Before I realized my wife was the one, she was just one of many. Prior to making our relationship official two years ago I had been a happily single man for just under a decade. During the course of my extended bachelordom I accumulated a sizeable amount of female “friends.” While some were friends of the platonic variety, a fair share of them were women I may have been intimate with, gone on a date(s) with or simply had a crush on. Regardless of the individual back-story, I operated under the pretense that these were my friends and we’d hang out on occasion or catch up via a phone call. While such occurrences have been far and few between as I’ve focused more on my freshly-minted marriage, I saw no major issue with meeting up with an old friend that just happened to be female—and may or may not have seen me naked.
That was until a recent conversation with my wife.
I’m not sure how we got on the subject of the last woman I slept with before her, but my wife asked if said woman happened to come back in to town and asked to meet up would I. Pondering the question before me for a moment, I replied honestly: “It’s quite possible. I mean; I still consider her a friend. What, I can’t have friends?”
“I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with that,” she replied. “I don’t think a husband should have female friends his wife doesn’t know.”
While the scenario was completely hypothetical, it led to a healthy conversation that every married couple needs to have at some point. I’ve always said that a relationship is doomed to fail without trust and communication, and those were the factors at the heart of our dialogue. Without a doubt my wife and I have trust for each other and we constantly work on our communication, but the issue here was about the potential actions of others.
Whether or not I hang out with an ex or any other female friend, the discomfort comes into the picture when my wife doesn’t know the other party. So while I don’t think a husband or wife should automatically cut off friends of the opposite sex once he or she says, “I do,” there are certain guidelines I believe one should follow:
1) Full disclosure is a must. Anytime I’ll be home late or have something new on my daily agenda that differs from the norm I let my wife know the who, what, where, when and why. I’ve found that courtesy saves me the most headaches because hiding names and back-story is another form of lying and that’s not part of a healthy relationship.
2) Making new friends of the opposite sex is not an arbitrary line in the sand that a husband or wife can draw. Every day is the opportunity to meet someone new that can play a pivotal role in your life—professionally or personally, male or female. However, if someone is truly a friend there should be no problem with your partner not only knowing the person’s name and relationship status but also meeting him or her at some point during this new friendship. That way there are fewer questions about the intentions of either party.
3) Hanging with an ex isn’t the smartest thing to do—especially if doing so makes your partner uncomfortable. What anyone in a committed relationship has to do when faced with that scenario is truly weigh the importance of hanging out with that individual and evaluate the merits of their friendship. If all you have in common with a person of the opposite sex is sex then it’s best advised to keep that part of your past where it belongs—in the past.
So, where do you stand on the issue: Would you be comfortable with your spouse making new friends of the opposite sex? Sound off!
Mr. and Mrs. Rocque are the couple formerly known as Anslem Samuel and Starrene Rhett, New York-based journalists who found love in between bylines. Follow the newlyweds’ musings of a marriage in progress here, on Twitter and via their joint blog.