The following marriage article was written specifically with the men readers in mind. But, even though the focus is geared to encourage the appropriate male perspectives regarding opposite sex friendships, that particular type of relationship is something every spouse should be aware of.
You may have heard before that your spouse should know your business and you should know your spouses’ business. At first glance that may seem like a critical way of living, but read on and see if you feel the same way:
You interact with them every day, sometimes up close and personal. You can’t help but be around them. In many cases, they’re women you see more often than your wife.
They’re women at work —opposite-sex friendships —and unless you’re on guard, they can be the single biggest threat to your marriage.
How do you know you could be in trouble? It’s not easy, because relationships tend to be progressive …and almost all opposite-sex friendships begin innocently.
You start at a very basic level of getting to know each other. But before you know it, she begins to open up and express her concerns, hurts and problems (particularly those relating to her husband or boyfriend). Being a gentleman, you give her a sympathetic ear. In appreciation, she gives you attention and caring —perhaps more so than your wife. You find her flattering, and a nice little boost to your ego.
Before you know it, that opposite-sex friendship becomes the most important relationship in your life —surpassing even your relationship with your wife. When that happens, that workplace relationship has become a real threat to your marriage.
Here’s how you can tell when an opposite-sex friendship in the workplace is becoming dangerous:
• You find yourself sharing personal information with her that you otherwise wouldn’t share with someone else or your spouse.
• You begin looking for her when you get to work, and find yourself genuinely disappointed when she’s not there.
• You start creating opportunities to be alone with your opposite-sex friend during the workday, such as through non-work related lunch appointments, or lingering too long at her office or cubicle.
• You’re physically attracted to the person, and think about her when you’re not at work.
Now, guys, I know there are many of you thinking, “Look, I’ve had an opposite-sex friendship at work with (insert her name here) for years. Nothing has ever happened, and nothing ever will. It’ll never become inappropriate.”
Okay, then please ask yourself this: “Are you sure she feels the same way?” You might not intend for anything inappropriate to happen. But because of her own issues —ones of which you are completely unaware —she may be starting to drift from concentrating her husband or boyfriend.
She’s not dealing with problems they way she should be with her spouse, and she’s starting to find more fulfillment from her relationship with you. Even if nothing inappropriate ever occurs, you may be unknowingly preventing your opposite-sex friend from facing issues she needs to deal with only with her husband or boyfriend. You can’t risk letting that occur.
Here’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind. In the workplace, it’s best to keep a professional barrier between you and others. Frankly, you’re not at work to have an opposite-sex friendship anyway. You’re there to get a job done. That should be your sole focus.
Finally, take to heart this sound advice from Proverbs:
“My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight; they will be life for you, and ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble.“ Proverbs 3:21-23
“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.“ Proverbs 4:23
Demonstrate God-honoring character in all your relationships, especially those with women at work —and you’ll avoid the pitfalls that come with opposite-sex friendships, and strengthen your bond with the one person that matters most—your wife!
The above article came from an E-mentoring message sent through the ministry of Intentional Living Theintentionallife.com with Dr Randy Carlson, which also includes the ministry of Family Life Radio. This ministry provides many free articles you can read on their web site, as well as Dr Carlson’s radio program that you can listen to.