I have male friends. Males tend to like football and not be (as) offended by my sarcastic jabs. Males don't want to go get pedicures or try on clothes for hours. In some ways, they just seem to get me more and I them. I have female friends, too of course. But those ones will never be an issue. It's so bizarre to me that your gender dictates the friends you're allowed to have once you're married.
I know that I will never cheat on my husband. I decided that back before we were married and I am a very stubborn person: the type that doesn't change her mind. Marriage is sacred to me. Steve will always be my best friend, my confidant, and my lover. So to me, going to lunch with a friend of the opposite sex shouldn't be threatening, because I know my intentions. My intentions have never been and will never be anything that would threaten my marriage. My intentions are to maintain friendships with people I have met whose company I enjoy. When I am friends with a male, I don't compare the relationship to that of a boyfriend or husband, but rather to that of a brother.
But it's not all about me. Anyone in a solid marriage can attest that one person doesn't make the rules. Compromises are made. Decisions are reached together. So if something makes my husband uncomfortable, I need to respect that and find a compromise that he is OK with. We can get so narrow-minded and only see our perspective. One person might have seen When Harry met Sally one too many times and be adamant that men and women can't be just friends. The other half the couple might have many friends of the opposite sex with no sexual undertones and not understand that way of thinking at all.
But the fact is, while I am in control of my own intentions and choices, I'm not in control of anyone else's. I was reading a message board about this very topic as research for this blog and someone wrote that if you are friends with someone of the opposite sex before becoming a couple, that person can remain a friend, but a friend of the couple's, rather than of the individual's. I thought that was a pretty good thought.
I am not friends with any past boyfriends, and Steve is not with any past girlfriends. We do not go through each other's phones or emails because we don't feel a need to. I know there are couples who set rules on interactions with the opposite sex. We have not done so (yet). At first, I thought if you had to make rules on interactions with certain people then you must not trust each other.
Now, I don't think making rules has to be a matter of not trusting each other. I think it can be a matter of protecting yourself from a situation that could turn very quickly into something else entirely. And it can also be there to put your spouse at ease. Making rules requires the couple to communicate how they feel about it and see the other person's perspective. So I guess my thought in a nutshell is to think of your couple self before thinking of your individual self. Decisions change when there is more than one person involved.
Selfishness is the root of all divorce
~ well-known quote in the LDS religion