by Linda Dominique Grosvenor-Holland
My husband and I are moving towards one day building our dream home. We’d like to have an ample amount of acreage to preserve our privacy. We both grew up with neighbors in the apartment on top of us and next door to us and seek the solace of it just being us two as we enjoy our lives together. Of course aside from the actual housing structure we desire open space. It is for this reason that some people opt to fence in their property, but I have always been more fond of hedges. They are a variation of tree, foliage, plant, but protection nonetheless. What I’ve found, however, is that even though you put up hedges around your house, just like in life and in relationships, it doesn’t keep everybody out. Some people will see your hedges and respect them, some will part them and try to get a closer look, some will walk right around them and pretend that they’re not even there and then there are some who will conveniently believe that the hedges (boundaries) don’t apply to them. In this instance I’m talking about the married man, single woman dilemma. Let’s take a moment to realize that everything we do in male/female friendships may not please everybody involved or God either for that matter. Therefore we have to learn to be more open to feedback and govern ourselves in a way that doesn’t hinder our own love lives. Here are some things to consider when you find yourself “close” friends with a married man:
First and foremost, make sure his wife doesn’t have a problem with your friendship. Don’t just take his word for it — he may want the friendship and enjoy talking to you as much as you do him and doesn’t want to risk losing the friendship by telling you the truth. Whenever you are friends with a married man, however, you need to understand it is a package deal. You should be able to engage the man as well as his wife and you should “want” to do it. If you are only engaging the husband and totally excluding his wife, your dealings and communication with him are in complete error. This means you need to be “actively” fostering a growing relationship with the wife as well as maintaining what you have with her husband and if you’re not doing this, seek God and evaluate why. Remember we’re not talking acquaintances here, we’re talking about friendships and there’s an all or none rule when it comes to friendships with married people. Your relationship needs to be with BOTH of them or none of them. Most importantly if you communicate with his wife and she expresses concerns about the friendship — if you are intent on living right and pleasing God — you need to pull back, because while you may view him separately — they are one flesh (Genesis 2:24).
Realize that his marriage covenant is a covenant that is held up before God and that his relationship with his wife trumps the five, ten or fifteen years you’ve been friends (Matthew 19:6). No matter what personal and private things he’s shared with you in the past, his wife’s feelings have to be respected above all else and as a single friend you have to take a moment to process the fact that the friendship with the now married man will be much different than it was when he was single and not obligated to a spouse. God has entrusted his wife to him and he can’t do anything to damage that relationship or make it shaky — not even engaging you. If you can’t deal with the change in the marital status and the new way in which you’ll have to engage the married man in friendship, then chances are (deep down whether you’ll admit it openly or not) the friendship was more than just a friendship to you. Maybe there is an emotional attachment that you feel towards the man or enjoy the attention that he offers through conversation and other interaction a little too much. If you sense that this is the case with you, first realize that his affection isn’t yours and that his job isn’t to make you feel better about yourself and secondly, realize that as a woman who is friends with a married man there may need to be a separation between you two that may even need to be permanent, because you could be getting too close to crossing the line, even if it’s only in your own mind.
Understand that it is HIGHLY inappropriate for a married man to nurture a single woman emotionally or allow a single woman to nurture him emotionally. When he takes a wife it is his responsibility to nurture his wife and his wife’s responsibility is to nurture him. It doesn’t mean that married people can’t talk to or listen to other people or encourage them, but a man cannot become “emotionally invested” in a woman who isn’t his significant other. Neither the husband or wife should be getting emotional needs met from outside of the marital covenant and personal and private issues should never be shared by the married man to outside parties either. Likewise the single woman has to make certain she isn’t drawing the married man into illicit conversations with talk about her sex life, breast surgery, and other inappropriate things. A married man’s mind has no business going there with you and if you take him there God holds you personally accountable for the end result. As a single woman you also cannot repeatedly tug on a married man’s time via telephone, emails or in person under the guise that you have nobody else to talk to either. A married man cannot be your best friend no matter how you slice it. A married man’s best friend is his wife and you must realize that God is not pleased with the disruption of any marriage by outside parties. Praying for spiritually-grounded single friends to come into your life would be most helpful to you so that this married man doesn’t become your lifeline. We also cannot believe that God will tie a single woman to a married man spiritually and leave the wife completely out. That never happens by God’s doing. If you feel as if you have some kind of connection to a married man, that is an ungodly soul tie that needs to be broken because it can be used as a door to have constant communication with this man under the guise of “spirituality” when in fact God wants to be the spiritual comfort for that single woman and He wants the husband to be the spiritual comfort for his wife without interference from any other woman, single or not (Proverbs 5:15-19).
Finally, many relationships start out as friendships, so it should come as no surprise that friendships that cross the line can end up as secret affairs if they aren’t kept in check. We like to blame the boundaries and guidelines put up to safeguard marriages as an “insecurity” issue on the part of the wife (or husband), however, it’s more an issue of inappropriateness on the part of the friend who wants things to be like it was when the married man was single or in the event that they met when he was married — wishing he was single, so that they can behave in the void of rules. Do your friendships with the married man you know cross any of these lines? Ask yourself, is he always one of the last 5 people you call or email every single day or every single week? Are every one of those calls and emails to him God-led and necessary? Remember you don’t have to commit adultery for your actions and behavior to be adulterous in nature (Matthew 5:28). Adultery isn’t just sex, it’s anything that can take away or draw either spouse away from the covenant God united them in and your constant contact with the married man can keep you on his mind even when you shouldn’t be and some of you know that. But for the sake of your soul, don’t hinder the blessings that God has for you because you’re intent on being inappropriate with a married friend, co-worker, church member or family member. If someone ignored your hedges and came barging up to your front door how would you feel? Stand back and take a good look at yourself and how you interact with your married friends and make certain that you aren’t peeping over someone else’s hedges. Marriage is difficult enough without adding unnecessary fuel to the fire.
“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered,” 1 Peter 3:7 (KJV).
Linda Dominique Grosvenor-Holland is the bestselling author of the award-winning book The Plural Thing: Spiritually Preparing for Your Soul Mate, her newest release The Love Better Manual and is the Founder of the Love Better Institute. She is a blissfully happy wife married to her soul mate Calvin and enjoys writing books that help assist people with having the best relationships of their lives. | LindaDominiqueGrosvenor.com