A while back, Mary J. Blige’s comment about not allowing each other to have friends of the opposite sex sparked a lot of water cooler discussion at work. To give proper context to her comment, the interviewer asked her what the benefits of marrying one’s manager are. MJB’s response was, “…If one of you don’t want to talk about something right now, you have to respect that. And you have to respect each other’s space.” The Telegraph. So, it was in the context of respecting each other’s space that MJB was like,
“All females for me, all guys for him. There’s none of that, ‘Oh, that’s my female friend. Oh, that’s my guy friend.’ No. Not in a marriage, I’ve never seen that work.” The Telegraph
I strongly agree! When I first got married, I wanted to hang out with my friends like I did when I was single. My wife, on the other hand, had no interest of hanging out till 2am with my friends. But she did something that saved our marriage: she hung out anyway. She didn’t want me around all those women…by myself…who knew I was married but didn’t care. In hindsight, I should have pulled back on my social game. But had she not been around, I would have created two personas: one when she was around, and another when she wasn’t. And the unchaperoned persona would have permitted me to interact with my female friends in a way the chaperoned persona could not do in front of my wife. And we all have seen that married guy before…right?
[Working definition of friend: one who you know and/or hang out with socially outside of work without your spouse]
Let’s be real! The #1 reason MJB doesn’t want her man to have female friends is because she doesn’t what him to cheat on her. Even though she knows there’s no fool-proof way of preventing him, this restricted access limits the risk of that happening. Here are 4 reasons why I think it’s healthy for married couples to limit the risk of cheating by restricting the opposite sex from the status of ‘friend’.
- As I already mentioned, you’ll act one way when your spouse is around…but another way when she’s not. Not all the time. But even once is more than enough and sets a bad precedent for future interactions.
- Having restrictions on female “friends” is like self cock-blocking. The side you show when your wife is not around would not be acceptable if she was standing right next to you. And that is dangerous because the sexual tension sparked by the forbidden fruit is tantalizing. History is wrought with men and women that thought they were strong enough to resist the forbidden…ask David and Sampson.
- With respect, MJB is sexy. But so are millions of other women, respectfully speaking. Just because one’s wife is sexy doesn’t mean that other women aren’t. Restricting another sexy woman from “friend” status helps limits the risk that he will cheat with his sexy “friend”.
- No matter how innocent things start out – helping a fellow student study for an exam, assisting a co-worker with a project, or working together in a church ministry – you might start catching feelings for your female friend. The thing about feelings is…you can’t control them. You can control your emotions, which is how you respond to your feelings. But if you start feeling like you’re falling in love with your female “friend”, you can’t stop that feeling. Yes, you can catch feelings for anyone, at anytime; and your spouse can’t control that. But putting restrictions on who has access to you and in what environment mitigates the risk you’ll catch feelings for your female “friends”.
There’s no 100% fool-proof way to stop your man or woman from cheating. But I think it is wise and healthy to institute some family standards, to which you both adhere, that reduce the risk of someone cheating. I’d rather have them and not need them, than not have them and find out too late that I needed them all along. We’ve got ours. You got yours?
What family standards do you have about relationships with the opposite sex?