Many times my husband and I sit at dinner with another married couple.
My husband and I engaged in conversations with the both of them throughout the evening. On occasion, my friend must excuse herself to attend to some matter. And even rarer occasion, my husband needs to do something at the same time, leaving me in the presence of a friend’s husband.
Most times, the conversation continues without a hiccup and my husband or friend will return within minutes and reignite their contribution to the gathering.
If we are left alone for more than a few minutes, in those moments I will make an excuse to leave the vicinity. I believe removing yourself from an elongated one-on-one conversation with a man is a wise move for all married women.
Sure, married women can have male friends, but is it the best choice for the long-term health of your marriage?
While there is no hard and fast rule, I would challenge married women to reconsider having close male friends.
5 Reasons Why Married Women Should Rethink Male Friends
1. Lengthy Communication that Happens in Friendship Develops Heart Ties That Are Difficult to Undo
When I meet a new girlfriend that I like, I want to know everything about her. I want to hear her life story. I want to know why she believes what she believes. I want to hear about her struggles and successes.
It’s no different when I meet a man that I think is cool. I want to know it all.
This is (usually) a healthy thing among two females, but between two people of the opposite sex it can quickly turn into an unhealthy attachment.
Once that connection is made, it’s hard to make a clean disconnect — especially if his wife is your friend.
2. You Don’t Know What He is Thinking or Going Through
Sometimes women don’t have a clue the power we possess over men.
We talk our normal happy, girly talk and don’t realize that our natural chattiness can be taken as a sign that we are interested in something more.
Even to a married man. Even to a happily married man.
Also, we might not know exactly what a man is going through.
- Is his marriage on the rocks?
- Does he feel unattractive?
- Has his boss been criticizing him at work?
There are a million things that can magnetize a man’s heart to a woman’s attentiveness, We want to protect not only our own heart but the hearts of others (male and female alike).
Obviously, women aren’t responsible for how a man thinks about her, but we should be sensitive to our level of friendliness and the amount of time we spend chatting with another man.
3. It only takes one moment or lingering look
As a new employee, I attended a company Christmas party with my husband. I had only been working there a month so I wanted to take the chance to get to know everyone, male and female, over dinner and drinks.
I made my rounds over appetizers and when dinner was served, we all took our seats. We had a happy conversation with another male member of my creative team.
As we started to say our goodbyes and leave, I waved to my male co-worker and I noticed his lingering look.
It was only a second, but in that second something happened in my heart.
By God’s grace, nothing happened and I quit 10 months later because of my growing attraction to the male friend I worked side by side with each day.
During this time my marriage was in tip-top shape (as it could be). I can’t even imagine what the outcome could have been if we’d been struggling!
Working with male presents a special set of problems because married women are expected to interact with everyone, no matter their gender.
It’s easy to become friends with someone at work. You spend long hours together and there is something genuinely exciting about completing a project as a team. But beware of your heart when interacting more than necessary with your male co-workers.
You don’t have to be initially attracted to a man to fall into this temptation. It can happen over a friendly banter when he picks up his kids from a playdate or a shared common interest that you didn’t realize you had. Just one connection can cause your/his heartstrings to flutter.
4. Friendships Do Not Have the Struggles that a Marriage Does
When is the last time your best friend asked you to balance your checkbook or take out the trash?
Probably never, which is exactly the point.
When two people are just friends, there isn’t usually all the daily grind that happens like there is in a marriage.
But our husbands are a different story.
We ask for help around the house, help picking up toys, taking out the trash.
We get in nit-picky fits about the $6.89 he spent at Chick-Fil-A when you ate the kid’s leftover food to save money before payday.
When you choose to be close friends with a man, you don’t experience those dilemmas. It’s easy to start enjoying their company because the relationship is all fun and games. No bills to discuss. No big family decisions to make. Just good conversation.
This can become a HUGE source of dissatisfaction with your own husband.
5. Our Sinful Nature & Our Enemy
One of the biggest mistakes that everyone makes is saying ‘I’ll never do that!”
Somehow as soon as we utter the words ‘I’ll never…” – our flesh rises up and says, ‘Ha, ha! We’ll see about that!’
Our sinful nature causes us to want what we shouldn’t want.
Paul says it best when he states that ‘I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.” (Romans 7:15)
As Christians, we should NEVER underestimate the power of our sinful nature. We are free in Christ to have male friends to be sure, but don’t be fooled to think you are above cheating on your spouse.
We should also remember that we have an enemy that is seeking to destroy everything good in our lives. Marriage is a symbol that the Bible calls a mystery because it represents the Christ and his bride (the church). I can’t even imagine how much Satan hates the marriage relationship because of that reason.
Does this mean we shouldn’t interact with men at all?
NO! That would be ludicrous.
Talking to a man isn’t evil, but it should be an area that we are constantly aware of. We shouldn’t let our guard down with a man other than our husbands (and a select few others, like brothers and fathers). Not only for our sake but for theirs too.
There is no hard and fast rule for how much communication with another man is too much. That’s something you’ll have to figure out on your own with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Marriage is such a sacred thing. With the divorce rate being so high, I hope that women everywhere would take the necessary steps to keep their marriages healthy and free from the distractions that could be caused by a close male friendship.
What Should I Do If I Already Have Close Male Friends?
This is a tricky one. Personally, I decided early on in my marriage to cut all male friendships out of the picture so I don’t have too much experience in this area, but I do have one story I can share.
A longtime friend of mine was in town for a short period of time. I was newly married and he asked if he could see me. I didn’t know what to say because I knew that we’d previously had so many heart-to-hearts throughout our teenage years. I didn’t want that to continue and I knew it would be difficult for me to keep me from connecting on a heart-level. So I told him that I would meet with him if I could bring my husband and daughter along.
He wasn’t as interested.
Keeping your husband in the mix could be an option to water-down relationships with long-time male friends.
Another way is to just be honest with them. Tell your male friend that he is valuable to you, but that you value your relationship with your husband more. If he is a true friend, he’ll respect that (even if he doesn’t agree).
What if My Heart is Already Entangled with a Man that isn’t My Husband?
One of the best pieces of advice I have ever heard on marital infidelity (or the potential for it) is confession to the only one that can do anything about it: your spouse.
Depending on the severity of your emotional affair, this might be harder or easier, but it is a necessary step.
Confession brings healing…even if it brings brokenness first.
I’ve used this method anytime I feel a strange tug on my heart for someone that isn’t my husband (even when I’m super careful). I’m blessed to be married to a man that understands that my attraction to someone other than him isn’t about our marriage, it’s just part of our fallen nature. He trusts and knows that I will do everything in my power to curtail those feelings.
I recommend the book Every Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge if you find yourself in the middle of this situation. It was marriage-saving when I went through my problems at the company I mentioned above.
I hope you hear my heart on this matter about close male friendships. It’s not about keeping yourself away from men or not ever talking to a man for an extended period of time if it’s necessary. It’s not about any weird rules that cause you to act unnatural in front of males. It’s about keeping your heart for your husband. I believe this is a noteworthy goal and I want to encourage women in it.