Marital Boundaries With Friendships

Marital boundaries with friendships - Dollar Club

A long time ago, the Lord made my husband and me aware of the importance of guarding our hearts and our marriage. This includes being careful of the friends we allow ourselves to get close to —whether it is of the same sex or opposite sex. If there is any opportunity for this friend to be any type of threat to our marriage, it’s better that the friendship goes off to the side to protect our marital union. We needed to set marital boundaries with our friendships.

We’ve seen it over and over again where “friends” or the spouses of friends get a little bit too “friendly.” Eventually the line comes out where they tell their spouses, “We never meant for it to happen.”

Marital Boundaries with Friendships

Some good advice on this comes from Gary and Mona Shriver, who wrote the following in their book, Unfaithful:

“The fact is that very few of us start out to disrupt marital intimacy. Sometimes we simply fail to establish it. Sometimes we fail to maintain it. More often we fail to protect it.

“‘It just happened’ is a common explanation for adultery. It exposes how little we understand the steps that got us there. When we don’t have appropriate hedges in place we invite it to happen.

“…You have to admit your vulnerability before you can recognize the need for protective measures. Safety glasses were created because someone got hurt. Don’t let that someone be you or your spouse.”

Some may think we’re too cautious on this. But we’d rather be cautious and protective of our marriage, than be sorry and hurt afterward.

Boundaries Concerning Friends

I totally agree with the advice that Sheila Wray Gregoire gave in her article, “Supporting Friends’ Marriages.” She wrote:

“Make boundaries with the opposite sex, and stick to them. Try, as much as possible, not to be alone with a man who isn’t your husband [or a woman who isn’t your wife], unless you can’t avoid it at work. Here’s why this is important: let’s say that you’re not worried at all about you straying, because your relationship is 100% great with your husband [wife]. But you worship lead on a praise team, and your co-leader is a guy [gal]. And you start getting together with him [her] to plan the upcoming service every Tuesday night.

“Now, nothing is happening between the two of you. You don’t think about him [her] that way at all –and he [she] doesn’t think of you that way at all, either. Occasionally you text him [her] when an idea pops into your head, and it’s totally harmless.

Lowering Boundaries

“But you’ve now given him [her] the impression that it’s normal to text other women [man] and to be alone with other women [men]. And so you’ve lowered his boundaries. It’s now easier for him [her] to start texting someone at work, or to start talking to someone at work, or to have lunch with a woman [man] at work. Not good.

“The vast majority of affairs that start begin perfectly innocently over a friendship. Don’t put yourself in that position, but also support others who are trying to maintain boundaries so that they won’t fall with someone else.”

Good advice, huh? We think so!

We care a great deal about our friends, but within reason. Boundaries and hedges are there for a reason. We need to put our own into place and honor those that build them to protect their marriages, as well. Sure hope you are doing the same!

Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.

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7 responses to “Marital Boundaries With Friendships

  1. My wife, and the other couple had a 3 way text going for three years, but he bagan just texting my wife in August 2017. In February 2018, My wife and the other woman’s husband lead a planning team for our Parish Picnic. The picnic took place in August and was a success, These two were inseparable through the process. However, they seemed to have withdrawal symptoms, and I told her he would draw her in onto another cause.

    Long story short, she upgraded her phone, and while I was backing it up, I noticed a dozen text strings, including the 3 way texting, team texting with various committee members, but most surprising was 409 pages of 8-1/2×11 paper from August 2017 to Mid October 2018. The last few had “We can go out with friends” and “it will be good to see you”. I asked about the texting, and she said he didn’t mean anything by those comments, and the volume of texts were related to the picnic. She joined the picnic team in February 2018. To cap it off, he called her on Friday with this greeting: “Hi, how is my other wife?” She says nothing is going on, and I should not address it with him because of consequences. What are your thoughts? Oh, and the Hug and kiss when they meet and part too, but just as friends.

    1. She’s dipping her toe in the sea of temptation. Perhaps it won’t go anywhere (although most likely it will… especially if she is warning you with “consequences”). But even if it doesn’t, it’s still inappropriate, even at this stage. This is not what either of you vowed when you married. You vowed to be faithful in word and deed.

      You both need to step back as husband and wife and put your energies into building an even better marriage. It’s good to do volunteer work, but when it causes problems in the marriage, and when it causes distancing of spouses, yet closeness of “committee members” and other friends to the threat of the marriage, it’s not good.

      If your wife won’t break off from this “committee” then you might join it. Do it in good sport though. Don’t do it in a conniving way, or a way to catch your wife doing what she shouldn’t. I’m not saying you are doing this, but I am saying that it can get to this. Sincerely find interest and show interest in helping others. Do this WITH your wife. Find things that you can do with your wife and for your wife that will connect you together again in meaningful ways. Romance her, show her you love and cherish her. There is a great book that we highly recommend you read. It’s written by Gary Thomas and it’s titled, Cherish. Gary is an excellent writer and helps his readers to better appreciate and love each other. My husband regularly recommends it to men because it helps men to be better husbands.

      Also, another book, which is written by Gary Chapman, is an excellent book to read, as well. It is titled, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts. Gary Chapman is also a great writer and really knows how to help us to better love one another. Both books are so impactful!

      One of the problems we have once we marry is we stop courting and romancing each other, which is a terrible mistake. We get so caught up in making our lives work, that we neglect to continue to build fun memories together, show each other the kind of appreciation we still need, and stockpile good feelings for each other. Those memories and the good feelings we build during the good times, helps us to better bridges to get past the harder times (and the boring, mundane ones). It seems that your wife needs a thrill. Be the one to give it to her. Flirt with her, give her little gifts and show your love and appreciation for her in big and small ways every day. Show her that you are the love of her life and she is yours. Make her happy to be with you–to look forward to being with you and talking to, and texting you, instead of “her other husband.” Don’t just do this to displace this “friend” from being too friendly, but do it because that’s what will build your marriage into a great one. Anyone can fall in love and marry, but those who marry and work together to stay in love are the ones who are most blessed.

      Instead of looking for the problems, look for the good you can build within your relationship. What’s going on right now with your wife is problematic, to say the least. But don’t let that be your focus as much as working on whatever you can see that could help the two of you to draw closer. Put your energies there. Eventually, if the other guy doesn’t back off, then deal with him at that time. But right now see what you can do in a pro-active way to build your relationship with your wife. I’m thinking that this might be the better way to approach this matter. Pray about it, and see if that’s the path that God leads you to walk, as well. …I hope this helps. I pray for you and your wife. I pray that God will show you how to grow your relationship so it is more loving, healthy, and strong… stronger than you ever thought possible!

      1. Thanks so much. We are joining the ministry together. As an aside, I did meet with the guy, and after 45 minutes I mentioned his comment and said it felt like a punch in the stomach. He said he would never do that to a friend. Long story short, I told my wife about the meeting and I said everything appears to be fine. We went to a fund raiser a few weeks later. So it’s about 2 months after that meeting in January and he wants to know if he’s allowed to communicate with her and through which methods, text, email, phone or in person. After I responded, he asked if he should copy me and/or his wife. I texted back that his wife was fine to copy, and normal picnic related texts are fine. I also said “It’s the extras that may cross the line”. 90 minutes later he wanted examples of extras. So I thought we’re moving into dangerous territory and I’d better call him. I gave him two examples, text like “miss me?” And one night where he texted her some 3 or 4 times to ask if she was OK. Apparently the responses are usually within a minute. In this case we were at a baseball game entertaining clients. She sent him a message saying she was OK. I asked why he was so concerned and he said she’s a good friend.

        I said saying that to my wife was inappropriate, and he went into a tirade about in his 37 years in business he had several lunches with female employees and there was no ethical problem with calling them his “work wife.” I asked if their husbands were OK with this designation and he said no one ever complained. In fact he still has lunch with these work wives, because he’s retired and has a lot of time on his hands. He went into how he invited us to his summer house for a weekend and this is how I repay him. As Chief Technology officer, he has the ability to hire and fire any of these women; of course they won’t object. But here’s the big difference, just because they didn’t say no, doesn’t mean they didn’t object. It got worse, saying I was ending this long term friendship of 10 or more years. We’ve been out as a foursome exactly 13 times in those dozen years. However my wife, his wife and he were in a 3 way text circle for 3 years before it became a two way text string. And he worked with her on an HOA committee for a few years before that.

        So while I only hung out a number of times, that friendship was formed over a 5 year period. He also said I was obsessed because I could give him examples. I look at these as a phycological attack, first be nice, then go on the offensive and finally play the pity card. We’ll see how this year goes, as the picnic meetings will begin shortly and my wife and I will be on the team. Since he and my wife are the leaders, it will be interesting.

    1. Willem, I share my age with no hesitation. Many women don’t but many do. It just depends. Now if she shared it in a flirtatious way, then you may have a problem. But by simply sharing her age, it doesn’t mean that there’s anything behind it.

  2. At my work place a man who is also married, like I am, says to me yes baby, each time I call him to ask him a question… or each time I greet him. He is my senior colleague and I am not comfortable with that. I want warn him seriously to stop it. I don’t know if it seems right to do so?

  3. My husband formed a friendship with another woman. He suggested to her that he was unhappy in his relationship with me. He even gave her flowers and a Valentine’s card saying be my Valentine. I found out about her. He says it was something that he didn’t understand; he thinks I am a fool or something. He has now proffered his love for me.

    I feel very hurt and heart broken. I keep thinking it is still all about her when he gets passionate with me. What should I do?