Keeping boundaries helps keep the marriage

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Photo credit: Valerie Cheatham


Having a best friend who is of the opposite sex isn’t a big deal. In fact it’s pretty commonplace, especially in the college scene. But, when the “best friend” enters into a serious relationship or gets married, the friendship boundaries can get a little blurred.

Women and men often argue on whether or not a person can maintain a close friendship with someone
of the opposite sex after marriage. Some say as long as boundaries are maintained, these friendships poise no serious threat to the marriage. However, a recent survey conducted by suggested that 50% of women keep male friends around as a “backup plan” or Plan B, in case she becomes single again.

Results like these can cause couples to be leery of holding onto any friendships after making marriage vows, but that isn’t necessarily a solution. An online article titled “Protect your Marriage: Keep Boundaries with the Opposite Sex” by Ngina Otiende offers couples advice on how to avoid infidelity. Understanding and maintaining boundaries with the opposite sex after marriage is necessary and possible.

Otiende advises honesty with your spouse about all communication that may involve someone from the opposite sex. This would include sharing email messages and passwords in order to maintain a high level of trust within the marriage relationship.

Otiende also recommends talking about your spouse often, while interacting with those of the opposite sex on a daily basis. This can include school and work. Otiende shares a quote by Michael Hyatt who believes talking about your spouse with others is the “best adultery repellent.”

One piece of advice Otiende shares is something commonly overlooked. She suggests avoiding flirtations with anyone other than your spouse. It’s easy to overlook this in a school or work environment where daily interaction with members of the opposite sex is a given. Sometimes behavior deemed harmless can actually set couples up for trouble down the line.

Avoid counseling someone of the opposite sex unless your spouse is there with you. Which means don’t be alone with anyone of the opposite sex, unless under necessary circumstances, if married.This will require making sacrifices within your friendship pool in order maintain integrity within the marriage.

There may be situations where you get assigned to work in a group or team environment where you are the only male or female. The long hours spent in close proximity with a team or group can weaken even the strongest of individuals.

You may think you have a secure relationship with your spouse and that it doesn’t require you to adjust your other friendships. Friendships are important, but if they interfere with your marriage relationship, it may be time to rethink your idea of marriage. The following quote by Otiende sums up reasons for keeping tight boundaries, she says,

“A great marriage comes from great discipline. It comes from doing the small “silly” things (like establishing boundaries with the opposite sex). It comes from doing the uncomfortable, counter-cultural and counter-flesh.”

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