When you are married, should you cease to have friends of the opposite sex? That is the question someone posed to me today. She claims her man is excessively jealous of her interactions with male human beings, and it is causing her so much distress that she now saves male friends under female names.
Well, my question to her was, how many male friends does a married woman need? And are they truly her friends if they are not on board with helping her have a stable marriage?
In one instance, she says her husband found five missed calls on her phone from a man. Well, other than my boss (who calls once and waits for you to return the missed call like a normal human being), I do not see who would be calling me five times just to talk, male or female.
I threw the question to colleagues, and one man (of course it had to be a man) said that limiting your interaction with the opposite sex is just a sign that your spouse is trying to control you. Others said it showed insecurity and desperation.
I thought about it for a while and came to the conclusion that the desperation may not be on the part of the spouse who wants to limit your interaction with men. It may actually be on the part of the spouse who is fiercely defending their right to have lots of friends of the opposite sex.
You may need to constantly flirt, to feel like you are available and still attractive. You may be keeping avenues for casual sex open. You may even be unable to form meaningful friendships and bonds with people of your own gender.
There is something peculiar about a married man who needs to be surrounded by (usually unmarried) women friends, or a woman whose best buddies can only be men. Will those dear men friends accompany you to the labour ward?
I have learnt that there are some things only friends of the same gender can walk you through. And sometimes those friends must also be married or be parents to fully get your predicament. You must strike a balance between being a well-rounded citizen of your community and honouring a marriage commitment you entered into with eyes wide open.
Sometimes as married people our interactions with people of the opposite sex can be inappropriate. And a lot of the time, it is not even about cheating. It is simply being insensitive to the fact that your spouse has a right to be suspicious. #marriage
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