Mutual Attraction Between Married Friends

How should I deal with the romantic feelings I've developed for my best friend's wife? This woman and I recently acknowledged to one another that the attraction is mutual and that we needed to put some safeguards in place to protect our marriages, but we're not sure how to go about it. My wife and I have been business partners with this couple for over ten years. Do you have any suggestions?

The solution to your problem is fairly straightforward. Each of you needs to find an objective third party – a mentor, “confessor,” counselor, or prayer partner of the same sex – with whom you can talk and pray about this situation in strictest confidence. It would be best if this person were someone who knows both you and your spouse. He or she should definitely be a Christian believer who values biblical truths and principles. Your confidant should also be committed to keeping your secret and protecting your reputation, and genuinely concerned to help you preserve the integrity of your marriage.

Once you’ve selected your mentor, we’d advise you to ask him to come alongside you in your efforts to build hedges around your marital relationship. Work together to come up with a specific strategy for resisting temptation. Don’t naively assume that you’ve done everything that needs to be done simply because you and your friend’s wife have acknowledged your feelings to one another. For reasons we’re about to explain, those feelings constitute a huge red flag for you – spiritually and psychologically as well as relationally – and you need to take some definite steps to nip them in the bud.

The most important principle we can lay down for you is this: your so-called “emotional affair” isn’t really about the affair. It’s about something else that’s going on at some deeper level in your marriage – some problem, difficulty or insecurity that you’ve probably been wrestling with for a long, long time. In all likelihood, the feelings that have developed between your and your friend’s wife are related to the troubles you and your spouse are experiencing in this hidden place. Your first job, then, is to deal with these marital issues – only then will you be able to clear away the emotional cobwebs that are clouding your relationships with other people. This can best be accomplished with the help of a professional marriage counselor.

It would be best to begin the counseling process as an individual. Once you and the therapist have had a chance to work through some of your more complicated personal “stuff,” it will be important to bring your spouse into the mix for a series of sessions as a couple. Focus on the Family’s Counseling department would be happy to provide you with referrals to licensed professional counselors in your area who specialize in marital difficulties and related issues. Don’t hesitate to call us.

Can we guarantee that this approach will solve the problem without damaging your relationship with the other couple or endangering the survival of your business? Not necessarily. But we can tell you this much: neither the loss of a friendship nor the dissolution of a company is too great a price to pay for the preservation of your marriage. You and your wife have made sacred vows and promises to one another in the presence of God and His people. Your first priority is to stay faithful to the charge you took upon yourselves at the altar – no matter what the cost. Don’t misunderstand: we’re not discounting the importance of your connection with your friend and his wife, nor are we blind to the economic implications of your situation. We’re simply saying that, when push comes to shove, you have to remember where your real loyalties lie.


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