Friendship can become burdensome when it leaves a marital bond at stake. Typically, a friend who contributes positively to your friendship, adds to your other relationships too. For instance, the lending ear of a girlfriend might help you better confront your husband about a sensitive issue. However, marriages often get put in the backseat when a spouse gives a less significant relationship priority. Resolve the risks associated with any such friendship in order to maintain your marital covenant.
Determine Who’s Initiating
Ask yourself if your behavior gives him the green light to pursue you beyond friendship. Perhaps he has taken the long, late night conversations you have while your husband is away as an invitation. Or, your friend might believe the complaints you share about your marriage are a sign you desire someone more like him. Forces like the attraction of friendship can in fact pull you toward affair. If so, you need to correct (or, more than likely, stop) those behaviors.
If not, it may be that he finds fascination in adultery a forbidden pleasure. In that case, you may need to remind your friend that while adultery is momentarily pleasurable, it also brings long-term detriment to you, him and any children involved.
Make It a Positive Marital Opportunity
This circumstance is an opportunity to grow or weaken your marriage. Ignoring it can prevent the growth of your covenant. Focus On the Family correspondent Beth J. Lueders says you live in denial when you fail to resist come-ons and temptations; factors that ultimately lead to unfaithfulness.
Withholding the information from your spouse can weaken your marriage too. TwoOfUs.org, a National Healthy Marriage Resource Center project, says not discussing the issue turns it “secret” and makes you more susceptible to an affair.
You may need to first admit a problem exists. Then, tell your spouse in order to decide the necessary actions together.
Recognize The Risk
Scientific research connects cross-sex friendship negatively when friends are also in a long-term relationship with a mate. Furthermore, experts like clinical psychologist Willard F. Harley, Jr., Ph.D says, “It’s been my experience counseling thousands of couples that opposite-sex friends pose the greatest risk for infidelity.” One of the main reasons is due to attraction, on either side.
Your friends obvious attraction to you may prevent a healthy friendship and simultaneously wreak havoc on your marriage. For the sake of your marital relationship, it is crucial to determine if you and your friend (along with your spouse) can truly maintain a relationship exclusive to friendship; especially now that you know he wants more.
Know the Legal Ramifications
Unfortunately, many do not learn their conduct while married is grounds for legal penalization, until they face divorce. In some states, spouses can face prosecution for violation of marital vows. According to USA Today, such state laws are “some of the last remnants of our Puritanical past, where infidelity was treated as not only a marital but also as a criminal matter.”
Legally, your marital union holds greater significance than any friendship. Compare the relationship with your friend alongside the laws of your state to help you recognize if you have committed, or are nearing, a breach of your vows due to the contention the friendship presents.
Focus On the Family: Warning Signs of an Affair
Two Of Us: Preventing Infidelity
Journal Of Social and Personal Relationships: Benefit Or Burden? Attraction In Cross-Sex Friendship
Marriage Builders: Are “Friends” a Threat to Your Marriage?
USA Today: Adultery, In Many States, Is Still a Crime