Getting married doesn’t mean that you have to give up all of your opposite-sex friends. It does mean, however, that your relationship with your spouse is top priority, even if Jim from your freshman biology class has known you longer. By exercising the principles of transparency, involvement and adaptability, you can find your opposite-sex friendship just as rewarding even after you say “I do.”
Do not hide your friendships from your spouse. This automatically creates a suspicious situation. Besides, if you would not be comfortable with your spouse knowing how much time you spend joking with Kayla at work, or how often Frank calls you on the phone, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Talk to your spouse and make sure he or she feels valued and central in your relationship. And, like there is no competition. Even if you genuinely feel like the level of intimacy in your opposite-sex friendships is appropriate and you are confident your spouse agrees, keep the subject on the table. This way, you both feel safe communicating openly without the risk of accusations and hurt feelings.
For years, my best guy friend (we’ll call him Devin) has been calling me at least weekly. I thought he might stop after I got engaged, or even married, but no. But it’s okay. I’ve kept my husband informed about my friendship with Devin all along. My husband gets to see all of the rolled eyes and the “I just love that kid!” statements that are a natural, normal part of my friendship with Devin. I’m comfortable being transparent about my friendship because I have minimized my emotional intimacy with Devin in favor of maximizing it with my spouse.
Another helpful step is to allow your spouse the opportunity to befriend your opposite-sex friends too. This sends the message to your spouse that this friendship is not a hidden thing in any way, and that your spouse brings something enjoyable and important to all of your relationships.
While we were dating, my husband and his roommates were good friends with an apartment full of girls. I found it so much easier to not feel threatened by a crowd of attractive, friendly girls when I got to know them better. My future-husband made a point of inviting me over to be a part of their board game parties, long chats and dinner parties. I now count these girls as my friends, which I never would have been able to do if my husband had not been so conscientious about getting me involved.
Some friendships simply don’t belong in your life after you are married. One of the steps of developing emotional intimacy with your spouse is to let him or her have the vast majority of it. Your spouse ought to be your primary confidant, your best friend and your strongest supporter. Don’t outsource that job to your best guy (or girl) friend.
Since I met my husband, I have gradually lost contact with two guy friends. I’m okay with this, since my primary bonding activities with these friends were flirting and sharing secrets. I would have hoped that the other aspects of our friendships, like common interests and loyalty would have had greater bearing long term. I’m not disappointed; however, I would rather be fully devoted to flirting with and confiding in my husband.Limiting what I share with people outside of my marriage also helps me to keep any conflict with my husband inside my marriage. This helps me to find solutions to problems, not just reasons to complain, as well as allowing me the joy of successfully working through a disagreement alongside the love of my life.
Being transparent with your spouse, getting him or her involved in your friendships, and allowing your friendships to change as needed all add up to successful friendships with people of the opposite sex. Most of all, when we have complete fidelity in our marriage, nothing can stand between us and our spouses. Not even our friends.