By Charles C. Opara
Friendship outside marriage has the potential to either strengthen or destroy your marriage. Some believed couples are better off if they concentrate on forming friendships only with other couples, believing other couple will be more supporting nurturing to the couples marriage. Individual friendships may develop between husband to husband and wife to wife within the couple to couple friendship that cross gender lives. Others find it an acceptable to have both couple to couple.
Some encourage same sex friendships. Other sees friendships between husbands or wives and members of the opposite sex as acceptable, even helpful.
One should respect each couple’s right to decide how they will deal with friendships outside their marriage.
More importantly, I believe all friendships outside of your marriage should be pleasing to God and honour to your marriage, you give each other the right to lovingly confront the other if either of you becomes uncomfortable about the other’s friendship.
Whatever a couple decides, they shall note
COUPLE TO COUPLE FRIENDSHIPS
Some of the greatest blessings are the Christian friendships I have developed with other couples during the past 16 years of my marriage. Through shared experiences I have observed and learned much about marriage and how to make mine better.
For over 10 years, I was a member of some couples sharing ideas, twice a month. As couple, I rejoiced and cried with one another as I lived through several of life’s styles together. I have learned important lessons and developed guidelines for couple to couple friendships.
Choose Christian couple friends; Couple friends do not always agree on everything, I do agree on the central issues. To be around other couple who believed and live Christian values is nurturing and encouraging.
Choose couple friends with similar interests; No matter how Christian they may be, whose favorite leisure activities are golf and tennis are likely to be happy with friends whose idea of activity is hurrying to the refrigerator while the movie on the VCD is on pause. Being into the same general kind of lifestyle is helpful.
Choose couple friends who laugh a lot. To feel the freedom to laugh and express other emotion with your friends is important. Friends should help you feel good. Both couples need to feel secure enough in the friendships to be honest and open with their feelings.
Don’t choose couple, who rush into new friendships and they feel trapped; speak openly and freely with each other about your reaction to the other couple. Both couple needs time to decide about the other and how serious they want the friendship to be.
SAME SEX FRIENDSHIPS
Becoming married does change one individual freedom to pick and choose friends without consultation. To discuss individual friendships with our spouses is to acknowledge that our primary allegiance is to our mater and not our friends.
Anthony and the boys’ as well as Grace and the girls may feel they have a right to their friendships no matter what their spouse think.
Each spouse has the right to select individual friends in light of his/her responsibility to honour the marriage friendship first.
The guidelines that apply to couple to couple friendship should also apply to same sex friendships. Conversely, the following guideline can apply to couple to couple friendships.
Choose same sex friends who respect marriage; Neither of you should develop friendships with those of your gender who are disrespectful of your marriage or theirs. I like jokes as much as anyone but I do not constantly make negative remarks about marriage or their own spouses.
CHOOSE SAME SEX FRIENDS WHO RESPECT THE OPPOSITE SEX; You absorb the attitudes of your regular companion who Choose same sex friends’ who have healthy, mature, Christian views regarding the opposite sex. Friends who consistently refer to the opposite sex in negative terms will not benefit either you or your marriage.
CHOOSE SAME SEX FRIEND WHO CAN RESPECT YOU AND THEMSELVES; Forming friendships with people who do not respect you leads to abusive and unhealthy relationships. Our own sense of well being and self worth will deteriorate if you stay in friendship in which you are treated with disrespect. Like wise, you cannot force others to like themselves.
To be repeatedly called on “to make your friends feel better” is to become an emotional nurse maid, not a friend we should help our friends when they are down on themselves. But friends who constantly depend on us in a one sided relationship that eventually will drain us. We will either begin giving too which to the friendship and less to marriage, or I will have to pull back on the friendship.
Be careful what you share with your friends; do not share outside of your marriage what should stay inside your marriage. You may be tempted to share with the “guys” or “gals “to get a sympathetic ear. Before you do, ask yourself if it will help or hurt your mate. If you are talking primarily to get them to agree with you, you probably should not say anything.
OPPOPSITE SEX FRIENDSHIPS
An opposite sex friend who relate openly and honestly can be a real joy. This can be an opportunity to talk and discover how differently males and females see life’s events and life it self. Far too few of us have friendships, especially opposite sex friendships in which we enjoy open and sincere dialogue that includes respect for each other’s differences with no seductive or manipulate intentions.
To be honest the mere mention of opposite sex friendships wakes up the sexual animal inside us, assuring it even sleeps. Activities, conversations behaviors, and emotion perfectly acceptable in couple friendships and same sex friendships and suddenly taboo, for example
Having lunch with a friend, usually seen as routinely appropriate, can be viewed as bordering on the illicit.
Conversing on differences between the sexes, normally seen as common place, suddenly indicates things are getting out of bounds.
Putting one’s arm around another’s shoulders or a concerned hug become the initial steps of foreplay.
Feelings of closeness and affective normal to all friendships are seen as being laced with passion and lust.
Whether it is due to our culture’s, obsession with sexuality, our own basic sexual insecurities, or our inability to see one another as more than sexual beings, it can be difficult to view opposite sex friendship as nothing more than friendships.
As couple, you are not at the mercy of your sexual natures, instead you will see your sexuality as a God given part of which you are in its intended expression, sexuality enables and allows spouse to examples and enjoy the love they share. It enables them physically to create an oneness they can experience in no other way.
God instructed us to express our sexuality only within the marriage relationship. That dose not mean we should not experience sexual urge outside your marriage relationship. You accept the extinct of sexual awareness and tension in your friendships. You also accept the responsibility God gives you to acknowledge and control our sexual in accordance with His will.
In light of your respect for the power of the sexual aspect of our nature and out sense of accountability before God, you add to the preceding guidelines.
Choose opposite sex friends who put principles above passion;Select friends who live by high principles and do not give free expression to their passionate desires. Being sexually attracted to someone can surface in any friendship. The proper perspective is maintained by one’s commitment to live and relate by principles. Living by principles means if you cannot satisfactorily resolve the passion aspect of your opposite sex friendship, you end the friendship to preserve your marriage, properly and promptly.
Choose opposite sex friends who are not seductive or manipulative; A person who seductively related to you offers a certain excitement, making us feel desirable. ln opposite sex friendships, such methods of relating are signs that the friendship is less than honest and has the potential for damage to all involved. It usually involves manipulation in its most negative sense.
Choose opposite sex friends who are emotionally well adjusted and sexually stable and secure; When you choose opposite sex friends who are emotionally well adjusted and sexually stable and secure will help, during a stink of stress, trauma, or feeling unappreciated or misunderstood. What began as a compassionate act became an emotional web.
If you are emotionally out of balance, it becomes difficult for you to realistically see what is happening. You lose perspective of their principles and limits. You over invest in the friendship and have an “emotional affairs” the next step is sexually insecure or dissatisfied.
Don’t avoid or abandon people of the opposite sex experiencing emotional and or sexual crises. Take them to a professionally trained counselor pray for them. But be cautions about developing close friendships.
When any of the following happens in as opposite sex friendship, it is time to reevaluate the friendship, and change or end it.
- You intentionally “forget” to share with your spouse what you discussed with your opposite sex friends.
- You begin making excuses to see him/her or spend time together.
- You begin to become the most important friend he/she has and you feel the same about him/her.
- You begin to think about him/her who you pray or have your devotional times.
- You begin to confide in each other things you should be telling your spouse.
- You experience sexual feelings towards your friend you do not share with your spouse.
- You spend more time thinking about things you know you should not do instead of thinking about the position aspects of the friendship.
- You begin constructing mental fantasies that you know would be wrong to act out.
- You begin to engage in more intimate and intense physical contact.(you want to touch each other all the time)
All of the above are caution signs. You seriously need to rethink your friendship, discuses it with your mate, and if necessary, get counseling to help as these signs occur, you are choosing to honour your opposite sex friendship over your marriage. You are also well on the way to committing adultery.
Marriage friendship dose not have to be your only friendship nor should it be. But it is your most important human relationship.
Give your marriage Priority over all other friendship.