The Risks & Benefits of Friendships Outside Marriage
Being married does not disqualify you from having friends. In fact, many times couples unite groups of friends with their marriage! Your friends and your spouse’s friends combine to form one large group identified as “our friends.” But however close you may be to other couples, you are likely to have friends who are single or have friends who do not join the two of you as a couple, but rather spend time with you alone.
Spending time with friends without your spouse can be refreshing and a change of pace, but it is important to also recognize the potential danger that it creates for your marriage.
Danger 1: Too much time spent apart
Spending time with friends while leaving your spouse at home is healthy. You do not always have to be with your spouse, and you should be able to spend time away! However, if time spent with your friends begins to crowd out the time you spend with your significant other, your habits can become a slippery slope. You may feel yourself drifting away from your spouse and finding that he or she “just does not understand” who you are. Be aware of how you spend your time and how it might affect your spouse. Plan accordingly and set aside your most valuable time for the person you love, rather than your friends!
Danger 2: Risk of infidelity or relational discontent
Many of us have friends that are the same gender as our spouse. It is not uncommon for us to carry old friends into new relationships. However, this can be potentially dangerous to your marriage as it increases the risk of infidelity and relational discontent. While you may be innocent of wrongdoing, your spouse may not appreciate the time you spend with someone else. Trusting you to do what is right should be a part of the marriage, but be considerate of your spouse and balance or limit the amount of time you spend with someone the same gender as your mate.
Danger 3: Voices of influence
Too much time with friends, particularly those that are outside of the “our friends” group, can create the risk of discontent by influence. The people you spend the most time with are often the most influential, and while having friends is important for personal development and growth, it can offer too many voices and opinions. This is especially evident when you and your spouse are in disagreement about something; it is natural to go to friends for advice. But too many friends and too many voices can be dangerous for your marriage.
While there are potential dangers of friendships outside your marriage, there are also benefits of having close friends!
Benefit 1: Accountability
Friends with a similar mindset can give you a lot of mental peace, which in turn helps you in treating your spouse with love and consideration. Marriage is not always easy, but having a friend or a couple to turn to in those times of need can help keep each of you on track. It is essential, though, to have trustworthy and intelligent friends with whom you can share your stuff and look upto for sound advice.
Benefit 2: Encouragement
Friendships can provide mutual encouragement. You and your spouse might be a valuable resource for another couple, just as they are for you. Again, it is important to find friends with similar beliefs and mindsets; those who are in disagreement with the values of your household are likely not the ones to look upto for encouragement.
Benefit 3: Connectedness and community
It is important, as a couple, to remain connected to the people around you. Without friendships, it is difficult to become a part of a community and feel supported and encouraged by others. Family is an important resource, but family is not always willing to tell you what you need to hear. Friends, however, often create a network of support and consistency that many couples desire. Additionally, being connected with others can provide you and your spouse the opportunity to input encouragement and support into other couples’ lives!
Knowing there are dangers in friendships outside of your marriage should not hinder you from seeking the support of others. Rather, the benefits should provide hope and a set of general guidelines for making deeper connections with those who will support, encourage, and enhance the relationship you have with your spouse!
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