I love to dance, but my husband doesn’t. I recently learned that a group of our friends often go ballroom dancing. I was excited about this, because I would really like to keep up this passion of mine. Obviously going dancing with this group would include dancing with men who aren’t my husband.
While my husband doesn’t have many discomforts about me spending time with members of the opposite sex, I felt it was important that I ask my husband how he felt about me going dancing with this group (presuming he didn’t want to go). He was supportive of my desire to begin ballroom dancing again. But the situation reminded me of some rules I have in order to manage friendships with other men and to do my part to safeguard my marriage from infidelity.
Rule #1. Respect my husband’s feelings. Chris is my husband, and therefore his feelings matter a great deal to me. If my going dancing with a group of people, including my guy friends, ever made Chris uncomfortable, I wouldn’t go. Having feelings of discomfort is not the same thing as not trusting me. While in reality Chris wasn’t concerned about me going dancing, if he were, I would choose not to go.
Rule #2. I don’t confide anything to my male friends that I wouldn’t confide in my husband. My husband and I don’t keep secrets from each other. Even if we are attracted to other people, we tell each other. Although I care a great deal for all my friends, I don’t want to set up a situation where I feel more emotionally intimate with another man than with my husband.
Rule #3. I prioritize my time with my husband. All relationships require time to nurture it in order to flourish. We all know this when it comes to our friendships, but the same is true for our marriage. We obviously spend a lot of time together since we live together, but I’m also aware of how much (or how little) quality time I spend with my husband. I don’t think it’s wise to only spend time with my husband when it comes to the work of managing a household together and raising kids, and then reserve all my fun time for other people. I make sure that I’m having fun with my husband too.
Rule #4. I don’t assume I’m above infidelity. If the partners are feeling lonely, disconnected, and taken for granted, then the excitement and companionship of being with someone else seems more enticing. We all desire and need genuine soul-reaching intimacy. If my husband and I feel loved, understood, and connected with one another, there is less chance we will go searching for those things from someone else.
Rule #5. I don’t abuse alcohol. I know inhibitions can be lowered when people drink. It can be easy to make choices that one later regrets when alcohol is involved. So I never have more than one drink, if I drink at all (my husband doesn’t drink, period). The friends my husband and I have don’t drink excessively either. I see limiting my consumption as a way to take care of and respect myself, especially since I don’t like the feeling of being especially vulnerable when my senses and judgement are impaired by alcohol.
When it comes to my male friends I try to be sure that they respect me and respect our friendship by maintaining appropriate boundaries. I’m grateful I’m able to have friends outside of my marriage. But, I want my husband to be my best friend and my only romantic love. By continuing to have fun together, confide in one another, and respect each other’s feelings, we nurture a healthier marriage.