Reader Question: Is It Okay to Be Upset if My Husband Talks to his Ex-Wife?

Reader Question of the Week

Every Monday I like to post a Reader Question and then take a stab at answering it. Here’s one that may pose more difficulties around Christmas, when we’re more likely to talk to people we haven’t seen in a while. A woman asks: should I be upset if my husband talks to his ex-wife?

My husband and his first wife divorced after they’d been married for 5 years. They didn’t have any kids, but they just wanted different things out of life (she’s climbing the corporate ladder and my husband is a contractor). She left him.

But now she likes to call him “just to check in”. They text quite a bit and talk on the phone. She lives in another state and they don’t see each other. I think she’s just lonely, and he still says that she’s one of his closest friends. It just really bugs me. I know there’s nothing going on, but I find myself getting really irritated at him whenever she texts and then I clam up and give him the silent treatment. I know I should just get over it, but don’t you think there’s something weird about still being best friends with your ex-wife?

I had another email recently from a woman in a similar situation. Her husband had dated a girl for three years in high school. He then went on to marry his now-wife. But the former girlfriend is still in their social circle, and the two of them talk all the time. Again, she doesn’t think there’s anything going on, but it makes her feel uncomfortable.

Are there rules for how to talk to your exes?

That’s a thorny one, isn’t it? When I asked on Facebook recently, someone else said that her husband’s ex had married his best friend, so the four of them were always together, and she really didn’t like it. Is she being ridiculous to make an issue out of it?

My husband and I both dated other people all through high school. My husband has stayed in contact with many of his high school friends more than I have, and I’ve never particularly felt warmly towards any of them, though there is one that I’ve developed a nice online friendship with. But it is awkward, isn’t it?

Here’s the problem: all this baggage and broken hearts isn’t really supposed to happen. We’re not supposed to give away our hearts to someone who isn’t our spouse, and we aren’t supposed to divorce. Hearts are funny things. We do become entangled with other people that we date, and it’s hard to break that.

Here are some general rules that I would put in place in any marriage regarding the opposite sex:

"My husband talks to his ex". Some thoughts on appropriate boundaries in marriage.

1. No Social Texting/Phone Calls with Members of the Opposite Sex–Including Exes

Things that look innocent can often become something else. Texting can be dangerous. Even with work, I’d suggest only texting when it’s absolutely imperative, and trying to keep those texts to a minimum, and always business related. In general, men shouldn’t be texting other women, and women shouldn’t be texting other men.

This would definitely include one’s ex-wife or ex-girlfriend, but it would also apply once you’re married with someone who is “just friends”. Once you’re married, friends of the opposite sex should be friends of BOTH of you, not just you. So if your husband’s best friend was a girl, he should now really only see her when you are also there.

That may sound like I’m being overly strict, but I don’t think it’s appropriate for someone who is married to be talking to someone of the opposite sex for companionship or friendship. That’s what a spouse is for, and that’s what same-sex friends are for. Even if you mean it absolutely innocently, you don’t know what the other person is thinking. And when you do have trouble in your marriage, you don’t want to be talking to someone of the opposite sex about it.

So I’d tell the woman in the first email that she insist that her husband cut off contact with the ex-wife. Sure that’s hard. He shared so much with her, and they were great friends. But that relationship ended, and he has to let it end and turn to his wife for friendship.

2. Don’t Blame Your Husband for Things That Have Been Over for Years

I’d say something very different to the woman whose husband’s best friend married her husband’s ex. Her husband dated a girl, but that relationship didn’t last. They both decided that they didn’t want to marry each other, and they both chose other people. Yes, it’s awkward to see her all the time, but it would also be awkward to tell your husband he couldn’t get together with his best friend anymore, or to have him have to explain to his best friend that his wife is jealous.

As long as you are doing things in a large group, I think you have to let it go, providing you do believe that the relationship is over. You really can’t keep blaming him for things he did before you were married, especially since he chose you.

If part of the problem was that their relationship was sexual, I did write a post on how to get over your husband’s sexual past. That is a tough one. But if he is not currently doing anything wrong, or having any sort of inappropriate relationship, I think being jealous and asking him to end an important friendship is over the top.

Instead, work on your relationship so you do know that he loves you. Work at making the marriage the best it can be. And here’s a tough one: work at befriending his ex. If you still live in the same town where your husband grew up, chances are there will be “exes” in your social circle. The best way to handle it is to embrace them and get to know them, rather than setting up this weird dynamic where it’s obvious you’re jealous (which often gives that relationship renewed energy and spark, even if they haven’t thought of each other that way in years).

3. If She’s Pursuing Him, Put an End to It

However, let’s be honest. Some women really are on the hunt for a new relationship, and sometimes we do pick up on that. If there’s a woman who seems to be after your husband, tell him. Ask him to avoid her. And then do your best to stick as close to her as possible, so that she knows that there’s no room for anything happening.

In some cases this may be a social circle that’s easy to leave (like simply stop going to the high school reunions). In others (work, church) it’s not as easy. In that case, just stick close, tell your husband, and even have a frank talk with her if possible.

Relationships are just really messy and our pasts are often messy. But remember: he chose you and you chose him. Those other women don’t matter. And if you keep your marriage fresh, those women are quite unlikely to have any power over him anyway. So let it go where you can, and enforce strict boundaries where necessary.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this, though. Have you ever been in a social circle with your husband’s ex? Has an ex ever tried to communicate with your husband? How did this work, and how did you handle it? Let me know in the comments!

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  1. “So I’d tell the woman in the first email that she insist that her husband cut off contact with the ex-wife.” I am not sure a wife should ever insist anything from her husband. She can ask that he not have any contact with the ex-wife but insisting something from him is treating him as a child and not an adult even if he is in the wrong. After asking him once, she needs to commit to praying about it consistently. The Lord is much better at convicting and changing our husbands than we are. We just damage the marriage when we try and control our spouse’s behavior. The only behavior we can change is our own. I love where you write, “Instead, work on your relationship so you do know that he loves you. Work at making the marriage the best it can be.” Great advice! We need to simply put our focus and energy into becoming the wife that God wants us to be and let Him deal with our husbands.
    Lori Alexander recently posted…Does Our Thought Life Matter?My Profile

  2. Okay, I politely disagree to a certain extent. I think explaining to your husband if there is massive contact if he could cut back some because it makes you uncomfortable. If you aren’t honest with your husband then how can he help any. Next, for a period of time my husband reconnected with an old girlfriend. To make it more confusing, I was a really good friend with her after they broke up in college after he and I broke up in college. He also had proposed to her and she turned him down. We later resolved our issues and have been happily married with our normal ups and downs for almost 17 years. She’s good friends with one of my cousins so for a period we did see her socially too. FOr a period, they networked together for business and stayed in generally friendly contact. She’s a nice person. I knew they weren’t a fit back “when”. It never bothered me. I’m secure in my marriage that he loves me and he’s not going elsewhere even with someone he once had emotional ties to. He’s committed to me and we went into this marriage that neither of us (discussion) ever wanted a divorce. His father left them when he was 1 year old. Some motivating factor there too. I don’t think you should demand or insist but trust your husband to do the right thing. Back off some maybe but if it’s not threatening your marriage, we are adults here who can put past “history” where it belongs…,in the past. And if it really is a good friend of your husband’s then figure out a way to become better friends yourself. Now if you are secure and really think she’s after your husband to break up your marriage or he’s not getting the emotional support from you he should, then do something about it.

  3. ButterflyWings says:

    I’m sorry but I totally disagree with number 1. If you can’t trust a man to be friends with someone of the opposite sex, then you shouldn’t have married him in the first place. Considering how many men cheat on their wives with MEN (and from what I’ve seen, women who cheat are even more likely to have a same sex affair than men), if you think insisting a spouse can’t have an opposite sex friend will stop them from cheating is short sighted. If a man is trustworthy, he can be trusted with anyone. If he isn’t trustworthy, he’s going to cheat with someone regardless of what restrictions you try to control him with.

    My husband’s friends are nearly all female, and I have some male friends. We both completely trust each other. We just are totally honest with each other, don’t hide our communication with others of either sex, have introduced each other to our friends (in fact I think these days his female friends talk to me more than him because he isn’t good at keeping in touch and my male friends talk to him far more than he wants!).

    We don’t show each other every conversation because we don’t need to. If we were dishonest people, we’re smart, we’d have the capability of hiding it, but we’re not.

    People can’t assume that their spouse will just get up to no good if they’re not checked on constantly. If a person isn’t trustworthy – don’t marry them – and if you can’t learn to trust a person, then work on your own insecurity before getting married.

    The only exceptions is where there has been a relationship in the past (exwife, exgirlfriend, ex anything really) in which case you know there was once a spark and it’s best not to have any one on one contact, or where there has been an affair or other proven dishonesty, in which it’s fair enough to say “hey you need to show me you can be trusted before I can trust you again”.

    • I wish you all the best with that lifestyle the two of you have developed for yourselves. However, I do believe your relationship is the exception and certainly not the norm. I also hope it does not backfire on you and you all end up regretting not having put restrictions on your extracurricular same-sex friendships.

      • ButterflyWings says:

        Michelle to be honest, I would say you and some others here are the exception rather than the norm. Even amongst my christian friends, (including older and/or maturer ones), no one is afraid to have opposite sex friends. Considering how many people in my first church (where I attended for most of 30 years) ran off with same sex lovers, declaring a ban on opposite sex friendships seem rather silly.

        It is my first husband I discouraged from having opposite sex friends, so he just made female friends behind my back, and several of his affairs (including the long term mistress that he married) were actually my friends, not his.

        Telling a spouse they can’t have opposite sex friendships shows we don’t trust them and also makes out that it’s something that is wrong when it’s not.

        All of my (second) husband’s friends are all happily married/partnered and their husbands/partners are totally comfortable with the friendship. And I too have a number of close friends – and my husband knows even if he passed away and my friends were the last men on the face of the earth, I still wouldn’t be interested in them.

        A friendship is a friendship – in our broken world, the gender of a person doesn’t protect our spouses from having an affair with them.

  4. I think these are appropriate standards to have. My husband and I both have a friend of the opposite sex that we have known since we were very young. We still talk to them, but we make sure to tell each other when we have chatted with them and how they and their spouse is doing. We both feel comfortable with this arrangement.
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  5. Sheila, I like your advice that friends of the opposite sex can be friends in a group. The issue is not about extending trust to one’s spouse (we have to do that every day when they leave our sight). The issue is protecting one’s marriage from temptation – and ANYONE can be tempted to sin. If you keep
    relationships with ANYONE open to your spouse, then you can work on awkward situations together, as the need arises. Pray together often, be accountable for your time, agree to boundaries. For example, my husband decided not to travel on business alone. When I wasn’t available to go with him, his cousin went along to enjoy the trip and keep him company. My husband also won’t travel in a car alone with another woman. He lives by these ( sometimes inconvenient ) ” rules” because he values our commitment and is not naive enough to flatter himself with ideas of willpower stronger than immediate, physical temptation.

  6. Wow, Sheila I’m surprised at the disagreement on this one already. I’m reminded of a post that J wrote a long time ago about putting walls around your marriage to protect it. I wish I knew how to link from my mobile. :-)
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  7. Completely agree with #1. What could start out innocent could end very badly. I’m not married yet, but will definitely keep this for future reference. Thank you for your advice!

  8. I too am surprised at the disagreements voiced here. Situation #1 leaves me baffled. She left him, but can’t seem to let go for some reason. I agree that it is a completely inappropriate relationship. I do agree with Lori that we can’t “insist” that our husbands do or not do anything.. but she can voice her request very strongly and let him know that she finds this inappropriate and ask that he respect her wishes and cut off all contact. this seems to me a boundary that is completely appropriate for a spouse to set. Unless there are children involved, there is no reason to maintain contact.

    I can’t even fathom my husband texting or phoning ANY female for social reasons…nor would I carry on a social relationship with any male outside of a group/couple situation.

    • ButterflyWings says:

      happywife you probably can’t fathom men who cheat on their wives with other men either. Temptation can come from unlikely sources. My exhusband slept with men, and the mistress he married wasn’t some female friend of his – it was a female friend of mine he was contacting behind my back. As the saying goes, better the devil you know than the devil you don’t. His only old female friend was a wonderful christian lady who was happily married and trying to reach out to him to get him back into his faith.

      A man who will cheat, will find a way. If he is banned from having female “friends” that his wife knows about, he will simply find female “friends” his wife doesn’t know about.

      Why should a man have to give up friends he may have known his entire life just because he has got married?

      My husband has known his female friends for 15-20 years, long before we ever met. There has never been a shred of romance there. They are no more “tempting” to him than male friends – ie not at all. His female friends are what have made him the sensitive wonderful man he is today and I wouldn’t dream of telling him he can’t socialise with them.

      It would be quite different if they were exes or if there had been any sort of romantic on either side ever, but there never has been.

      • I don’t think anyone is saying they have to give up friends. We’re just saying those friendships should now be in groups, and the wife should be part of that friendship. Once you’re married, socializing one-on-one really is inappropriate, and I don’t know why we would want to. My husband and I socialize with a lot of people, but we do it in groups, that’s all.

      • ButterflyWings – I’m very sorry that your husband not only cheated on you, but cheated on you with other men. That is a doubly painful situation to experience. However, you seem to be of the opinion that no women is safe from her husband not only having an affair, but doing so with other men. I firmly disagree with you that this is a threat for most women. Please show me the statistics that show that most women who cheat do so with other women – because I’m sure they don’t exist. Your view is jaded by your own personal experience.

        • ButterflyWings says:

          Summer mine is a personal experience…. in the church I grew up in, we had quite a number of men (including deacons) and women (in leadership roles) who abandoned their spouses and children to run off with their same sex lovers. One of my mother’s best friends had her husband take with his gay lover after having 5 children together.

          Yes there were many who also ran off with opposite sex lovers too, but none of them were “friends” – they were work colleagues or friend’s wives/husbands etc.

          Not one person ran off with someone who was a long time opposite sex friend. They were all people they met in group situations and then contacted behind everyone else’s back.

          I believe the problem is that no one here thinks husbands are safe from affairs unless they are banned from having female friends. It won’t force a 100% straight man to become a gay cheat, but IF a man has a cheating heart, banning him from having female friends won’t discourage him – all it means is he gets sneaky and less likely to be found out if he does cheat.

          I didn’t say that most women who cheat will do so with other women (I can’t even find anything I wrote that could be misinterpreted that way). What I did mean was women seem to have a higher percentage of running off with long term same sex friends compared to men (of the men who run off with same sex lovers, it tends to be people they have specifically met for the purposes of sexual encounters) – ie I was referred to the male/female differences in who runs off with same sex lovers, not those who cheat in general. that seems to be a common difference of men versus women in general – women seem to cheat more with long term friends their spouse knows of, men seem more likely to cheat with people their wife doesn’t know or thinks is an entirely professional relationship.

          • ButterflyWings, I understand that this is your personal experience, and it certainly is horrible. But the simple fact is that the vast majority of people do not have same sex attraction. And the real threat comes from opposite sex relationships, so we do need to guard our hearts.

            It is not only a matter of guarding against such a relationship, either, as some people have noted. It’s also the fact that we can be tempted to get needs met with a friend that we should be getting met in marriage. If you share personal things with someone of the opposite sex, an intimacy develops, even if that intimacy isn’t sexual. And that’s not a healthy thing for a marriage.

            It’s not just about rumours, or about affairs, or anything. It’s a matter of the sanctity of marriage and protecting it against everything. I want to know that my husband is my best friend, and that I am his, and that if we have a problem, we are each the first person we turn to. If my husband were texting another woman, even if she were “just a friend”, I would not have that assurance. And every married person needs to give their spouse that assurance.

            So I’ll stand by what you said, because I have very rarely seen marriages work where each have good friends of the opposite sex that they see one on one.

  9. I think these are excellent standards to live by. It helps people resist temptation, shows loyalty to the spouse, and helps avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

  10. Here’s my take on it: It is impossible to remove all temptation. Just impossible. Other cultures have been trying it for centuries, and it’s just not possible. So saying that friendships between men and women are unwise because of the risk of temptation is short-sighted. Life can’t be about removing every possible source of temptation, or else we find ourselves living in a bubble.

    That said, it IS ok to be uncomfortable with your spouse maintaining a friendship with an ex. And it’s also ok to not be uncomfortable with it. My husband maintains a Facebook friendship with one of his exes, and I’m ok with it. If it progressed to talking on the phone, I probably would not. However, he also has a female friend that he does speak with on the phone, and I’m ok with that. It’s about the level of the relationship, the trust level between us, and my knowledge of the history there. Similarly, I have male friends that I speak with through Facebook (not on the phone, but that’s largely because the phone stresses me out). And I work in an office where I am the only female. My husband is ok with these things, again because he trusts me, and because he knows about all of these friends and he knows our history.

    Exes are a tricky beast, and there’s no cookie-cutter solution to these things. So my bottom line is this: If you are uncomfortable, speak with your husband. As your loving spouse, he needs to hear your concerns, and work with you so that you are comfortable. If that means not talking to an ex, or changing the way he interacts with her, then so be it. But in the same token, we need to be understanding of old friendships and try to work with our husbands so that they don’t have to lose friends that may be important to them. In the situation where the ex just kind of started calling again, out of the blue, and there hasn’t been an ongoing friendship, I would probably not be comfortable with that. But the one who has been friends with his ex for a long time, that’s a little different, in my opinion. But again, there’s no cookie-cutter answer here, and my own comfort level has no bearing on what is going on within these relationships.

    It all comes back to COMMUNICATION. If you have a concern, even if you feel that it might be unreasonable, talk to your husband. Address it from a place of “I.” “I feel…” instead of “you need to…” Communication solves so many problems.
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    • ButterflyWings says:

      Totally agree :)

      Plus, I’ve seen people talk about things like “impropriety” and putting others off being a christian. I have watched several friends actually turned off christianity in general, purely because of the opposite.

      Right now I’m thinking of a particular friend of mine (male friend) who has pretty much turned his back on his faith because a long time friend of his (20+ years) stopped talking to him altogether when she met a man and very quickly got engaged and married. She tried the line on him that “oh it’s not appropriate for me to talk to a man now that I’m married” and since her husband is rather unsociable and isn’t interested in “group friendships” with her male friends, she has chosen to totally completely ignore all her male friends under the guise of it’s not “appropriate” for her to be friends with them now she’s married.

      It meant my dear friend lost his best friend when he needed a friend the most (deaths of several close friends and family members, ill health and a bunch of other problems). And it’s taken me more than a year to show him that it’s not “christianity’s” fault his friend abandoned him when he needed it most. That not all of us think it’s ok to abandon lifelong friends simply because we get married and the person is opposite sex. His faith is still a mess because of it though.

      It’s not the first time I’ve seen it happen, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. But I find improper is abandoning a lifelong friend because they are of the opposite sex and our spouse for whatever reason isn’t interested in socialising with our opposite sex friend.

      • I’m a bit surprised about insisting that men and women can and should be best friends even if they are married to other people.

        I find it damaging to a marriage relationship, if one spouse keeps on talking about his best girl friend or her best guy friend. Shouldn’t they have married that best friend then? I want to be the closest female friend to my husband! Not the *only* one, but the closest one. He wouldn’t go have coffee with other ladies nor lunches nor drinks after work. It just doesn’t feel right.

        For example, I hang out in a group of friends when we were all young and unmarried, but if I had met alone with one of the men, that would have been … a bit too intimate. I was sure to have good, close relationships and friendships with women, but it was never the same, deep heart level, with the men. It was great to have both men and women in a group and I learned a lot about men and women, but I would never have such a close, one-on-one relationship with a male friend. I don’t think it’s possible either, there will always be some kind of spark going on in at least one heart…We are human beings, physical and sexual, so it’s normal. Nothing to be afraid of, but to be wise about. Why would you share your heart in a deep way with a guy who will not marry you?

        I also question having opposite sex friends visiting your apartment/house alone. I don’t think it’s a good witness to others. Same reason that pastors counsel people of opposite sex with a door/curtains open. It’s just good to be careful. Your motives might be the purest, but you cannot know about the other one. I had a (male) friend who visited me and looking back it would have been better to meet in a group or have even one other girlfriend there with me. Nothing happened…but I wouldn’t want my daughters to battle such battles. He was more attracted to me than I had realized.

        It’s not easy, but better safe than sorry.

        • I think the point is that it doesn’t *have* to be damaging. If it’s bothersome in a marriage, then definitely the spouse should respect that and end or modify those friendships that are bothersome. But if it’s not bothersome, then it’s not a problem.

          I believe that spouses should be best friends, yes. But sometimes it’s good to have other good friends. I have no secrets from my husband, but my friends sometimes have a different perspective, and it’s good to get that perspective. If a man and a woman grew up together and see each other as kind of like brother and sister, what’s wrong with that? And again, if it bothers the spouse, then absolutely something needs to happen to protect the marriage, because the marriage should come first. But just because some people are uncomfortable with their spouse having opposite-sex friends doesn’t mean that it’s wrong for EVERYONE. Every circumstance is unique, and you can’t paint all marriages with the same broad brush in this regard.
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        • So again, I come back to my original point: It’s absolutely ok to be upset if your spouse is talking to an ex. It’s also ok NOT to be upset about it. I think exes are much more problematic than just any old friend of the opposite sex, but the bottom line is that if something is bothering you, you need to talk to your husband about it and work together to find a solution that comes out of respect and love for each other and your marriage. And if it doesn’t bother you, you don’t need to get upset about it just because of some idea that men and women shouldn’t be friends. God created us all unique, and that beautiful fact means that we each have our own comfort level and our own reasons for doing what we do. As long as you’re not committing a sin, just do what feels right.
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        • Butterflywings says:

          No one is insisting anyone should be “best friends”. Or even that the can. Once your married your spouse should become your best friend. Just it doesn’t matter what the gender your next closest friend is.

          I’ve seen all too often how same sex best friends can destroy marriages – and it’s not from having affairs. If you always go on about your “best friend” at the expense of your marriage, it can be as damaging as an affair is. I’ve seen all too many women put their female friends above their husbands and it is just completely marriage destroying.

          It’s not the gender of the friend, it’s the priority of the friendship over your friendship with your spouse that is the issue. My husband has two best friends, one male and one female, he probably actually talks to the female more and she is a happily married christian. She was even our “groomsmaid” at our wedding. I wouldn’t dream of telling him he can’t be friends with her. Their relationship is good for him and good for our marriage. She gives him a female perspective on issues and she offers great marriage advice that has helped me and him many times.

  11. I think it’s absolutely inappropriate for a married man to have any sort of private conversation or relationship with a woman other than his wife. There’s a difference between being friendly with another woman and having a friendship with one. My husband would say the same thing. Yes, he talks to other women (in public or for work) but any personal conversation that wouldn’t include me would be about me (like arranging something for me/our kids) otherwise he would go through her husband/boyfriend…even then he would probably go through the man in that relationship. I think you put way to much at risk by allowing friendships to continue or to start with other women – and there should not be a need for it either. Which means you’d better address your friendship as a couple if this sort of thing is going on – glory to God, we have an amazing friendship within our marriage. My husband is completely trustworthy but I would certainly insist he not have a friendship with other women, especially an ex – but like I said he would think it’s not appropriate either. Same goes for my/a married woman’s relationship with other men.

  12. I’ve written about keeping boundaries in marriage and from experience know that people have have strong/differing feelings on the subject. I like your thoughts. For me it comes down to protecting that which matters to you. No one ever drifts to the top of marriage mountain :) we all have to work hard at a lasting marriage.

    I’d reiterate #3, as women we can pick up things that our husband aren’t picking up, so it’s important to speak up and live up to our “Helpmate” name :)
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  13. LeeAnne Lloyd says:

    I believe in boundaries, but I also believe in security. I spent the first 10 years of a 23year marriage looking around every corner for any women I thought wanted to destroy my marriage. I realized the problem was with me not them. I was very insecure. But the last 13 years have been amazing. There is a level of security and romance in our marriage that I could have never had, if I had not realized that he choose me! We talk through these things from time to time. I have guy friends that I try to make friends with him as well. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t! He only has a few girl friends that still want to be in contact with him, and I’m okay with that. I’ve actually made strides to become really close friends with them! My husband didn’t have any sexual relationships before me, I was the one with the black clouded past. If anything he should be jealous of my guy friends. I love being married and I love having a best friend there for me always!

  14. Brittainy S says:

    I completely agree with all of those rules, and they make sense to me. I am not a jealous woman by any means but as I grow in my Christianity I have learned to think about Images more. Although many people don’t care what others think about you. Other people’s opinions of what you do can affect your testimony. When my husband and I maintain contact with people of the other sex through phone calls, texts, or even One on one visits regardless of how harmless it seems, someone will hear or know about it. Most people will assume the worst. How can we testify to those people and try to lead them to Christ when in the back of their minds they are thinking about the affair they think is going on. It is the same reason we should dress modestly, treat others with respect, and always shine our best when we are in public. You never know who you will be called to testify to, and if that person has seen you anything less than your best it makes it very difficult to testify to them.

    For those of you with a problem with number 1. This is not saying not to be friends, it is simply saying to make it a group event. A group event is less likely to look as though something is going on!

    Now my question is, how can you start a conversation and try to establish these rules when you have already been married 7 years?

    • Stephanie P says:

      I’ve been married almost 12 years…seems like something comes up every once in a while that we’ve not fully discussed…A lot of times it will come up because of a blog like this…that posted something we haven’t really thought of….so what i’ve done to bring it up has been to just tell him about the blog post i read that day that made me think….and i will explain it to him or show it to him and just ask him what he thinks about it…how does it apply to our marriage…is it something he thinks we should explore? It kind of puts the ball in his court as the head of our home and gets him thinking about it. So far, in doing this, it opens the door for great honest communication and we’ve had great results at establishing boundaries or expectations together. Good luck!

  15. I agree that a personal/intimate outside relationship is probably inappropriate, not because it’s always dangerous but because that level of friendship, intimacy and communication belongs in the marriage. Even a share-everything relationship between a wife and her own mother can be quite inappropriate for that reason.
    Regarding the husbands’ outside relationships, boundaries are great. However don’t expect them to replace the marriage qualities above. When he’s not emotionally intimate with his wife he’s either bottling it up or talking to someone else.

  16. My husband has a friend whom he has known since high school. Before he met me they had mutual friends and hung out regularly but there was never anything between them other than friendship. She went away to get her doctorate and they would have at least monthly long phone conversations to catch up and would see each other when she was around. When he met me and we became engaged she reached out to me and wanted to get to know me. The long phone conversations with my husband ceased and now she calls me when she’s in town and we go out as a group. My husband still gets to catch up with her but she completely included me and made me feel totally comfortable with the relationship. I just really appreciated that about her. The friendships don’t have to end (exes are different) but I do think they need to take on a new form. So I totally agree with this article, Sheila!
    Claire recently posted…December 8thMy Profile

  17. There are some intersting viewpoints here. I would like to share 2 situations. One when my husband had a fellow student he enjoyed visiting with outside of class. At first I was ok with it. He always told me abt his conversations with her. Then one day he adked if she could come for dinner. I was ok with it. Glad to meet her even .. I didn’t see anything wrong in his behavior. But did not like hers. I told him she made me uncomfortable. He quit the friendship. His choice. Hes an adult. I told him how I felt. He respected that and acted on it. Now he is a professional. And has a female colleague who he gets along with really well. She has been to our house. The kids call her Auntie. And when they text ( a lot) its a three way conversation. I usually don’t respond. But this way I know what they are ralking about.

  18. I just think that really for the most part that people shouldn’t be out with the opposite sex, not because of a trust issue, but because of the rumor mill. Once a seed is planted, even if it is innocent by the time the rumor gets around the town it is no where near the truth, and so far stretched, and gets back to the wife, feelings are hurt, trust is broken, and who knows if it can ever be gained back. The burden of prof falls on the the victim’s and will be the hardest thing to prove that it was a purely innocent event. Can even destroy a family, One of Satan’s trick’s I think, Not every one thinks the same and not ever one has pure thoughts, Not every one has God first. There are people out there that love nothing more then to cause misery and believe me misery loves company. So I concur with the advise, for different reason’s, leaving no room for people to spread rumor’s, therefor living in peace Amen.

    • ButterflyWings says:

      Sadly we live in a broken world, full of gosspis. Even if you “leave no room” for people to spread rumours, they will still find a way. That was sadly the way in the church I grew up in. If you weren’t part of the popular group, people spread vicious rumours about you. No matter how careful you were about always acting properly, people will find a way to distort it.

      One example, even though my first husband and I were basicallly the only young couple in the church not having pre-marital sex within our church, absolutely bizarre things would start rumours. Such as me lending him my car overnight so he could drive to a very early morning job interview would start rumours that we had spent the night together having sex – and this is with him living next door to the pastor, with his bedroom just 2m away from the pastor’s bedroom – and the church owning the share house he lived in, having keys and checking up on the guys living there regularly.

      Even the most chaste person can end up with rumours spread about them if they attend a church of rumour mongers.

  19. I think you give some great suggestions here, Sheila.

    There is a difference between wrong and unwise. It’s not wrong for a spouse to chat with an ex, and it might never lead to anything whatsoever, but it is unwise. It seems a question of “why go there?” You could carry on a perfectly fine friendship with someone of the opposite sex for years and be great in your marriage, and then your marriage hits a difficult time, and the friend is there, and temptations arise…and then even if nothing happens, you have to deal with those. And for what? Couldn’t one have a friendship in group situations with this person without setting up potential problems? Also, as one commenter said, I have some concerns about getting relational needs met by some of the opposite sex who isn’t my husband. Now I’m not trying to overplay this, but if that relationship causes you to hold something back from your marriage, then it’s a real problem.

    I just know too many people — some being fabulous people whom I never thought would do such a thing! — who were tempted and destroyed their marriage when they engaged in what they believed was a harmless friendship with someone of the opposite sex. Of course, some people will always cheat, some people would never cheat, but I think the vast majority of us are somewhere in that middle, where the convergence of various issues could cause us to stumble. Especially when opportunity is within reach. So at least remove the opportunity.
    J (Hot, Holy & Humorous) recently posted…‘Twas the Intimate Night before ChristmasMy Profile

  20. Claire,
    I love that your huaband’s friend did that! I have a great friend from college, who I introduced to my husband while we were dating, and now the three of us consider ourselves great friends. We share frquent phone conversations (my husband and I will trade who is on the phone) and when our friend visits we all hang out together. For us I had never been an issue of temptation, but of propriety and of preserving intimacy for our marriage. We both have conversations with members of the opposite sex, but they are in public settings.

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