Growing up Annabel preferred male friends to their female counterparts. She said it made her feel protected since none of the boys in her neighbourhood would dare belittle her or they would have to deal with her army of boy-friends.
She retained her friendships with her male friends even after she met Timothy and they got married. Unfortunately, a year into their marriage, Timothy filed for divorce citing infidelity. Before they split up, the two sought the services of a counsellor in an attempt to save their marriage. Throughout counselling, it emerged that Anabelle’s relationships with her male friends were causing a strain in their marriage.
The counsellor gave them several tips that you can borrow to deal with opposite gender friendships in your marriage as discussed below:
Communication breakdown between a husband and wife starts during courtship and is usually ignored because of the excitement of finding love. This makes it impossible to understand a spouse’s upbringing, relationship history and abuse that they may have encountered in their lives. These factors have a great influence on how an individual responds in case of a misunderstanding.
It is easy for a spouse to make conclusions about the other without establishing the facts. Try to understand the relationship that exists between your spouse and friends of the opposite gender before making conclusions. Rushed conclusions make for an easy escape out of the relationship one has with their spouse.
It is prudent for a married person to establish boundaries with friends of the opposite sex. For instance, they should make it clear that excessive physical contact could be misinterpreted by anyone including a spouse. Calling time and meeting times and circumstances of the meeting should also be established and clearly outlined to avoid misunderstandings.
Trust and honesty
Marriage counsellors emphasize the importance of trust between married couples. To develop trust, couples should divulge full information about all the friendships they kept and if possible introduce their friends to each other so that everything is kept out in the open. Couples are also encouraged to express themselves freely and with kindness. This way any unmet needs can be aired and taken care of with immediacy.
People who lack confidence and self-esteem are likely to feel threatened by their spouses’ friendships with members of the opposite gender. More often than not, such friendships are likely to be mistaken for infidelity. Ensure that you work on your self-confidence so that your insecurities don’t cost you your marriage. You can enlist the help of a counsellor to help you develop self-confidence.
Finally, Marriage is not a bed of roses, it is instead a result of two people who are willing to work for each other’s good. Therefore if friendship with the opposite gender threatens your marriage, decisions have to be made that will safeguard your relationship with your partner.