“To everything there is a season.” That’s what we’re told in the Bible in the book of Ecclesiastes. And that can be true of friendships as well as in other areas of life. Sometimes you have great friends that you are very close to before you marry. But after you marry you enter a new season of life. It’s then that you need to ask yourself, are your friends helping or hurting your marriage?
Friends Helping Marriage or Hurting It?
It’s difficult to think that our friends could hurt us in any way. We were so close to them before we married. But when you married you entered a new season of your life. You entered into a sacred covenantal partnership with your spouse and with God. That changes everything you had going for you before marrying. And it changes priorities, as well. The marriage relationship is a “cord of three strands.” It’s a relationship that God takes seriously. And for that reason, so should we. Marriage is a living picture of Christ’s love for the church to a world that needs to see God’s faithfulness lived out before them. That is serious stuff.
You may have had some great friendships going on like King David and Jonathan (as shown in the Bible). But sometimes the friends you had previously just aren’t good ones for you to continue at this stage of your life. Some friends are great ones when you are single, but they actually cause problems after you marry. Your priorities have changed, but theirs haven’t.
We can’t even start to tell you how many emails we receive at Marriage Missions, telling us of the problems that certain friendships are causing in their marriages. It makes it especially difficult when the other spouse allows his or her friendship(s) to interfere with the well being of their marriage. They often will say that they don’t want to end the friendship because they’ve “been friends for so long.”
Friendships that Corrupt
One of many answers to that dilemma could be: When fruit is ripe, it’s good to partake of it. But when it turns rotten, then it’s time to get rid of it. This same principle can apply to friendships. Bible says, “Do not be misled: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.’ Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning: for there are some who are ignorant of God —I say this to your shame.” (1 Corinthians 15:33-34)
A person might say that if they let go of this friend, they “won’t have any friends.” That could be true, but in reality, it would be better to not have any friends for a while than to have friends who pull you in a wrong direction. It’s the Matthew 5 principle that if your “hand” or your “eye” causes you to do what you shouldn’t, then you must get rid of that, which is causing the problem. Friendships can be disposable, marriages are not supposed to be. It’s important to stay true to the vows we made to our God and to our spouse.
It just comes down to the fact that sometimes friendships can be detrimental to the health of your marriage. There are a number of ways in which this can happen.
“One is when a friend, whether same-sex or opposite, becomes your main confidant. That kind of sharing is what builds true and deep intimacy. Thus, when you confide your concerns and fears, your hopes and dreams, your struggles and temptations with a friend to the exclusion of your spouse, you forge your strongest bonds of intimacy with the friend.
“Another way in which friends can hurt your marriage is when they consume too much of your discretionary time. Couple time —the time you spend together, connecting with each other and nurturing your relationship —is a premium for most of us. Friends who expect or demand so much of your time that they deprive you of couple time are foes to your marriage.” (Jeannette and Robert Lauer, from the Marriage Partnership article “With Friends Like These”)
Friendships that Change in Healthiness
When I was mentoring two young ladies a few years ago, they both complained that they were having a difficult time finding friends who were helpful and encouraging to both of their marriages. As I told them —that’s then it’s time to look for new friends. If these “friends” are unhelpful critics of your mate and cause division with your spouse, then they cease to truly be friends. It’s then that they become marital adversaries instead. Just because your friendship was a good one previously, it doesn’t mean that it’s good now. If you throw out junk mail, you should throw out junk friendships, even though it hurts for a time.
Concerning this matter, here are a few “tough questions” to ask yourself about your friendships (which Jeannette and Robert Lauer came up with):
• “Do they enjoy the kind of activities and conversation that strengthen marriage?
• “Do they make you feel better about your spouse?
• “Do they respect and support your need for couple time?
• “Do they celebrate marriage as a rich human experience?”
And here are a couple of additional questions from Sabrina D. Black, from the book, “Can Two Walk Together?”
Sabrina Poses the Questions:
• “Are these people building a hedge around your marriage?
• “How concerned are they about godly things?
• “Are they the types who say, ‘Well, I never really liked him anyway?’ Or do they say, ‘you know, I didn’t like it when he did this the other day,’ or ‘I don’t believe you should put up with that!’
“Make sure your friend is someone who is concerned about godly things. Make sure they are a person who knows the Word of God and will turn to it when you call. Always keep in mind that friends are people who should draw you closer to God. Therefore, if they are telling you something that is contrary to the Word, then they are not really your friends.”
Choose your friends wisely. Make sure that they make you feel better about your mate and about your God. If they don’t, then make the hard decision of parting ways with them. “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” (Proverbs 18:24)
If your spouse has a friend or friends, that threaten your marriage, pray, pray, and pray some more. Ask God when and how to approach your spouse over this matter. Don’t nag and push so hard that you spouse keeps the friendship(s) just to spite you. That will just cause further damage. But keep asking God to give you wisdom and help in this matter until it is gets to a better place. “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (Hebrews 10:36)
We hope this has given you some food for thought on the issue of friendships. If you have other thoughts that you can share to help others, please do.
— ALSO —
Here’s a related article posted on this web site that you may find helpful to read:
May we never allow our “friend in Jesus” and our friendship in Christ be threatened by anyone outside of our circle of three!
Cindy and Steve Wright
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Marriage Messages