Are Opposite-Sex Friends Okay When Married?

This has been a discussion I have had with many couples over the years and have discussed at length with my wife of 20+ years!

Can you have opposite-sex friendships when you are married?

My thoughts have definitely evolved over the years. Early on, when I was more insecure and immature, I felt that it wasn't appropriate for married people to be friends with those of the opposite sex, ever. But now, after nearly 21 years of marriage, and some maturity (emphasis on the word some) I feel a bit different.

It's not so much about the friendship as it is about your personal character and how you handle the friendship, and who you are friends with. I used to throw the baby out with the bathwater and say, "no way can you have any friends of the opposite-sex when you are married ... you will end up having an affair with them!" But that is the same as what some of my religious non-drinker friends say about alcohol, they say that, "if you drink it leads to drunkenness, lewd behaviors and orgies." (That's actually a quote! I know, ridiculous.)


My Rules That Should Govern Opposite- Sex Friendships


1) The friend should preferable be a friend of both.

This just means that to have a friend that is only your friend could be challenging. Because when they are a friend of both, they will have a respect, hopefully, for the marriage not just the individual. Make sense? There are always exceptions to rules of course, so don't get too hung up on the rule.

2) No secrets.

It should be a totally open friendship. No hiding anything about the friendship from your partner. If you are hiding the friendship, that is a warning sign for sure. There shouldn't be anything to hide ... especially if it's all above board.

3) No confiding.

I have a couple female friends, one in particular I am extremely close with and have been friends with for nearly 12 years and I have never "confided" in her. I haven't told her anything I haven't already talked about with my wife.

4) Never talk bad about your spouse with them.

My rule on this one applies to same-sex friends too. I know it's a bit extreme, but I do not find there to be any benefit in spouse bashing. So I just don't do it. If I have issues with my wife I talk to her about it, or a counselor who will give me sound wisdom. I believe this rule to be extremely valuable to the marriage if followed.

5) Limit Alcohol use when with your friend.

Alcohol, the great elixir. It removes inhibitions as well as morality, in my experience. In other words, if you aren't all that attracted to this friend, you will be after a couple glasses of wine, so be careful. Let's just be honest here, many of the stories that start with, "Well I had a few beers then ..." and they proceed to tell the "bad" story.

6) The character of your friend. 

The character of the friend you have makes all the difference in the world. If he/she is a person of character with a strong moral compass it will surely work. Because even if they were attracted to you they wouldn't cross lines because of their strong character. Of course you should have strong character too, so even if they want to cross lines you don't.

7) Listen to your spouse.

If my wife says, "No!" to the friendship, then it's a no. Period. If you don't like that, then I would advise you to never get married. It's not for you. Part of what makes marriage work is submitting one to another.

A spouse is not only a companion, but also your protector (in a healthy relationship) and they help keep you safe and protected from others and even from yourself.


CLOSING THOUGHTS

I unfortunately missed out on many opportunities for valuable rich freindships with women because of my religious fear-based upbringing. "Don't even look at another woman, and definitely don't talk to them, and for damn sure don't ever be around one without your spouse present!" Oddly enough many of those same people who spouted that fear-based teaching ended up having affairs, being addicted to porn, and living a lie. Living that way obviously doesn't keep people from having affairs.

The reality is anyone can have an affair, the question is would that be beneficial to those closest to you? Is it what God wants, I mean really? You know the answer. No! No!

Please post your thoughts, questions, disagreements and opinions!


  

Paint Your World in Beautiful Colors

We create the kind of life we want to live. Obviously there are 'some' things that are out of our control, who our parents are, where we are born, the color of our eyes, etc. etc. But, within each of those things there are a myriad of choices we can make to create the kind of life we want. Let me explain.

I was talking with my teenage daughter today (I know, right ... pray for me!) and she mentioned a fellow student who signed a deal to play football for Auburn University. It was a big deal. And I blurted out, "I bet he doesn't use drugs, or sleep around and do a bunch of typical stupid teenage stuff does he?" She said, "no he doesn't!" And I got to thinking about all of us and how we ought to count the costs of each and every decision we make in life. And ask, "how will this decision affect my future plans?" "Is this what I want from life?" "Will this decision take me places I want to go, or take me away from what I want?"

Powerful questions! Because there are many things that are out of our control, but there are a million things within our control! Who you marry? Will I get pregnant in high school? Will I go to prison? Will I be financially secure? Will I be wealthy? Will I do something great with my life? Will I change the world? Will I follow God or will I follow my peers? Will I make wise decisions, or stupid ones?

We are ultimately in control of so much of our lives, don't think for a minute you are not! Making GOOD choices will only increase the odds of you painting your world in beautiful colors!

Why Pastors Have Affairs (2 of 3)

1)      Stay Close to Jesus.
 
To me this is the biggest and most critical thing in keeping yourself from an affair. Live as close to the one who is Holy! And this seems strange that I’d say this writing about “Pastors” but even we pastors can stray away from Jesus. Weird I know, but we can get so busy doing the work of the Lord and forget the LORD of the work. Your relationship with Jesus is the #1 most important thing in living a holy life!
 
2)      Work On Your Marriage
 
I speak on this all the time … but a good marriage takes work, so work hard on it. It doesn’t happen just because you walked an isle and said some, “I dos and I wills and I promise” it takes so much more than that. Do it! I highly recommend couples read at least a book a year on marriage, attend a marriage series at church or seminar or do a marriage retreat once a year. Anything you can do for “continuing education” on the subject of marriage!
 
3)      Work On Yourself
 
Spirit, soul and body! Take time for yourself. Make sure you are not wearing yourself out! Make sure you are getting rest, exercising, reading, taking time off, journaling, etc. Not only that, but if you have issues, which you do, work through them with a counselor, or close wise friend.
 
4)      Protect Yourself
 
You know what your boundaries are, come on! If you find someone at your work attractive you can’t go to lunch with them every day! Come on, you are smarter than that! “Oh but we work together!” So, why don’t you go to lunch with the weird ugly person? Be smart. Don’t put yourself in situations that could compromise all that you believe! Know and understand that we are ALL susceptible to the lures of an affair, and people who feel they are not, are MOST vulnerable! The Bible says that “pride comes before a fall.” Be humble, smart and make wise decisions!
 
5)      Have Real Accountability Partners
 
Having REAL accountability partners! Not suedo-accountability partners! Have people of the same sex that you are completely honest and vulnerable with about your every struggle, temptation, fear, dream, passion, etc.
 
6)      Don’t Look at Porn
 
I realize this one falls under “protect yourself” and “live close to Jesus” but I felt it needed to be a stand-alone. I truly believe Porn is poison. It is addictive. It is something most men struggle with, and all men are tempted with on a regular basis. The bottom line is that men are visual, and they want to see women naked. Again, it’s important to “protect yourself” however you need to keep you from looking at Porn. I use X3watch.com, I am sure there are others out there.

To Be Continued ... It's About You

Cheating Spouse


I have been married for 15 years this June, and I am very very fortunate to have a wonderful marriage, not perfect, but healthy and passionate. Jana and I have seen many of our friends who got married around the same time we did, get divorced, and/or suffer under the sin of an affair, or frankly they just aren't happy with their marraige ... and if they could find a way out they would. Very unfortunate, and sad!

On top of that we have been counseling couples for the past 10 years and have seen much of the same as we have seen in our friends marriages ... lots of pain and unhappiness.

We preach constantly a message of "protecting yourself from an affair"; ways to affair-proof your marriage, and again, unfortunately there are couples who still fall victim to this destructive and hurtful sin called adultery.

Now, please continue to read before you draw an opinion here ... I am going to really pour out of my heart ... so be nice!

All that said, I have always told Jana, "if you ever cheat on me ... that's it, I will leave you and take the kids from you" ... and I've said other things that were even worse ...like, "I'd kill ya on top of that..." Now those words in context were jovial, we were laughing ... typically on the heels of watching a movie that had an affair in it (normally we don't watch movies with affairs in them ... at least we try not to be entertained by that crap) and so the subject was fresh on our minds.

Okay, so Jana has never cheated on me (hince the reason she is still alive - lol!) and I have never cheated on Jana. Thank God for that, cuz she'd have me killed! Lol! But, in reality we (me and Jana) are capable of such a sin ... we are human and could fall victim to it I am sure. So, what would I do if Jana cheated on my really?

Gosh, I don't know ... there are so many variables, but can I just say that as my love for her and God grows and my distain for sin and the results of it and the harmfulness of selfishness and pride ... and so on ... I am starting to have a change of heart (especially if she was repentent and willing to change ... and very sorry for what she did). And to be honest, I am not totally sure why, except that I have cheated (or had an affair, so to speak) on God so many times ... I have allowed so many things to come between me and my relationship with Him, YET He always takes me back! He has never kicked me to the curb. And because of that I love Him all the more.

And in our talks Jana has always said she wouldn't leave me. Which always tears me up and touches my heart deeply... and because of that love I remain committed to be true to her and only her. Her love for me even if I was to do something bad, or hurtful drives me to love her all the more.

I can say this; I have counseled many couples through an affair and have seen their marriage go to higher heights and deeper love then they ever had before ... it's a beautiful thing ... inspite of the nastiness of an affair, and the pain that the one who was cheated on faces and has to overcome.

Maybe you are reading this and you have been cheated on and you are furious with what I have written... trust me, I completely understand! The thought of it happening to me makes me so made that the thought alone can make me angry at Jana and it puts me in a bad mood; just the thought alone does this! And in all honesty when you have been cheated on you have a biblical right to divorce that person, and in some instances that is the best thing to do.

So for all you who have suffered, or are suffering at the hands of a Cheating Spouse, can I just say, I am sorry for what your spouse has inflicted on you, you DO NOT DESERVE IT and my prayers are with you and your family as you sort through the fire and rubble.

God bless!

I Want to Look at Porn - pt 1


Let's be honest here... most guys want to see women naked. There are always exceptions, but for the most part this is true. I have had conversations with pastors and church leaders in the last two weeks that confirm this fact. Not only is this confirmed in their conversations with people in their church, but it's a problem for them as well. There is a struggle going on, especially now that porn is so easily accessible and free. Many men would never darken the door or a strip club, or actually buy a porn magazine… but they will, and do, click on a forbidden picture. It’s scary!


I know most of you wish that it wasn’t so accessible, because that would help you, right? Or you have prayed and asked God to take away the desire? So, what do you do? Who do you tell? You can’t tell your wife because she’ll freak out and think you’re a pervert, or worse, she’ll feel less then enough… (And it is difficult to convince them that it doesn’t have anything to do with them)


So, how can you get free from this darkness? I am a firm believer in NO SECRETS! And when I say that, I really mean that! I’ve heard pastors, or church leaders say that before, but it meant nothing in real life... it was just the right thing to say... but was B.S.! (Which stands for Bologna Sandwich, of course!)


What does it mean to live a “Secret Free Life” really? Here is the good news, you can be free, I promise!

Check back tomorrow for; I want to look at porn – pt 2