. 150+ texts per day, talking to them about his problems like he would to me or his best guy friends, going out for drinks or clubs alone with them, texting and talking to them after I have gone to bed or texting them after midnight while laying next to me in bed, having them be the first person he texts and the last person he texts before going to sleep, having them over at our house while I’m away, etc.). I feel like this behavior is that of single man or of one that is dating. He gets bored easily. I believe that his intentions are not bad and that he simply seeks the companionship of women. He just doesnt believe that this behavior is disrespectful to me and that I should be able to trust him.

    I feel that I do trust him, even though at times it’s hard to do since he has lied to me so many times before about this issue, I feel that his level of communication is disrespectful to me and our marriage. I’m a believer that people of the opposite sex cannot be close friends, unless there are special circumstances. He says that I do not want him to talk to any women and that I’m a jealous and controlling person, but I am not. I want him to feel free to talk to whoever he wants but have boundaries just like any healthy marriage should. He doesn’t want any boundaries or restrictions.

    I am a Christian and he is a believer but he has never had an actual relationship with Christ. He also has never had a steady job and I have been our financial source during the duration of our relationship. This is also why I told him that he could stay at our house and that I would leave as I know that he doesn’t have another place to stay. I don’t want a divorce, I love him and I want our marriage to work. I am hoping and praying that he will seek God during this separation, and grow into the responsible man and husband that God wants him to be. I feel that by staying with him I’m continuing to allow his behavior to go on and I’m being an enabler to his lack of responsibility and disrespectful behavior. I guess you could describe this as tough love.

    This is so painful because I just want to run to him and have him hold me and us to be happy again. Aside from his lack of initiative to find employment and issues with women, we have a great marriage. The fact that we haven’t been faithful followers of Christ is what I feel has gotten us in the predicament, but like I said before I pray that God hears me and that our marriage can be salvaged. Any encouragement or fresh perspective would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

  4. (US) I, also, disagree with those comments saying that you should never have opposite sex friendships. I also disagree with the question as to whether a friend will do activites that your spouse either does not want or is unwilling to do.

    I have had male friends my entire life. I am athletic and outdoorsy, so naturally, I meet more men that have those traits than women. My husband, though sometimes willing to do outdoor activities, is usually unwilling to do certain things. So, I do those things with other friends. I never go on outings with my male friends unless we are in a co-ed group and my husband is completely comfortable with it. We have had many discussions about this because I’ve always been concerned with whether this would make him uncomfortable. I love him and never want to do that.

    Something that he mentioned that I found interesting is this: The male friends I have are ones that I have had since I was a child. The majority of them were also family friends or are much younger than I am. However, if I were to suddenly make a new male friend, he said he would be very uncomfortable with that. I agree. If the situation were reversed, I would not appreciate him making a new female friend. Yet the few female friends he has that he grew up with I do not feel threatened by at all.

    Additionally, I think it is important to really think about what ‘friendship’ means to you. For me, I speak to my friends at the most once a month. Usually it is once every couple of months. I am too involved with my family to really have time for much more. That goes for female friends that I have made since marriage, too. I care about my friends, but socializing is not my top priority. If I were to be spending a day each week or more in the company of or speaking on the phone to a person of the opposite sex, then I think that my priorities would be out of line. I feel the same way about men and women I see that have a weekly ‘girls night’ or ‘guys day’ with friends of the same sex to the detriment of their families. (I am not saying that it is always to the detriment of their families, but often times, I see it is.)

    What it boils down to is whether Christ and your family are at the center of your life. I agree completely with those that have implied that Christianity is not a behavioral checklist. Had God thought we were capable of that, there would have been no reason for Christ to have come at all. Being a Christian means that you allow Christ to lead you in your life. There are going to be exceptions to plenty of rules. Our job is to pray and to LISTEN to the guidance God gives us. Certainly, there could be times when a man or a woman desperately needs a Christian friend and a married person of the opposite sex is who God chooses to fill that role.

    God will let you know if what you are doing is on the wrong track. Trust him!

    1. (USA) Very well said! Jane. You have wise boundaries in place in your marriage, and a strong faith in God’s will on your life. It sounds as if an honest open relationship with your husband is also a very strong hedge.

      I am thinking you are in a minority as it sounds if many individuals in ‘friendships’ with opposite sex do NOT have respect for their spouses and their marriages by letting down many safeguards. You have presented ‘good guidelines’ and a good example for those who do have opposite sex friends. Thanks for the insight!

  5. (US) I think the blending of lives in a marriage covenant means working with the unique person you are with in coming into agreement about what level of interaction you are both comfortable with regarding opposite sex relationship, past and new friends. The internet and cell phones add additional “private” means of communication that challenge accountability within the relationship.

    These days, people are very used to one on one communications with almost everyone via the web and cell phones. It seems natural to continue to use these means after we are married to stay in touch with opposite sex contacts. How do we change gears? Do we need to? How accountable should we be? Should we share all passwords and access to phone records? Should we avoid or limit ourselves to public or friendly settings? Is it proper to converse one on one with someone’s spouse digially if if would not be proper in person or via letters? It’s not a simple thing to address, but each couple needs to assess what works.

    1. (USA) I’m not married, but my parents sure are, and happily so! They both have friends of both sexes, and no other friend of theirs, same sex or opposite, has ever been any threat to the marriage in any way. They both know about each other’s friends (some of whom are old friends from before they were married or even childhood, and others are newer friends met through their jobs), and they know that no friendship, same or opposite sex, will EVER turn sexual in any way.

      The key here is that they know about all of each other’s friends (same sex AND opposite), and as such there are no areas of unknown to each other for wrongfulness to creep in there. Does that make sense?

      Again for that matter, I’m not married, but I have a female friend who is. (I’m a male.) Even though my friend’s husband has cheated on her multiple times (sadly, that has nothing to do with me, but still sad), I STILL would never even consider going after her romantically or thinking of her other than STRICTLY as a friend.

      I have another female friend whose fiance doesn’t treat her right from all I’ve heard. If she asks my opinion of him, I’ll be honest, but nevertheless I would NEVER go after her romantically now that she’s engaged. I did have a serious crush on her when she was single, but that’s in the past and now that she’s engaged, as undeserving as that guy is, I still make a point of acknowledging that our friendship is ONLY friendship, for that is the only way to continue it.

      I hope everyone sees the distinctions and subtleties here. All the questions in the article are very good indicators, ESPECIALLY #1, #3, #15, #16, and #18. As for #12, #13, and #14, the married people I know (including my parents and many of their friends) would tell me those are unlikely to come into play UNLESS the honest answer is already “Yes” to something else on the list.

      By the way, some of the harshest of the previous comments are hinged on Gnostic and Albegensian heresies (especially the one that specifically claims this is Satan’s Universe, not God’s, the Albegensian heresy in a nutshell). The Apostle’s and Nicene Creeds both have it that God made “all things visible and invisible,” and the physical things in this Universe are the “things visible” referred to there. I will not further dignify comments that contain cardinal heresies as stated or latent premises in their arguments, so much for that!

      So, yeah, think about all the other paragraphs in this response comment. :-)

    2. (USA) Sorry, I don’t know how that other comment got displayed as a reply to yours. What I typed in was to display it as an original comment all its own.

  6. Greets in Jesus Mighty Name. I would like to ask question on behalf of my friend. She has a male friend. That guy once fell in love with her. Later she told him that this will not work out, since her family are non-believers and only she is a believer. People around them came to know about this and that became a bad testimony to others. After few days, again, she became friends with him, going for lunch together. Is it good from the sight of our God?

  7. STEP 1. If you are married, Do NOT have opposite sex friends. It’s too easy for a slip up or inappropriate touching. It’s too easy for Conversations to get intimate, too easy to have ‘alone time’ with this person. Step 2. See step 1.

  8. Is it okay for my husband to call the hospital room of a female co-worker he says he has known for over 30 years on the same day she had knee surgery? She returned his call the next day at 7:50am in the morning on his cell because she was out of it when he called the first time. I asked him why did he call this woman because she does not work in his same department. He said they had been friends for over 30 years. We have been married for 49 years.

    He introduced me to her once while we were out shopping and that is all I know about her. She is the cashier in the cafeteria and he says he sees her just about everyday. I would not have known about this if she had not called his cell phone that morning. I told him this was totally inappropriate for him to do especially when she hardly opened her mouth to me when we were introduced. On her last day at work it would have been more appropriate for him to wish her good luck and leave it at that. I asked how many men did he think called her to see how she was doing who also came through the line everyday. Am I overreacting or do I have cause for concern?