Dear Jennifer,

I'd love your thoughts on the following statements I read somewhere:

*Don’t be friends with someone your spouse isn't comfortable with it.

*Don’t be alone with someone of the opposite sex.

*Don’t share intimate details about your marriage with someone of the opposite sex.

*Don’t be a shoulder to cry on.

*No secrets.

~Kelsey S.

Dear Kelsey,

I agree and disagree. Blanket statements like this can be dangerous.


FIRST STATEMENT -- "Don't be friends with someone your spouse isn't comfortable with.”

I agree with this IF both husband and wife are in a healthy place. But what if one or both in the marriage aren’t in a health place? Let’s say Husband is friends with another man he grew up with (childhood buddies) and Wife is jealous, insecure, and feels threatened by their bond because of a past trauma she experienced (past relationship or childhood). In my opinion, Wife needs to deal with what's really bothering her and Husband should be free to maintain a friendship with is buddy (but Husband should be sensitive towards and support her growth). If Wife feels threatened because Husband betrayed her in some way and trust has been broken, then of course she'll feel threatened and the couple needs to work through those issues. Husband needs to do whatever it takes to regain Wife’s trust. They may need professional help to overcome the issues. BUT. . . if Wife is in a healthy place and Husband's childhood friend is a bad influence (no respect for women, consistently encourages him to look at or be with other women, wants to involve Husband in his addiction, or is a consistent negative influence), then that friendship should either end or at least cool off a lot. So it really depends on who has an issues with a friend outside the marriage and why.


SECOND STATEMENT -- "Don't be alone with someone of the opposite sex."

Again, this is a blanket statement.

Scenario: I (a heterosexual female) go to a male (heterosexual) OB-GYN and a male (heterosexual) breast specialist once a year for an exam. I go alone without my husband - is this wrong?

Blanket statements like this are dangerous. But I don't believe a married person should spend time alone with someone of the opposite sex (coffee, lunch, dinner, etc). I believe it's playing with fire. It sends a conspicuous message to the friend, the rest of the world, and most importantly, your spouse. Some people believe this is okay and trust their spouse - I respect this position but believe it's flirting with disaster. Fast forward 10 years and this situation usually breeds complications, resentment, and can easily lead to an affair.


THIRD STATEMENT -- "Don't share intimate details about your marriage with someone of the opposite sex."

I believe you should never share intimate details about your marriage with anyone. It's disrespectful to your spouse, creates divide in your marriage, and if it's with the opposite sex, can lead to an emotional/physical affair. If your marriage is suffering in any way, reach out to a non-biased, trained individual for counsel (a Pastor/Priest, mentor, or marriage professional).

Turning to a friend, family member or co-worker can be disastrous. These people will care about you, not necessarily what's best for your marriage as a whole. With the best of intentions, they will say the darnedest things. . .

“You don’t deserve to be treated this way, run.” (when they have no idea what you are really doing to your spouse and not telling them so you won’t look bad)

“He must be having an affair if he hasn’t been interested in sex with you all year.” (when really he’s experiencing undiagnosed heart disease and systemic clogged arteries, thus causing Erectile Dysfunction and too embarrassed to talk about it)“

I couldn’t put up with my wife if she nags me all the time.” (when really you are a lazy-ass, don’t help much around the house, and so your wife ‘nags’ to try to get a little help sometimes)

You have NO idea what goes on behind closed doors (and this is sometimes true for your best friend, daughter, co-worker, cousin, etc). Family and friends rarely know ALL the details necessary to give sound advice. Also, if you tell them your spouse has committed an offense (lying, cheating, etc) they will likely encourage you to leave when you can actually repair the relationship, heal, go on to create the most beautiful relationship and use the adversity to strengthen you both, your bond, and have a better relationship than ever. Then when you work things out with your spouse, your family/friends can hold a grudge for decades.

If your relationship is struggling and you turn to the opposite sex for comfort, you will almost always create an emotional affair.

#PlayingWithFire #DontDoIt

FOURTH STATEMENT -- “Don't be a shoulder to cry on.”

Again, this type of blanket statement is dangerous. I recently had a married man in my building tell me he’s dying and has a few months to live. No one else in our building knows this except his wife (she knows his diagnosis but doesn’t know he only has a few months left). He reached out to me as a shoulder to cry on and to get advice on how to handle everything. He needs guidance on how to break this news to his wife, to his children, how to handle his estate, etc. I’ve had a few discussions with him privately because he deeply cares about his wife and wants to be gentle with the delivery of his life expectancy. Yes, I’ve been alone with this man for these discussions and I stand by my decision that it’s the right thing to do. So there are situations where you must step outside the box.

Overall, however, I don’t find it wise to be an ongoing-shoulder for the same reasons I listed under the third statement above. A one-time-thing can be appropriate but ongoing behavior of this sort is, well…..


FIFTH STATEMENT -- “No secrets.”

Again with the blanket statements!

So I’m not allowed to keep secret from my spouse the gift I’m giving him for his birthday, or the surprise vacation I’m planning to celebrate the New Year? What about if my female friend talks to me about something personal she is battling and asks me not to tell anyone, even my husband? I think this is permissible as long as it doesn’t affect my marriage in any way. Make sense?

But with that being said, keeping secrets about anything you know would upset your spouse or harm your relationship - that’s not the best idea. If you’re on a budget and you secretly buy a new pair of shoes and sneak them into your closet hoping your spouse won’t notice = naughty. If you’re smoking or drinking in secret = naughty. You get the picture.


BOTTOM LINE - trust and respect are important. These issues do include, but aren’t limited to, trust. To me, it’s more about respect and safeguarding the beauty of your relationship with spouse. If you’re suspicious of your spouse for any reason, always give them the benefit of the doubt first. Trust their intentions for you and your marriage - especially if they’ve never given you a reason to doubt. Live your life from a place of respect for your spouse and your relationship. Respect their feelings. Respect their wishes. And don’t neglect self respect - without it, you’ll be incapable of respecting others.



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