By BRENNA WEAVER
What do I do about my husband’s female friend?
Question: My husband has a female friend whom he texts from time to time. They seem to just be longtime friends, but it still makes me uncomfortable. Am I being unfair?
Answer: It would be extremely difficult to live in this world without friends. Whether it is the childhood friend who loved to explore the woods as much as you, the college friend who stayed up all night to help you study for a big exam, or the work friend who made similar facial expressions during staff meetings, there is truth to Proverbs 27:9 when it says “a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.”
Although Merriam-Webster defines “friend” as “one attached to another by affection or esteem,” the idea and definition of friendship can vary from person to person. A quick Google search will show that many articles have been written on the concept of friendship, particularly friendships of the opposite sex. There does not seem to be a consensus inside or outside the church on how opposite-sex friendships should be handled. What matters in this instance is how you feel, how you communicate your feelings, and expectations within your marriage.
Let us examine what makes you feel uncomfortable. Are the texts of an inappropriate nature? Does your husband hide the communication? If there is unseemly content or a lack of transparency by your husband, it makes sense you would feel uncomfortable. Is there a part of you that feels jealous of the friendship? Do you feel neglected by your husband when he communicates with the friend? Before the question “Am I being unfair?” can be answered, a clear understanding of why you are feeling what you are feeling is important.
Also, have you communicated your feelings to your husband? If not, that would be the next step. It is easy to assume your husband should know what you are feeling, especially if you have been together for a while; however, clear communication is essential, and no human being is a mind reader.
Peter Scazzero writes in his book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality”: “Every time I make an assumption about someone who has hurt me or disappointed me without confirming it, I believe a lie about this person in my head.” Try not to make assumptions. Go to your husband. Tell him how you feel about the situation. Even if you have spoken with him about it and he has assured you it is nothing more than a casual, platonic friendship — once more, examine what makes you feel uncomfortable and discuss it with him.
After you have shared how you feel and why you feel that way, it may be a good time for you and your husband to discuss realistic expectations for friendships outside of your marriage. This conversation can cover both same-sex and opposite-sex friendship expectations. Do you think he spends too much time with his golf buddies? Does he not understand why you have a monthly girls’ night out? Talk openly and set boundaries that work for your relationship. To quote Scazzero again, “expectations are only valid when they have been mutually agreed upon.”
It is OK to feel uncomfortable with the situation. It is unfair if you do not communicate to your husband how you feel, and then place unrealistic and/or unspoken expectations on him concerning the friendship.
Brenna Weaver is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Ridgeland working with clients 18 years and older. She has experience as a secondary education teacher and children’s therapist. When not working, she enjoys reading, eating good food, and traveling.