How To Keep Boundaries With The Opposite Sex

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Healthy marriages do not experience affairs, period.

Affairs often spout in the soil of neglect, isolation, and loneliness. Combine that with a lack of healthy boundaries with friends of the opposite sex, and you have a recipe for a home wrecker.

Having walked so many couples through the aftermath of an affair, the stories are all starting to sound the same. After the wedding bells, something changes. The feelings of love, the emotional drug of choice entering into marriage, slowly fizzles. Couples who don’t start with healthy habits fall into a daily rhythm that often leaves them feeling more like roommates than lovers. Feeling the emotional void, many look outside the relationship to find anyone to fill their love tank.

The reality is most people have friends of the opposite sex and it can be okay, but only if you and your spouse have agreed on the boundaries that need to be placed with those friends.

The encouragement here is to recognize some healthy boundary limits and not set up camp near them. Boundaries are about prioritizing your marriage, meaning that your relationship takes first place over anyone else. It’s also about protecting your marriage. Doing this, you show an insane amount of respect to your spouse proving that you’re willing to go out of your way in order for them to know they can fully trust you.

Statistics are all over the map, but they say about 40% of marriages will experience an affair. Please pay attention! Do not think you are immune to this. Marriage is one of those things you have to constantly be fixing, tweaking, and maintaining. The couples we’ve had on our couch are overwhelmed with shame as their families have been torn apart, only wishing they still had an ounce of prevention.

Here are 4 things that every couple must do to keep boundaries with the opposite sex:

1. Do not be friends with anyone your spouse does not feel comfortable with… no exceptions. And don’t be ridiculous by fighting for that friendship once your spouse waved the red flag. That only makes you look like you care more about this friend that your spouse.

2. Don’t share private details of your marriage with anyone of the opposite sex. Lean on a mentor, pastor, life coach, or a trusted friend of the same sex.

3. Do not become the shoulder for someone of the opposite sex to cry on. Hand them a tissue and walk away. You might have healthy boundaries but this person might not.

4. Don’t be alone with a person of the opposite sex outside of work, unless you and your spouse agree A HEAD OF TIME. Romantic relationships usually come out of recreational activities and intimate conversations so if you’re spending more time having fun with this friend, it can easily lead to something more..

Marriage Action Plan:

  • Talk to your spouse about practical ways you can protect and prioritize your marriage.

  • Ask your spouse if there are friends in your life they don’t feel comfortable with and what would be a realistic game plan on backing away.


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Written by Meygan Caston
Meygan Caston is the co-founder of Marriage365 and lives in sunny Southern California with her husband Casey, their two children and dog Hobie. She loves her family, the beach, writing, spa days and helping couples connect in their marriage. Her life long dream is to live with the Amish for a month, walk the Camino and have lunch with Brené Brown.


  

 

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30 thoughts on “How To Keep Boundaries With The Opposite Sex”

  1. Christina Pellerin

    For 2 yrs I fussed at my husband about my dislike of having a friend behind my back. He then told me it was over. Then at the 5 yr mark, the other woman’s husband gets in touch with me to let me know, my husband and his wife saw each other behind our backs for 5 long yrs. I am still with him but he destroyed all trust that I had for him!!! I am sad 🙁

  2. I completely agree with you on these. Totally need to set up boundaries with the opposite sex…with anyone really.

  3. How do you repair the trust? My husband violated all 4 of these for over 2 years even after I told him not to be friends with her, he still was and it ended up with me moving out of the house. We are still married, but not sure if I can ever trust again.

  4. Jocelyn Pasaraba

    My husband betrayed me having an affair with one whom i trusted. I never expected them to do it. Yet they did. They broke my heart. Up to this time i still carry the pain inside me despite ….asking for forgiveness..my husband say he loves me…how can i trust him?

  5. After 22 years of marriage my wife cheated on me in a manic episode that lasted about 4 days. It absolutely took the life out of me. fast forward 5 years and it happened again! This time however I have drawn tight to my faith in Christ and since that time my wife has decided to repent and is seeking counseling for the behaviors which have all but destroyed our lives. I am trust in the Lord that He can do a great work!

    1. Danny persinger

      I had a similar situation with my wife of 16 years we are in our 30s I’m trying my hardest with trusting her again time can be very hard I’m a believer myself any advice?

  6. I am going through this right now. My husband reached out to a single female he worked with and asked her out to lunch he tried to say it was going to be a group of people but never showed me any proof. He feels he did nothing wrong and its all me insecure, no trust & crazy. I asked him to leave/separate and he refuses. Social media makes it very easy to have an affair. 26yrs of marriage and this issue continously pops up. Is it time to divorce god help me!!!

  7. Now I understand why my wife asked me to stop having a relashionship with the opposite sex and I did that to show respect to our marriage ,thank you for having this kinds of topics.

  8. I’m experiencing the same situation. My husband calls one of his female coworkers on the way to work and on the way home. They text throughout the day and night – all day long. And even talk sometimes at night. He tells me it’s because he’s a nice guy and if I wanted to marry an A****** then I married the wrong person. How lucky am I to have such a nice guy…..

    1. Mr Onto Her Behavior

      Im sorry Tired Wife but he is being a selfish A****** – to you! Everyone reading this post should research Emotional Affairs, there are many great articles about it and you will clearly see the behavior patterns of your spouses if you are frustrated enough to be here reading this. At the end of the day choosing the “emotional high” of a forbidden friendship over your spouse is destructive like any other selfish addiction and destroys trust. Tell your spouse to look at the symptoms and take an Am I Having an Emotional Affair quiz, they will either choose the marriage or choose their addiction while rationalizing its all your problem.

      1. I agree and speak from painful experience. My husband of 30 years became friends with a co-worker as they had both lost a parent and began texting and calling throughout the day as well as shared lunches and breaks and a shared enjoyment of a recreational activity that I did not care for. (Hunting) It was an emotional affair for a few years then turned physical. It has been devastating but we are working through it. Healthy boundaries are absolutely essential! Great points

  9. I have a very unique situation that I can’t write here because it would take me 12 paragraphs. Two years and three months later my husband still refuses that he had any type of affair. After all, most men don’t think they are cheating unless they had sex with someone else. I would like to tell someone – ANYONE my story over email if they are willing to listen and give me their thoughts and comments. I feel like I’ve just lost two years of my life and I feel like I need a psychologist now. I’m desperate.

    1. Concerned and been there

      I can feel your pain through your comment…but please hear me on this–never share details of your marriage with individuals who are not certified counselors and who are not vested in helping you save your marriage.
      As much as we want and need to vent, to get answers, to find some meaning–no good will come from sharing your hurt and pain with other people. Should you and your husband reconcile–they still have the low down and dirty of all that the two of you have gone through…which, in turn, can cause more hurt and pain.

      There are counselors that provide free and very affordable services. There are churches that provide free counseling services. Please, please find one that you are comfortable with and share your heartache with them. They are trained to help you find solutions and healing.

  10. I think #2 should be expanded to add: don’t have a secret relationship with someone of the opposite sex, whether via text/email/social media/phone/in person.Despite all of the information available on this site and others, my husband still minimizes his emotional affair down to “just some texts.” It was SO MUCH more than that-obsessive amounts of texting at all hours, phone calls, emails, connections on social media, plus they work together so who knows how many in-person encounters.

  11. My wife cheated on me with a friend 8 years ago and things were quiet after some marriage counseling. Now in the last year or so she’s had a couple of friendships with men that crossed lines for me – basically secrecy and flirting beyond anything innocent.
    I’ve told her repeatedly that I wasn’t being jealous or overprotective – I just get a vibe from some guys – and these two guys (both single) were VERY obviously out for more than friendship. Not all, but many/most men are like that – especially if they have nothing to lose. Why would they care if they ruined our marriage if they ended up having some fun?

    These things are extremely painful when you’ve been cheated on before. My wife appears clueless, or in a trance at times. She has ended one of the friendships (because the guy was a jerk, not because I asked her to) and the other one is still ongoing, because she has to work with him from time to time. My expressions of concern about their relationship have brought denials, but she won’t stop the communication with him (text messages, which I see sometimes, but mostly I’ve noticed that she deletes everything between them since our last talk – she doesn’t do this with anyone else on her phone, only HIM).

    So, I can stay in the marriage or not. I love her and she says she loves me. And yet she doesn’t seem to realize that 1) this is not a “friendship” – it’s a guy who, underneath it all, wants to get laid; 2) a friend doesn’t encourage you to do destructive things like ruin your marriage; and 3) she appears to be putting this friendship above her marriage.

    It’s a dangerous game. It’s very painful for me. I’m learning to just let it go. If she cheats then it answers all my questions. She gets defensive and asks why I don’t trust her. It’s amazing how clueless people can be – how they will rationalize nonsense to get what they want.

    1. AF, Dude, I can feel your pain and I am not married yet. I have experience emotional infedelity. Texts etc. Like, its heavy stuff. Then to make matters worse the person still will not have the decency to love you better and cut of all other dangers to your marriage. That isn’t love, there is no two ways about it 1 Corinthians 13. Read that. You’re in a fix, nothing God can’t fix, and it really is difficult. Like are you not enough for her. Those are the questions I have. Be careful that the love you have for her doesn’t ruin you man. Approach it very carefully and love yourself enough. I will pray for you.

  12. AF, Dude, I can feel your pain and I am not married yet. I have experience emotional infedelity. Texts etc. Like, its heavy stuff. Then to make matters worse the person still will not have the decency to love you better and cut of all other dangers to your marriage. That isn’t love, there is no two ways about it 1 Corinthians 13. Read that. You’re in a fix, nothing God can’t fix, and it really is difficult. Like are you not enough for her. Those are the questions I have. Be careful that the love you have for her doesn’t ruin you man. Approach it very carefully and love yourself enough. I will pray for you.

  13. Amen! Work-related stress can make anyone vulnerable to unhealthy relationships in the workplace. Close working relationships during stressful times can easily allow one’s guard to do down and boundaries to not go up. It is particularly challenging when one is the “damsel-in-distress” and the other becomes “knight-in-shining-armor”!

  14. Awesome. I believe you have answers to the questions many people keep asking. My people try to dig through illusion on how to keep a perfect balance on a working family. I’m certain that through your recouses, many people will find answers to what they have been looking for.

  15. There are so many people that need to see this if they hope to have healthy marriages/serious relationships… It’s devastating how this wisdom is not common sense or instinct for most people, myself included.

  16. Point 2 about not sharing private marriage stuff with those of the opposite sex well I am thinking that maybe you should not share private infomation even with friends of the same sex without your spouses permission and also if they are a joint friend.Also point 3 about not leaning on the shoulder of somone of the same sex for support I also think caution should be taken with friend of same sex espically if the friend of same sex is a joint friend , a friend of both spouses

  17. I could use some advice!
    For about a year now I’ve been setting boundaries as well as my husband. I am a pastor’s wife so this can complicate some things Bc as a pastor you have to talk to people.
    As his wife finding friends to trust is hard but God blesses me with a small group that I can fully trust… or so thought.
    One woman in the group became a red flag for me. It started when she brought my husband a pie just to say thank you. Then I noticed her always wanting to help him in some way with church things. When I noticed these things I warned him and he made appropriate adjustments. She picked up on it and backed away. However over the last year she has had some marital issues that she hasn’t shared but is obvious by the behavior. My husband and I have been dealing with some family issues at the same time which took my attention away to help the issue at home. During this time I guess we Stopped paying attention but she stepped in to help- not me her friend bit my husband. After things at home we’re resolved I discovered that her behavior had returned. It returned to the point that she was avoiding me almost to the point of being mad at me. I kept reaching out to her and ignored the fact that she was behaving wrong. Trying to be the bigger person in hopes she’d get in her lane but it isn’t working. I even approached her and apologized for not being a good friend and if there was anything I’ve done unaware of it let’s talk and resolve it. She said nothing just stayed silent. Ok. Well I keep reaching out trying to be the good friend but it’s not returned.
    Anyways her behavior shows she’s more into being there for my husband than me. She volunteers to help him with anything and is eager too. I’ve noticed lately that she is going up to pray for people when my husband calls for prayer with the pastors. Everyone is welcome to pray for whoever but she seeks out to pray with whoever my husband is praying for at the time. Very weird. She also speaks on his behalf anytime she’s in a conversation about church things.
    I don’t know what to do Bc I want to salvage whatever friendship remains and not cause an issue that she probably would never admit too.
    It’s affecting me in a not so good way and causing issues with me and my husband. I can’t fix her issues. My husband has been super good at avoiding and when she finds some reason to have a conversation with him he keeps it short and to the point. I feel like this has made her worse and there’s still the same behavior towards me. She finds irrelevant things to bring up to him just to have interaction with him. She will also stay behind to try and talk with him.
    We exchange how you doin and things but it’s not genuine on her side. I feel like she just keeps talking to me to keep in good with my husband.
    She has made comments to people about how she just wants to help him. I’m confused by this comment Bc I am the one she should be helping considering I’m her friend?….
    Even when I had the conversation with her trying to work through things she responded with I feel so bad for him and you. I said I’m not talking about him I’m talking about me and you…. she said nothing else. Just sat irritated and unresponsive.
    Anyway I need advice am I reading too much into things? Idk what to do! Help!

  18. We weren’t married, but together for 5.5 years. We just broke up two days ago. I found out his colleague was actually a really "close friend" apparently. They had been going to out-of-state races, working out, and partying together (maybe more–don’t know) without me knowing. I found out through friends and her Instagram feed. He says he has never had anything with her and would never compromise his professional reputation like that, but I have doubts because those activities are push the limit and aren’t supposed to be kept from your significant other. He obviously had no respect for me. He arrogantly said he has the right to have friends and he saw nothing wrong with doing what they did. He was spending way more time (outside the office) with her than me. He made me feel like I wasn’t enough. I pushed back with–but if I meant anything to you, you wouldn’t have put yourself in compromising situations. Am still reeling with lots of anger with all the lies and secrecy. He tried to blame me for the breakup saying my jealousy caused it…

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