Be it same-sex friendships or opposite-sex friendships, friendship is a precious jewel that Aristotle rightly viewed as having the luminous glow of virtue.
Before getting married, the majority of us had friendships of both sexes and from varying backgrounds. While it is not necessary to ditch all of our friendships once we get married, we need to understand that a marriage is very different from a friendship, and thus subject to checks and balances.
If you have discerned a call to married life, realise that you enter a covenant with God and with your spouse when you take those holy vows of matrimony. Abandoning or reneging on those solemn vows grievous sin.
As married people, we CAN still have friends, but an opposite-sex friendship can only go so far before it begins to infringe on your marriage covenant. Your marriage is the one friendship that should always come first.
After you get married, you may need to pull back from certain friendships simply because they are just not working for you anymore or are no longer in line with your primary principles and goals in life.
Some people insist that if they have always had friendships before marriage, especially opposite-sex friendships, that this should not change after marriage and that it is only insecure or unstable marriages that would eschew having close friends of the opposite sex.
In my opinion, this is a very naive and self-centred way of thinking. This selfish approach ignores the reality that marriage is not always a bed of roses. It has its ups and downs, peaks and troughs, and during a down-period, there is a danger of a spouse and his opposite-sex friend being more intimate emotionally. Before you know it, emotional intimacy will lead to physical intimacy and then infidelity, and an entire marriage and family becomes completely ruined.
The naive thinking that “love is enough” and “a little flirting is harmless” and “we trust each other” is playing with fire and flirting with temptation.
Going to places and doing things with friends, which can hurt your marriage is playing with fire. Your vocation comes first!
All the trust, faith, prayer and love in the world will not help you or your marriage if you do not take care of the basics first.
For more on the proper conduct of married people with opposite-sex friends, read THIS.
However, it is not just opposite-sex friendships that can ruin a marriage; same-sex friendships can also ruin a marriage.
1 Corinthians 15:33 says: Be not seduced: Evil communications corrupt good manners.
It is a well-known fact that we often become like the people we hang out the most with. It is amazing how we would often take on the same behaviours and mannerisms of the company we regularly spend time with.
You cannot expect to have a healthy, functional and happy marriage if your close circle of friends consist of negative, divorced, godless, single people, who do not respect your marriage and its rightful boundaries.
Here Are The Sort Of Friends You Should Avoid, Whether They Are Opposite-Sex or Same-Sex
That friend who is married, but speaks badly about their spouse
When you regularly spend time with someone who cuts down and devalues their spouse, you’ll begin to view your own spouse in the same unfavourable light.
That friend, married or single, who speaks badly about YOUR spouse
Why on earth would you ever have friends who devalue and bash your spouse in the first place?
It is not only rude and disrespectful to your spouse, but it will also drive a wedge between you and your spouse.
Sure, this friend may have been your friend since childhood, but if they were truly respectful of you, they would honour your choices, including your choice of marital partner and will not bash them, even if they disagree with them.
You need to let such friends know that it is never EVER okay to call your spouse names or speak disrespectfully of them.
Your spouse should be your main priority and your friendships should come after your spouse and family. Remember, your vocation comes first!
That friend who becomes a 3rd wheel, and attempts to come between you and your family.
A ‘friend’ who discourages you from being close to your spouse and family is NOT a friend and does not have your best interests at heart.
Such friend may do things like demand more of your time, infringe on your time spent with your family/spouse, expect you to choose them over your spouse, or say things like “he’s too controlling of you”………”she has you whipped” and so on.
It is good to have friends, but spending too many nights or days out with the girls can make our marriage suffer.
That friend who is jaded about marriage or hates marriage in general
We may have friends who are single, divorced or in unhappy marriages, and who have a very negative outlook on marriage in general. While it is acceptable to be supportive and caring towards them, our interactions and conversations should not be anti-marriage.
That friend who does not have the same morals and ethics as you do
Of course, you should not have close friends who are adulterers, liars, criminals and so on.
Similarly, if you are a traditional Catholic and your close friend is Norvus Ordo, a liberal or a non-Catholic, you may find that you clash on certain topics and this can seep into your marriage.
That friend who is a liar or adulterer
Once you realise that your friend is a liar or adulterer, you need to distance yourself from them.
Liars and cheaters will bring a lot of negativity into your life and complicate it severely, damaging your marriage in the process.
What Then Can We Do If We Find That A Particular Friendship Is Causing A Strain Within Our Marriage?
Do not ignore or discount your spouse’s feelings about a person or a situation. Their feelings are valid and they have those feelings for a reason.
Your spouse should be your best friend and your closest opposite-sex friend.
Do not play with fire. You are not as strong as you think you are and while temptation might seem a little harmless at first, bear in mind that even the best car will veer off the road if the driver lets go of the steering wheel.
Avoid going out alone with your opposite-sex friend and reserve emotional intimacy for your spouse only. Once again, see THIS.
Always talk about your spouse with others. This is a great adultery deterrent.
Keep your spouse in the loop – involve him in conversations/emails, share passwords, talk about your day and mention who you talked with or interacted with. Keep communication lines open with your spouse at all times.
Flirt with your spouse only.
Cultivate friendships with couples in the same state of life as you are. Surround yourself with a lot of divorced people or single people and you may end up divorced or single yourself. Foster friendships with other people who are married and who share similar ideologies and morals as you do.
HERE ARE SOME RESOURCES TO HELP YOU FURTHER:
ad Jesum per Mariam