Old Friends


Before we were married, my wife had a lot of guy friends. Now that we’re married, she wants to keep her friends and sees no problem going out for lunch with them or meeting them for coffee to “catch up.” I'm uncomfortable with this. Am I wrong or is it okay to have close friends of the opposite sex when you’re married?


It’s okay and even valuable to have opposite-sex friends. Yet there are several reasons why it’s both unwise and dangerous to spend one-on-one time with them after you’re married.

Your most important human relationship is the one with your spouse. It’s especially critical in the early (and usually the most difficult) years of marriage that you invest as much time and attention as possible to cultivating that relationship. This happens by spending time with, listening to, and talking with your mate, the one who needs to become your “best” friend.

Your wife has trust and a shared history with these friends, and it’s valuable for her to maintain contact with them. However, what’s most important is for couples to build trust and a shared history with each other. Where one used to rely on their single friends for comfort and counsel, he or she must now learn to build that safe place with the spouse. We’ve seen numerous situations where a reliance on old friends hindered, significantly handicapped, and in some cases destroyed the marriage.

Another reason is that we live in a world of poor judgment and rationalized relationships that can easily lead to compromised values, and result in broken promises and emotional or physical affairs. Is your wife going to have an affair with one of her friends? Probably not. Unfortunately, affairs almost always begin as innocent friendships.

How do we handle this? We both have opposite-sex friends. But we don’t spend extended time talking with them. We don’t share intimate details about our relationship. We don’t discuss our frustrations about our spouse. We never meet for coffee or a meal with an opposite-sex person. Never. Is it because we don’t trust each other? Absolutely not! What we don’t trust is our fallen human nature. If you make a commitment to avoid even the appearance of evil, you will be much more effective in avoiding evil. We don’t want to provide any opportunity that might compromise our love for each other and our love for God.

Friends are valuable. Good friends are priceless. Cultivating friends and maintaining friendships take time, effort, and commitment. The most important friendship married men and women have is the friendship with their spouse, and that needs to be where the most time, effort, and commitment is invested.

Gary J. Oliver, ThM, PhD
Executive Director at Center for Healthy Relationships | + posts

Dr. Oliver is the Executive Director of The Center for Healthy Relationships, and professor of Psychology and Practical Theology at John Brown University.  He has authored over 20 books and more than 350 professional and popular articles.  Dr. Oliver has over 40 years’ experience as a Clinical Psychologist, Marriage  & Family Therapist and Spiritual Director.  He leads seminars & workshops both nationally and internationally on a variety of counseling-related issues, healthy relationships as well as Emotional & Relational Intelligence (ERI).

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