Opposite-Sex Friendships in Marriage

Is it wrong for a married person to have a friend of the opposite sex? While my spouse was away on a week-long missions trip, I enlisted a male friend from work to come over and help me care for our eighteen-month-old daughter. In the process, we ended up watching movies together or working on office-related projects after my daughter went to bed. When my husband came home, he was very unhappy about this and expressed fear that I might be involved in an affair. He seems to think it's impossible for two adults of the opposite sex to have a non-sexual relationship. He's even asked that I never spend time with this co-worker again. I'm cooperating with his request, but I can't help feeling resentful of his unfounded suspicions. What do you think?

In our opinion, inviting a male co-worker over to your home while your husband was out of town represents a clear violation of appropriate boundaries. Obviously, many married individuals enjoy healthy, non-romantic friendships with individuals of the opposite sex. But it’s crucial to handle these relationships wisely and to keep your eyes wide open for hidden pitfalls. If you want to preserve the health of your marriage, you need to place protective “boundaries” on these relationships.

The truth is that it’s far easier than you may think to cross the line from a platonic friendship into a seemingly “harmless” romance. The danger is especially high when you and the person in question have a great deal in common. If these shared interests and compatibility of temperament lead you to entertain “innocuous” thoughts such as, “This person understands me far better than my spouse,” you’re already treading on treacherous ground.

We realize, that from your perspective, the visits with your co-worker were completely innocent. We don’t doubt that they were. But your husband was obviously wounded by your actions. It may have been an overreaction to accuse you of having an affair, but you have to try to put yourself in his shoes. If you had gone on a missions trip for a week and returned home to learn that he had invited a female co-worker over to “watch movies together,” how would you have felt? What if this co-worker happened to be a very attractive woman? Would it reassure you to be told that the relationship was completely platonic?

The Bible gives us some clear guidelines about our behavior with persons of the opposite sex. Ephesians 5:6 warns us to avoid even a “hint” of sexual immorality or any kind of impurity. Second Peter 3:11 commands us to live “holy and godly lives.” Even though your intentions were pure in this situation, you have to think about how it might appear to other co-workers if they learned about it.

It’s clear that your marriage is very important to you. Since this is the case, we’d encourage you to put aside your resentment and talk things through with your husband. Acknowledge that you made a mistake by inviting the co-worker over. Reassure your husband of your love for him. If he is unable to “let it go,” it may be because there are some deeper trust issues that the two of you need to work through.

If you think this might be an area needing attention, we’d recommend you make an appointment with a good marriage therapist in your area. Our Counseling department here at Focus on the Family can provide you with referrals to qualified professionals practicing in your area. Our counselors would also be happy to discuss your questions with you over the phone if you think this might be helpful. Contact us for a free consultation.


If a title is currently unavailable through Focus on the Family, we encourage you to use another retailer.

Anatomy of an Affair

Boundaries in Marriage

Friendship or Flirtation? Danger Signs for Couples (broadcast)

Resource List: Marital Challenges


Hope Restored: A Ministry of Focus on the Family

Love and Respect

The Role of Friendship in Marriage

Affairs and Adultery

Affairs/Marital Infidelity

Friendship or Flirtation

Emotional Affair

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