Tuesday, October 30, 2012

“We’re Just Friends”: Opposite Sex Interaction Outside of Marriage - OR - How Wrong Is Really Right and Not Wrong Is Actually Wrong.

I’m fixin’ to make a speech…

This goes out to all the young husbands and husbands to be who believe their wives are unjustifiably trying to control and change them because their wives don’t like that they have social interactions with other women. YOU’RE ALL BUTT-HEADS. I will explain in a moment.

Let me preface my remarks by saying that I once felt the same way. Not that I had a lot of friends that were women, but I do get along with women pretty well. In all modesty, I’m a pretty charming guy. And, at least according to my wife, I’m also a pretty nice guy. And when I was young and first married, I saw nothing wrong with spending social time with other women from work or other social spheres. After all, they seemed to like having me around. And since I loved my wife and would never cheat on her, what could be the harm. I simply couldn’t understand why it bothered my wife. I would argue: “I’m not doing anything wrong”, the rallying cry of the mind stuck in singleness mode. But that was then…when I was a butt-head…just like you. I was wrong, and here is why..

The situation…

You’re married (or in a serious, "leading to marriage", relationship), but you also have this girlfriend…er…friend who is a girl. She may be a new acquaintance or a lifelong pal. She may even be an old flame (which moves you up a class to stupid butt-head). You probably have no romantic interest in her at all, (although, if you have even the slightest twinge of attraction to her, you move up another notch to complete moron butt-head.) You and this girl are maintaining a social interaction* with each other, and your wife is none too happy about it. In fact, she’s very upset. Your description of her reaction is probably something like “psycho crazy jealous”. It makes no sense to you because you and this girl “are just friends”, and you “haven’t done anything wrong”. You feel your wife is just flat out wrong about you and this friend and you wish she would stop trying to control you and change who you are. Sound familiar, butt-head?

Why your psycho crazy jealous wife is really right…

When you make your wedding pledges, one thing that you promise to do is some version of: “forsaking all others, keep myself only to you (your spouse).” I have two bits of insight into women for you. First, they take that pledge very seriously. That should be no surprise, as I’m sure you take it just as seriously in regard to her monogamy. The second insight will probably be more startling – she considers that “forsaking” and “keeping” to go well beyond the sexual. Basically, your wife wants to be the ONLY woman in your life of any consequence (also why you must “leave” your father and, especially, your mother, and “cleave” to your wife). While she understands that you have to have business and other more formal interactions with women, she expects that in ALL social situations, you will “forsake” all other women and direct not only all of your affection but also ALL of your ATTENTION toward her. When you make your wedding vow, that is what you are promising from her perspective. ANY social attention toward another woman is attention taken from her and a violation of your promise to her. You may think that is crazy, but that is reality. If you aren’t ready to fulfill that promise, you aren’t ready for the type of oneness that marriage demands.

So, if you are carrying on a close social relationship with another woman, you are breaking your vow just as much as if you were sleeping with another woman. You may not see the connection but your wife sure does. And the betrayal she feels can be just as painful as it would be if you were engaged in full-fledged adultery. That is why your wife is perfectly justified in being “crazy psycho jealous”. Be honest now. If the tables were turned, you would probably be just as upset. Why? Because you’re a man and you know what men are thinking and even if you trust your wife, you don’t trust those other men. How come you think it should be any different for a woman? I got news for you; it isn’t.

Not only that, but she is justified in attempting to “control” you (she is actually just trying to bring order to the marriage) because your behavior is in fact, out of control. Frankly, if you can’t stop a trivial interaction with another woman, how can she be sure you can stop ANY interaction with other women? You need boundaries. It is truly unfortunate that you don’t have other men in your life to show you that because it leaves her to be the “bad guy”, but it is a lesson you need to learn anyway. I hate to be the bearer of such bad news but being married means that you can’t act the same way with women that you did when you were single.

Finally, she is justified in trying to “change” you, (or really, trying to show you what rightly needs to change in your life). What?!? You didn’t know you would have to change when you got married? You figured you could just go your merry way as if you were still single? Who did your marriage counseling anyway? Sorry to tell you this butt-head, but marriage is not a relationship where two people pursue their own agendas. It is a relationship where they forsake (there’s that word again) their individual pursuits and submit their lives to the good of the whole. That requires change, particularly in areas that are counter to oneness.

I hope that you see that, even though your wife is in essence wrong about you and your friend, she is actually quite justified in her reaction to your extra-marital relationship. “But”, you are probably screaming right now, “I still haven’t done anything wrong”. Ah, but that doesn’t mean you aren’t wrong.

Why you are actually wrong, even though you haven’t done anything wrong…

There are three specific ways that your extra-marital relationship causes harm and therefore is quite wrong, even if you and the other woman are, at least currently and from your perspective, “just friends”.

“Cruel to be kind” - It is time to burst your bubble butt-head. Maybe you are just a “good guy”. I know you think you are charming and nice and understanding and all, and you are just trying to be a decent person by letting this other woman cry on your shoulder or blow off steam or have a good clean time or whatever. Guess what? Secure women don’t need you to be their friend. They are fulfilled by their husband or boyfriend or other women in their life. In most cases, the kinds of women who seek out the attention of a married (or otherwise off-limits) man are those who are actually looking for such a man to bond to. They are needy, and insecure, and desperate for love and attention (this even includes many married women). Such relationships can only end one of two bad ways. One possible outcome is that you get sucked into their needy world and forsake your wife even more. The cruel irony is that you will claim that you are just trying to help a friend when in fact you are enabling that person, deceiving yourself, and abandoning your wife. The other, only slightly less harmful outcome is that you wake up and realize what is going on and greatly harm the other person in the process of breaking off the relationship. In essence, if you are truly devoted to your wife, and would never cheat on her, then you are leading another woman on by giving her the kind of love (non-sexual) and attention that should be reserved for your wife. How cruel of you to let this woman think that you are some knight in shining armor when in fact you will never give her the devotion that she is so desperately seeking. Even though you aren’t doing anything wrong (that you can tell), what you are doing is wrong.

“Pride goes before a fall” - The annals of history, not to mention marriage therapists’ notebooks, are filled with accounts of marital affairs which started as “just friends” relationships. How many men (or women) have boasted “I never would cheat on my spouse” only to stumble down the road when the going got rough or the grass looked greener? In the previous paragraph I presumed you are a good guy, and that may be so, for now. But let’s be honest – you still are a flawed human being, just as are your spouse and your friend. Nobody can claim to be immune from cheating. How many truly good, wholesome, people – pastors, neighbors, relatives – that you know have fallen? 1, 5, 10, 100? To assume, especially now in your butt-head state, that you have some inherent anti-cheating gene that makes it impossible for you to ever betray your wife (even more than you already are) is so ridiculously naïve that it makes one wonder if you have ever matured past the age of 16, when you most certainly knew that you were indestructible, invincible, and oh so absolutely right about everything in the universe. You think you are special? I’m here to tell you that you are wrong, even though you aren’t currently doing anything wrong.

“Live with your wife in an understanding way” – Men are given two very important and specific sets of instructions in the Bible on how to be a loving husband. (NOTE - these are not inherently religious instructions, but practical instructions which apply to any marriage, Christian or not.) The first is in Ephesians 5, where Paul orders husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. In a nutshell, give up your entire life in service to your wife. Everything you do should revolve around making her life better. Ask yourself butt-head, is your relationship with another woman, no matter how innocent, exhibiting sacrifice and service to your wife? In fact, it is the opposite. It is an act of sacrifice and service TO THAT OTHER WOMAN! What betrayal! No wonder your wife is so mad.

The second instruction is found in 1 Peter 3, where Peter tells husbands to “live with your wives in an understanding way”. The literal translation is “live with your wives according to knowledge”. In plain English, don’t be a butt-head when it comes to your wife, her feelings, and your life together. The reader’s Digest version: use your head, man! While you don’t necessarily have to “understand” how she feels or why she feels that way, you do have to be understanding of her feelings. Why doesn’t it matter to you that your behavior is upsetting? Is it so important to you that something make sense in your butt-head mind that you would purposely be mean to her out of spite? So much for the “good guy” image you perpetuate. It is fundamentally wrong for you to disrespect your wife with such a total disregard for her feelings and it is doubly wrong for you to do it while feigning innocence by claiming you are doing nothing wrong.

Always treat a gun as if it’s loaded…

In conclusion, I would like to help you to not be a butt-head by suggesting a course of action via this analogy. I come from a hunting family. To get a hunting license in MN as a youth, you must go through gun safety classes. To hunt with my family, you have to go through the much more rigorous family gun safety training. The overriding principle of our family’s gun safety training is this: the gun is always loaded. I know that is a cliché, but we take it very seriously. In fact, we are almost obsessive in our unwavering application of this attitude (I won’t even point a fake gun at a person, just out of principal and to set the proper example for anyone who is watching). The reason is simple: we don’t want anyone to get hurt and the only way to ensure that happens is if you always, ALWAYS, treat the gun as if it is loaded..

Some people may think that is silly. Guess what. People get shot every year by guns that everyone thought were empty. Think it is silly to avoid social interactions with members of the opposite sex. Guess what. People get divorced every year because of acquaintances that started off (or even remained) as “just friends”. Just like my family’s gun safety rules, you must adopt an unwavering principle when it comes to this issue: I will not enter into close social relationships with members of the opposite sex, ever, regardless of how harmless they seem. If you don’t adopt this position, sooner or later, that “unloaded” gun is going to hurt someone..

EPILOGUE – While the main focus of this post has been husbands and their treatment of their wives, don’t assume this phenomenon is restricted to the martial dynamic or a male to female gender direction. While this situation occurs most often under those circumstances, it is by no means restricted to them. Nobody is immune from the danger and pain of an opposite sex relationship with someone who is not your significant other, no matter how innocently it may begin or appear to be..

*Social interaction is ANY kind of interaction, whether face to face or not. That includes calling, texting, Skypeing, chatting, Face Booking, tweeting, or snail mailing. It obviously includes personal meetings, even those where your wife is present. It is basically any kind of one-to-one, personalized, contact other than purely professional contact.

No comments:

Post a Comment