The Double-Standard of Maintaining Friendships and Relationships with Exes and Members of the Opposite Sex After Marriage

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dreamstime_xxl_97735725There’s no easy way to delve into this topic; especially if you’ve either experienced, or are experiencing, a rift in your marriage because of your husband’s continued friendships/relationships (i.e. “frelationships”) with his exes—or with any member of the opposite sex for that matter—now that you’re married.

For some, the answer to the question of whether men and women should remain friends with their exes or with any member of the opposite sex after they get married is pretty cut-and-dry. For others, the answer to this question is not so simple.  There are two distinct lines of argumentation regarding the appropriateness of spouses maintaining “frelationships” with members of the opposite sex, including their exes. Here’s the dilemma…

To Friend or Unfriend?

On the one hand, there’s a subset of wives who feel as if their husbands should NOT have any friends of the opposite sex; especially if those friends are not mutual friends. Period.  End-of-discussion.  These are the wives who believe that ANY type of relationship, fellowship, communication, interaction, or friendship with an ex- should NOT happen under any circumstance, for any reason—except in situations involving children where co-parenting is required…maybe.  Some would argue that the wives who fall into this category may feel a bit insecure in their relationship with their husbands, which could be a sign of some underlying trust issues that need to be resolved in that relationship before they start to negatively impact the overall health of the marriage.

On the other hand, there are those wives who believe that it’s perfectly okay for their husbands to have friends of the opposite sex, and are equally accepting of his efforts to maintain those “frelationships”—even if they’re with exes.  Some would argue that the wives who fall into this category are a bit more secure in who they are and in what they add to their husbands, which makes them more open, supportive, and secure in their relationships with her husbands, and less likely to question their fidelity to the marriage.

Regardless of where your opinion on the “to friend or unfriend?” continuum, always remember that your thoughts and feelings on this issue are important, and that you should feel comfortable enough in your marriage to address your concerns with your husband—especially when it comes to his decisions around maintaining friendships, relationships, or any type of alliance with a member of the opposite sex that makes you uncomfortable…for any reason.  As his accountability partner in life, it’s your responsibility to hold him accountable for his “actions” by bringing your concerns about his behavior and how his behavior affects you to his attention…no matter how inconsequential they may seem.

Stay Solution-Focused

Remember, wives…maintaining healthy patterns of communication with your husband is the most effective ways to leverage your power in your marriage.  Therefore, it’s critically important for you to check your motives before approaching this topic with your husband.  Begin the conversation with the end-result in mind, and be open, honest, and clear in your intentions for addressing the issue.

It’s okay to feel what you feel; just be honest enough with yourself to acknowledge what you’re feeling so that you can use your feelings as a tool to help you effectively leverage your power from a place of authenticity.  The last thing you need to happen while you’re in the process of navigating your way through an already delicate conversation is to let uncontrolled feelings to get misinterpreted and emotions to overrun the discussion.

The key here is to be clear about the “why;” that is, to be clear about “why” the issue of maintaining “frelationships” with exes and people of the opposite sex is an issue in for you in the first place.

Before you even begin to formulate an answer to your “why,” you must start by examining the reason why you feel the way you do, as this will help you gain a clearer understanding of why you see this as a problem.  Are these “frelationships” somehow upsetting the balance in your relationship with your husband? Have you noticed any changes in your husband’s behavior that could be attributed to his “frelationships?”

Asking yourself those two questions are a good place to start. For every question, there is usually an answer, so you must then ask yourself are you prepared to embrace and/or hear what your husband has to say about th

ese “frelationships” specifically, with respect to why maintaining these associations is so important to him.

Beware of the Double-Standard of Accountability

In much of the same way as you examine your reasons for feeling the way you do about your husband’s “frelationships,” with members of the opposite sex and/or exes, you must examine your actions in the same way. Now, take a good, long look at yourself in the mirror. Are you the one maintaining “frelationships” with members of the opposite sex and with your exes that you should let go?  Will your husband be able to attribute any discrepancies or oddities in your behavior to any “frelationships” that you insist on maintaining with members of the opposite sex or with any of your exes?  Do you think your husband will be prepared to embrace and/or hear what you have to say about your “frelationships” and why maintaining them is so important to you?

Do you and your husband share similar points-of-view regarding the appropriateness of maintaining friendships and relationships with members of the opposite sex and exes? If so, that’s great! However, if you don’t, the difference in perspective will begin to show itself as a lack of trust, which will cause turmoil in every aspect of your marriage to the point of causing you to doubt everything that your marriage is built on.

Key Take-Away

So, the only thing you need to figure out is which type of wife you’re going to be when you reach this crossroad and must address this issue in your marriage.  You have to decide whether the “frelationships” that your husband chooses to maintain with members of the opposite sex and with his exes is worth fighting over in the long-run.  Then you must be woman-enough to be okay with however you choose to handle the situation.

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