Balancing BFFs and SO

   Written by on March 9, 2017 at 10:10 am
Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Cheryl Gowin and Dennis Gowin.  Call us at our counseling practice with your feedback, comments, issues, or questions at 434-808-2637.

Why does my husband get so upset when I spend time with my girlfriends?  Can you explain why my wife comes unglued when I want to go hunting with my friends?  Why does my boyfriend spend so much time with his friends?  Is it right that my girlfriend would rather text her friends than be with me?

These are all very good questions.  Aristotle questioned, “What is a friend?” and answered “A single soul dwelling in two bodies.”  You’re lucky if your significant other is not only your partner, but also your best friend.  Martin Luther held that there is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion, or company than a good marriage.  Yet, sometimes we need friends outside the marriage.  Friendships can actually add depth to your marriage.  How?

First, friends provide accountability.  The Bible says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  (Prov. 27:17)  We need friends to call us out on our mistakes.

Second, friends help us through difficult times; including difficult times in our marriage.  “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”  (Prov. 17:17)

Finally, we can’t expect our spouse to meet all our needs.  Think about it.  Do you really want to go with your wife to that shoe sale at Nordstrom’s?  Do really want to watch American Ninja Warrior with your husband?  A little distance can be healthy.

However, there are boundaries and guidelines for outside friendships in a marriage.

Focus on your marriage first.  When you get married, it can be difficult for your friends to accept the inevitable changes in your relationships with them.  They don’t want to give you up.  But it’s impossible to commit the same amount of time and effort into your friendships as before while building a relationship with your spouse.  It’s important to understand that you’re both going to have to adjust the amount of time you invest in your outside friendships.  You’re starting a new life together, and you need time to focus on your new relationship.

Create shared friendships.  A shared circle of friends can help to create magical memories.  Enjoying friends together will deepen and enrich your marriage relationship.  Friendships are built on having things in common, so connect with groups that include people who are or have walked through similar life circumstances to yours.  Be intentional about cultivating outside friendships as you get to know each other better.  It takes work to combine friends and to bring other couples into your relationship, but it heightens the level of enjoyment of the activities you share together.

Protect your marriage from destructive friendships.  If your spouse’s friends are not your top choice, be open to allowing them into your life anyway.  Shared history is a big deal, so honor that shared history as you get to know your spouse’s friends.  Sometimes the hardest individuals to build a relationship with at first become your best friends later.

On the other hand, it’s important to be prudent when it comes to incorporating past friendships into your marriage.  Is your friend dishonoring or disrespectful of your spouse?  Is the person toxic and destructive?  Does he or she negatively affect you as a couple?  Does this person bring turmoil into your relationship?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s time for a serious discussion with your spouse about whether to allow this person to remain part of your life.  Your energy and your focus should first be on your marriage; friendships that are not supportive to your marriage, or that don’t help you build your marriage relationship, are counterproductive to building your marriage.

Be empathic, work together to make sure you’re meeting one another’s needs, as well as respecting one another’s need for other friendships.  As you wisely choose friendships, remember, above all else, to cherish and protect your marriage.  Build a hedge around your marriage and care enough about it to protect it at all costs.

And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.  Hebrews 13:16

Call us with your feedback or comments at 434-808-2637.

About Cheryl & Dennis Gowin

Cheryl Gowin, Counselor and Dennis Gowin, Director of Discovery Counseling Center. Contact us with your feedback, comments, issues or questions at 434-808-2426 or dgowin@discoverycounseling.org.

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